I have been looking for deeper understanding of some of our Christian terms and language as i suspect that for many of us the richness of meaning sometimes gets cloaked by a familiar sounding term that seems to settle a matter rather than to invite a deeper degree of probing. How many of us when asked about what “sanctification”, “holiness”, “glory of the Lord”, or “propitiation” could turn and respond with a clarifying parable or analogy, “the glory of the Lord is like…”. the revealed truth behind terms like this must be profoundly internalized before we can deliver a moving description or testimony of what they tell us about God.
Brad Jersak described a way of understanding the pattern of writing used in Torah scriptures which we can use to help us understand what is meant by the author’s when they use the phrase “fear of the Lord”. they will often use parallelism which is to pair another phrase along with “fear of the Lord” which may look like a separate idea adjacent to the first but is in fact another way of saying the first which further defines what they mean to say….
for example Dt. 10:12 says “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear
the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the
LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? ”
the first question is to ask what the Lord YOUR God asks of you. the next statement states what is required, “to fear the Lord YOUR God” (notice the term of belonging). The the subsequent phrases all serve to describe and emphasize what is meant by “fear the Lord”.
other references to explore
Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you;
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.
To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.
Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways.
Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the
gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and
serve the LORD.
And he said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’ ”
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (contrast)
The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
When Jesus arrived on the scene of this world a common understanding of God was of God as the judge…but Jesus rarely describes God as a judge but says “I myself judge no one.” He frequently refers to God as Father. Bear in mind that God is like Jesus and vice versa, “if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father”
Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
So we see from these two verses that neither the Father nor the Son are here to judge anyone, although we understand that there will be a time of judgment to come. We should understand something of the fear of the Lord by this…that God is rich in mercy, kindness and grace, self-sacrificing love and great patience…slow to anger. Fear of the Lord has nothing to do with cringing or grovelling but is more about putting trust in Him and following His way.