Fear of God: What does it mean to fear God?

I was visiting a friend. We were deep in conversation in his drawing room when his ten year old son, Hussain, walked in. After formal greetings and introductions, my friend told me that Hussain was memorizing the Quran.

He asked his son to recite a few verses for me. Obediently, Hussain correctly recited portions of the chapter he had memorized that day. However, My attention centered on the words of the repetitive passage of the Qur’an: Fattaaqullah wa a’tioon, So fear Allah and obey me. (Surah 26:108,110,126 ff)

After the recitation, Hussain left us engaged in discussion on the subject of fearing God. We talked about it for quite a long time, discussing not only the Quran but also the Bible. My Muslim friend wanted to know what the prophets in the past had to say on such a subject. So with the help of the index towards the end of the Bible we checked a few passages of the that have words ‘the fear of the Lord’.

Job, known in Islam as Ayub, said, "The fear of the Lord - is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding" (Job 28:28).

In the Torah Moses was commanded to tell his people, “fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him’ (Deuteronomy 10:12).

David, known also as Daud, said, "The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever" (Psalm 19:9). Let those who fear the LORD say: "His love endures forever" (Psalm 118:4). The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love (Psalm 147:11).

On the same subject Solomon, known also as Sulaiman, said, "He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death" (Proverb 14:26-27).

To encourage his followers, Jesus said, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. ... Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you in hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him" (Luke 12:4-5).

Do such passages refer to physical fear in the sense that we should literally tremble and shiver in God's presence? No, certainly not. Fearing God means to honor God. To trust him and to abhor wickedness amounts to the fear of the Lord.

My friend was surprised to find out that in the Bible ‘the fear of the Lord’ and ‘the love of God’ stand side by side. It is like the relationship between parents and children.

As children, the fear of discipline from our parents no doubt prevented some evil actions. The same should be true in our relationship with God. We should fear His discipline, and therefore seek to live our lives in such a way that pleases Him.

Once we understand and accept these aspects of God, we can walk out our lives in a special appreciation of co-existing truths -- the “Fear of God” and the “Love of God.”

Elsewhere in Scriptures it is said, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water" (Revelation 14:7). -

Indeed God is kind but he is also the master and ruler of the Day of Judgment. He will fulfil both his kindness and his justice in judging all people. Thus, as people of God we should `purify ourselves from everything that contaminates our body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God' (2 Corinthians 7:1).

I could not stop myself explaining to my friend that a biblical fear of God, for the believer in Christ, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin—even in the life of a believer.  The fear of the Lord has several results. We avoid evil (Proverb 16:6). God delights in us and extends his mercy through Christ (Psalm 147:11; Luke 1:50).

Therefore as believers in Christ, We have His promise that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). We have His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). This promise is open to anyone who believes in Jesus as the restorer of eternal life.


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