Root: יָרֵא Verb (to fear): yareh. Noun (a fear): yirah
Sounds like: yare’eh or yeer’ah. Do not fear is al ti’yra (Sounds like al tee’yirah)
Throughout the Bible we read the words, Fear the LORD. What exactly does this mean? Are we to be scared of God?
You are to follow YHWH your God and fear [ti’yaru] Him. Keep His commandments and listen to His voice; serve Him and hold Him fast.
Are we to cower in fear, shaking in our boots? Well, not exactly… although there are instances in the Bible where someone faces God and has a physical fearful reaction, not in fear of punishment, but rather in overwhelming awe and reverence. There is a Hebrew word for terror (bahal), but the Hebrew word yareh means something different. To help explain, a comparison between the above passage and one found in Leviticus, draws out the meaning of the word:
Then YHWH said to Moses, “Speak to the entire congregation of the Israelites and tell them: ‘Be holy because I, YHWH your God, Am holy. Each of you must fear [ti’yaru] his mother and father, and you must observe My Sabbaths. I am YHWH your God. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods. I am YHWH your God.’
This passage explains how one should treat their parents, in reverence and with the deepest of respect. This is the definition of Biblical fear. If this is how we are to treat our parents, how much more so should we treat our God. YHWH is the heavenly Father. We are to show the greatest parental respect, reverence, and jaw-dropping awe to Him.
Most of us live our lives without constant “fear” of God. It’s not something we think about, to be honest. However, scripture calls us to show our fear. But how?
Deuteronomy 10 gives instruction on how we can show our fear and reverence to YHWH:
“And now, O Israel, what does YHWH your God ask of you but to fear [l’yirah] YHWH your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, to serve YHWH your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of YHWH, which I am giving you this day for your own good?
So the first way we can show our fear is to walk in His ways. Deuteronomy 10 continues on to describe the ways of God:
Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and stiffen your necks no more. For YHWH your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God, showing no partiality and accepting no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and widow, and He loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. So you also must love the foreigner, since you yourselves were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
If we walk in God’s ways we will also be mighty and awesome. We will be impartial and we will execute justice for orphans, widows, and foreigners… and by doing this we show that we fear and revere our God.
After walking in His ways we will inevitably come to love and serve God and keep His commandments.
Deuteronomy 10: 20-22
You are to fear [ti’yra] YHWH your God and serve Him. Hold fast to Him and take your oaths in His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome wonders your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt, seventy in all, and now YHWH your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.
It should be our prayer to always fear God. We need to guard ourselves from becoming complacent. Sometimes when life is going along smoothly we forget about God. We forget to be in constant communication with Him. We forget to be amazed. We forget to be thankful.
Teach me your way, O YHWH, that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear [l’yirah] your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
I will give them one heart and one way, so that they will always fear [l’yirah] Me for their own good and for the good of their children after them.
I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never turn away from doing good to them, and I will put My fear [yirah-ti] in their hearts so that they will never turn away from Me.
Jesus/Yeshua made it very clear. There is no point in being afraid of mere humans or false Gods. There is only One to bow down in fear to:
Yeshua: I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear the One who, after you have been killed, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
If God loves and cares for each tiny little sparrow then be relieved that God loves you so much more. Show your allegiance, your love and fear and He will protect you to the ends of the earth.
But to those who forget God and rely on themselves, well, it’s a different story:
YHWH: You are wearied by your many journeys, but you did not say, “There is no hope!”
You found renewal of your strength; therefore you did not grow weak.
Whom have you dreaded and feared [w’ti’yra’ee],
so that you lied and failed to remember Me or take this to heart?
Have I not held My peace such a long time, and still you do not fear Me [ti’yra’ee]?
I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not profit you.
When you cry out, let your companies of idols deliver you!
Yet the wind will carry off all of them, a breath will take them away.
But he who seeks refuge in Me will inherit the land and possess My holy mountain.”
So here the Hebrew people are not at the point of hopelessness. They may be tired, but they rely on their own strength and they don’t remember God, nor do they fear Him. They may dread their enemies, but they don’t fear YHWH.
YHWH is not one to force His will. These people do not fear Him, so God leaves their deliverance to the gods they chose to fear… and if that’s useless idols, then so be it.
It is for this reason that sometimes YHWH brings those who love Him to great despair. Sometimes hopelessness is all that brings us back to God. Sometimes it takes us to hit rock bottom to remember YHWH.
But if you fear God, you will constantly remember God, and He will deliver you. Not only will He deliver you, but He will also give you an inheritance.
Do Not Fear
To his worshippers YHWH continually says, “Do not fear”:
Do not fear [al ti’yra], for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will surely help you; I will uphold you with My right hand of righteousness.
Behold, all who rage against you will be ashamed and disgraced;
those who contend with you will be reduced to nothing and will perish.
You will seek them but will not find them.
Those who wage war against you will come to nothing.
For I am YHWH your God, who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you: “Do not fear, I will help you.” [al ti’yra ani ezar’tika]
When you are a follower of YHWH there is only one thing to fear, God alone. There is nothing else to be afraid of.
Now this is what YHWH says—
He who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel:
“Do not fear [al ti’yra], for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are Mine!”
When you face great fear in life, call on YHWH. He will listen.
I called on Your name, O YHWH, out of the depths of the Pit.
You heard my plea: “Do not ignore my cry for relief.”
You drew near when I called on You; You said, “Do not be afraid.” [Al ti’yra]
You defend the case of my soul, O Lord; You redeem my life.
Whatever you face, whatever you fear, know that God will defend you and redeem you. There is only one thing to fear… God alone. If you love Him and worship Him with awe and reverence, then you will be mighty and awesome as you walk in His ways. You can face anything when you are on YHWH’s side. With YHWH as your Redeemer you can be forever fearless!
Next week: bones