Fear is the first negative emotion mentioned in the Bible. After sinning Adam and Eve hid themselves from God because they were afraid. (Genesis 3:10) This fear was a result of sin and feeling unworthy before God.
When the angel appeared to Mary to see if she was willing to be the Mother of Jesus, the first words said were, “Fear not.” (Luke 1:30) When the angels spoke to the shepherds to announce Jesus’ birth their first words were, “Fear not.” (Luke 2:10)
The writer of Proverbs related how the fear of man is a trap (Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe”). Additionally, 1 John 4:18, “fear has torment.” The Christian is not to have this type of fear. Yet the Bible says to fear the Lord. What is the harmonization? Is there a proper as well as an improper fear? Yes, reverential fear, not dread fear, is pleasing to God.
Moses taught the people of Israel not to have that improper, dread fear, but to have a reverential fear of God. Improper fear is sinful. Exodus 20:20 “Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.”
The scriptures say “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son” (John 3:16). Verse 17 is also important. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” God has made a wonderful, loving provision for all mankind in the gift of His Son as a means of salvation. Improper concepts of salvation and the afterlife create unnecessary fear.
Isaiah 29:13 says “ Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.” An improper fear of God does not motivate true heart worship. Instead it leads to outward conformity.
What precept leads to an improper fear of God? Would a God of love torture people forever and ever? If a person burned an animal he would be considered a criminal. Yet many believe God does this! Eternal torment is an unscriptural teaching playing on man’s fear of life after death. Please look our web site under Videos for proofs that hell is not a place of eternal torment. https://bibleresources.info/video/ Then scroll to one called “The Power of Hell.”
Another source of improper fear is the return of Christ and the judgment day. Yet Isaiah says, “When thy judgments are in the earth the inhabitants will learn righteousness.” (26:9) God is always motived by love and justice. He, as any wise parent, punishes to instruct or correct His children to right living. His return is not to be feared.
What then is reverence, or a proper fear? As one Christian writer has said, “Reverence is defined as a feeling of profound respect, often mingled with awe and affection; a feeling of worshipful regard when directed to the divine or sacred.” A proper fear is based on love.
Many scriptures teach that God has a multitude of blessings for the reverent:
Psa 25:12 What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
Psa 25:14 The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.
Psa 34:7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
Psa 34:9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
Psa 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
Psa 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
Psa 103:17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
Psa 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
Psa 145:19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.
Psa 147:11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
Proverbs 14:26-27 In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
Pro 19:23 The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.
How do we show reverence everyday? Most importantly we want to obey God’s word. Isaiah 66:1,2 says, “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” Of all the greatness of the heavens and the earth which God has created- who does He look to? The humble, the contrite and those who “trembleth” or reverence His word.