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The Fear of the LORD...

The Fear of the LORD...

Further thoughts on Parashat Eikev

by John J. Parsons
www.hebrew4christians.com

Some people are afraid that God will punish them for their sins, but the true fear of God, yirat shamayim (יִרְאָת שָׁמַיִם), is the tragedy of losing our closeness to Him... This is the fear of the Lord. The sages say that where it is written, "What does the LORD ask of you except to fear the LORD" (Deut. 10:12), we should read instead, "fear with the LORD" (לְיִרְאָה אֶת־יְהוָה), that is, we share his concern that we could forfeit the sanctity of a heart-relationship with Him due to carelessness and sin... We fear our sin because it blinds us from awareness of God's care and love. The fear of God can therefore be understood as God's fear that we will miss the blessing of intimately knowing him.

The LORD has promised to never leave nor forsake us, though we can choose to turn away from his love and care for our lives... We are not permitted to fear other than that we have no fear of God, for that indeed is a fearful state of soul.  May it please God to help each us never to leave nor forsake ourselves by getting lost, by forgetting what is real, and by abandoning hope in the miracle for our lives... May the LORD help us not be grieved, not to hurt ourselves, and never to abandon our hearts to the despair of shame...

Note that the fear of the LORD, or "yirat Adonai" (יִרְאַת יְהוָה), is not the fear of punishment but rather the awe of God's love and intimate concern for your life... It is "techillat chokhah" (תְּחִלַּת חָכְמָה), "the start of wisdom," imparting awareness of the sacred gift of your life, your destiny, and your true end before heaven... If there is a negative aspect to the "fear of the LORD," it may be regarded as the fear of damage to your heart and soul – that is, the fear that sin will blind you to God's passion for you...
 

תְּחִלַּת חָכְמָה יִרְאַת יְהוָה
וְדַעַת קְדשִׁים בִּינָה

te·chil·lat · chokh·mah · yir·at · HaShem
ve·da·at · ke·do·shim · bi·nah
 

"The fear of the LORD is the start of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight."
(Prov. 9:10)
 


Some may object that all people (including unbelievers) should fear God (i.e., because God might send them to hell), but that appeal only makes sense if we assume the person has some sort of faith - no matter how indistinct or rudimentary... But a guilty conscience does not mean spiritual rebirth, though it may be a step on the way... The doctrine of the wrath of God is an important thing to consider, to be sure, and it is profoundly connected with his holiness and righteous judgment regarding sin, but it is essentially eschatological, a reciprocal response of heaven that ratifies the individual's willing rejection of God's salvation given in Yeshua, the one who mediates God's truth and his mercy (see Psalm 85:10). For the believer in the One who loves us so much he became the "Son of Man" to die as our substitutionary sacrifice, however, the fear of God is better expressed as reverent awe over his compassion: "That Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith -- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Messiah that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:17-19)."



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