Why Does God Want Us to Fear Him?

Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!
— Deuteronomy 5:29

What a powerful statement from the mouth of God! These words were spoken by God, to Moses, regarding the children of Israel, just as they were preparing to enter the Promised Land that God had given them. Yet these powerful words are just as relevant for us today.

In this simple statement we see the compassionate heart of God. I can only imagine the depth of feeling as He lovingly looks out over His people, and expresses His desire and expectations for them. 

So what does God expect from us? In this verse, God states two expectations: He wants us to fear Him and He wants our obedience.

A Healthy Dose of Fear

What does the Bible say regarding fearing God? It says in Proverbs 1:7 that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” To be wise we must fear God first. It’s the first step toward attaining godly wisdom. And what is godly wisdom? Simply put, it is wisdom that brings us to a deeper knowledge and understanding of who God is and how He wants us to live our lives. But what does fear have to do with it?

Fearing God does not imply that we are afraid of Him in the sense that we cower under our beds waiting for a sudden lightning strike from heaven. Remember, God loves us; He doesn’t want us to be frightened of Him! But He does want our respect and reverence. In fact, the verb form of the word “fear” is the Hebrew word yare’ which means “to revere” and the noun form is yir’ah which means “reverence.”

“Aslan is a lion...the lion, the great lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he...quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
— C.S. Lewis - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

So when we fear God, we are never forgetting that despite how much He cherishes us, He is still the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Creator of the universe, and awesome in power and majesty! 

Fear Leads to Obedience

Regarding obedience, Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” In other words, if we truly love God, we must obey Him.

Isn’t it interesting that what God expects of us comes with its own rewards? God asks us to fear Him and in return we begin to attain godly wisdom. We get to know God in a personal way! And through obedience we show God how much we love Him. So both the fear of God and obedience bring us closer to God by giving us a deeper knowledge of Him and a more intimate loving relationship with Him.

Let’s remember that profound truth as we pursue a deeper relationship with God. Our God is a generous Father, and He rewards those who diligently and faithfully seek after Him.


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