Fear can grip us so tight that it cripples us. Fear can actually paralyze us, shut us down. Sometimes fear and stress even cause us physical symptoms. Personally, when I am really nervous my stomach bothers me.
The Bible mentions the fear of the Lord quite a bit. I've heard people try to soft peddle this expression. Some people say that it really means, reverence, respect and worship. The fear of the Lord can mean these things, but it can also mean fear of the Lord!
Let's look at some Bible verses that describe when men have seen God and Jesus in all Their glory - whether in visions or in real life. In Isaiah 6:5 it states, "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
When God speaks to Moses from the midst of the burning bush in Exodus 3:5-6 He says, "Draw not nigh hither: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God."
In Revelation chapter 1, John sees the glorified, risen Savior, Jesus Christ and verse 17 describes his reaction, "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last."
Isaiah, Moses and the apostle John all had one thing in common, when they saw God or Jesus in all Their glory, they were all afraid. In fact, John was so afraid that he fell to the ground (as though he was dead) and didn't get back up until Jesus touched him.
I have to tell you, when I read these verses and many more just like them, I have no choice but to interpret them as these men are truly afraid - when they see our Holy God. So personally, I think fear really means fear. I think these men of the Bible who encountered God were afraid because they saw and realized how Holy God really is and how sinful and unworthy they really were. All of us are unworthy. We are all sinners.
So we should have a healthy fear, a genuine respect and reverence for God. At the same time I thank God for saving me and showing me the way. I thank God for saving such a sinner as myself. Even though I am unworthy, God opened my eyes and unhardened my heart and He saved me.
Through reading the Bible, He showed me that I was a sinful person. God showed me that there was nothing I could do on my own to save myself. My sins were rebellion against God and His Holiness and His righteousness. It didn't matter that other people saw me as a "good person," I didn't meet God's standard. But thankfully He showed me that salvation is found in no other except Jesus. I asked God to forgive me for my sins and I repented of my sins and asked Jesus to save me. I then put my faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Yes, I still have a fear of the Lord. I revere the Lord, I still recognize that I am unworthy for this marvelous gift He has bestowed on me. But I no longer fear God in the sense of worrying about where I will spend eternity. I am assured that in my faith in Jesus Christ I am truly saved and that I will spend eternity in Heaven.
How about you - do you fear the Lord? Do you know where you will spend eternity? Are you afraid of dying? Are you afraid of spending eternity in Hell? If you have never been born again, then you really should be afraid of God. Judgment Day is a day of reckoning that is yet to come. If you are not trusting in Jesus alone to save you then you really should be afraid. Don't live your life in fear. Repent by turning away from your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ. Ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. Won't you do this today?