A brief overview of what ‘Fearing Elohim’ means.
Shalom family, it is good for us to be together as we assemble in the Name of our Redeemer and King, יהושע Messiah, aměn; and with great awe we enter with thanksgiving, joy and delight into the Mighty presence of our Elohim. We often see in Scripture the phrase, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says!” Well now I know we all literally have ears – yet the question is whether we are listening to what the Spirit says – in other words are we listening to the very Word of יהוה? In Ma’asei/Acts 13 we see Sha’ul give great words of encouragement to the congregation in Antioch in Pisidia that were gathered ‘on the Sabbath’, after the reading of the Torah. This is the first recorded discourse of Sha’ul and most completely preserved and it shows how he preached to an audience who were grounded/rooted in the Tanak (O.T.) and this is how he began:
Ma’asei/Acts 13:16 “And Sha’ul, standing up and motioning with his hand said, “Men, Yisra’ĕlites, and those fearing Elohim, listen:”
This really struck me, for many of us have been raising the concern of late that ‘fear’ for יהוה is somewhat lacking in our day and so in a message tonight called, “Those fearing Elohim, listen”, I would like to give a brief overview of what fearing Elohim means and then be able to determine whether we are listening or not! As I said this is an overview so I do not have a key or central passage we will be looking at tonight, however we will be looking at various critical passages that will hopefully help us begin to further understand what fearing Elohim means and cause us to be a hearing, fearing people of Elohim! I often think that the “fear” that יהוה repeatedly commands us to have is misunderstood to a large degree by so many. What I want to show you tonight is what Scripture instructs for us in the fear of the Almighty as well as looking at various words that pertain this.
Ok, so to start off…. What is fear? In English in can mean the following:
As a verb it can mean – “to feel fear in (oneself)” or “to have a reverential awe of Elohim” or “be afraid of or expect with alarm the worst”
As a noun it can also be described as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger”.
So fear can both be described as showing honour or respect as well as being afraid, and so fear can often be an abstract concept – that is it can often be one that is difficult to understand and at best we often find ourselves at a loss for words to distinguish between that which is reverence and that which is being scared!
Ma’asei/Acts 2:41-47 “Then those, indeed, who gladly received his word, were immersed. And on that day about three thousand beings were added to them. 42 And they were continuing steadfastly in the teaching of the emissaries, and in the fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers. 43 And fear came upon every being, and many wonders and signs were being done through the emissaries. 44 And all those who believed were together, and had all in common, 45 and sold their possessions and property, and divided them among all, as anyone might have need. 46 And day by day, continuing with one mind in the Set-apart Place, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising Elohim and having favour with all the people. And the Master added to the assembly those who were being saved, day by day.”
This is a great passage that reflects that early community being established at Shavuot, where we see true elements of a committed community being described and how 3000 were added to their number – those who gladly received the word and were immersed – a reversal if you will of the 3000 who died at Mount Sinai for refusing to hear and receive the instructions! Without digging too much into these few verses on community and Shavuot etc., for the context of this message I want to highlight that which is being described as a fear that came upon every being. As we look at the construction of this account we see the following – hear, guard and do – they heard and received gladly and responded to the Truth and as a result of continually guarding and doing they were steadfast in submitting under teaching, committed to fellowship, eating and praying together – and this is when the fear came upon them, after which we see that it says many wonders and sign were being done by the emissaries. They all had everything in common – shared all – kept their worship real and grew! This is certainly the kind of stuff we all desire to see happening in our midst in these last days. Many find themselves asking when we will see the wonders and the signs and from this passage it is actually very clear: hear – guard –do and then let fear be upon you – and watch this space…!!!
Being committed to the Word, Fellowship and Prayer will enable us to be in a place where we can allow the right kind of fear to be upon us, and when we recognise that there is a seeming lack of fear – it primarily is the result of a lack of community being built up together as many are trying to do their own thing, their own way and so as we begin to understand and embrace the desire of a true fear for Elohim to be upon us may we commit to doing what is necessary as a body of believers in Messiah together!
Having said all that, the question still remains, “What is this fear?”
To answer this, let us look at the Hebrew words translated as ‘fear’ and discover the more concrete definition behind them.
The first root word I would like to look at is H6342 – פָּחַד ‘pachad’ – meaning “to dread, to shake or be in dread or terror” and can mean to “have an attitude or emotion of severe distress over impending danger or trouble, with a focus that it can be so intense that it will cause physical trembling and shaking”. It can also mean “to be in a state of profound awe and respect, so intense the body may react with trembling and shaking”. A derivative of this root is found in:
Iyoḇ/Job 4:14 “fear came upon me, and trembling, causing my bones to shake greatly.”
The Hebrew word used here for ‘fear’ is the noun H6343 – פַּחַד ‘pachad’ which means ‘shaking’ while the word used ‘to shake’ is the verb H6342 – פָּחַד ‘pachad’.
As a noun this word is used 49 times and as a verb 25 times.
The second Hebrew root word for fear is H3372(a) – יָרֵא ‘yare’ – which as a verb means fear as we would understand or consider what fear is. It is used in:
Berěshith/Genesis 3:10 “And he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.”
Here Aḏam was afraid because he had sinned, however we see this same root word H3372 – יָרֵא ‘yare’ being used in a positive sense in:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 6:13 “Fear יהוה your Elohim and serve Him, and swear by His Name.”
Now having seen these two examples it could be thought that the same word has two different meanings – that of fear and reverence, however this is not the case as each Hebrew word has one meaning but can carry different applications.
H3372 (b) – יָרָא ‘yara’ – can also means “to shoot or cast off or pour”.
The literal concrete meaning of “yara” is a “flowing out of the gut,” which can be applied to “fear” or “reverence.”
Have you ever been so scared or been in the presence of something so amazing that you could feel it in your gut? This “feeling” is the meaning of this word. The Hebrews were a very emotional people, and in many cases their words are filled with emotional expressions and are often describing a “feeling,” rather than an “action.”
It is almost like saying, “You know that inner feeling you get deep in the gut, especially when you know you should not do something that you thought of doing or when you are in such awe of the presence of יהוה or someone in authority you respect highly that it can be felt in the gut, almost as nervousness.” This is how ‘yara’ could in one sense be described!
The one that fears יהוה will refrain from doing that which is displeasing to Him. Fear of Him does not cause us to shrink back as one would form a fierce enemy or wild beast, but rather it causes us to draw near to Him and fills us with a reverent awe doing our utmost to please Him in every way!
In Scripture we frequently see the term ‘the fear of יהוה’ as in:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of יהוה is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Set-apart One is understanding.”
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of יהוה is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 2:1-6 “My son, if you accept my words, and treasure up my commands with you, 2 So that you make your ear attend to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as hidden treasures, 5 Then you would understand the fear of יהוה, And find the knowledge of Elohim. 6 For יהוה gives wisdom; Out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
We all want to understand the fear of יהוה and so as we look deeper at the Hebrew we definitely get a clearer picture of what the fear of יהוה is and what fearing Him entails. In all of the verse from Mishlĕ that I have just read, the root word for “fear” is the noun H3374 – יִרְאָה ‘yirah’ derived from the verb H3372 (a) – יָרֵא ‘yare’. Now the common interpretation and understanding of Mishlĕ 9:10 and 1:7 that we read is that if someone is ‘afraid’ or is in awe of יהוה he shall have wisdom, however as we shall see from this beautiful Hebrew language, this cannot be a consistent interpretation – there is more to it than meets the eye. Think about it – you cannot think you will suddenly get wisdom just because you have an awe of His presence or if you are afraid of Him, so let us look at this phrase in the Hebrew.
The fear of יהוה is written with two nouns – “יהוה יִרְאַת” = “yirat Yahweh”. When a noun precedes another noun, the first noun is in the construct state, meaning it is connected to the second noun—two words together forming one concept. Are you with me so far? Please bear with me for this is amazing in uncovering a greater meaning of the fear of יהוה.
When a feminine noun ending with the letter ה, such as yirah (יִרְאָה), is used in the construct state, the ה is converted to a ת, in this case it becomes ‘yirat’ (יִרְאַת).
In Berěshith/Genesis we find many construct phrases where the second word of the construct is יהוה such as the face of יהוה or the word of יהוה, or the Mount of יהוה, the voice of יהוה to name a few whereby each time the first word (word, voice, face etc.) belong to the second word (יהוה). Why am I telling you all this? Simply to raise the question that if ‘The Fear of יהוה’ is the construct phrase of ‘fear’ as that of יהוה’s, then why should we think that this fear is ‘ours’ and not His? Now we are all attentive listeners here and we know for a fact that Elohim does not ‘fear’ as we come to understand the concept of fear, right? However, if you recall, I mentioned that the root word יָרָא ‘yara’ means a “flowing out of the gut,” therefore the question becomes, “What flows out of the gut of יהוה?”
In order to answer this let us look at another two constructs that will shed more light upon the fear of יהוה:
1 – Tehillim/Psalm 1:2 “But his delight is in the Torah of יהוה, and he meditates in His Torah day and night.”
The word Torah H8451 – תּוֹרָה– means ‘utterance’, ‘teaching’, ‘instruction’ or ‘revelation’ from Elohim’ and it is derived from the word H3384- יָרָא ‘yara’ meaning to shoot or throw or flow in the sense of flowing – as in rivers of water and is closely related to the word we have been looking at, carrying the same definition. The construct becomes יהוה תּוֹרָת – ‘torat Yahweh’ – His instructions!
2 – Miḵah/Micah 3:8 “But truly I am filled with power, with the Spirit of יהוה, and with right-ruling and with might, to declare to Yaʽaqoḇ his transgression and to Yisra’ĕl his sin.”
The word for spirit is H7307 – רוּחַ ‘ruach’ and means ‘breath, wind or spirit’ and here this construct becomes יהוה רוּת – ‘ruat Yahweh’ – the breath/spirit of יהוה – another type of ‘flowing’ as well as describing character as with the fruit of the Spirit.
I hope you are still with me – because understanding this we can once again ask what flows out of the gut of יהוה?
His teachings and His character!!!
When understanding this we can go back to Mishlĕ 9:10 and get a clearer understanding and in essence could be translated as “The flowing’s of יהוה is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Set-apart One is understanding.”
The flowing’s as in that which flows out form His gut – His teachings – His Character – is the beginning of wisdom!!!
That hopefully clears the answer for ‘what does the fear of יהוה mean?”
The beginning of wisdom is to be immersed/washed in the Living waters of His Word that flow from Him through His spoken Word – His very breath, and when Messiah tells us that when we drink of Him we will never thirst again – it is because we drink of His very being – the Word that has flowed forth from His gut and gives us life!
Now coming back to the fear we are to have for Him – well that carries the same essence as we have described earlier – we have a reverent awe and trembling for His Word and His presence and we ask to that we may breath in the fear of יהוה – having His breath in us – His instructions inside that too shall flow like rivers of living waters from deep within our gut giving many thirsty people a refreshing drink of the Besorah (Good News) of Messiah!
Qoheleth/Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the entire matter: Fear Elohim and guard His commands, for this applies to all mankind!”
When we ‘fear’ יהוה, we show it by our guarding diligently of His commands and hate that which is evil and flee all whorings and wrongdoing and the fear of יהוה is linked as being identical with love and service for Him:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 10:12-13 “And now, Yisra’ĕl, what is יהוה your Elohim asking of you, but to fear יהוה your Elohim, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, and to serve יהוה your Elohim with all your heart and with all your being, 13 to guard the commands of יהוה and His laws which I command you today for your good?”
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 6:13 “Fear יהוה your Elohim and serve Him, and swear by His Name.”
The difference between fearing men or fearing Elohim is that we take heed what Elohim tells us and not be threatened by what man tries to burden us with:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 8:12-13 “Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. 13 “יהוה of hosts, Him you shall set apart. Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.”
People today are far too concerned with what others have to say and what the next conspiracy theory is etc. and base their life’s decisions on carefully heeding man’s warnings and instructions – where this verse spells it out – don’t fret about what people say – let יהוה of Hosts be your fear and your dread – listen carefully to Him!!!
Fearing יהוה is practical wisdom which in turn produces blessings in life:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 6:2 “so that you fear יהוה your Elohim, to guard all His laws and His commands which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days be prolonged.”
In order to do that we are to drink of Him, coming to the Living Waters of life, nourished by that which gives us life through the washing of the Word:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 14:27 “The fear of יהוה is a fountain of life, to turn away from the snares of death.”
All who are thirsty come! It is when we see and recognise that He is our help and we express great gratitude in praise and thanksgiving for help and danger that we are naturally led to the fear of יהוה.
Shemoth/Exodus 14:31 “And Yisra’ĕl saw the great work which יהוה had done in Mitsrayim, and the people feared יהוה, and believed יהוה and His servant Mosheh.”
So when we ask if we see whether people fear יהוה or not, we can see it in their actions – is their faith dead or alive and active!
In Yirmeyahu we see some stern words given to a rebellious people:
Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 5:20-25 “Declare this in the house of Yaʽaqoḇ and proclaim it in Yehuḏah, saying, 21 ‘Hear this now, O foolish people without heart, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not: 22 ‘Do you not fear Me?’ declares יהוה. ‘Do you not tremble at My presence, who have placed the sand as the boundary of the sea, by an everlasting law, and it does not pass over it? Though its waves toss to and fro, they are not able; though they roar, they do not pass over it. 23 ‘But this people has a backsliding and rebellious heart, they have turned aside and gone away. 24 ‘And they do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear יהוה our Elohim, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He guards for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” 25 ‘Your crookednesses have turned these away, and your sins have kept the good from you.”
Disobedience is a sure sign of a lack of fear and reverence. Fearing Him is an active daily duty that we are to do gladly because of all He has done for us.
Tehillim/Psalm 2:11 “Serve יהוה with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”
Serve and rejoice – this is how we work out our deliverance before His face – with fear and trembling!!!
Pilipiyim/Philippians 2:12-13 “So that, my beloved, as you always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much rather in my absence – work out your own deliverance with fear and trembling, 13 for it is Elohim who is working in you both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.”
Tehillim/Psalm 119:120 “My flesh has trembled for fear of You, and I am in awe of Your right-rulings.”
Is His Fear in you? We spoke last week about causing His face to shine upon us and give us favour and that loving-commitment and truth are always before His face.
Hoshěa/Hosea 5:4 “Their deeds do not allow them to turn back to their Elohim, for the spirit of whorings is among them, and they do not know יהוה.”
What spirit is upon you – one of whorings that is disarming your ability to turn back to Elohim and fear Him in loving obedience or is His Spirit – His breath and character upon you and in you? Are His instructions in you – which He has given you for your good? When you want to know if you are ‘fearing’ Elohim then ask yourself these questions!
We are to work out – and it is an enduring ‘work out’ – our deliverance/salvation with both fear and trembling. Drink of the Living Water – eat of His instructions and let that which is in you, by His spirit guide you as Messiah declares to us in Yoḥanan/John 7:39 “As the Scripture said, out of His innermost shall flow rivers of living water.”
Just as from His innermost Living water has been given to us – let that flow out from within you as you fear יהוה by simply obeying His commands!
We are receiving an unshakeable reign, and we ought to live according to that reign right now – fearing Him through service and trembling at His very Word that keeps us on the straight path of righteousness.
Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12:28-29 “Therefore, receiving an unshakeable reign, let us hold the favour, through which we serve Elohim pleasingly with reverence and awe, 29 for indeed, our Elohim is a consuming fire.”
I know that we have been through a lot of Scriptures and information into root words and I encourage you to meditate on these matters that we be a people who fear Elohim, aměn!
In closing I would like to read you a poem I found:
If I have no fear of Elohim
א If I think that I must be first in all things, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ב If I think that everyone should be blessing me, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ג If I think that everyone should be kind to me, but not me to them, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ד If I mistreat fellow believers, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ה If I verbally abuse others, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ו If I look down upon others, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ז If I think myself to be better than others, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ח If I act one way before men and act shamefully towards my family, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ט If I physically abuse my family, then I have no fear of Elohim.
י If I try to manipulate others into doing things for me, then I have no fear of Elohim.
כ If my heart is filled with pride for any reason, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ל If my views are more important than others, then I have no fear of Elohim.
מ If I am always right and you are always wrong, then I have no fear of Elohim.
נ If I spread gossip about anyone, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ס If I talk badly about someone behind their back, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ע If I try to elevate myself by bringing others down, then I have no fear of Elohim.
פ If my thoughts are all about me, then I have no fear of Elohim.
צ If I wonder how others should be serving me, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ק If I wonder how come others are not serving me, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ר If I think that others owe something to me, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ש If I talk more than I listen, then I have no fear of Elohim.
ת If I think that if those in the world were more like me, then I have no fear of Elohim.
THOSE FEARING ELOHIM – LISTEN… (HEAR – GUARD –DO)