What does this phrase, “holy fear,” mean?

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.
Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. – Proverbs 9:10 (NLT)

Fear theLord, you holy ones of his;
for those who fear him lack nothing. – Psalm 34:9 (ISV)

In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
he is more awesome than all who surround him. – Psalm 89:7 (NIV)

The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers. – Acts 9:31 (NLT)

Then I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire. Those who had conquered the beast, its image, and the number of its name were standing on the sea of glass holding God’s harps in their hands. They sang the song of God’s servant Moses and the song of the lamb:
Your deeds are both spectacular and amazing, Lord God Almighty.
Your ways are just and true, King of the nations.
Lord, who won’t fear and praise your name?
For you alone are holy,
and all the nations will come and worship you
because your judgments have been revealed.” – Revelation 15:2-4 (ISV)

When I think of being in fear, I realize that I would consider myself very lucky, no, very blessed. I haven’t been fearful much in my life. I rolled my car one time and in those few seconds, I was definitely fearful as I spun out of control and the car tipped over, rolling off the slight embakement. I was “stomach dropped,” bone-chilling fearful the day I looked into my young son’s throat and saw what I knew was a tumor blooming up. Yes, that was probably the most fearful moment of my life.

So is Scripture, God through His Word, telling me that I should fear Him like that?

Then I think of my own earthly father. Did I fear him? Yes, absolutely. He was a big man with big hands. He tried very hard not to allow his temper to get out of control as he knew he could hurt someone. And sometimes he did lose his temper and lose control.

Over the years as I have studied Scripture, I have from them and from my personal relationship what and who my Heavenly Father is truly like.

  • He created all that there is: the oceans which hold the mammoth whales as if they are goldfish in a bowl, the sky in which millions fly, whether hummingbird or condor.
  • He created His children which now number in the billions. He moved them from captivity to the Promise Land, providing them with direction and food for 40 days and nights. He gave their enemies over to them and established His Kingdom in them.
  • When they did not turn from their evil ways, He took His hand from them and allowed them to be taken into captivity by their enemies.
  • He sent His Son, His only Son, as the blood sacrifice which would cover our sins. And when His Son took our sins upon Himself, God stepped away from His Son, separated Himself for the first and only time.

God has proven to me that He will keep His promises, no matter how difficult, even terrible they may be. Yes, He will keep all those wonderful promises, His plans for my future filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11). But He will also keep the promises for punishment when I choose not to turn away from my unholy, impure, sinful ways (Revelation 21:27).

This is my LORD. This is the One whom I love and Who loves me. He is my Father God. Do I fear Him? Yes. He is worthy of my love and it is wisdom for me to also know that He is worthy of my fear, my acknowledgment of His power and authority. It is not a fear that brings terror and fright for someone whose actions from day to day I am uncertain. Our relationship grows and I know Him, His love and faithfulness.

Holy fear can be defined as a healthy aspect of a holy relationship between God and His children. It can be a factor which encourages a child to be obedient to their parent. I remember as I was living away from home for the first time during my college years. For the first time I was exposed to unlimited amunts liquor, marijuana and other drugs. Fear of my parents and how they would react should I decide to give liquor and drugs a try and get arrested for these opportunities – I knew that my father’s response might very well include allowing me to find a way to get myself out of jail or just remain there indefinitely, thus destroying my nursing career and plans. Quite a deterrent!

So holy fear of God is not a bad thing if I remember who and what He is to me and who and what I am to Him.

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