Why fear God? Our Walk & Discipleship


What does it mean to fear God? Why should we fear God? Can you name any scriptural passages or instances wherein someone fears God? Why is fearing God essential to discipleship? Credit to Matt Dabb’s video: “Fear & Discipleship-Fear’s Healthy Role in Following Jesus” for encouraging me to explore this concept in more depth.

The Holy Bible, Berean Standard Bible, BSB
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Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Highlights mine on texts to assist reader

Key Terms:

The Hebrew words יִרְאַ֣ת (yir’aṯ) and פחד (p̄aḥaḏ) are used for the “fear of the Lord.” For passages and examples of yir’at see article below:

Hebrew Meaning of Yirah: What Connects Fear and Awe?

Dr. Nicholas J. Schaser explains how we properly understand the context to properly understand these terms. He reminds us:

When Bible readers ask about the meaning of a Hebrew word, they might assume that there’s a single and semantically stable answer. However, the definitions of words do not function this simply in any language; instead, the same word can have two disparate meanings depending on its context.


He explains how we can correctly interpret these words in his article:

Scriptural Examples of Being Afraid of God/Fear of God

There are numerous passages and instances of this topic through out Old Testament books.

1. Genesis 3:8-10:
Fear Because of Broken Relationship-Shame/Running Away

8Then the man and his wife heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the breeze of the day, and they hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

9But the LORD God called out to the man, “Where are you?”

10“I heard Your voice in the garden,” he replied, “and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”

Adam and Eve hear God coming and what do they do? They hide. The first example of hide and seek. Why hide? God walked in the Garden of Eden with them prior to the Fall. What has changed? They have disobeyed and rebelled against God. The relationship has been broken–they know it and act accordingly. In the following verses, the blame game starts with Adam blaming first God who gave him Eve, then Eve. Eve blames the serpent. Adam and Eve hide from God, but He comes to them in their shame and sin.

Knowing that God knows all and sees all things, why did they hide? Why does God ask questions when He already knows the answers? Why do we try to avoid God and cover up our sinful ways? The game of hide and seek continues!

God is calling them to account (invitation to repent) and reaching out to them with full knowledge of their actions. God covers up their nakedness with animal skins. God’s grace and humanity’s sin appear in this passage. Sinners flee and hide, but God seeks out to save and redeem. God confronts us with the truth that we are sinners and need Him to cloth us with His righteousness!

Why should we fear God? God is Holy and we sin! Recall that God doesn’t leave them naked. God casts them out from the Garden and curses them and the serpent. God promises in verse 15 (curse on the serpent) that the serpent will be crushed. This verse is called the Proto-Evangelium. For a detailed explanation:


2. Exodus 20:18-20
Fearing God because He appears in storm!

18When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sounding of the ram’s horn, and the mountain enveloped in smoke, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19“Speak to us yourself and we will listen,” they said to Moses. “But do not let God speak to us, or we will die.”

20“Do not be afraid,” Moses replied. “For God has come to test you, so that the fear of Him may be before you, to keep you from sinning.” 21And the people stood at a distance as Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

When God shows up the Hebrews are rightfully terrified. God’s Holy Nature is acutely sensed. Have you encountered God in your life? When God speaks and Holy Spirit moves in our lives–we recognize and sense that God is Holy and that we aren’t holy in ourselves. Do we stay the same? Consider the encounters of God in Old Testament accounts: from angels to visions from Holy God, people are left shaken and afraid. Take a moment to read Isaiah Chapter Six.


What is Isaiah’s reaction? What does he say and how does he respond? How does the angel respond and assist Isaiah? For more about the deeper meaning of burning coals in God’s Word:


3. Deuteronomy 20:12-13 & 20-21:
God Commands Us to Fear and Walk with Him accordingly

12And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD that I am giving you this day for your own good?

20You are to fear the LORD your God and serve Him. Hold fast to Him and take your oaths in His name. 21He is your praise and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome wonders that your eyes have seen.

God commands us to fear Him! Recall that fear means to have proper respect and consideration for God’s Nature. God is Love and extends grace to us in His lovingkindness. Yet, He is Holy and works to increase our holiness as we trust, obey, and depend upon Him! Fear leads us to be sober and discerning in how we conduct our lives. Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10 explains this:

4. Proverbs 1:7 & 9:10
Fearing God leads to knowledge and wisdom

7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,

but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,

and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Knowing God’s nature moves us to have deep respect, awe, and a sense of wonder of Him! Got questions sums this up well:

Fearing God means having a reverence for Him that greatly impacts the way we live. The fear of God is respecting Him, obeying Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshiping Him in awe.


Do you fear God because you respect and know Him? Do you know His ways and truths in a manner that impacts you? Is God a concept or theological curiosity for you? Have you been transformed by encountering Him?

Fear of God and Discipleship

How does God react to our fear and reverence for Him? He purifies, redeems, and touches our lives with His presence! Fear of God isn’t limited to Old Testament revelation! Consider how Peter reacts to Jesus in Luke 5:

The First Disciples
(Matthew 4:18–22; Mark 1:16–20; John 1:35–42)

1On one occasion, while Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesareta with the crowd pressing in on Him to hear the word of God, 2He saw two boats at the edge of the lake. The fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3Jesus got into the boat belonging to Simon and asked him to put out a little from shore. And sitting down, He taught the people from the boat.

4When Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

5“Master,” Simon replied, “we have worked hard all night without catching anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets.” 6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to tear. 7So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees. “Go away from me, Lord,” he said, “for I am a sinful man.” 9For he and his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10and so were his partners James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

“Do not be afraid,” Jesus said to Simon. “From now on you will catch men.” 11And when they had brought their boats ashore, they left everything and followed Him.

Notice the reaction of Peter. First, he realizes correctly that he is in the Presence of Someone Great and Powerful. Second, while Peter has his doubts, he obeys and Jesus moves. Encountering Jesus requires that we have a correct perception of Him and our sinful nature. Third, Jesus gives the disciples a new mission/purpose. He tells them two things:

1–Don’t be afraid–why? Is true change ever easy? Can a person truly encounter Christ and not be moved/changed/and ultimately transformed into someone different? God’s nature brings us to the end of ourselves understanding that we are in the Presence and Hold of Someone much greater and powerful than we can understand!

2. Now you will catch men/make you fishers of men

Mark 1:17-18

17“Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18And at once they left their nets and followed Him.

The change is total and immediate in both passages. They left everything/left nets and followed Him. Their identity as fishermen has become something greater. Consider John Chapter 21. Please read this chapter at the link below:


Consider that Jesus has been resurrected at this point and Peter is leading several disciples back to fishing. Jesus shows up again in a special way. This passage warrants a later post! Yet, I want you to see the connection between the first interaction and the later. Jesus shows up and Peter recognizes and responds to Jesus! May we be like Peter in seeing Jesus and responding in repentance and faith!

Reflection Questions

Thanks for reading to this point in this post! Here are some self-reflection questions:

  1. How am I showing proper respect, awe, and faithful obedience to God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit in my daily life?
  2. What sins are present in my life and need to be confessed to God? What areas do I need to grow, mature, and continue to seek God’s wisdom in my life?
  3. Have I really experienced God’s Holy Nature? Do I see and relate to God as He reveals Himself in His Word or according to my own desires and concepts?
  4. What things or relationships do I need to leave behind to follow God? What am I holding onto that takes priority over following Christ?

Published by leestanfill@yahoo.com

Just a pilgrim walking each day with Jesus and hoping to encourage others along the path.

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