Why Does God Ask Us to Fear Him?

by | Jul 14, 2022

painted heart and sun

Highlights for 2 Kings 17-25

This article is a bit shorter than others; nonetheless, it answered a big question I’ve had for a long time. Once again, 2 Kings 17 teaches us we are supposed to FEAR God.

fear: angst, anxiety, dismay, despair, panic, worry, unease

Really? Let’s read that verse.

KJV Bible – 2 Kings 17:39

39 But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. (2 Kings 17:39)

This same idea is repeated 12 times in 2 Kings, chapter 17!

Why fear? Have you ever wondered what ‘fear God’ means? Or wondered why He wants us to be afraid of Him? How does that work if He has perfected charity in Himself? That idea has always seemed like an oxymoron (contradiction) because ‘God is love.’ (1 John 4:16)

Fear God is essentially the same as ‘fear Love.”

oxymoron: join contradictory words together that have seemingly opposite meanings like “cruel kindness,” “working holiday,” or “minor crisis.”

The Hebrew Bible – 2 Kings 17:39

The Hebrew Bible seems to say the same thing:

But the Lord your God shall you fear, and He will save you from the hand of all your enemies.

Robert Alter, a celebrated Hebrew scholar, clarifies the use of the word fear, and it makes a lot of sense.

Robert Alter: The verbs “fear” and “serve” are clearly equivalent terms for performing acts of worship.

If you reread 2 Kings 17, you will notice the word “serve” works perfectly whenever “fear” is used. Let’s try it!

KJV Bible – 2 Kings 17:36-39

36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye SERVE, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.
37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not SERVE other gods.
38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye SERVE other gods.
39 But the Lord your God ye shall SERVE; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.

What Robert Alter says makes sense. Whenever the word fear is used and then defined in these verses and others – we get words like worship, bow, do sacrifice, and observe the statutes, ordinances, laws, and commandments. Also, we are told not to forget the covenant we made with Him and to remember He delivers us. They are positive descriptions of being proactive. Being afraid of Him or feeling dismay because of Him is never mentioned when referring to those who follow and honor Him.

May we fear (serve) God by the way we keep our covenants with Him and love Him. God is love and He loved us first.

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