Word Study– Fear
Exodus 14:31: “And Israel saw the great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians and the people feared the Lord.”
Fear – Hebrew : Yara’ To fear, to reverence, to respect, to honor, to behold as wonderful and marvelous.
This verse would suggest that the people of Israel were terrified of the Lord when they saw the work and believed God as a result of that terror. The English word “fear” in our modern usage is a poor choice for the Hebrew word “yara.” Our modern English word “fear” suggest terror, and concern for one’s own safety. Yet the Hebrew word has it roots in the idea of being awed and greatly impressed with something.
When we get to the nit and gritty of this word we find something even more important in our relationship with God. The word is spelled “Yod, Resh, Aleph.” The Yod speaks to us of a heavenly message that introduces us to the Resh which causes us to recognize our need for repentance resulting in the Aleph or a unity with God. There is one little twist to this word fear that we as Christians do not seem to recognize. It is a fear not for our own gizzard, but a concern for someone or something else. A husband who truly loves his wife will not cheat on her, not because he is afraid of her hitting him on the head with a frying pan but that he will wound the heart of the one he truly loves.
In it’s most primitive form the word “yara,” which we render as fear, carries the idea that when we “fear the Lord,” we so love Him that we will “fear” doing anything that will wound His heart. To “fear the Lord” means that we so reverence, so respect, so honor, and consider the heart of God to be so wonderful and marvelous that we will do nothing to wound His heart. When we give our hearts to God He gives us his heart. Just as God will tenderly care for our hearts we must in turn hold His heart as a sacred trust and protect it like a husband protects his wife’s heart.