Luke J. Wilson | 11th November 2019 |
The other week we had a series of power cuts in our town. It doesn’t happen very often here where I am, but there was particularly bad weather recently which damaged some cables; but sitting in the dark winter evening, my phone low on battery power, it made me realise just how much we rely on electricity for nearly everything these days. We don’t even have a gas supply so we were completely cut off from doing anything!
Now it might sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget how dependent we are on modern conveniences until it’s suddenly taken away and you’re sat in the cold surrounded by tiny little tea-light candles. The following Sunday, the sermon at church touched on the fear of God, which got me thinking about how that concept is still kind of strange to me—God is love, He’s our Father, we’re His children… but then we are to also fear Him?
What does this have to do with electricity and power cuts, I hear you say—I’ll come to that in a moment. I’ve often been taught that the word “fear” used in this context actually means “respect”, so I decided to look up the Greek and Hebrew words that are used when we see the words “fear God” in the Bible.
It wasn’t exactly what I expected to find.
2 Corinthians 5:11 is where I began, as that was the verse quoted in the sermon.
Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are revealed to God, and I hope that we are revealed also in your consciences.
I thought I may see a Greek word with a semantic range which includes “respect” or “honour” maybe, but what I found was the word φόβος (phobos) which literally means “alarm or fright; be afraid, fear, terror”. It’s also where we get our English word “phobia” from!
So I went forward a couple of chapters to this verse:
2 Corinthians 7:1Having therefore these promises, beloved, let’s cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.