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Preparing for Jesus – Fear of the Lord – Advent, Day 5

Finally…I am forcing myself to slow down for just a few moments to acknowledge and reflect on the true depth and significance of this season. Today I am looking at Isaiah 11 to help me focus.

Isaiah 11 (New International Version, ©2010)

Isaiah 11

The Branch From Jesse

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

In Isaiah 11:1-3 we see a phrase that is somewhat common in the Old Testament…”fear of the LORD.” Fear is an interesting concept when taken in the context of the ancient Hebrew world view. According to Harris, Archer and Waltke’s book, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, “Biblical usages of YARE [the root Hebrew word for fear] are broken down into 5 major categories.  1) The emotion of fear – Deut 5:5, 2) the intellectual anticipation of evil without the emphasis upon the emotional reaction – Gen 31:31,  3) reverence or awe – Hab 3:2,  4) righteous behavior or piety – Lev 25:17 and 5) formal religious worship. Job 1:3.

Many people simplify the word fear in the Bible into one word…reverence. Of course that is one accurate description. But is it too narrow. As I examine the old testament Hebrew view of God I see our God who could be terrifying, awesome, overwhelming, extreme and dare I say distressing. He is God..He is perfect…Perhaps our tidy westernized and domesticated view of God struggles with accepting this. . All I know is that every account I have ever read in the Bible, when  someone has come face to face with the Glory of God they have wound up on their face. For me…this overwhelmingly incredible in truly awesome view of God only adds to the amazing and fantastic idea that the mighty and holy most powerful, most high God of the entire Universe would send His son in such a tender, loving and humble way…a baby…born into this world like every other sinner, yet never sinning, Raised on the wrong side of the tracks in poverty and obscurity…

The specific Hebrew word for fear used above in verses 2 and 3 is the word YIRAH, which means “fear, reverence” According to Vines Bible Dictionary, it is used 45 times in the Old testament in the context of reverence to people and of God. It seems to be a common expression used to prescribe the most appropriate life long attitude we should have toward our most high God. So God is Awesome, God is mighty, God is perfect, but God is truly good and we can delight is the awesomeness of our most high God who made a way for us to experience his love personally forever. So…knowing what you know about our most high God, do you delight in the fear of the Lord?

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