fear vs awe

“We are a generation that has been stripped of our awe”.
Lisa Bevere

“The fullness of wisdom is fear of the Lord,
she is present with the faithful in the womb (Sirach 1:14).
Fear of the Lord does not mean to be afraid of God.
It means to stand in awe and wonder before the greatness of the Lord.
When we recognize that God is God and we are creatures,
we develop a healthy sense of humility.
We acknowledge our need for wisdom and grace, which are both
gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Rev. Jude Winkler, p. 9

(Dingle Peninsula / Co Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

Fear, the dictionary tells us, is defined as:
an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something
is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

The dictionary also tells us that the definition of Awe is:
an emotion variously combining dread, veneration,
and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime

And so for those who have read both the Old and or New Testaments,
the word fear is often found throughout the various texts within both
halves that make up the Christian Bible as well in the Jewish Torah.
Even the Quran instructs those of the Muslim faith to fear Allah.

So we believers of the one Omnipotent God,
those of us who make up the three pillars of this monotheist faith of ours,
are often told, or so it seems, that we are to fear the Lord our God.

And yet within that same command, we are also told that we are not to be afraid–
that we are not to be fearful…
Rather we are told to love the Lord our God with all of our heart and soul.

For our’s is a great and powerful God…Master Creator.
He breathed life into our nostrils as he formed us in secret within the womb.
He has known us before we were even formed.
And he has loved us before time.

But we also know that He is a God of judgement.
A God who has cast out evil and will continue doing so until His
time has come.

A God who has instructed us how to live…and within those instructions
if they are not followed, there are indeed repercussions for not doing so.
But there is also great compassion and great forgiveness.

So it seems, that as the created, we have a fine line, once again in our lives.
It is a line that consists of both love and fear.

Yet fear is not exactly the right word to use when we speak of our God
and of the love He holds for us, His created.

The translations, over time have taken what was to be one and turning it into
another word completely.
And with the transitions has come a wealth of human emotion both
good and bad.

Yet the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries explains
The Hebrew word translated into ‘awe’ in the Bible is yirah
(יראה, pronounced yir-ah).
It often directly translates into fear, but it can also mean respect,
reverence, and worship.
But, make no mistake about it, yirah is strongly connected to ‘trembling’.

And so I think that as we enter this season of expectation…
this season of Advent…we must remember that whereas we
are indeed watching and waiting with great expectation,
we should also find ourselves in pure wonderment as to what is
to come upon us.
Not so much fearful but rather one of amazement.

We are to be in awe—not so much fear as we know word,
but rather that of trembling both outwardly physically as well as internally.

For in that awe, that which we cannot readily comprehend, as we find ourselves
standing before a crib holding a small newborn child,
we must remember that this newborn child holds in His heart
the future of our own hearts.

And in that thought lies our amazement, wonder and awe.
Because it is there, in that newborn, where the epitome love resides.

There is much around us that is awesome and awful.
We know too well the divisions and suffering that plague our world.
We have seen that the authorities today use tactics similar to those employed 2,000
years ago, and many people scheme to play to our fear,
destroy our hope, and seal off our joy.

But we have the confidence of our faith.
We have seen the risen Lord!

Joyce Hollyday

14 comments on “fear vs awe

  1. I am in awe of fear…no wait….I fear awe? Is that possible? Anyway, I like people who awe me and fear me. I pioneered the “6 foot keep your distance rule” way before Covid.

  2. Citizen Tom says:

    Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
    Awe is something best reserved for God.

  3. Amen, Julie!

    Love and fear are closely entwinned but that’s a tough concept to talk about these days because people are so aware of abuse. That’s not God at all, that’s just the icky side of people tainting our understanding.

    I like the Puritans and assorted people from a few hundred years ago. They speak of God as being “awful,” which back in those days mean awe-ful, awe inspiring, wonderful, marvelous! It’s only in modern times that “awful” has come to mean something bad. It used to signify something more akin to wonder and delight.

  4. oneta hayes says:

    The expression “be not afraid” is easier to understand. We are awed in his presence but not afraid in his presence.

  5. Julie,

    Excellent post to help us better understand the meaning of “Fear of the Lord’.

    I believe many in our contemporary times regard fear motive as a negative way to motivate.

    In my novel I surmised King Solomon to explain the ancient thoughts and meaning in this paragraph.

    “For example, what does every child learn to do in order to obtain favor from his father? He loves his father and treats him with respect and admiration. In addition, what will a child learn from his father if he disobeys? He will learn his father may discipline the son in order to teach and guide him to follow a righteous path so he may achieve a long and fruitful life. There is a very close relationship between the meaning of fear and love. A father that disciplines his son does so because he loves him.”

    In my opinion, we all need a refresher course to understand why King Solomon wrote the proverb, Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, because, sadly, in our contemporary times – “We are a generation that has been stripped of our awe”.Lisa Bevere.

    Once we begin to understand this proverb, we will revere in awe all his wonders and blessings.

    Thanks for your refreshing thoughts at this time to remind me.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

  6. boudicaus says:

    Reblogged this on boudica.us and commented:
    H/T Citizen Tom

  7. SLIMJIM says:

    Good discussion about fear and awe

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