Spirit Series, Part 5 (Most Holy Place)
He thinks about how close to Yehovah he feels every time he reaches the heights of some majestic mountainside and he smiles as he recalls the pleasure of tying his preparation of the climb to the Word. The items necessary to his safety he compares to the armor of God. The fleece hat that covers his ears, topped by the helmet – the helmet of salvation; the climbing harness – the girdle of truth; the insulated parka – the breastplate of righteousness; the ice-axe -the sword of the spirit; the wind and water proof jacket and pants – the shield of faith; and the hiking boots with strap-on crampons – the shoes in preparation for peace.
Is the word translated fear, in the passages we quote, a correct translation?
The word most often translated ‘fear’ in the old ‘Hebrew’ Covenant is the transliterated Hebrew word yirah. Yirah can mean ‘fear.’
According to the Book of Genesis, Yehovah–yireh or Yahweh–yireh, (YHWH will provide), was a place in the land of Moriah. It was the location of the binding of Isaac, where God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering. It can also mean awe, reverence, respect and devotion. Yirah, is a close relative to the transliterated Hebrew word yare. Yare means fearful, but also can mean to stand in awe, reverence or honor.
Although not in the passages we quoted, translators chose to also translate the Hebrew word mowra, as fear, as well as, reverence, object of reverence, or an awe inspiring manifestation or action.
When the most ardent student of scripture encounters passages mentioning fear of God, they are most often skimmed over and rarely pondered. Even though promising desirable blessings and covetable rewards, the full weight of these passages are routinely sidestepped. This happens because of the presence of the word fear, in the word phrasing. It is a word which conjures up notions of terror, dread, and anxiety.
Also, many reason incorrectly that these passages promote a vengeful God of the Old Covenant, one with whom they would rather not think about. Some find it difficult to reconcile a God who is to be feared with the loving God in the gospel of this church age: a gospel abounding with Abba’s love and mercy. Many notable ministries who have settled in this camp go even further and deny the significance of this vengeful God and dismiss the Old Covenant altogether.
Another Hebrew word translated as fear, guwr, also means to stir up, sojourn, dwell with, remain, and dwell in or to stand in awe of.
One more thing to consider is how the same words are used when referring to something other than Yehovah.
“And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear [yirah] of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.” Isaiah 7:25
Here we see yirah of briers and thorns. One doesn’t venerate or experience awe and devotion to such things. We avoid them like they are fire.
As it appears in the New Covenant, the words ‘phobos’ or ‘phobeo’ are also switch-hitters. While the meaning translates as terror and cause to fear; withdrawal; to flee because of a feeling of inadequacy (from which we get the word ‘phobia’); it is also used positively, as in relation to God.
John 19:38 “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear [phobos]of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.”
John 20:19 “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear [phobos] of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”
Acts 9:31 “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear [phobos] of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”
Romans 3:18 “There is no fear [phobos] of God before their eyes.”
2 Corinthians 7:1 “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear [phobos] of God.”
While honoring the imposed limitations of the English language and because of the weight of these passages and comments, we therefore conclude that the translation is certainly appropriate. However, because both the Hebrew and Greek words offer mitigated meanings, settling only upon the idea the word translated ‘fear’ is talking only about terror, dread and anxiety, is inappropriate. Nor is it appropriate to settle that these words only mean reverence. Therefore there are several important nuances to consider.
We are of the opinion that the phrase ‘fear of God’ is gives abundant weight to idea that the spirit is speaking about divine reverence when the phrase is appears.
Our next article, Part 6 in the series about the personal spirit, will speak about the spirit sense Hope of God.