Please know that the words I’m choosing to highlight in this post are not the only words that can be translated as “fear” or “afraid,” but they are the common terms. Also know that I am not using every word found in each definition; that would take up a lot of space and you might get bored. If you want to pursue this further (and I hope you do!) check out the “original language tools” at StudyLight).
Do you ever have moments when you learn something about yourself and it just makes you angry?
Today is one of those days.
I decided to examine the words for “fear” and “afraid” in the Hebrew and Greek. What I found is startling:
Morah: reverence, terror
Yare: revere, afraid, in awe of, respect
Yirah: awesome or terrifying, dreadful
Phobos: fear, dread, terror, reverence
Phobeo: put to flight, scare away, flee, startle, amaze, reverence, deference
Did you catch the thread running through each of those definitions?
A feeling of profound awe and respect and often love.
And that just makes me so mad. Profound awe? Respect? Love? Those emotions, in that combination, are to be felt toward the Lord alone. They are elements of worship, folks. Worship.
Before you object, I am with you in agreeing that certain types of fear are good. We shouldn’t take walks down the middle of the freeway. We shouldn’t pick up rattlesnakes. We shouldn’t play Russian Roulette. Our lives quite literally depend upon us recognizing dangerous situations and proceeding with common sense and caution. But none of us can escape the connection the inspired authors of Scripture made between fear and worship.
It’s a perverse thing, this worship. When using caution in driving pushes us to drive as little as possible, or not at all. When an encounter with a mean dog pushes us to avoid all dogs. When a bad grade pushes us to drop out of college. When a panicked moment in a mall pushes us to never leave the house.
We hold that thing in awe.
We put that thing up on a pedestal and we bow down to its power.
Bravery pushes the pedestal over.
Grace and peace along the way.