Yirah is a Hebrew word meaning Fear or Reverence/Awe. I'll admit that I have not studied this in depth myself, but I do have it on good authority (thanks to Joe Royer-praise God for wise old pastors, lol) that when the Bible was translated the translators had to decide whether to translate the Hebrew word Yirah as "fear" or "awe". They chose to translate Yirah as fear. We see and hear over and over to have a fear of the Lord...or we refer to ourselves as God-fearing (this term has always perplexed me personally).
Interestingly enough, when defining Fear at dictionary.com, one of the definitions of fear is "reverential awe". When I think of fear, I think of something that scares me...something that causes me to worry...something that will cause pain...something to run away from...like my irrational fear of chickens (it's ok to laugh at me, I'm used to it by now). God's wrath is something to fear, but as a believer I know that Christ died for my sins and did for me what I could not do for myself (avoid God's wrath). Those who aren't IN Christ believe that those who are IN Christ do good things out of the fear of God's wrath...that we operate out of fear. But that couldn't be farther from the truth.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:18)
God's perfect love for me - the sacrifice of Jesus - drove out all fear of punishment. To fear God's wrath is to not live IN Christ. The only fear that I could ever have in God is that I would fall so far from Him and fail to repent and turn from sin....and be outside of his protection.
Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church began a new sermon series this past Sunday titled Room 101 about Facing Your Greatest Fears. Pastor Furtick said "Faith in God is not the absence of fear but the presence of Christ." He also said that Fear of the Lord is to be "terrified to ever be outside of His protection."
God knows that I am going to sin and fail to live the holy, blameless, and pure life He wants me to live yet he sent his Son to die as a sacrifice for me...a sacrifice so that I (a sinner) would not face God's wrath, the wrath I deserve to face. If that act of perfect love doesn't inspire a reverential awe of God then nothing will.
What are your greatest fears?