One of our most primal emotions is fear, in Hebrew “yare”. Biblically there is a distinction made between the fear of the Lord and the fear we have towards things in our lives. Fear of the Lord is often interpreted as being in awe or respecting the Lord. The fear of man, or other dangerous things is translated just as a negative fear.
I think if we look at the Ancient Hebrew we can perhaps transcend these distinctions that are somewhat interpretive and abstract and gain some revelation that can become very useful and powerful.
First though, let’s talk a bit about fear itself. I am in the process of reading a very powerful book on longevity, one of my passions, entitled The Survival Paradox by Isaac Eliaz, MD. Dr. Eliaz is a holistic medical doctor who works with terminally diagnosed cancer patients. He has uncovered in his research that the fight or flight sympathetic nervous system response, what he terms the survival mechanism, which is rooted in fear is a huge part of what disrupts our immune functioning and brings about an acceleration into sickness and disease. He calls this the “survival paradox” meaning that which was designed for us to survive in certain legitimate situations becomes locked into a dysfunctional state that creates all kinds of damage to us, including conditions like cancer.
At the root of this research, is the emotion of fear. Dr. Eliaz writes: “What causes us to shift into a hypervigilant mode, all the way down to the level of our biochemistry? Our need to survive. There are many strategies for survival. We can survive by hiding, which is a containment strategy. We can survive by fighting, running away, or shutting down the defense mechanisms of our enemies. We can survive by eating less or by eating foods that break down slowly. But no matter the strategy, the survival drive is an individual instinct, and it’s often every person for themselves.”
All of this is a response to the emotion of fear, in Hebrew yare. Ok, let’s take a look at the word picture. Yare is a 3 letter word root. First, we have the “yod” which is picture or a hand or an arm. Secondly, we have the “reysh” which is picture of a. head, or of the symbol of authority. The third and final symbol is the aleph, the first letter of the alphabet, or aleph bet in Hebrew which is the picture of an ox denoting strength and power.
There are many ways we could put all of that together but using this one word for bother the fear of the Lord and the fear of man and of death, I think a good connector is to interpret the letters as fear as that which is the hand or the arm touching the power of an authority or a glory in our lives.
So there are 2 distinct fears in the Bible which derive their nature from the source or the generator of each fear.
First, let’s look at unhealthy fears. God reveals Himself to Abraham and tells him:
“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."” (Gen 15:1, NKJV)
This is the word “yare” and is clearly intended to give Abram encouragement and strength to face both his enemies and to extend a reward, a son who would become his inheritance. In this case Abram had the fear of his own mortality and the barrenness of him and Sarah. It is no accident that God spoke this at the beginning of His covenant relationship with Abram. Mortality and the fear of our limited lifespan is a key fear that dominates many. Yeshua specifically came to destroy this root fear because it dominates so much of our society and world.
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb 2:14-15, NKJV)
There is no more effective bondage than that which comes from the fear of death. As I have already mentioned, when fear as expressed through the flight of fight response, which is a medical description of a cascade of bodily changes that get locked into our body, mind and spirit operate consistently in our lives, then we accelerate death into our experience.
This is so important. Fear is normal but the fear of death is demonic. Look at the past “pandemic” and see the overwhelming message of fearing death and its devastation of people across the board. I wish I could say that Believers fared better but mostly there was a wholesale discarding of the Gospel of Peace in favor of following the fear mongers. Masks, hibernation in homes, injections of questionable substances all revealed the power of the fear of death. God was on target beginning His covenant with this admonishment.
Yeshua also reiterates this primal fear in Matthew 10:28:
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mat 10:28, NKJV)
There are many scriptures that speak to the fear of death and specifically to the fear of man, or disease, or poverty but in the interest of time, I want to turn to the other type of fear, the fear of the Lord. In the ten commandments section, the Lord sums it up in verse Exodus 20:20
“And Moses said to the people, "Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin."” (Exo 20:20, NKJV)
In this case, God was thundering from the holy mountain and the people were understandably in mortal fear of what was happening. Yet God was clear in wanting them not to fear death but to fear Him and the distinction was the source of sin.
This is so powerful, when you think about it and is actually a deep revelation of the nature of fear, yare. Let’s go back to the word picture. Fear, yare is described in the characters as what the hand or the reach of the arm touches that reveals the strength or the power of an authority. What we touch in faith reveals what authority flows into and through our lives. Meditate on that for a moment.
What determines what we reach out and touch for authority and power in our lives? Look at the so called pandemic of the recent past. What authority or power did people reach out for? This determines what their fear is of.
Paul tells us that this is actually our true warfare:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12, NKJV)
Wrestling is a word picture of a contest of physical strength and solid footing or balance. Paul is telling us that spiritually we decide where we will place our fear. Will we place our fear on principalities, on worldly powers against authorities of the darkness of this age, hosts of wickedness? When we tie that together with the devil as the ruler of the fear of death, we see whose host they truly are.
Paul continues then with the armor of God verses which are really about putting on the fear of the Lord, which is reaching out and touching Him as the source of our protection in this life and the guardian of our immortality beyond the grave.
Let’s look at a scriptural example of what I am taking about:
“Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, "Who touched Me?" When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, "Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?' " But Jesus said, "Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me." Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace."” (Luk 8:43-48, NKJV)
I love this story because it distinguishes between the fear of sickness and the fear of the Lord. This woman has been plagued for 12 years with constant hemorrhaging. You can imagine how scary that must have been. Her system was locked into fear. As a result, she had tried everything the physicians had to offer. She “followed” the science of her day. Yet she realized that a greater One was here and if she could just reach out and touch His garment she would be healed. This is the word picture of fear. She had already touched the hem of the world and all it got her was more sickness. Now, she was ready to touch the garment of the Lord.
This is a new system of authority and power for her, and she reached out and grasped it. That was the fear of the Lord.
Fear is the touch and search for power and authority. Where will our fear be?
Activation: Meditate on your own fears and see where you can transfer them to the fear of the Lord!