God Fearing?

JuLeah - posted on 06/15/2011 ( 23 moms have responded )

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Okay, I posted a question about atheism and gained understanding I didn’t have prior. So, I am going to use this format to gain clarity about another such issue.

The expression “God Fearing”

Now, in my world, Faith is the absents of fear. God and Fear don’t exist in the same moment in time.

I have been taught, and believe, you make a choice in each moment, faith or fear.
Faith=God … or creator, or Allah, or higher power, or Jesus, or HaShem, or Mother Nature, or Goddess … or whatever word you use.

God, I have been taught, and believe, is light, love, joy, truth, and faith.

The absents of God, is fear, lies, doubt, hate, bigotry, jealousy ….

So, I truly have no understanding of the expression “God Fearing”

I was not taught to fear God.

I was attending a bible study sometime back and asked about this. I was told that the ancient word for respect was translated to ‘fear’ in many modern bibles, but never meant to be read as fear. So, this Rabbi could not really answer my question.

I asked a Priest this question. He said when the bible was written, later translated; the idea of love that great was beyond the understanding of people that had been slaves. They were used to masters, rules, and the lash if they disobeyed. A God they must fear was easier to understand, to that word was used.

My Rabbi and Priest both spoke about how the bible was written for the audience of the day, to reach them, to meet them where they were at and help them evolve. It was a set of concrete rules them might follow on their way to understanding their spiritual nature.

Why is the word still used? Why are children taught to fear God? It seems a step backwards to my way of thinking.

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Minnie - posted on 06/15/2011

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There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19



Thank you JuLeah, for considering the Hebraeic interpretation of the fear of God. It's VASTLY different from westernized fundamental Christianity.

Becky - posted on 06/15/2011

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I have always been taught that the word in the original language does not really mean fear, it's meaning is more akin to reverence and respect for a holy God. I do not fear God and I won't teach my children that they should be afraid of him either. But I will teach them to respect and revere him.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 06/15/2011

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Me too. Somehow today I woke up angry. Like how shitty is that? How do you not even know how your day is going to be but just wake up mad anyway? LOL I should have taken a nap before 'lol whatever' because I am awake now afterwards going 'wow Niki that was rude'. Seriously.. waking up mad -shakes head- I'm going to go start a post about it......

[deleted account]

Doing bad doesn't get you into hell and being good doesn't get you into heave.... 'lol whatever' is fine, but the entire concept of Christianity isn't based on what you stated when you said 'look at Christianity'....

It's not about fearing God's judgement or wrath. It's not God doing anything to us. The simple fact (if you believe it is fact, at least) is that God can not be in the presence of sin. It's just not possible.

And I just realized I shouldn't be bothering even attempting to explain anything. Sorry.. Carry on.

JuLeah - posted on 06/15/2011

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Ok ... according to Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser



The most common terms used in the Hebrew Bible for "fearing" God are words related to Yirah. This word's root also appears in related terms used in the rabbinic literature: Yirat HaShem, "Fearing God's Name"; Yirat Shamayim, "Fearing Heaven"; and Yirat Cheit, "Fearing Sin."

There is no one-to-one correspondence between any two words from two different languages. While Yirah usually is translated as "fear," its usage suggests a meaning that might also be translated with the English word "awe." Different Hebrew words are used in the Bible for the kind of anxious fear one might describe as "dread" or "loathing."

The Hebrew Bible's concept of "fearing God," therefore, can be compared to the feeling of looking at the nighttime sky and being awed by the immensity of space and simultaneously terrified by the thought of our smallness in such a vast expanse. That is to say, it is the feeling of being overwhelmed by a reality greater than oneself and greater than that encountered in ordinary life. It is the feeling that the theologian Rudolf Otto called the Mysterium Tremendum.

I will add, there is also no word for 'sin' in the Hebrew text. The words/phrase translates as 'missing the mark' or 'making a mistake'

It is interesting, I know I have said it before, but I attend bible study and am astonished by the different interrputations of any given passage. Depending on the publisher, the year and country the bible you hold was published, the passage may have many many different translations.

There are some words in the old langauge that scholars admit, they do not know the meaning of, so had to guess when translating the 'modren' books we read.

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Becky - posted on 06/15/2011

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Juleah, what you posted is how I understand it. It's awe and reverence, not so much fear. Anyway, if you believe that Christ paid the penalty for our sins and that you are forgiven, you have nothing to be afraid of.

ME - posted on 06/15/2011

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I don't particularly like this term...but I also don't think that it means "fear" as in the way you should fear a serial murderer...It's more like awe-inspiring...God is awesome...and things/forces that are awesome should be respected for their greatness, for their power, for their unpredictability...that is my understanding of the meaning of this term "god fearing"...

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 06/15/2011

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Sorry Teresa, I didn't mean to be so rude, I apologize. It's just I was raised by Christians and well, that's what I was raised to believe growing up. That's how they used it. You feared God's judgement, literally. You wanted to please him in order to go to Heaven. You followed the ten commandments, or went to Hell. Things like that. And simply the 1 fact that because God judges you when you die, he does not have control over our lives or that which we do when we live it, but he judges you in the end to decide if you belong in Heaven/Hell or in some cases, prolongued periods of purgatory... leaves people to be able to Fear God, and his judging abilities over the end of our lives. Therefore, some people exist and fear even their own God the whole time they are alive. Fear his judgement every time they turn around. Trying to follow the rules, in fear of the bad that could come if they do not. So I really am having a hard time seeing it any other way. He judges, and simply right there can be scary to some people.
The first paragraph or two talks about what most of you are talking about
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_God...(religion)
This link talks about God's Judgement, what I was talking about
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_judg...
This link says we have nothing to fear, even if we do have fear of God's judgement because he will forgive us if we ask kindly.
http://www.seiyaku.com/reference/godfear...
But I know there are 'irriversable acts' by which you can do that he will not forgive you for, aren't there? Certain depths of the Seven Deadly Sins/Cardinal Sins?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadl...
Therefore, there still can be fear of his judgement. If you do something bad enough, we who believe all know we can be sent to Hell. So I guess in the end it is fearing Hell, and His judgement that may send us there over acts we have done freely in our lifetime. Or being so scared of Him that we avoid doing these things. I remember being a kid and being scared of God. It happens

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 06/15/2011

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lol whatever, I'm just trying to explain god fearing which I don't even know why it needs to be explained. It seems really simple to me?

User - posted on 06/15/2011

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I agree that revere or be in awe of are probably better translations.

A slight aside note.The premise of Christianity is not that you go to Hell if you do bad things and go to Heaven if you do good, but that none of us are good enough or ever can be in our own right.

[deleted account]

Okay, this is according to the concordance and key study Bible I found on my husband's bookshelf. The English translation is The New American Standard Bible. Many of the words in this Bible are underlined with a numeral beside it and that means the Hebrew or Greek translation is in the back of the book.

So I looked up Fear in the concordance section. It lists it in 16 verses. I won't go through all of them (unless someone begs me to, but I highly doubt that will happen). I'll do one from the Old Testament and one from the New...or one from the Hebrew and one from the Greek. =)

The first listed is Exodus 1:21, "And it came about because the midwives feared God". The context is where Pharaoh ordered boy Hebrew slaves to be executed and the midwives didn't do it. The Hebrew word is yare (with accent marks over the vowels) and the translation here means 'to fear, to revere'.

In a parable in Luke 18:2 Jesus says, "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man." I cannot type the Greek word because my keyboard lacks those characters. ;) But apparently the word fear is pronounced 'fob-eh-o'. It means, 'to frighten, to be alarmed, to e in awe of, revere.'

I looked up a few of the other verses listed in both the OT (Hebrew) and NT (Greek) and the word 'fear' was translated the same in those verses.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 06/15/2011

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hmmmmm, let me know. I'm curious? I didn't know it was in the bible?

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 06/15/2011

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What original word used in the Bible? I doubt 'God Fearing' is in the bible?

[deleted account]

I've always understood it to be a respect for God. I admit though, I've never done a study on the original word used the Bible. Maybe I'll do that today...my husband has word study books.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 06/15/2011

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And well, like what Krista was saying about the type of fear... all the Gods I have read of judge, and it can simply be a fear of that judgement that makes people use the term 'God fearing'. It doesn't have to be such a negative connotation, although it usually is. Look at Christianity, they say do not do bad things, or else you will go to hell. If we didn't need to 'fear' in order to believe sometimes, then why wouldn't they simply speak of 'if you do good, you will go to heaven'. The way they articulate makes it God fearing. Fear of hell, fear of God's judgement to send them there.. etc

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 06/15/2011

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I was taught to fear God. "Don't do anything bad, because God knows and God is always watcing over you, judging." That's simply how people get 'God fearing' out of such phrases and analysis from them out of the bible

Krista - posted on 06/15/2011

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In my experience, "God-fearing" tends to be used more by fundamentalist-style faiths, where they focus a bit more on their deity's wrathful, judging side instead of his merciful, loving side. It's just a difference in doctrine, really.

♏*PHOENIX*♏ - posted on 06/15/2011

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Well I agree with the fact that the bible was written for those at that time.

I have heard that you should fear god like you do your father.

Growing up I was sooo confused because I didn't fear my father.

And when I would do something wrong I would be seriously frightened that god would strike me down....

I don't like the aspect of "fearing" God. Don't want my sons and future kids to go thru that

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