Isaiah 8:11-13 What is “The Fear of the Lord”

Isaiah 8:11-13 For thus the LORD spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, “You are not to say, ‘ It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. “It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread…”

God is speaking to Isaiah with strength and force, as if He was grabbing him by the hand and desperately seeking Isaiah’s attention. Pay attention! The message is simple. Do not act like your fellow countrymen. Avoid the herd mentality and do not buckle to peer pressure. You are personally responsible for your actions, thoughts, and comments.

There are two Hebrew words that are translated as “fear”. According to Strong’s
Concordance, one is yare’. It can be translated: to fear, be afraid, to stand in awe of, be awed, reverence, honor, respect.

The second word translated as “fear” is mowra’. It can be translated: reverence, terror, awe-inspiring spectacle or deed.

The Hebrew word for “dread” is ‘arats. It can be translated: to regard or treat with awe, regard or treat as awful, terrify.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

In this verse, the Hebrew word for “fear” is yir’ah. It can be translated: fear, terror, fearing, awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear), fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety, revered.

The term yara’ (noted in Proverbs 1:7 and Isaiah 8:12) is the common word for fear in the Old Testament and has a basic three-fold range of meanings: (1) “dread; terror” (Deuteronomy 1:29, Jonah 1:10), (2) “to stand in awe” (I kings 3:28), (3) “to revere; to respect” (Leviticus 19:3). With the Lord as the object, it captures the polar opposites of shrinking back in fear and drawing close in awe and adoration (NET Bible notes).

Jehovah is holy. His proper name is used in Isaiah passage. Jehovah means “the existing One”. The grammar of the verse indicates God is the cause and He is the One who makes things happen. He sets apart, devotes, and consecrates. He is the agent of cause. Jehovah’s ways are different than man’s way. Focus on God and not the herd mentality or wisdom of the world.

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