Just before Israel’s exodus out of Egypt, Yah plagued Egypt with ten plagues. The seventh plague was hail that would kill every living thing in its path. Exodus 9 explains that the land of Goshen, where the Israelite lived, would not experience this plague but Yah sent Moses and Aaron to warn the Pharoah and his servants about how to avoid its consequences.
Hidden in this story is the functional definition of fear. Here is the Hebrew translation…
19 And her time (now) send the strong of her mark (them) from your posessions and of all which are to you in the field, all the humans. And the cattle which he will find in the field and not he will gather the house of her and he will spread upon them the hail and his death.
20 Who feared the word of YaHuWaH from (of) the servants of Pharoah that flee his servants and his possessions to the houses.
21 And who not name his heart to the word of YaHuWaH and left his servants and his possessions in the field.
22 And he said, YaHuWaH to Mashah (Moses), spread your hand upon the sky and he will exist hail in all the land of Mitsraim (Egypt). Upon the people and upon the cattle and upon all herbs of the field in the land of Mitsraim.
The contrast in verses 21 and 22 gives a functional definition of fear. It says when warned to move their possessions into shelters some of Pharoah’s servants feared the word of YaHuWaH and others did not “name to their heart/mind the word of YaHuWaH” as to say the didn’t take the warning to heart. Essentially this is the act of realigning one’s character (name) according to Yah’s word. Meaning those who “feared” did name Yah’s word to their heart.
In general, fear is the acting according to what one takes to heart, believe, or receive as true. This thing recharacterizes one’s mind to take them from what is “rational” to what is true according to the word of God.
For example, if I believe that I am unable to pass a test then I study exhaustively and come test day I still feel that I’ll fail, I have and am acting in fear. But if I believe that God has directed me to take this test and I review the material feeling confident that I’ll pass then I’ve acted in fear of God, or in faith, because I am acting on the truth that God has instructed me to take the test.
The point isn’t really rather or not the test is passed but rather I acted in fear of God.
Another dimension of fear is rather the test is even being taken out of fear of God or of something else. Sometimes we choose one path just to avoid another. This is acting in rational fear…
For example, if I’m taking the test because I was initially led to take a class on the material but found a quicker or easier way or because I didn’t see how I’d afford it, then I am taking the test out of rational fear to begin with. Guess what? Fear begets fear. Wishful thinking will not help you pass this test. You will experience more fear that will likely lead to numerous fearful decisions even as you test.
A New Definition of Fear
Fear is acting according to what you truly believe.
If you believe it is going to rain, you grab an umbrella. It’s not bad unless God told you it was not going to rain and you got the umbrella anyway. Likewise, if you believe you are going to hit the car in front of you, you hit the breaks. This is fear, not being scared of the impending danger but acting according to what you perceive to be true. If you fatally shoot someone whom you believe is a threat to you, you’ve feared. But if God says don’t kill, and you do, you are guilty because your fear caused you to go against God’s instruction. Rather than fearing Him, you feared what you perceived to be a threat to your life.
We cannot dictate what we believe by either acting or not acting in fear of God. This is what a lot of religious folk try to do. Fear often reveals a truth that exists inside of us. One that God cultivates over time. A person can try to act holier than thou, but often that same person’s true spiritual maturity and condition is evident in how, who, and what they fear.
The fear of God is demonstrating, by our actions, that we believe Him despite our circumstances.
Fear itself is Neutral
Notice that fear isn’t bad until we choose to fear something above God. In fact, some fear, as is defined Hebraicallly, is good as with the rain and car incident examples above. But no matter what crossroad we are at or the apparent weight of a decision, we absolutely must learn to choose to believe Yah over everything else.
Trusting Our Own Perception Over God’s
When God says to biblical figures, like Abraham and Hagar, “Fear not” he’s really saying,
“Don’t act based on what it looks like, act based on what I told you it is. ” – YaHuWaH
With all the plagues in these verses, the Pharoah committed this great error. He repeatedly believed what it looked like despite Yah telling him, through Moses and Aaron, what it was. While the Pharoah didn’t fear God, the word says that some of his servants did and they sheltered their possessions from the coming hail.
Think about it… They were in the desert lands of Egypt, perhaps in the dead of summer. Most of them were thinking “Hail in Egypt… Yeah right!” but what scripture tells us is that those who trusted God’s word more than their own perception were those who feared God and were spared. Those who trusted the predictability of the sunny Egyptian climate more than God’s word were those who did not take God’s word to heart and lost their possessions and the lives of slaves!
Fearing God is the same as obeying Him. We must take to heart His warnings and instruction and act according to it to avoid the consequences of disobedience and simply to know which way to go when at a crossroad. Understanding this requires us to also understand just how much we need to rely on Yah.
Perhaps fear is evidence of a person’s heart condition. Demonstrating irrational fear is evidence of an immature spirit. Demonstrating rational fear is evidence of a maturing, and perhaps, an intelligent spirit, but demonstrating the fear of God is proof that YaHuWaH Elahim is indeed with and in you!