Are we to be afraid of God? What does the 'Fear of God' mean?
You may have read several verses in the Bible such as;
"Therefore you shall not oppress one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God." Lev. 25:17
"You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name." Deut. 6:13
The words "Fear of God' and "fear the Lord thy God" appear in many verses of both the old and new testament. The word in English means to simply be afraid of something or someone. In scripture it does means the same thing, however there is a form of the Hebrew root word yä·rā', that also refers to 'reverence' and to have 'respect for'. Consider the verses;
"especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may
teach their children.'"Deut. 4:10
In this context and throughout the Bible God commands us to know and respect Him. God does not want us to 'hear His words' for the sole purpose of hiding from His wrath. In the verse above, He wants us to hear His words so "that they may learn...". This is the form of the word yä·rā' that means to come to the knowledge of God and His word. Are we to fear Him as we know in the English language? To the extent that we should know that He hates sin and will discipline or judge us yes, but the main contextual theme of this word is to respect or have reverence for God.