The value and purpose of fear is usually misunderstood. The absence of fear is often touted as a good thing, as a sign of bravery or courage. But those acknowledged for their bravery and courage speak of moving beyond their fear. It wasn't absent, it was overcome.
There are two broad categories of fear—a fear of respect and an anxious fear. An anxious fear produces worry and muddled thinking. A fear of respect heightens awareness, brings alertness and clarity to our thinking.
Anxious fear paralyzes a person whereas a respectful fear tends to motivate. The flight or fight response illustrates this distinction in fear.
When it comes to God, people tend to mix the two together as if it's all the same. This brings confusion and misunderstanding. When both types of fear are dismissed, it's as if God doesn't exist. Both responses are unwise.
You have not come to something that you can feel, to a blazing fire, to darkness, to gloom, to a storm, to a trumpet’s blast, and to a voice. When your ancestors heard that voice, they begged not to hear it say another word.
They couldn’t obey [bear] the command that was given, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”
The sight was so terrifying that even Moses said he was trembling and afraid. [vss 18-21]
(Hebrews 12:18-21 GW) [Context– Hebrews 12]
You have not come to something that you can feel, to a blazing fire, to darkness...
Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions
What are the images of the scene described here? What is this leading up to?
Who is spoken to and what are they told? Do you understand why?
What is Moses' response to all of this and why?
How would this apply to believers then and now?
The fear of God is often misunderstood. It is typically viewed in one extreme or another. Either abject anxious fear or a humble respect.
This scene and several other places in the Bible describe the fear of God as an overwhelming awe. A realization of who God is which made Moses tremble, yet also drew him up the mountain to meet with God.
It is at once, a sense of how personal and powerful God truly is.
This reminder of the scene before Moses received the Law on tablets of stone reinforces how different the Old and New Covenants are (Heb 8:8-9).
It is a solemn warning of how important and necessary it is to hold firmly to the truth of the New Covenant (Heb 8:10-12) of grace through our relationship with Jesus as both Lord and Savior.
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions
Are you familiar with this story? If not, it's found in Exodus Chap 19.
How does this relate to all that's been written in the book of Hebrews up to this point?
How is it related to what's been Jesus and His atoning (redemptive) death upon the cross?
Have you experienced the difference between paralyzing and motivating fears, and the fear of God?
Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews