Reverence for God – What Does Reverence Mean?
In the Old Testament, “reverence” occurs as the translation of two Hebrew words: Yare’ (pronounced yaw-ray’), which carries the meaning of “fear.” This word is used to express the attitude toward God Himself. “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him (Psalm 89:7). “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD, (Leviticus 19:30; 26:2). The thought being one of fear, awe and respect. The second word, shachah (pronounced shaw-khaw’), carries the meaning of “falling down” as in the prostration of the body. It is used to express the attitude and bearing toward another who is considered superior. “Then Bath-sheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever” (1 Kings 1:31). Compare also 2 Samuel 9:6 and Esther 3:2,5). The thought with this word being honor, submission and obeisance.
In the New Testament “reverence” occurs as the translation of three Greek words, Deos, phobeo, and entrepo. Deos (pronounced de-os), which has the meaning of awe and Godly fear, is a feeling of profound awe and respect. Because of His majesty and holiness, God arouses a feeling of reverence in those who worship and serve Him. “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28). The second word, phobeo (pronounced fob-eh’-o), carries the thought of being frightened or alarmed, by analogy to be in awe of or to have a deep and abiding respect. This word is used to illustrate the proper attitude of subjection that a wife should have toward her husband. “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). The third word, entrepo (pronounced en-trep’-o), sets forth the idea of a self evaluation of inferiority or superiority over someone else. In the consideration of reverence for God, the former always being the case. The mental imagery is of willingly setting the subject of consideration on a higher level while placing oneself beneath. “But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son” (Matthew 21:37). Reference also, (Mark 12:6; Luke 20:13). “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9).
But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.
Reverence means a respectful, submissive attitude of mind resulting in affection and esteem for the person to which it is directed. Hence children reverence their parents, wives reverence their husbands, subjects reverence their sovereign, and all must reverence God. We reverence the name of God, (Matthew 6:9), the house of God,(1 Timothy 3:15), and the worship of God, (John 4:24). We reverence the attributes of God, (Malachi 3:6, Ezekiel 18:25, Isaiah 45:21-22, 1 John 4:8, Titus 1:2), the commands of God, (John 12:50), and the word of God, (Psalm 119:160, John 17:17). We should demonstrate our reverence in our actions. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16). “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings” (John 14:23-24).
Genuine reverence and self sacrificing love go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other and expect to live a pleasing life before God. A man may boast of reverence for God in his heart but unless he manifests his reverence by conduct and obedience he is as those who James said were dead, like the body without the spirit. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). Jesus said that those who show reverence to God by mouth only will never see the kingdom of Heaven. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 7:21). Godly fear and reverence alone are not enough. One must demonstrate one’s reverence by their actions. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). It is through our striving for obedience to God that we proclaim our reverence and love towards Him, (John 14:15), and before the world, (Matthew 5:16).