The men who were on the ship with Jonah feared the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry [land]. When they discovered that Jonah was the reason for the tempestuous sea, they didn’t want to throw him overboard even though he told them to. Instead they started to row back to land. They were afraid of what Jonah’s God would do if they threw him into the sea even though he had disobeyed God. They soon realized that the situation was getting worse so they cried out to God and said, “We pray, O LORD, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You.” Then they took Jonah and cast him into the sea.
After they tossed Jonah off of the ship, the rough waters of the sea became calm. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows (Jonah 1:4-16). That day, these men, who before they met Jonah did not know the God of heaven, responded to His mighty power with reverence and godly fear and promises to serve Him. They were in awe of Him. He had delivered them.
Revelation 14:6 says, “Fear God and give glory to Him”. Fear in this instance means to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience (Strong’s Concordance). To fear God is to respect Him.
To fear God is to refuse to commit any sins against Him such as adultery (Genesis 39:9); murder (1 Samuel 24:4-7) ; idolatry (Daniel 3:16-18). Solomon said that the duty of man is to fear God and to keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
In Proverbs 15:33, Solomon wrote: The fear of the LORD [is] the instruction of wisdom; and before honour [is] humility. What does this mean? Matthew Henry explains it in his Bible commentary: “The fear of the Lord, as it is the beginning of wisdom, so it is the instruction and correction of wisdom; the principles of religion, closely adhered to, will improve our knowledge, rectify our mistakes, and be the best and surest guide of our way. An awe of God upon our spirits will put us upon the wisest counsels and chastise us when we say or do unwisely. 2. To stoop to our brethren, and keep up a respect for them. Where there is humility there is a happy presage of honour and preparative for it. Those that humble themselves shall be exalted here and hereafter.”
Solomon also wrote, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). It is also the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). The heart must be principled with the fear of God; that is the beginning of wisdom. A reverence of God’s majesty, and a dread of his wrath, are that fear of him which is the beginning, the first step towards true religion, whence all other instances of it take rise. This fear may, at first, have torment, but love will, by degrees, cast out the torment of it. (2.) The head must be filled with the knowledge of the things of God” (Matthew Henry, Commentary). This knowledge comes from reading His Word; hearing the testimonies of others and having a personal relationship with Him.
It’s hard not to respect or stand in awe of the God who created the world out of nothing and spoke things into existence (Genesis 1, 2); went before the people in a pillar of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21); parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14:16-22); sent bread from heaven to feed the people (Exodus 16:14-16); used ravens to feed His prophet (1 Kings 17:1-6) and most importantly, sacrificed His Son Jesus in order to save the world (John 3:16).
In these last days, we are to fear God and to give Him the glory that is due to Him only.