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I remember listening to a talk radio program where the host was eliciting comments on why the crime rate had risen for the first time in several years. As you can probably guess, most of the responses were extreme and unconvincing. Still, a common thread among most of the callers was that there is more crime when people no longer have a fear of punishment for crime, nor a respect for authority.

Whenever and wherever wickedness rules, one of the basic reasons is a diminished fear of the consequences of wrongdoing. A major part of Satan’s success with Eve was the fact that he convinced her that “you will not surely die” (Genesis 3.4). He cunningly diminished the fear of sin and of God.

Over the centuries this same theme repeated itself time and again in the history of Israel and Judah. In the time of Jeremiah, God was lamenting the spiritual adultery of His people. They had given themselves to the idolatrous prostitutes of wood and stone “because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her” (Jeremiah 3.9). And why was that? One clue to the answer of this question is found in Jeremiah 2.19: “Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me.” Similarly, David wrote concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: “There is no fear of God before his eyes” (Psalm 36.1).

When thinking of the awesomeness of God, it is common for us to be amazed at His wisdom and power. It gives us warm feelings to think of His holiness and might. However, when Jeremiah spoke of Israel having no awe of God, he had in mind a healthy, reverent fear of God’s judgment, a fear that would restrain wickedness. Instead, Israel had become so awe-less of that God they were willing to turn to other gods of their own creation and to practice unrestrained wickedness.

Where is the awe of God today when people use His name so thoughtlessly (Oh my God – omg)? Where is the awe of God today when homosexuality, abortion, etc. are not just accepted, but encouraged in our society (Romans 1.18-32)? Where is the awe of God today when honesty and integrity are thought of as archaic words? Where is the awe of God today when tradition and entertainment are preferred over scripture and truth? Where is the awe of God today when lying and slander among God’s people carry no accountability? Where is the awe of God today when every excuse under the sun will suffice to justify us from fulfilling our responsibilities to God to worship, pray, give, commune, study, teach, serve, fellowship, etc.?

Standing in awe of God is not just a song we sing or prayer we offer; it’s not just a tingly feeling toward God. It’s an attitude of a humble heart bowing before the Almighty that responds with real life actions of service to Him. Are you in awe of God?

Joe Chesser
Fruitland Church of Christ
Jackson, MO

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