“But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me.They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’ Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.” Jeremiah 5:23-25
The people that Jeremiah was writing about had no fear of God. Just what is the fear of God? For the unbeliever, the fear of God is the fear of the judgment of God and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God. “But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.” (Luke 12:5) “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)
For the believer, the fear of God is something much different. The believer’s fear is reverence of God. “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29) This reverence and awe is exactly what the fear of God means for Christians. This is the motivating factor for us to surrender to the Creator of the Universe. Proverbs 1:7 declares, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Until we understand who God is and develop a reverential fear of Him, we cannot have true wisdom. True wisdom comes only from understanding who God is and that He is holy, just, and righteous. The main problem with the world today is that we have no reverence for God. This was true in Jeremiah’s day and it is today. Why do such references to God persist over time? It is because humankind has never been able to fully shake off a fear of the consequences of sin. The world is nagged by the reality of a Judgment Day, a time of final accounting and a literal hell. The Holy Spirit has been faithful to warn every generation, no matter how fallen. And he is speaking right now. When there is no fear of God, people have to invent a gospel of convenience.