“Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Will you not tremble in my presence?” Jeremiah 5:22
The phrase, “reverence for God” is probably not part of your everyday vocabulary. It sounds out of touch with our modern world, like something the Puritans would say back in the 1600s.
But the concept of reverence is woven throughout the Bible. And though it may sound antiquated, reverence is still very relevant for our lives today. So, it’s important that we properly understand what the phrase means.
To have “reverence” or “fear of the Lord” doesn’t mean that we walk around terrified of God like He’s a Cosmic Boogeyman.
Here’s a little of what it does mean:
• Reverence means that we honor the Lord as the Creator and Sustainer of all things and acknowledge that He, not us, is the center of the universe. We are awed by His surpassing greatness and yield to His authority. (Genesis 1:1, Psalm 145:3)
• We have sincere and deep respect for God’s attributes, His character, and what He’s done through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Exodus 34:6, 1 Corinthians 15:1-5)
• We’re mindful that He is fully aware of every aspect of our lives. Nothing is hidden from His sight. (Hebrews 4:13)
• Lastly, more than just a mindset of how we approach God, reverence shapes our everyday attitude and actions. We demonstrate reverence by obeying God’s Word and seeking to live a life that pleases Him. (Romans 12:1)
You don’t have to be a world-class sociologist to decipher that most, if not all of these things have faded from society. Most people go about their lives without giving God a second thought, either functioning as if He doesn’t exist or deeming Him irrelevant if He does.
It’s easy to say, “What else should we expect from people who don’t know Jesus?“
Yet sadly, even the people who do know Jesus can lose their reverence for God.
Such was the case in Jeremiah’s day. Instead of revering the Lord, the Israelites persisted in rebelling against Him. So much so, that they no longer “trembled” in His presence. Jeremiah had the not-so-pleasant task of attempting to rouse their reverence once again, warning the Israelites of impending judgment.
The obvious answers to both of Jeremiah’s rhetorical questions in verse 22 are:
“Yes, we will fear You.” & “Yes, we will tremble before You.”
Yet, the Israelites’ repeated reply was a defiant, “No.” & “No.”
Before we judge them too harshly, if we’re not careful, the same thing can happen to us.
It doesn’t happen all at once, mind you. Bit by bit, we get caught up in the current of an irreverent culture, drifting along until our reverence for God gradually disappears downstream. When this happens, we start to blend in, indistinguishable as those whose lives have truly been changed by Almighty God.
As the people of God, we are called to model what “reverence for the Lord” looks like in daily life. We exhibit reverence, not in a stuffy, “holier than thou” kind of way, but with humility, gentleness, and exuberant joy.
You may not be able to reach the whole world, but you can influence the folks in your sphere of influence – family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. If we want to see a genuine revival of reverence in our society, it has to start somewhere.
Why not begin with you and me?
Now that’s something that would make even the Puritans say, “Amen.”
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH