What exactly is the fear of the Lord? Does our own experience of the fear of the Lord adequately reflect what the Bible is talking about?
If you have wondered about these things too, then you will appreciate Michael Reeves book Rejoice & Tremble. Nowhere have I ever seen a more thorough and insightful examination of the idea of the fear of the Lord from the Bible.
Reeves does a nice job of surveying what earlier generations of Christians believed about the fear of the Lord. There is a pretty stunning harmony of views among the likes of Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Owen, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and others.
To be honest, there are times when this book feels more academic than I would like. But in the end, I found that Michael Reeves thoroughness provides a firm and stable biblical foundation for adopting a nuanced understanding of the fear of the Lord. (If you’d like a more concise version of Rejoice & Tremble, Reeves released an 80-page version called What Does It Mean to Fear the Lord?)
If you are used to reading more popular Christian books, you will find some of Reeves arguments to be longer and more tedious than you’re used to. But, if you persevere, you will be rewarded. This book will not only give you substantial biblical reasons for agreeing with God that the fear of the Lord is a good thing, it will also provide the spark you need to pursue it.
These ten quotes will give you a glimpse of the insight, pastoral wisdom, and breadth of understanding that Michael Reeves writes with:
- The gospel both frees us from fear and gives us fear. It frees us from our crippling fears, giving us instead a most delightful, happy, and wonderful fear. (p. 16)
- 9. It is, Bunyan says, the devil’s work to promote a fear of God that makes people afraid of God such that they want to flee from God. The Spirit’s work is the exact opposite: to produce in us a wonderful fear that wins and draws us to God. (p. 43)
- Be encouraged. For the nature of the living God means that the fear which pleases him is not a groveling, shrinking fear. He is no tyrant. It is an ecstasy of love and joy that senses how overwhelmingly kind and magnificent, good and true God is, and that therefore leans on him in staggered praise and faith. (p. 67)
- Without Christ we see nothing in God but an angry and terrible judge. – Martin Luther (p. 88)
- The Nicene Creed begins, “We believe in one God, the Father…” Through the Son we see behind creation in the eternal and essential identity of God. It is as if, through Christ, we step inside the front door of God’s home to see who he is behind what he does. (p. 92)
- The fear of the Lord is the reason Christianity is the most song-filled of all religions. (p. 111)
- The deepest and most powerful change of heart toward a true fear of God comes at the foot of the cross, where our sin and God’s judgment and grace are supremely revealed. (p. 123)
- As the fear of the Lord grows, it outgrows, eclipses, consumes, and destroys all rival fears. (p. 144)
- The fear of the Lord is the only fear that imparts strength. (p. 146)
- Where the final appearing of the Lord in glory fills believers with an unprecedented joyful fear of the Redeemer, it fills unbelievers with a new level of dread at their Judge. (p. 157)
Get your copy of Rejoice & Tremble this month for a gift of any amount.