My last post discussed the positive contribution valid fear makes to our lives. It often keeps us out of trouble. This is also the case with the fear of the Lord. Therefore, contemporary evangelical efforts to invalidate the fear of the Lord are dangerous.
One reason to fear the Lord that is especially applicable to America today has to do with the judgment of the Lord on wicked nations. Americans especially should fear the judgment of God for several reasons.
First, as a nation we have displayed profound wickedness. At last count, 57,762,169 abortions have been performed in America since Roe vs. Wade in 1973. Added to our guilt is the fact that America is one of the few countries that do late-term abortions, and we do over 18,000 per year. This reality is even worse when we realize that these babies are in intense pain when they are aborted.
I have before made reference to 2 Kings 24:3-4.
Surely at the commandment of the LORD this came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the LORD would not pardon. (NKJV)
If he judged Israel for innocent blood, how much more the United States for what is possibly the greatest shedding of innocent blood in all of history? And of course, this is just one of our many national sins. The list is extremely long and serious.
These sins are especially serious in the eyes of God because we have been a nation blessed with a Christian heritage. Luke 12:48 warns, “(T)o whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Of all nations on earth, we have had the greatest exposure to the Word of God and Christian morality. If it were pagans committing such atrocities it would be bad enough, but for the nation God has blessed with exposure to His Word more than any other to sin so grievously heaps an extra measure of guilt on our heads.
Our guilt is increased even more by God’s blessing our nation above all nations, which leaves us with an obligation to honor Him. To instead ban the Bible from our schools and adopt His name as a curse word qualifies us to be special objects of His wrath.
For me the most frightful aspect of this development is the absence of fear of God’s judgment not only by secular society, but also by the church. Indicators that the church has little concern over God’s judgment is manifested by the absence of any significant expression of such a fear. Very few sermons address this concern. Hardly any prayers are offered begging for God’s mercy on our nation. Rather, listening to the evangelical community leaves the impression that fear of judgment is not a major issue.
Another indication of our lack of concern is the absence of substantive action regarding American wickedness. The church, or at least parachurch evangelical efforts, have done some serious and effective work regarding the abortion issue. However, in light of the seriousness of this sin, it would seem that the church as a whole should have engaged this issue with all its might, which did not happen. In fact, the current inclination of the church not to get involved in politics graphically displays a lack of fear. If we were convinced that apart from repentance judgment was on the way, we might conclude that we had better get involved in politics, and aggressively so.
Some years ago, when Billy Graham was preparing a sermon on our national wickedness (which was substantially far less at the time), Ruth Graham is quoted as responding something to the effect, “If God doesn’t judge America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” Though I am sure she was serious in making the statement, it has been passed down as something of a cutesy comment that has carried with it little genuine concern. When we think of God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, if we believed that something similar such as nuclear annihilation was headed our way complements of Almighty God, we would not take a prospect of that nature so lightly.
The ultimate purpose of fear is not to generate anxiety but action. Considering the facts above and others, the church in the United States needs to be in sheer panic, and respond by preaching, prayer, and political action. Our failure to fear and to respond in these ways reveals that we are seriously sick.