When a bomb explodes killing 22 people at a concert.
When a man drives a vehicle through a crowd of unassuming pedestrians in Times Square, London, or Nice.
When 9 people are murdered during a Wednesday night Bible study.
When a mother drowns her 5 children in their bathtub.
When men, women, and children are mercilessly tortured and killed by means of toxic chemical gas.
When threats of war and nuclear missile strikes loom over the heads of the nations.
When 20 children and 6 staff members are murdered at an elementary school.
When 2 men are stabbed to death and another injured while defending 2 female passengers on a Portland, Oregon train.
When it is discovered that 3 young girls have been held captive as sex slaves for nearly a decade in a suburban neighborhood.
When a school bus driver in China, who had a grievance over lost overtime wages, intentionally sets fire to his bus, killing 11 children and himself.
When there is a murder every 13 minutes and 40 seconds in the city of Chicago.
When a delivery man drives drunk on a suspended license and kills a teenage girl weeks from going to her senior prom and graduating high school.
When these things happen, in the midst of the grief, confusion, and chaos, the same questions always arise:
What is happening?
What is wrong with the world?
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he describes a time reflective of that in which we live, where people “have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.”
“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their way, and the way of peace they do not know.”
He states that these behaviors are the outward expression, the evidence, that the natural condition of all mankind is to rebel against God and to follow the wicked desires of their own hearts:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Then Paul concludes that the root cause of this condition, the answer, in fact, to “what is wrong with the world” is this:
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The 1828 Edition of Webster’s Dictionary defines the fear of God like this:
“The fear of God is a holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience.”
In studying The Holy Bible, one will come to realize that the entire theme of scripture is that of a loving God, Our Father in heaven, instructing His children to fear, love and obey Him… for their own good.
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you?”
“He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.”
He warns them: “Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget these things or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
God’s word makes it clear that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Yet it goes on to say that ” fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
You see, after God would give His children these commands to keep them from harm, they always turned away from Him.
They did not want to live in a way that pleased God, they wanted to live in a way that pleased themselves.
They despised His wisdom and instruction, so they became fools.
When we despise God’s wisdom, turning away from the commands of a loving Father, we go our own way, and The Lord says, “the way that seems right to a person leads to destruction.”
Because all have turned away, little by little, the fear of God and what that means has been forgotten, erased from the culture’s collective conscience.
If there is no fear of God before their eyes, then there will be no fear of God before their children’s eyes or their children’s eyes, and generation after generation will have no knowledge of the Holy One.
Where there is no fear of God, there is no love, no respect, no reverential awe and no regard for the well-being of others.
The one who pulls the trigger, the one who ignites the bomb, the one who drives the car into pedestrians – what is set before their eyes are the self-focused desires of their own hearts – not the fear of God.
They have no realization that God is their judge, and that when they die they will have to stand before Him in a final judgment.
They are oblivious to the fact that God has the power, to not only kill the body, but to throw the body and soul into hell. And because of this, they have no fear of accountability for their thoughts, words or deeds, in time or eternity.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones once preached:
“It’s because of this you see that their hearts are as they are, and they do the things that they do. It is the cause of war, its the cause of lust and passion, of lawlessness. It’s the cause of the muddle in this country and every other country in this present hour. There is no fear of God before their eyes- that is the ultimate explanation of it all.”
If that is true, what is the solution?
If there is no fear of God before our eyes, what shall we do?
Every time God’s people turned away from Him, like a merciful and loving Father, He would cry out to His lost, disobedient children:
“Return to Me.”
“Draw near to me.”
“Why will you perish?”
“Seek Me that you may live.”
“Repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and He will give you the gift of His Holy Spirit.”
Where you have been unrighteous, His Spirit will clothe you with the righteousness of Christ.
Where you have turned away, His Spirit will lead you back to the foundation and knowledge of God.
Where you have no understanding, His Spirit will give you understanding, teaching you to fear God.
He will create inside of you a new heart and a new mind which only desire to please God, motivating you to draw near to Him and to always be in His presence.
He will teach you to love what God loves and hate what God hates, so that you would not dare look upon that which would offend Him, setting only Jesus Christ before your eyes.
Then, His Spirit will instruct you once again: “be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget these things or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
Do this in fear, reverence, love, and obedience to The Lord, so that we will not see yet another generation perishing for lack of knowledge of the Holy One.
Repent Believe Persevere