Deuteronomy 5:29—O that there was such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!
The church of the last century took a giant swing from preaching the fear of God to preaching the love of God. Both are important and both are needed. We need to see the entire character of God, as a focus on only one aspect is sure to get us off balance. When Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God, the listeners had such a vision of hell that they clung to their pews for fear of falling in. Today we almost laugh at that image but remember that people were coming to Christ and confessing their sins. When Moody began to be popular he preached along this same vein, until he heard a young evangelist preach on the love of God. He saw people accepting Christ and was upset. Then he began to realize what a wonderful drawing power the love of God has on a man. “We love Him because He first loved us.” He saw it was true in the Scriptures. Gradually American preaching started to shift from hellfire and damnation to the love of God. Neither emphasis is wrong, for both are true of the nature of God. God hates sin because it destroys us. He hates sin because it is contrary to who He is and because He is good. He is a just and righteous God that will give a just sentence to those who insistently rebel against His goodness. Hell is real and is perfect justice for all who will be sent there. In today’s passage, we see again that God has good intentions for us. To disobey means to walk toward destruction and evil. That is why we need to fear the Holy One and heed His commands. We can love Him and fear Him when we realize His commands are out of concern and love for us, to keep us from the Destroyer.