Book review: Michael Reeves, Rejoice and Tremble

Michael Reeves, Rejoice and Tremble: The Surprising Good News Of The Fear Of The Lord.  Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021.

  • The publisher provided me with a complimentary review copy in electronic format.

  Having thoroughly enjoyed Michael Reeves’ outstanding book Delighting In The Trinity, I was looking forward to reading this new volume on the fear of the Lord; I was not disappointed! In an engaging and accessible style, Reeves marshals scores of Scriptures, as well as numerous quotations from various eras of Church history (e.g. Patristics, the Medieval period, the Reformation, the Puritans, the 18th century, 19th century and 20th century), to establish the centrality of the concept of the fear of the Lord. Along the way, he dispels the difference between fear in a good sense (awe, reverence, joy, and trembling in the presence of a beautiful and all-glorious God who has graciously redeemed us) and in a bad sense (craven terror, fleeing from God because one thinks that He is abusive, vengeful, and cruel.) The book is God-centered from start to finish – especially emphasizing the centrality of Christ and His redemptive work in bringing one into a proper relationship with our Creator and redeemer God. The work is thoroughly trinitarian and upholds the inerrancy of Scripture, along with our Lord’s deity and humanity. At a practical level, it shows that when we properly fear the Lord, this leads to praise, worship, thanksgiving, and confidence. Good fear has the ability to banish bad fear. Lastly, Reeves points out very helpfully, that what we fear is a foretaste of our eternal experience. If we enjoy the good fear of the Lord, through repentance and faith in Christ, we will enjoy His presence in the beauty of holiness through all eternity in heaven. By contrast, if the bad fear prohibits us from going to God through Christ, this presages a lost eternity in hell where one cowers from the light of God and hates His holiness, suffering under his retributive justice. This is an outstanding read and I heartily recommend it to all Bible-believing Christians.