all scripture is from Proverbs 1, KJV
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
It is not possible to share my thoughts on Proverbs 1 without mentioning the all-important verse above. I remember one of my old high school teachers who would thunder this verse in his very loudest voice while wielding a cane painfully and expertly across some luckless student’s palm. I am convinced that he thought he was God’s representative to our school and really, that fearing him, the teacher, would lead that most unruly of student bodies to all wisdom. Didn’t work, but I never forgot the verse, so perhaps even back then a seed was planted for me to come to accept the fact that fear of God really is the beginning of wisdom.
I’d like to say that I’m sure you all understand why it is necessary to have a healthy fear of God, but i’m sure of no such thing and so, here we go. Fearing God means exactly what it says: be afraid, be very very afraid. You see, the reason we don’t fear God the way we should is that pastors and the church have in recent years brought us a god who is quite unlike the God of the Bible. Nowadays we have a wishy-washy god, who bends to our whim if we just shout loud enough, name it and claim it, and participate in any number of weird and dare I say ridiculous activities. This god is so far from being God that really, it’s not even funny.
If you want to know why you should fear God just look at any atheist manifesto: they speak of a God who ‘murdered’ countless thousands, demanded impossible things of anyone unlucky enough to cross His path and basically terrorised the enemies of his chosen people. Feel free to go through the Old Testament if you don’t believe me. God is still the same God, and really, someone should warn those atheists – they mock to their own peril. So what am I saying? I’m saying an acknowledgement of who God is, what He can do and what He has done is the beginning of wisdom. You cannot, absolutely cannot come to a full knowledge of who God is and not have your knees knock together in mindless fear.
That fear will keep you from doing evil because you know the wrath of God is real and it is terrible, but even more importantly, that fear will drive you into the arms of the One who loves you – Christ. Try as you might, you cannot on your own avoid messing up and earning the wrath of Justice. It is impossible because ‘the heart of man is evil.’ With Christ you step into Grace, you are justified and sanctified and instead of a recalcitrant child cowering and hiding after misbehaving, you have every right to call yourself, literally, a child of God – and we all know that parents love their children and want only what is good for them. How much more does your Father in heaven want only what is good for you? That terrible God of the Old Testament becomes the loving God of the New only if you are clothed in Christ. That’s what salvation is all about after all – saving you from the terrible wrath of God.
And that was just from 1 verse.
10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. … 15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: 16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. … 18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. 19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
The next important section of the chapter is an admonition to flee from evil. Not only should you flee evil because you know and fear God, but because no good can come from it. Obviously. A lot of the bad people do is done to get more money, but according to these verses the actions you undertake are really just a way for you to spill your own blood, destroy your own life. No get-rich-quick scheme is without a catch, no rule-breaking without consequence. Let the fear of God keep you from the company of evil-doers, and let the power that comes with the name of Christ keep you from doing evil, from giving into temptation.
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
It’s not all bad news though. If you’ve been a believer for any length of time, you have undoubtedly experienced what I like to call ‘the believer’s high’. If you turn away from evil, badness and wickedness, if you seek the face of God and His counsel, He will pour out His Spirit upon you and you will live a life free from fear of evil. More to the point though, God will begin to reveal Himself to you and you will know, really know, what a personal relationship with the Almighty looks and feels like. That moment when you realise that something has happened that can only be explained in terms of God is a beautiful, affirming moment. It’s a pity that we are a fallen people and we quickly lose that awe and return to our old ways – a great pity indeed, but that is where the book of Proverbs comes in. The entire book exists to help you design and live a ‘right’ life. I hope you will join me as I blog and pray my way through the Proverbs of Solomon. It is my prayer that you find these posts helpful, useful and encouraging. And finally…