The Fear of the Lord

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

This proverb of Solomon is the theme of the Book of Proverbs. I mention here that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Before this there was nothing but God, as far as we know. There were no raw materials, a pile of dust, a cord of wood, a pale of water, a sack of seeds, a tube of embryos to become living creatures. All came into being through the spoken word of God. Not circumstance, not chance, and not that anything came together in a big bang and became something. All came into being through the wisdom of God’s knowledge. Man was formed from the dust of the earth and God breathed life into the nostrils and man become a living being in the image of God. (Genesis 2:7) the Lord God Almighty is the creator and all else is His creation.

“The fear of the LORD” appears thirteen times in the book of Proverbs and plays a prominent role throughout the Old Testament. The fear of the Lord is not that we should be afraid of Him but that we should have a sincere reverence towards Him, the Almighty, all knowing and ever present God and creator of all that is known to man. We feared our earthly father, not that we would run and hide, or shook and were scared by his presence but that we had respect for his position. In our youth he made all things possible for us. Our father provided a roof over our heads, cloths to cover our backs, food to nourish our bodies, our father was the one whose judgment we sought for approval. We feared our father, we had reverence for his position in our life. “Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” (Psalm 34:11) The Lord God is our Heavenly Father as it is He that has formed us from the dust of the earth, it is He that has breathed life into us, it is He that loves us unconditionally, and it is He that is calling us home. For those who demand logic the God who created all is the only truth in His creation. What else could be complete truth but His Word?

God’s law, which is the Torah and translates to mean teaching, God’s teaching was given to man that he might learn to live in the context of God’s character, Love. God is Love. (1 John 4:8) God’s teaching is not a list of things we can or cannot do, but His Word teaches us how to live together in Love, Peace and Joy. God’s teaching is to help us to grow to live righteously so that we can fellowship with Him. If we have faith in His Son Jesus, though His righteousness, then we can restore our fellowship with the Father, God. If we can learn to live in Peace with God, then we will be able to have peace and love for one another. We often wonder why there is no peace, why there is no love in the world today and Paul gave the answer in his letter to the Galatians. “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” (Galatians 3:10) Men must be taught how hateful sin is to God. Children must be taught by their parents the right way to conduct their lives within the family, within the community, and within all their relationships with others. If a child is left to his own, that child will gravitate to evil because of the sinful nature that all are born with. A child must be taught how to live and how not to live. This is evident when we see the decline in the morality of the world today. Parents have forsaken the moral standard of God’s teaching leaving no moral foundation for a life to be built upon. There is no stability as the rules of the game are ever changing and the moral law of God’s teaching is replaced with contemporary law that fits the wisdom of man rather than the wisdom of a righteous God.

“Is the beginning of knowledge.” While the one who does not believe in the absolute truth of God’s Word may make statements of life and truth, he will never have the true knowledge until he has a redemptive relationship of reverential fear with God. There is a progression receiving knowledge from God. Receiving the teaching about God, learning the teaching about God, having reverent fear of God, knowing God, and practicing God’s wisdom. The proper fear of the Lord is a state of mind exchanging our attitude, will, feelings, actions, and goals for God’s. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)

We must not become discouraged in our walk with the Lord as it is not within a man to keep the teaching of God. We are but people born into sin and constantly in a war within ourselves against our own sin nature. Try as we do we will stumble and fall into sin. God knowing the frailty of man sent His Son into the world to live the perfect righteous life and become the perfect sacrifice to pay our sin debt. (Romans (6:23)

It was God’s love for His creation that He sent His Son to live among man as a man. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) By calling upon the name of Jesus and trusting Him in faith that our transgressions against God can be forgiven because of His work on the cross we can be saved from the wrath of God and judgment. This was a new message, a New Covenant from the Old Covenant. It also brought a new motive to obedience to God’s Word. The “fear of the Lord” was now superseded by the higher duty of the “love of God,” and of man, for His sake.

The Christian receives God’s love within as he abides in God and God abides in Him. (1 John 4:16) The love of God now motivates us and controls us that the Christian desires to live in obedience to God’s Word. “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14) It is not that we loved God, as we were slaves to our sinful selves while we were still unforgiven sinners. We love God because we have realized the love He first had for us. “We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

We are secure in the Love of Christ for there is nothing of this world, or above this world, and beneath this world that can separate us from the Love of Christ. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35) The love of God is unconditional love, a never ending love, and no matter how unworthy we may think we are God’s grace towards us is far greater than any sin that was, is, or will be in our life. The love of God is hard for man to fully grasp without the power of Christ Spirit within us. “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:18 NIV) The “fear of the Lord” is the beginning of wisdom yet now there may be something higher for us to achieve in the New Testament age. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18) The Apostle John sums up his teaching in the New Testament with these words. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:11)

“Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” It is the same with knowledge. Some only learn that which they think they need to satisfy the wants and needs in this life giving nor regard for the life to come once they depart this world. They are foolish because they are short sighted. They think, although they know better, that life will continue on for a vastness of time but that moment will come when death knocks upon the door and all of a sudden they realize that there life was just a whisper in the wind. “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Fools do not desire the knowledge of God, they do not desire His ways or worship, but despise it and make no account of it. Fools are contemptuous of God’s knowledge and especially the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ, in which lies the highest wisdom for it leads unto eternal life. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

The fool despises the “Wisdom of God” who is Jesus Christ. And the truth that is found in His Gospel which is “the hidden wisdom” of God. (1 Corinthians 2:7) The fool despises the instruction and the means of instruction of the Scriptures, the very Word and thoughts of God. The teaching of the truth which can make man “wise unto salvation.” “And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) The fool will not profess to be of anything of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Their witness to the world is their despite of the knowledge of God. They are the atheists, the deists, and the wicked and profane men. They are the ungodly with no rock to stand upon only the sinking sand of what seems right to them. “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

For this I am baffled. We go through our lives choosing our role models, friends, and associates and enduring our acquaintances picking those who lift us up and enable us to accomplish our goals in life. I should think we would choose the best we can find and certainly not pick one that would bring us down into failure. I ponder to understand why so many quickly pass God by and reject His love. Is it because they do not want to better themselves? Is it because they are so hopeless that they cannot reach for what they were created to be? Is it because they do not want to stand before God the creator in the free gift of His righteousness to live in a Kingdom where there is no sorrow, no pain, no death, but love, peace, and eternal joy? All someday will face the absolute truth and for some it will be an exceeding joyful twinkling of the eye and for others it will be an eternity of complete brokenness without one plea of hope. I am burdened for the latter as they despise the truth.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, May 14, 2014

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