The Beginning of Knowledge
It has been claimed that knowledge is power. In a particular context that may be so, but knowledge is much more than power. Knowledge is the very essence of our existence. Practically speaking, there is no reality outside of our own being. Everything that affects our happiness and grief must somehow enter our minds. Everything in the Universe, whether real or imagined, is unknown to us until it enters our space. Our knowledge of its presence only then makes it a reality to us. Otherwise, it might just as well not exist. Itís like a book that contains all that we ever wanted to know, yet if we never opened it, it might just as well never have been written.
All we are is solely the knowledge we possess. Knowledge is freedom from our fears, but it is more than that, it is the source of our fears. Knowledge is comfort in the dark night of the soul, but it is more than that, it is the awareness of the dark night. Knowledge is hope in an hour of despair, but it is more than that, it is the cause of our despair.
All of our opinions, our desires, our judgments, and our actions stem from and are carried forth as the immediate and continued result of our unfolding knowledge. Some knowledge molds us into men and women who are complete and well rounded. Other knowledge enslaves us to our fears and insecurities.
As we begin to mature we learn that much of the knowledge that we once thought true, was later proved to be false. We now know that there is no Easter Bunny, there is no Santa Claus, and it may come as a surprise to some that there is no mystical power called luck. These are false perceptions, which at one time most of us believed. But we have come to learn that some knowledge is false, which results in our perception being false. Therefore, it is not simply knowledge, but true knowledge we require. Through true knowledge GODís people are delivered; through the lack of true knowledge, i.e., false knowledge, GODís people are destroyed (HOSEA 4:6).
For knowledge to be judged true we must have a standard or a rule with which to measure it. To accomplish this, some choose an elder or an authority as their source for true knowledge. Most however settle for their own experiences as the best rule. Doing this often only exchanges one false perception for another one.
As we here have endeavored to choose the Bible as our rule, let us see how it judges when knowledge is true and when it is not.
PROVERBS 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Two momentous statements are contained within this proverb. First, the beginning of knowledge is not the result of an Ivy League education. Nor is it the manifestation of prolonged and isolated meditation. Nor is it because of the vast extent of our experiences from our travels.
The beginning of knowledge is simply "the fear of the LORD". Before one even begins to think he might acquire true knowledge, he must recognize his lowly position before his Creator. We must never treat lightly the realization that GOD allows us to be in HIS presence. Our very breath is an undeserved gift from our Creator. If we have anything that is good, it is because of HIS grace, not our abilities. We are only more then dust because of HIS goodness.
All of our tomorrows are little more then a passing thought to GOD. As James wrote, "Öwhat is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away". Or as the apostle Paul wrote, "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" Once we understand our relationship to our Creator, only then can we really begin to acquire true knowledge.
But not all are willing to place themselves in that subservient position. Many desire the "uppermost rooms", the praise of men and the deceitfulness of riches over the knowledge of HIS will. These are those described in the second part of the PROVERB quoted above; they are fools and they despise wisdom and they despise instruction. "There is no fear of GOD before their eyes" (ROMANS 3:18). They are not wise in their knowledge, but rather, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (ROMANS 1:22).
Their road is the high road to an earthly kingdom. GODís road has always been a low road to a heavenly kingdom. Yeshua instructed His followers to "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart". James and Peter both declared that "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble". If we would genuinely seek HIS kingdom, then we should look where HE points and search where HE directs us. This will of necessity separate us from the world around us.
The great apostle Paul beseeched the believers "by the meekness and gentleness of Christ". He didnít set himself in some lofty chair and dictate to his miserable followers. Rather he wrote, "Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits".
Likewise, whenever we find GOD blessing some believer, we find them here, with men of "low estate". Those that are meek and gentle and kind are the ones HE is always lifting up. Perhaps none said it better then our Lordís own mother, who when after receiving the word that she would bare the Savior of the world, uttered these humble words,
LUKE 1:46-52 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
It is critical for us to recognize these two camps, the mighty that are to be put down and them of low degree who are exalted. The one camp is occupied by fools and the other is occupied by those who fear GOD. It is tempting to seek to divide ourselves into nations, religions or colors, or by our age or even worse by our intelligence. This is quite misleading. There are two groups, those who fear GOD and those who are fools. Recognizing this can save us from much anxiety in trying to understand why some seem blessed by GOD while others seem cursed by HIM. Why some are children yet others are bastards. Why some follow HIS way while others strive for their own.
A bastard is one who has no father to love and direct him. The children with a father who chastens them may not always have an easy go of it, but at least their disciplines are ordered by one who seeks to see them grow strong and wise. Such is GODís relationship with HIS children. At the time of this chastening we may resent it, but it is always for our good, so as to drive foolishness out and away from us.
Dr. E.W. Bullinger in his Lexicon defines chastening as "the bringing up of a child, esp. its training, teaching and education, hence, discipline, correction". Concerning this chastening, the writer of HEBREWS affirms,
HEBREWS 12:5-8 ÖMy son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Better it is to be chastened and wise then to be without instruction and foolish. Yet "fools despise wisdom and instruction".
The book of PROVERBS is merciless in its prosecution of these fools. Although the truth about foolishness has been hidden from modern man, the fool is unmasked in this ancient book. If some of what it reveals seems harsh and hard to accept, it is because the world has been so successful in cloaking the fool as one who is esteemed wise. That, or else the world has succeeded in deceiving some into thinking that a person is foolish because he has some genetic disorder or chemical imbalance in his brain. These suppositions are invented and espoused by the wise of this world and usually expose their inability to grasp and understand the ways of GOD.
GOD is hidden, and therefore many of HIS ways are hidden. One cannot understand GOD or HIS ways unless GOD has revealed HIMself to him. Understanding GOD and HIS ways only comes from a true knowledge of HIS word (JOHN 17:25). Without this true knowledge, one lives with a false perception of life.
PROVERBS 1:24-33 ÖI have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: they would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
This is a graphic description of the wise teacher attempting to chasten his students but being despised in the process. He tried to set these individuals upon the right way but they evidently refused his counsel and reproof. "They hated knowledge!" So when their calamity comes, "the fruit of their own way", what do their friends usually think? They usually feel sorry for them and wonder why GOD has been so cruel in allowing some calamity to befall them. Yet the finger of GOD has made it quite clear where the blame should fall.
After the fruit of their unbelief sets in and the road they travel leads to some great distress, only then do they seek counsel and pray for deliverance.
"They shall call upon me but I will not answer".
Why? "For they hated knowledge, they did not choose the fear of the LORD".
This principle is repeated all over the Bible. Time and time again Israel fears the LORD and gains HIS favor, only to then forget their covenant and subsequently loose HIS blessing. They may have thought that being dedicated in their acts of worship would suffice, but it did just the opposite. Their religion lured them into a false sense of security. Doing the ritual neglected the heart, which is the only thing that GOD looks upon. It is the heart from where our obedience must stem.
ROMANS 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine [teaching] which was delivered you.
As we "obey from the heart" the true knowledge of GOD, it is then that we begin to move out of the false perception of this world and into the reality of HIS hidden world. We are all slaves! GOD has simply given us the freedom to choose what we will be a slave to; either we will be slaves to HIS will, for treasures laid up in HIS kingdom, or we will be slaves to our own desires, for treasures in this earthly kingdom.
Obeying from the heart the words of GOD which HE implants within us will radically change us inside. Being "servants of righteousness" we will seek to please HIM. Being "servants to sin" we will seek to please ourselves and impress others, therefore missing all the heavenly rewards of HIS kingdom. Yeshua taught this to His disciples and I think it is no less true today.Of course we today are not instructed to do alms in the synagogues and in the streets, but whatever good deeds we do attempt, should not be to bring praise upon ourselves. "Fearing the LORD" will require us to realize all our abilities are because of HIM. We donít deserve the praise of men, because without GODís graces and mercies all of our good deeds or accomplishments would remain woefully inadequate.
MATTHEW 6:1-4 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
It is the same with our prayers. People are often impressed with an eloquent prayer, one that has been thought out, edited and rehearsed. But these are prayers to men, not to GOD. Our prayers should be from the heart unto GOD, not from the mouth unto men. And the essence of our prayers should be of praise and thanksgiving, not an effort to enlighten GOD as to what HE needs to do. GOD has been aware of our needs before we ever existed. HE doesnít need us to instruct HIM on how to manage HIS universe.
MATTHEW 6:5-7 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
The way some groups orchestrate their prayer service, it makes you wonder if they ever read the Bible or just do what they think sounds religious. Prayer is a personal thing between each of us and our heavenly Father. It is not something we intend to do but it is something we are always doing. It is our constant relationship with our Father, praising HIM and offering thanksgiving for all HE has made known to us. It is not asking HIM to change HIS will to ours. Nor is it to alert HIM to a need we think HE is unaware of.
One should be cautious in what he prays for. We are often too much like impulsive children and not wise enough to know the right solution to a problem. Better it is to leave the solutions to our heavenly Father for HE knows what is needed better then we. True prayer should make us aware of a situation, not GOD. As we go to HIM in prayer, we should listen for HIS answers, not be forever telling HIM of our needs.
Fasting is another example of how man corrupts the will of GOD. The Fast was originally ordained by GOD in the Mosaic Law, in connection with the "Great Day of Atonement" that was celebrated once a year. Unfortunately, by the time of our Lordís ministry, fasting had become the thing to do if you wanted others to see how pious you were. Again, this personal thing between a believer and his GOD had degenerated into something used to impress ones fellow man.
MATTHEW 6:16-18 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret [hidden]: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
The Father is hidden and it is from HIS hidden kingdom HE observes and rewards. Perhaps this is why so many people question HIS existence, because being so totally consumed with the things of this world they are blinded to the reality of HIS world.
from death unto life
It is the fear of the LORD that is the beginning of true knowledge. Obeying from the heart that true knowledge, is what is required for us to become spiritually minded, which is "life and peace". There is as much difference between being spiritually minded and carnally minded as there is between being alive and being dead. If one is a servant of sin, if he is more concerned with what others think then what GOD thinks, more concerned with what this world offers than what HIS world offers, he is missing life altogether. Being "dead while he lives" he is missing out on life itself.
Another Proverb says, "Understanding is a fountain of life to its possessors". Understanding the truth moves us from death into life, from being blind to seeing. The Proverb concludes, "but the instruction of fools is evil". Moment to moment we decide, are we going to fear GOD and understand truth or are we going to accept the instruction of fools for truth.
JEREMIAH 2:13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
Are we going to drink from the religious cisterns that have been hewn out for us, or are we going to seek the fountain itself, and drink in life itself?
When we arrive at the juncture, the crossroads where we decide how important is the knowledge of the truth, that road we choose determines our destination. When our concept of the word of GOD changes from being an inanimate book, to being a living, breathing, powerful gift from the lips of our Creator, then we are approaching that Holy place of reverence.
We then become travelers with the few who follow the steps of the apostle Paul into a new world. He rejected all this world would deem important and determined the loss of it as only refuse "for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus". How can there be any comparison between an eternity filled with all the riches of the GOD of all creation and a few frivolous years chasing after our own desires?
The temptation will always be to turn back and desire to hold onto what we thought we knew was true. But we must continue to be diligent in our pursuit of the truth that lies ahead of us. We must continue to press towards the mark, and reach for those things that are before, not those things that are behind. We must realize that what we thought was truth yesterday, was actually just a stepping stone into further truth today. As we put on the mind of Christ, as we "serve with the mind the law of GOD" and renew our minds to think the word, as a moth to a butterfly our transformation continues.
But to change worlds requires a change of heart. There must be a new man, a new spirit. The student may read the truth, he may even speak the truth and others might hear the truth, but it is only realized, it is only understood when GOD opens it up to him. One can memorize every verse in the Bible and still not know truth. It is the fear of the LORD that is the beginning of knowledge and that fear is what opens up the truth to us, not a mind disciplined to memory.
ROMANS 10:1-2 Brethren, my heartís desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
Indeed, Israel had as many religious people do today, "a zeal of GOD". They were very enthusiastic in their worshipping of what they thought GOD to be, but it was often "not according to knowledge". Zealots can be found in all religions, yet if they lack the fear of the LORD, they "know not what they worship". It is not the energy of our conviction which brings us into harmony with GODís will, but rather a true knowledge of that will, which begins with "the fear of the LORD", and then obedience to that knowledge which has been "delivered unto us" through GOD's grace.