The Fear of the LORD
PROVERBS 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The fear of the LORD, this is indeed the beginning of true knowledge! It's not the culmination, as if all of our knowledge leads us to know and reverence GOD. Nay! The fear of the LORD initiates true knowledge.
Of course it's not the knowledge of worldly things that we require. Knowledge of that sort is engulfing us like a great flood. We can easily obtain the knowledge of the world while full well rejecting the things of GOD. Instead we must learn to fear the LORD before we can even begin to truly and fully know HIM (DEUTERONOMY 4:10).
Thus it is the fear of the LORD that is the beginning of true spiritual knowledge. Until and unless we come to fear GOD, we will forever remain infants in our relationship with HIM. Some Christians remain "babes in Christ" their whole life because they fail to unlock the first door to spiritual maturity; they fail to take the first step, that being the fear of the LORD.
If this fear is the beginning of our knowledge, it behooves us to start here. This must be the first and basic premise we require to set out on our spiritual voyage. Until we learn the fear of the LORD, how can we imagine that we know anything else, being it is the beginning. Unless we first begin, we cannot continue. The second step must follow the first. The first must proceed all others.
Many fail in beginning because they don't understand what it is to "fear the LORD". They have been seduced into thinking that to fear the LORD is some mild form of respect; a respect perhaps like opening a door for a lady or standing to receive a special guest. Many others wrongly surmise that if they just think about GOD's greatness and awe at HIS omnipotence, that they are fulfilling the requirement to fear the LORD.
But the fear of the LORD is much more involved than just that. Beginning to truly fear the LORD is the beginning of a journey into HIS kingdom. It is leaving the broad way of the world and turning upon a new path un-traveled, un-trodden by most (PROVERBS 16:6). The fear of the LORD is to drink from the fountain of life (PROVERBS 14:27). It is to awake from the cold dark night of the soul and arise into the warmth of HIS morning sun. It is to end our wanderings and begin our fellowship with HIM.
The fear of the LORD is a place of blessing (PSALM 112:1). It is the place where our needs are met (PSALM 34:9). It is a place of mercy (PSALM 103:11).
We all seek to know, we all desire to understand, but all too often we go at it from the wrong end. We think that by our much study, or perhaps places of study, we can understand the mysteries of HIS kingdom. But all our efforts are in vain, that is, unless we begin where HE directs us, unless we begin where HE leads us. Unless we begin to understand and learn the fear of the LORD we will never mature spiritually.
To understand HIS mysteries we must begin with the fear of the LORD. But we are not talking about having a respect or high esteem for GOD. We are talking about having a fear of GOD. And this fear of the LORD does not simply proceed spiritual knowledge, rather, it initiates it. Hand in hand, fear is the bow while knowledge is the arrow. Fear is the wind, while understanding is the sail. Fear is the spark, while an awakening is the flame.
We must learn what kind of GOD HE is. What are HIS abilities? What are HIS desires? What is HIS will? Once we have learned this we will begin to know who HE is. Then we must learn who and what we are, in relation to HIM. What has HE called us to? What abilities has HE granted us? What desires has HE given us (PSALM 145:19)?
We must cease to measure ourselves with each other and begin to measure ourselves as HE sees us. All we are, all we have, all we know is only because of HIS goodness (JAMES 1:17) . What if HE withheld light for a day, or air for a few minutes? What if HE gave us up to the devouring wolves? What if HE forgot we were HIS? This is the reality of our position we must contemplate if we are to understand the fear of the LORD. We must realize our absolute total dependence upon HIS goodness.
David wrote "What is man, that thou [GOD] art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (PSALM 8:4). Exactly! The very idea that the Creator of all space and time would even take notice of us miserable little creatures is an absolute astounding phenomenon. Who are we? What have we done to make us worthy to approach HIS mighty throne? This is the frame of mind we must assume to begin to understand what it is to fear the LORD.
What does it mean to fear the LORD? Let us not go to Dictionaries or Lexicons. Let us rather set at the feet of GOD's only begotten Son and see how He defines it. Yeshua, the pioneer and perfector of faith (HEBREWS 12:2) warned, "Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power [authority] to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him" (LUKE 12:4,5).
Consider deeply Yeshua's words here and it may very well change your whole concept of who GOD is. Sure, we all know that GOD is love and the source of all life but how few, if any have risen to the level of Yeshua's maturity, thinking of GOD as holding in HIS hands the authority to cast into hell? Yeshua masterfully connects these two concepts, to fear the LORD and to be ever aware that it is HE who holds the authority to cast into hell. This is more than respect. This is beyond any form of reverence we are acquainted with.
If we imagine that all of our blessings have us for their source then we will never fear the LORD and never know HIS mysteries. If we suppose that our own wisdom has made us secure, or that our own diligence has made us comfortable, we will never enter HIS kingdom. We will forever be enslaved in the tiny box wherein the world would encases us. Or if we think our national economy provides for us, or our strong military keeps us secure, or if our medical facilities preserve our health, we will never know HIM.
Let us continue to search, seek and see what the Book says; only then we shall know the fear of the LORD. But before we continue, we must briefly reconcile two verses.
1 PETER 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
1 JOHN 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Peter writes in the first passage that we should fear while John writes that we should not fear. What is the answer? The answer always lies in the context. Scripture was never given us with the intent that it be cut from its context and hung from a wall or fixed upon a card. To be fully understood, it must always be considered in the context with which it was placed.
The answer to the apparent contradiction of these two passages lies in their context. Who or what do we fear? We should fear GOD and not man. We should pass the time of our sojourning here fearing GOD, but the fear of man hath torment (see 1 JOHN 4:17). Thus, he that fears man shall never be made perfect in love. GOD expects us to fear only HIM. HE demands it. HE requires it.
PSALM 31:19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!
The fear of the LORD is a great and wonderful fountain that all believers should thirst after. It is the way of salvation. It is the way of righteousness. It is the way of godliness.
So just how do we come to realize and possess this fear of the LORD? How do we make the concept a reality? How do we learn to fear GOD? The simple and beautiful answer was long ago revealed unto Moses and given unto any who are willing to know.
DEUTERONOMY 4:10 ....the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth....
It is no more complicated than this. We must hear HIS words! We must hear HIS words and then apply our heart to what we have heard. We must hear, and believe that which we have heard and then do according to what we have heard. That is the learning. We must obey. Obey what we hear!
HIS words will explain it all for us. HIS words will tell us who HE is. HIS words will show us what HE requires. HIS words will show us the way back when we go astray and HIS words will reveal HIS rewards when we remain faithful. HIS words direct us unto HIM. They point to HIM. Indeed! And this is the true translation of the word commonly translated with in the opening passage of the fourth Gospel.
JOHN 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with [pros, towards] God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with [pros, to or towards] God.
Over seventy times is pros used in this one Gospel, and only here, in the opening two verses, is it translated with. Pros does not necessarily mean with. It more often means to, or towards. There is a Greek word meaning with, meta (see JOHN 7:33 where meta and pros are used in the same verse), so if the writer had meant that the "Word" was with GOD in the beginning he could have used this word, but he chose pros because the "Word" points us towards GOD, as it is thus rendered in the Concordant version.
JOHN 1:1-2 In the beginning was the word, and the word was toward God, and God was the word. This was in the beginning toward God.
Whenever GOD spoke it was revelation, revealing that which was unknown. Thus HIS words, written and spoken, reveal aspects which HE delights to make known. HIS word is a light, illuminating the secrets of HIS kingdom.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians that the Hebrew Bible records GOD guiding Israel by a pillar of fire, of their crossing the parted Sea, of their idolatry and lust and fornication and murmuring, were all examples and "are written for our admonition" (1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-12). The very purpose of those passages of the Hebrew Bible being preserved is plainly set forth by Paul in that twelfth verse, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall".
"Take heed"! Take heed to what? To GOD's word. To the records in the Hebrew Bible that record for us GOD's acts. Those records that demonstrate man's reward for his obedience and the consequence of his disobedience. What follows the "fear of the LORD"? Obedience! And what follows indifference to HIS word? Disobedience!
In the epistle to the Hebrews, the apostle sets forth again the importance of receiving the words of GOD.
HEBREWS 12:5-11 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My 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.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
If children, we shall be chastened. Oh and to desire that chastening. To seek it out, such is the attitude of a mature believer. Why seek it? That we may be "partakers of this holiness", and to obtain the "peaceable fruit of righteousness". Thus it is that this chastening is to live by faith, to live by the spirit! And what is the fruit of our faith? The peaceable fruit of righteousness.