The Fear of God, part five

18 Sep

Are you working everyday to become a person who fears God more? 

You say, “How?” 

First.

To truly fear God you have to have become a Christian. You need a new heart to fear God. Because, we don’t naturally fear God, and so if you are not a Christian, or if you wonder if you are a Christian, that’s where you need to start. Get together with together with someone from a biblical church, and ask them, how can I be born again?

But two. 

If you are a Christian, what do you do, you ask God to help you fear him. 

In Psalm 86:11. 

The Psalmist says. 

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your trust. Unite my heart to fear your name.”

So. 

Take your heart to God, and ask Him to fix it. Make my heart a heart that fears you.

Then third. 

Get into God’s Word on a regular basis, because that’s where He reveals Himself. To fear God, you have to see God, and right now, to see God, you have to listen to God. 

In Deuteronomy 4:10. 

God says. 

Get the people together, “that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me.”

Which means. 

To become someone who fears God, you have to put an effort into listening to God, and specifically you do that, by taking time, to study His Word. 

And to study His Word. 

Not selfishly.

Just to think great thoughts about yourself. 

But to see Him and to worship Him. 

And as you study, thinking!

You have to slow down, and mediate on what it says about who God is and what it says about who you are, and what it says about what God’s done.  

I guess. 

In a sense. 

It’s not that complicated. 

Really. 

Fearing God. 

How do I fear God? 

It’s kind of like asking, how can I be  amazed by Victoria Falls? Or, by some beautiful sunrise? 

Well. 

First of all. 

You have to be able to see. 

Obviously. 

Being blind. 

Is going to make it hard to appreciate nature. 

And then.

Two.

You have to go there. 

Because if you don’t go there, it’s probably not going to amaze you. 

And then once you are there, you have to open your eyes and look.

And when you are looking, you have to slow down, and enjoy. 

Which, is kind of how it works with fearing God. 

You are not going to fear Him, if you are blind. 

And you have to spend time with Him, in His Word, if you are going to fear Him. 

You have to look. And as you look, you have to slow down and enjoy. 

And it’s so important you do. 

Because, this is the beginning of wisdom. 

We can’t go anywhere good in our lives, if we don’t start here. 

As religious people.

We don’t want to be people who just talk about God, but people who are in awe of Him, and long to honor Him because, if we don’t, we might be showing up every Sunday, but we won’t even have the beginning of wisdom.

If we do learn to fear God though, the blessings, it will bring into our lives, are going to be awesome.

So be amazed by God.

Work at being amazed by God.

And when you are not, don’t be content, until you are.

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A Biblical Theology of Money

11 Sep

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We looked at what Proverbs says about money this past week at Living Hope. If you are interested, you might find the following presentation helpful:

Click here.

 

The Fear of God, part 4

11 Sep

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

If you don’t fear God, you don’t have the beginning of wisdom.

If you don’t have the beginning of wisdom, what are you?

To put it bluntly, you are foolish.

Why?

I mean, why does Solomon say the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom? 

Three reasons.

One.

If you don’t fear God, you are being stupid because of who God is.

There’s a great line in Jeremiah.

As God’s talking to these people who claim to know Him but aren’t living like it.  He says in Jeremiah 5:20,21.

“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but see not, who have ears but hear not. Do you not fear Me? Declares the Lord. Do you not tremble before me?”

It’s like God’s saying, what is going on? You don’t fear me. That’s foolish. That’s senseless. It’s like people who have eyes, but choosing to not use them. Or ears, and closing them.

I mean. 

It only makes sense to fear God.

You look at who God is. Creator. He made everything. King. The most important person in the universe. You look at what God’s like. Eternal. He’s been around forever. Holy.  Absolutely opposite to sin. Jealous. He actually cares about people doing right. And, all knowing and all powerful and we could go on and on. 

With God being God. 

It doesn’t make sense to not fear Him. 

Not fearing God is a little like, standing with this really smart guy, who knows a lot information and facts out in the bush, as you are watching a lion come right at him. And the lion is hungry and you are looking at this guy, and he’s not afraid.  He’s just reading a book or something. 

I don’t care how smart he is. That’s foolish. To not be afraid of a lion that is about to pounce on you, to eat you, is stupid. 

Or. 

I guess to be more biblical. 

Imagine, somehow, you were able to take a visit to hell with someone. 

And this is a place that’s designed for punishment. 

By God. 

And He’s pouring out His wrath on sinners, and we are talking about a God, who has no limits, who could tear this universe pieces in just a moment just by saying a word. We are talking about God who is so powerful, that if you took all the strength of all the men and angels in the universe and somehow combined their strength together, all that power is less than God has in his fingers.  This is a God who can as one man said, make men as miserable as he pleases. And in hell, that’s what He’s doing, He’s executing His justice. 

And imagine you are standing there, with someone. Watching these people who are imprisoned, eternally. Suffering. And, yet he’s not afraid. It’s doesn’t impact him. You would say, I don’t care how smart this man is in every other area of life, his lack of fear in this moment, shows me, he doesn’t really understand anything.

There’s something wrong with him. 

Which is one reason, we say, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. 

If you don’t fear God. 

That’s not a small fail.

Like, “I can be fine in every other area.”

No, you can’t. You miss the fear of God, you might as well, not understand anything, because of fear of God, it’s that fundamental. 

Two. 

Not fearing God is stupid is because of what happens when you don’t fear God. 

If you don’t fear God, you will fear something else.

This is how we were built.

You can’t help it.

You were made to be amazed by something. And what happens when you aren’t amazed by God, is that you end up being amazed by something much less than God, and honestly, usually it’s yourself or something else in creation. 

And so you start acting as if that created thing, were god, and start making that created thing, the most important thing in life, and in the end, that ends up making you, act like an idiot. 

If you want proof of that read Romans 1. 

Or, you know, you could just spend time with some grown men at a soccer game. 

These human beings made to worship God, instead, giving that worship, to some guy, running around in shorts. 

Three. 

It is stupid not to fear God because of how good the Bible says it is for you.

If you learn to fear God, it, literally, will change your life. 

Listen for example to Psalm 25:12. 

The Psalmist asks, “Who is the man who fears the Lord?” 

And check out what God promises. 

“Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.”

And I mean, instructed by God! 

 You ever face something and wish you had someone who was really good at this, here right now, to help you know what to do. What it would be like to have the most intelligent person in the world as your personal instructor as you go through life?

Imagine. 

You could run every decision by him.  

What is promised in Psalm 25:12 is even better than that. 

Because it’s not any human that’s your teacher. 

It’s God. 

If a person knows and fears God, this all wise, all knowing, “never make a mistake” and “never lacking in understanding” God will help that person to make wise choices.  

Which is why the Psalmist goes on and says, “Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will He instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.” 

The person who fears God has soul prosperity. Which means what?  

It means. Peace. Contentment. Direction in life. Purpose. Stability. Joy. 

And, you know, he won’t have this for a little while. That’s the thing. The psalmist says, His soul shall abide in well-being. In other words, this is a permanent blessing. 

It’s not like prosperity occasionally pays a visit to the soul of someone who fears God man. It says the man who continuously fears God will have a continuous experience of soul prosperity. His experience of soul prosperity will not be an up and down, every now and then matter. As he rightly fears God, the kind of internal prosperity this verse is referring to will make its home, its dwelling place in his inner man.  

And it doesn’t only impact him.

It also impacts his family. 

You see how it says, His offspring shall inherit the land. 

One of the blessings of fearing God, is you don’t just bless yourself, you bless all the people who get close to you. If you spend time with a person who fears God, it’s good for you. Growing up in the family of someone who fears God is one of the biggest blessings a person can experience, and this is part of why, it just makes sense to fear God. 

You fear God and other things start falling into place because God’s your teacher. 

Your soul prospers. 

Your family is blessed. 

And. 

You know what? 

This is the best. 

You are God’s friend. 

He says towards the end. 

“The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him.” 

Which given who God is almost seems too much to hope for. But it’s not too much, because God promises this to those who fear Him. 

God treats them as friends and is pleased to let them know His very thoughts, concerns, desires and perspectives on Himself, the world, the problems and needs of people, and all kinds of other things that matter to Him.  

And honestly, I could go on. 

There’s just a lot of reasons the Bible says the fear of God is good for you. 

When we talk about being in awe of God and longing to honor Him and dreading offending Him, about your mind being filled with great thoughts of God, and your emotions responding to those truths, and your will, being transformed so you want to please God it’s not just another thing in life. 

Like, “oh I could focus on this or I could focus on that. I’ve got a lot to do. And, all these options are equal.” 

They are not equal!  

If you want to live life in a way that’s good for you, that is good for others, that is substantial, that makes an impact, that’s not a waste, this, learning to fear God, is not just one priority. It has to be the number one priority. 

Is it? 

Is it a priority for you? 

Do you fear God? 

Are you working everyday to become a person who fears God more? 

7 Sep

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If you would like to keep up with some of what’s been going on with our family and ministry over the past couple of months, just click here. 

The Fear of God, part 3

4 Sep

What does it mean to fear God?

My father once defined the fear of God like this:

“The fear of God is a reflex, attitudinal, and emotional reaction to an accurate understanding and awareness of the glory and the majesty of the God of the Bible, that causes a person to trust God, to love God, to obey God, hope in God and be consumed with God, wanting to serve Him and please in every area of life.”

Which is a really long definition. 

But it’s good! 

Notice especially, the words, reflex, attitudinal, emotional, and the phrase, that causes.

First.

It’s a reflex.

It’s a response, in other words to how God’s revealed Himself in Scripture. The fear of God involves our thought processes. You see who God is in the Bible, you understand what it means, and that produces, emotions. 

It’s not just mental, the fear of God. 

It is also emotional. 

We start to think about how great God is, and how far above us, He is in his thoughts. We look at the world around us. And we think what kind of mind comes up with this stuff? Or we read the Old Testament and the New and we start to see just how far back God’s saving plan goes, and all the details of history that He’s orchestrated to save us.  And we’re overwhelmed. Emotionally. With just how much smarter He is than us. 

We start to realize, we can spend the rest of our life studying, and working as hard as we can at understanding creation or Scripture, and how God did all this, and at the end, we are still going to be so far from even really understanding the beginning of what He’s doing. 

It’s kind of like, if a worm stretched as far as it could upward, trying to touch the stars. The difference between where the worm ends and the star begins, is closer, way closer, than the distance between the greatest, most wise man’s understand of the glory and majesty of God, and God Himself, and I am saying, fearing God, means, those thoughts, affect us. 

We start to think about  how important He is. Maybe we compare Him to important people on this earth, and powerful , and we begin to realize that if we took the most powerful people, that ever lived, and the most important, and we compared them to God, it would be like looking at a bunch of grasshoppers or ants. 

This is the King of Kings. There’s no one anywhere who is His equal.  You take the most glorious beings. Supernatural ones. Angels. Who if we saw, we would be tempted to fall down and worship. And you put them in the presence of God. And you know what they do. They cover their eyes and they cover their feet, and they cry out. 

Holy, Holy, Holy. 

Different. Different. Different. 

God is awesome, and when we fear God, we know that, and it impacts us.

We don’t relate to Him, in a careless way. 

It makes us a little shaky, you know.  

We tremble before Him. 

It makes us happy. We rejoice in Him.

It makes us feel small. We’re humbled before Him.  

And we get serious, about pleasing Him.  In other words, we want to obey Him. 

And that’s so key. 

The fear of God doesn’t stay up in our thoughts or just create these emotions in our hearts, it changes us, at a core level, what we love, and what we hate, and that impacts, how we live. 

The fear of God involves action. 

Which is why another word, you find coming up all the time, when it comes to fearing God, is actually the word obedience.  

In fact, maybe, no truth about the fear of God is more obvious in Scripture than the fact that it involves glad hearted, diligent obedience and service.  

If you fear God, you’ll keep His commandments. 

Deuteronomy 10:12.

“What does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, … and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”  

Psalm 128:1.

“How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways”  

Psalm 112:1.

“How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who great delights in His commandments”  

Ecclesiastes 12:13. 

“The conclusion when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.”  

Proverbs 8:13-15. 

If you ask the God inspired writer of Proverbs what the fear of God is and he will respond with these words. 

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth…“

I am saying. 

All of these Scriptures emphasize action. People who fear God obey Him, they structure their lives according to His Word, and, it’s something, that brings them joy.  

They obey with delight. 

It’s not a grudging or forced obedience. They don’t serve Him or walk in His ways because they have to, but because they want to. God-fearing people obey God because they consider it a privilege to please Him. God-fearing people don’t have to be coerced, manipulated or threatened into obedience. They don’t have to be sent on a guilt trip or dragged kicking and screaming away from sin and into a life of righteousness. They want to stay away from evil, from pride and arrogance and unwholesome speech. They love godliness, righteousness, holiness, humility, god honoring, edifying communication. And, why? Because, they fear God and God hates these things. Because, God is their reference point. So what pleases God pleases them and what displeases God displeases them.  

I mean. 

That’s what the fear of God is and if that’s what the fear of God is, do you fear God? 

Because that’s the question. 

Really. 

It’s not much good to define it, if you don’t do it. 

I am asking: Is God really God to you?  

As you go through life. 

Does the fact God is all powerful keep you from worry, frustration and discouragement? 

As you go through life. 

Does God knowing everything about what’s going on in your life, help you not get so freaked out, when things are getting stressful?  

As you are out there living. 

Does God being with you, give you peace, when things seem a little frightening? 

Does knowing God always does what is right, keep you from getting so frustrated or angry or bitter.

Do you find yourself being amazed by grace and wanting to show that grace to others? 

Does it keep you from complaining?  Does it motivate you to spend time praising? Do you ever find yourself really grateful for the fact God loves you? Does that ever cause you to say to yourself, I don’t deserve this? Does it cause you to love Him? To actually be excited about having the opportunity to come and worship?  

Are you optimistic? Not because you think, life is going to be easy or that everything is going to go your way, but, because you know God, and you know He’s got a plan, and that gives you confidence that no matter what happens, in the end He wins.

Do you think about Him?  Do you want to think about Him more? 

Are you a God conscious, God centered person? Do you think about how you can please God?  Do you ever find yourself being awestruck by God‘s majesty and glory? 

Because that’s what it means to fear God. 

The Fear of God part 2

30 Aug

What does it mean to fear God? 

We have to ask that question because we can get this question wrong, and we can get it wrong pretty easily. And one reason we can get this question wrong so easily actually, is just because of how language works.

Proverbs is written in Hebrew, obviously. 

And so they had to translate the Hebrew word for fear in Proverbs to English, which is pretty difficult, and one reason it is difficult, is because in English our words are pretty specific. 

So, when we use a word like fear, we’ve got a pretty precise meaning that comes into our minds and that meaning is almost always negative. 

We hardly ever think of fear as a good thing. 

I guess, we’d use another word, besides fear, if we were talking about something good, which of course, is why, we can understand all the commands in the Bible, that are saying, don’t fear. Those commands make sense to us because in our language, we are pretty precise, and fear, is a word we almost always use to describe something, we don’t want to be true, of us.  

Where Hebrew though is different. 

In fact, it’s kind of like, I once heard someone say, and this is her explanation, not mine, but she explains, language, or words, are like luggage, you know suitcases, and instead of packing clothes into suitcases, what you do with words is you pack your ideas into them, in order to transport them into someone else’s mind.

And so say, I’ve got this idea I want you to hear, what do I do?

I pick a word or a suitcase to put that idea in, and in English, we’re blessed, because, we’ve got all kinds of suitcases, we can choose from, you know? If I want to say something, I’ve got all kinds of words. 

Where in Hebrew, they had fewer words, or suitcases, and so what they had to do, was pack more stuff in the suitcases they had.  When you don’t have as many suitcases, you still have to get where you have to get, and you still have to take your stuff, with you, so, what do you do, you pack more stuff into the suitcases you have, and that’s what the Hebrews did with language. 

So. 

Take a word like fear. 

For us, we hear that word almost completely as something negative, to be avoided, to be put off, because, we have more words, and we’d just use another suitcase, if we wanted to say something positive. 

But. 

The Hebrews didn’t. And so they used what they had. 

And the result is that in Hebrew, the word for fear is much more broad, than for us. 

So, sometimes it means something negative, like you don’t want that, and yet, it’s also sometimes, something that is really positive and, something, you should want, which is kind of why we’ve got to do some work when we read Solomon or someone else talking about the fear of God if we are going to understand what he means.

One thing, we can do, is look at other words, they used to explain, fearing God. I guess you could say, what words did they pack in the same suitcase?

One word that’s used sometimes with fearing God, is trust or believe. 

Exodus 14:31 is an example. 

After God rescues the Israelites from the Egyptians. 

It says. 

“Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord, and in his servant Moses.”

In other words, at that moment, they feared God. 

And, proved that by believing, God, you can take care of us, which is not something we typically associate with fear. In English, you don’t normally say, I fear this person, that’s why I trust him. Usually we have doubts about people we fear. But, not in Hebrew. In Hebrew, you can trust someone you fear, and, in fact, with the fear of God you have to. 

A person who fears God is a person who trusts God. 

Proverbs 29:25 is another example. 

Solomon says, 

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”

And I just want you to notice the contrast. 

On the one hand, you have someone who fears man, and on the other you have someone who trusts God, and really here these terms are almost interchangeable. In that, what does it mean to fear man, it means to trust in man and what does it mean to trust in God, it means to be someone who fears Him. 

Bottom line. 

People who fear God trust God. 

So if you want to know whether you fear God, you have to ask: 

Do you trust that He has the power to take care of you? Do you find peace in the fact He knows what He is doing? Are you encouraged, knowing, you are never alone? He is always with you. Deep down, when things are confusing, is your mind able to rest, because you know He’s good, loving, merciful, patient, willing to forgive? When you read the Bible, are you convinced, it’s true? That God will keep all His promises? Do you find hope in God’s unchangeableness –that He isn’t one thing one day and something else the next, He stays the same, that He knows exactly what is happening, why it is happening and what to do to make it right. 

People who fear God. 

Trust God. 

Another word used with this kind of fear, is love actually. 

Which is funny. 

Because, usually, in English, you fear things you think are going to be bad for you. I don’t usually like things I am afraid of. 

But, biblical fear is different.  

And we know that because, in the Bible, fearing God, is connected, with loving Him. 

And this is Deuteronomy 10:12, where Moses says. 

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

And in the same sentence, you see they were commanded to fear God, and to love God, which is something we might be tempted to think is impossible. 

Because, we all know there’s a kind of fear that’s not really compatible with love. 

Like some of you are afraid of dogs. 

And you would never say I am so afraid of dogs, I love them. No. Instead. You ask when you go to someone’s house. Do you have a dog. And if you see a dog. You want to run away from them. Which is kind of how we think of fear, but, biblical fear of God, doesn’t make you want to run away from God, instead.

It makes you want to run to Him. 

People who fear God love God. 

If you doubt God, you are not fearing Him. If you don’t like God, you don’t fear Him. Do you trust God? Do you love God? That’s part of what it means to fear Him. 

A third word often used with biblical fear, is the word hope. 

Fearing God doesn’t mean wondering about God and being worried about whether or not He is out to get you. 

It can’t mean that because one of the words we find coming up alongside biblical fear is the word hope, and hope means what, it means, confidence in future good, and biblically, it’s a rock solid assurance. 

And it’s an essential part of fearing God. 

I mean, Psalm 33:18 says. 

“Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.”

And the second phrase expands and clarifies the first. What’s a person who fears God doing, he’s hoping in God, specifically in God’s steadfast love. He’s confident, the person who fears God, that God loves Him. 

Which means, when we talk about fearing God, we are not talking about doubting Him. We are not talking about wondering about His character. We are not talking about thinking of him as someone evil, to be avoided. We are not talking about always going around questioning whether He is for you. 

The opposite.

In fact, you know basically what we are talking about? 

One word. 

Awe.

Fearing God is being in awe of God. 

And. 

Awe would be amazement. Astonishment. It’s the way you respond to something huge. Beautiful. Powerful. And better than you. 

This is how Psalm 33:8 puts it. 

“Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.”

Which is parallel. Meaning, two ways of saying the same thing. Fearing God according to the Psalmist, is standing in awe of God. 

Jonathan Edwards once explained, 

“The fear of God is having your mind possessed with an awe-inspiring sense of God’s greatness and majesty.” 

And I like that. 

It’s a mind possessed with an awe-inspiring sense of God’s greatness and majesty.  It’s like when you’ve seen something great. You know, something really great and you want to see it again and you keep thinking about it. 

The first time you are up on a plane. And you are looking down. And you are like wow. What? 

Or. 

When you have your first baby. And you are looking at this baby. And. You can’t stop looking. 

It’s awesome. 

Fearing God. 

Is when you’ve seen. 

God’s God. 

And. 

You know it. 

And. 

You recognize deep down. 

He’s awesome. 

He’s not just a word. He’s greater than you. 

And you like it.  And you love to think about Him.   He’s not small to you. He’s amazing.  And so, your mind is possessed. It’s constantly running back, to thinking about Him and worshiping Him. 

You enjoy that. 

You’d rather think about Him than yourself. 

It’s like in Revelation 15:2-4.

Where the apostle John tells us of this vision God gave Him of what the Christians who had died and were now in heaven were doing and experiencing. 

And apparently, he saw them standing before God and heard them singing, and you know what they are singing? In heaven? What are they excited about? At that moment? 

Is it, “Oh this place is so beautiful.” Or, “look at the streets of gold.”  Or, “you’ve got to see my house.” 

No. 

Is it, “Look at me. I am glorified. The angels think I am awesome.” 

No. 

It’s. 

God. 

They were singing. 

“Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations. Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all nations will come and worship Thee; For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.”  

As these believers stood before God, they sang of His glory and majesty, of His might and power, of His righteousness and holiness, and of His infinite uniqueness. Their response to this revelation of God was a holy fear and a desire to glorify Him. Their fear consisted of a holy awe and reverence that turned their focus away from thinking about themselves or other people or even the glories of heaven to being consumed with God. These people in heaven were consumed with God; they were a God conscious, God centered people. They had lost their concern about proclaiming or displaying their own glory. The primary topic of their conversation was not about themselves. Their primary focus was not about themselves. Rather, they were taken up with a desire to glorify and magnify God.  

Which is what it means to fear God. 

God-fearing people are consumed with and enthralled by God.  

Or at least that’s what they are wanting to be, that’s what they are pursuing. 

How about you? 

Are you a person who trusts God, loves God, hopes in God, is in awe of God, fears God?  

The Fear of God, part 1

28 Aug

We have many different books in the Bible for a reason.

They all have something different that we need to live our lives as Christians. 

Like take Proverbs, as an example. 

Proverbs is definitely a pretty different book of the Bible. 

It’s different than, say, a gospel like Luke which we’ve been studying recently at our church.

And it’s actually, different, than most of the Old Testament as well.   

Most of the Old Testament is telling you this story of what God’s doing. If you read most of the Old Testament, it’s helping you understand, the promise God made to bring salvation, to the world, through this little nation. Israel.  

But, Proverbs is not so much telling you a story about what God’s doing in the world, as it trying to help you understand how to live your life, now, in this world. 

It’s practical. 

It’s down to earth. 

It’s part of this section in the Old Testament we call the Wisdom literature. 

Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes are all part of the Wisdom Literature, and these three books are grouped together because they are, pretty much, all answering the same question. They all want to help us know, how to live well, in this world, as it is, and yet, even though they are all answering that same basic question, when you start reading them, they seem, pretty different, as well..

At least, at first. 

I mean, like for example, Job. Job’s a story.  And mostly, poetry. Where Proverbs almost reads like a book of quotes. And Ecclesiastes, is different altogether. It’s more like a philosophy textbook. 

In fact, Ecclesiastes is this king, who has it all and is just, trying everything, in life, because, he wants to understand, how anything makes sense, in light of the fact, we all, are going to die, so quickly. 

And Job is this righteous man, who had it all, and now doesn’t, and, is suffering, is trying to understand, how to make sense, of the fact, we do good, and hurt so much. 

You look at Job and Ecclesiastes and, they are wrestling with these big questions in life. Death. Suffering. 

Where Proverbs is much more down to earth and straightforward, actually. 

I am saying.

Even though these books are answering similar questions, at first they seem very different.

And yet. 

If you look a little more closely, you see they all actually, have ONE very important thing in common, they have many things that are different, but wisdom literature, these books about living life, skillfully, all have ONE very important thing in common.

And that’s the way they stress.

Fearing God.  The fear of God. For each one, that’s like their ultimate answer.  

So, like, take Ecclesiastes, which seems like kind of a weird book in that, the author is just trying absolutely everything, and saying, nothing makes sense, until he comes to the end and says in Ecclesiastes 12:13. 

“The end of the matter; all has been heard.”

I’ve looked at everything. 

Basically. 

That’s what he is saying. And it’s confusing, but this is the one thing I’ve figured out. 

“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

And, Job, as well. 

Job 28, is the center of the book. The part before that, has all these questions, and the part after has all these questions.

And Job 28.

Is sort of a pause.

In the middle. To give us a glimpse of the answer, and you know, his answer? To the suffering in life.

Is.

Wisdom. 

You need wisdom. And that wisdom.  Is what? 

Job 28:28, “Look, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil, that is understanding.”

And then Proverbs. 

If Ecclesiastes is saying I’ve tried everything, and I am realizing, now, what matters is fearing God. And Job is like, oh I have suffered, and what I found, I need is wisdom, and wisdom is found in fearing God.  Proverbs is kind of like. ‘You know, I could have told you that. I mean, you remember, how I started my book? Right?’

Proverbs 1:7,  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

And, that’s like Proverbs motto. When you look at it. That’s the key thing Proverbs wants you to know about becoming wise. At the beginning. 

You can’t even get started understanding life without fearing God. 

The door into the room called wisdom is the fear of God. 

Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

It’s sort of like the A,B,C’s. Really. 

You remember. Maybe, when you first go to school, you don’t start off with Algebra, or Chemistry, or Physics. Obviously. Imagine sitting down in grade R, and the teacher plops a calculus book on your desk. No. You start, in grade R, with the basics, because the teacher knows, you will never understand the more complex subjects, until you understand certain fundamentals first.

And the wisdom literature wants you to know, what’s true of school is true, of life as well. Because, look, life is complicated. There’s a lot of stuff that is complicated. Confusing. And so, there’s a lot of stuff, in life, that like Algebra or Physics, you need to think carefully about. But, you won’t be able to understand, and be smart, about any of that complicated stuff, if you haven’t come to understand, something fundamental first:

What it means to fear God. 

One of the reasons the wisdom literature is in the Bible is to get us thinking about the importance of fearing God, which is why in the next few posts I want to go back to basics and talk about the fear of God.

One, what it means to fear God.

Two, why fearing God is essential to have any real wisdom. 

And three, how we can become people who truly fear God.