“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
MAN entered the twentieth century proclaiming God was dead. He had been influenced by scientific discoveries and liberal theologies of the nineteenth century. The two world wars had destroyed optimism and religious faith. He had replaced the Biblical revelation of creation with Darwin’s theories of evolution, Freud’s psychological explorations and Marxist political ideology. While Western capitalism carried a veneer of conservative Christianity, the economic disparities and racial segregations denied any serious adherence to Biblical guidelines concerning human love and equality. By mid-century, led by atheistic philosophies, man had relegated himself from human to animal to machine, operating according to impulses determined by his environment. Absolute standards in morals were rejected as the sexual revolutions of the sixties, led by popular entertainment and media, swept Western cultures. A “situational ethics” that made judgement of behavior arbitrary and subjective became the “politically correct” position. Everything was seen as “relative”. In the words of Scripture, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” (Judges 21:25).
The Caribbean may well have been among the last societies in which Christianity, across varying denominations, guided public and private lives. But even there, “social religiosity” with its attendant hypocrisies, alliances of church and state, pervaded town and village. That influence has certainly largely declined in public affairs and private lives. More religions are present, the once dominant Catholicism competes with other Christian denominations, many persons openly declare themselves atheistic or agnostic, and the multiplicity of lifestyle choices pay little or no regard to the once dominant Christian theologies. The seventies were aptly named the “me” generation. In many ways, the simplicity of island lives has long given way to more complex societal structures, much of it controlled by social media and awareness of larger metropolitan cultures. Unfortunately, these islands are plagued now by crime, corruption in various manifestations, stagnation of political and governance systems, economic pressures and deepening poverty.
But against this modernity with all its challenges, including a rejection of Biblical Christianity, there are those who hold to the values of fidelity, loyalty, honesty, morality and the fear of God the Creator. Indeed, the world situation and our own in the Caribbean and Saint Lucia, make more urgent the Scripture call to “fear the LORD and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:7). We are responsible and accountable to Almighty God for the lives we live. Man today, with his AI technology, unimaginable nuclear weapons, climate change crises, high rise cities and great wealth, considers himself wiser than the ancients and the so-called “backward people” who still fear God. But the old Book that he despises and mocks, still speaks unswervingly and with clarity to his conscience: “Behold the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28). Man talks much about knowledge and wisdom. The Bible however defines clearly, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10).
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Romans, makes a searing indictment of mankind: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them….so they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:18-22).
The Bible Presents…
The Bible presents the true reality of humanity. They are created by God. Man is accountable to the God of the Bible. All their life must be spent aware of the presence of that Creator. God is the rule and law of man’s existence. The fear of God is the reverence and respect of God. Man is lost because he turns his back on the One responsible for the breath in his nostrils. Indeed, it is the fool who says in his heart “there is no God” (Psalm 14:1). The reality of death should make many pause and consider their lives now and beyond the grave.
The Bible’s teaching is the sourcebook of the truth we need to know now. It may be an old Book, but its revelations are unchanging truths. Modern philosophies had said there is no absolute truth, all “truth” is relative. The Bible position is that right thinking and right behaviour begin with faith in God the Creator. The Bible also astoundingly reveals that our Creator has become our Saviour in Jesus Christ. The preaching and teaching of Bible Scriptures encourage a personal acceptance of the truth and authority of its contents. God has not been silent. He has spoken, And the Bible is a record of His word to humanity, given through prophets, apostles and supremely His Son Jesus Christ. The Bible says amazing things about Jesus Christ, the Carpenter of Nazareth. God “commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a Day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has appointed. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30, 31).
We are free to accept or reject the Gospel proclamation which has been in the world for 2000 years. We are free to fear, to respect, the LORD God, or to reject all this as foolishness. God gives us choice. Choice also carries benefits and consequences. That freedom does not change the historical fact that Jesus Christ, God come in the flesh as a Man, was crucified, rose from the dead, and will return again as Judge of all the earth. We are declared righteous, justified, by God, through faith: “..by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
The quality of our lives, individually and as a community, will be determined according to how we hear and respond to our Creator’s commandments. This article sets out the teachings of the Biblical Christian faith. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Indeed, the fear of the LORD, reverence and respect for the Real Presence of God, is the beginning of all wisdom and knowledge, the regeneration of real human life. The certain hope of life beyond sickness, death, the grave. The Christian believer, fearing the LORD, is looking “for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13). This great hope is the real fruit of the Fear of the LORD.