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Hebrews 5:7-10 – OT

04.04.2011

Proverbs 1:1-7

This passage is the intro paragraph to the book of Proverbs, and v. 7 is the thesis statement:  ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge.’
 

The ‘fear of the Lord’ is one of those nebulous concepts.  Who is supposed to fear the Lord, the wicked or the righteous?  What are we supposed to be afraid of?  The answer is that both the wicked and the righteous are to fear the Lord.  This is because the righteous are merely those that acknowledge and repent of their wickedness. 

So we all stand before an all-powerful, pure, and wrathful God; the fear is the recognition that our wickedness offends Him.  This repentant fear, though, is the foundation of faith.  By owning up to our sinful nature in light of God’s purity and repenting of that nature, we are primed to receive His grace and salvation in the form of the Son.  So, ultimately, the ‘fear of the Lord’ can best be understood as humility, reverence, and gratitude that comes from a true recognition of how we stand in relation to God.

Before discussing the second half of this thesis statement, allow me a personal (and slightly embarassing) anecdote: 

In college one night, as I was falling asleep, I began my nightly prayers, which had become somewhat routine.  ‘Dear God,’ I started, at which time a burp or gas bubble must have escaped my throat.  Because I was half asleep, the sound of this *urp* amplified in my head and rang deep and loud; it sounded like a distict and divine, WHAT.‘ 

Words cannot express how quickly I snapped awake and shot out of bed.  My whole body felt tingly, my heart pounded almost audibly, and an empty nausea took over my gut.  I, like most Christians, had long professed a desire to hear from God.  But now that I had seemingly heard Him answer my prayer-greeting, I can tell you that the first thought in my head was not, ‘Oh, cool,’ but rather ‘OH, SH*T!!!’ 

After probably 20 minutes of standing there paralyzed, I finally eeked out a ‘Yes, Lord?’  When I heard no response, I tentatively got back in bed and restarted my prayer: ‘Dear God,’ – cringe and pause…nothing…and then I prayed, with much more presence of mind than had become my routine.  I figured out that it was probably a gas bubble, but I still (ten years later) go back to that night, physically remember my terror, and feel that I have a more intimate understanding of the ‘fear of the Lord.’  I may have fallen into the trap many times since of taking His forgiveness lightly or being over casual in my relationship with Him, but this memory is a useful corrective for me because it can quickly reinstill the humility and reverence that is at the heart of fearing God.

The beginning of all knowledge is translated in most Catholic bibles as ‘the beginning of wisdom,’ which is slightly different but still applicable.  The ESV commentary gives the scriptural definition of ‘knowledge’ as an understanding of the Creator, the creation, and our place in it — an awareness and acceptance of the divine order of the cosmos.  Widsom is the application of this knowledge in pursuit of a godly life.

The fear of the Lord, then, is the foundation of this knowledge.  Knowing how we stand before God is central to understanding the hierarchy of creation.  As we discussed two weeks ago, we are called to be bold and confident in approaching the throne of grace.  As we see today, however, this does not negate the appropriateness of fearing God.  Rather, our ability to be so bold and confident is truly a divine gift in light of the fearsomeness of God.  He is no less scary, but we have been made clean.

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