Today: Proverbs 9:1-12; Luke 13:1-30; Deuteronomy 13 & 14
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
We really need a better English word to express the meaning of “fear” in this passage from Proverbs. “Fear of the LORD” doesn’t mean to be afraid of God like you would be afraid of a snake or a violent person. It means to be in awe of God, to understand and respect His awesome power and authority. That is where wisdom BEGINS. Once we get that, this “fear of the LORD,” God is then able to teach us and increase our wisdom.
Almost everything Jesus said, His parables and words of wisdom, were delivered to give His hearers eternal vision. To have eternal vision is to understand the truth of our current situation, how fleeting and insignificant this physical life is compared to eternity. The experiences we have here in this physical life don’t matter so much when stacked up against our eternal destiny. Everyone of us is eventually going to die some day (unless Christ returns!).
But that is only the very beginning of our story. Our physical life here is only the tiniest drop of water in the ocean of eternity. The fate of our souls in infinitely more important. This is why Jesus’ teachings focus on the kingdom of heaven rather than on our plight here on this earth. Jesus came to show us the way, the truth, and the life which was Himself. There is only one God and only one Savior, Jesus Christ. Do you know Him? That is the only question that really matters.
There are a lot of “prophets” these days — self help gurus, various experts about this or that. You can find them all over YouTube!
How do we decide who to listen to? Deuteronomy 13 gives us a guide to follow. If the prophet says “‘Let’s follow other gods (whom we have not known) and let’s serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (v.2-3)
Back in Moses’ time, it was a bit easier to know if you were “serving other gods.” The real God dwelt in the Jewish temple. The surrounding peoples worshiped all sorts of other gods. They built temples to them and offered sacrifices to them. Those gods were very different than the one true God. They did not create the universe, nor did many of them claim to. Many of them required appeasement through human sacrifice. But the Jewish God was different. He could back up His magnificent claims of Godness with a long list of amazing miracles and proven prophecies. None of the other gods could claim such a thing.
Today it is more difficult to discern the false gods, their temples, and required sacrifices. We are still surrounded by them. They are still calling to us, inviting us to worship. It is so enticing to join them, to be nice, inclusive, hip, openminded, to avoid offending anyone…
But we believers in the one true God today have a benefit that the Israelites did not have. God now dwells INSIDE of us in the form of the Holy Spirit. We now comprise the true temple where God dwells. We are called to use discernment, to strive to keep only the one true God on the throne of our hearts, to worship only the one true Savior, Jesus Christ. Our constant companion, the Holy Spirit, can help us discern what is true and what is false if we ask Him.