Where is wisdom found?

So last week I started a new job and to be honest my week felt like it had been ripped right out of the “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” movie script. I ended the week with one prayer: “God, please give me wisdom!” and I reached out to people to pray the same for me.

Interestingly, a couple days ago my daily bible reading landed me on this passage of scripture and because it is very serendipitous and self-explanatory, I will just let you read it for yourself without my commentary:

 Where then does wisdom come from?
 Where does understanding dwell?
 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
 concealed even from the birds in the sky.
 Destruction and Death say,
 “Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.”
 God understands the way to it
 and he alone knows where it dwells,
 for he views the ends of the earth
 and sees everything under the heavens.
 When he established the force of the wind
 and measured out the waters,
 when he made a decree for the rain
 and a path for the thunderstorm,
 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
 he confirmed it and tested it.
 And he said to the human race,
 “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
 and to shun evil is understanding. Job 28: 20-28 NIV

This passage stopped me right in my tracks. It was like God Himself had stepped out of eternity to speak this to me. So I started my week praying “God give me wisdom” and I am ending my week with an entirely different prayer: “God teach me to fear you!”

Yours Truly.

Our Covenant Relationship

Referencing We are Covenant People

So let’s continue from where we left off, shall we? To recap:

Abraham was the mediator of a covenant with God sealed with blood. The terms of reference of this covenant were that all that entered into it would love, obey, fear God, serve God, and keep the commandments. This covenant was meant to be an everlasting covenant between God and Abraham and his descendants, never to be broken by either party. But guess what? the children of Israel fell into a cycle of breaking the covenant, repenting and asking God to take them back only to break it all over again. Enter Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ became the mediator of a new and better covenant the new covenant which promised three things:

  • to be inclusive, not just for the descendants of Abraham but for all
  • to give access to an eternal inheritance
  • to set people free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant

Therefore Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, now that He has died to redeem them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Heb 9:15 BSB

Just like the old covenant, the new covenant was ratified with the blood of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. And all who are willing to partake of this covenant enter into it by the circumcision of  the heart

For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart—by the Spirit, not the letter. That man’s praise is not from men but from God. Romans 8: 28-29 HCSB

And how does one circumcise the heart you ask? You are to have put off, concerning the former way of life, the old man, which is being corrupted according to its desires of deceit (Ephesians 4:22 BLB) and you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Colossians 3:8)

But you know the best part of all of this. Jesus did not come to invalidate the old covenant ratified by God or nullify its associated promises. He came to offer this opportunity to all.

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:29 NLT

This means that all the blessings of the old covenant are available to me a non-Jew through the new covenant. this also means all the stipulations of the old covenant are also enforceable: the covenant is a blood covenant that can never be broken and the parties involved are blood partners and everything one has is placed at the disposal of the other.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 ESV

Pentecostal Christians know how to claim the blessings under Abraham’s covenant. We sing … “Abraham’s blessings are mine!”…perhaps too often… and rightly so because everything God has is placed at our disposal. we have full access but is the flip side true? Can God count on our everything to be placed at His disposal? Abraham, of whom we sing placed everything at God’s disposal even to the point that when God said “give me your beloved son”, he was prepared to give up Isaac! Are you prepared to lay it all down?

Secondly, the terms of reference remain the same:

What does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God by walking in [obedience to] all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am giving you this day for your own good? Deuteronomy 10: 12-13 BSB

So I ask you: Do you love God? Do you fear God? Do you obey God in all things? Are you serving God with all your heart and with your soul? and Do you keep the statutes and commandments of the Lord? I know I fall short of these most days and if you are like me and you fall short too, then I pray this day that God will help us   to be intentional in our covenant relationship with Him, to keep our part of the covenant so we can fully experience and enjoy the blessings of Abraham.

Yours truly.

The fear of the Lord

In the last post, Holiness is for everyone we learned that the grace of God helps us to say No to sin. Today, I learned that something else is able to keep us from sinning: the fear of God.

…so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning. Exodus 20:20b NIV

What comes to mind when you think of the phrase, “the fear of the Lord”? Do you instantly think “…is the beginning of wisdom”? or do you think of the reverence and awe that we give to God?

The first time the phrase is used in the Bible is in Gen 20:11 and thereafter used many times in the bible. So let’s break down the fear of God into its fundamentals, shall we?

The bible says, “The fool says in his heart there is no God” (Psalm 14:1 NIV) and we know that the fear of God is indeed the beginning of wisdom (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). We also know that Jesus is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Putting these three concepts together: at the heart of the fear of God is an acknowledgment of God.

We know from our studies so far that God is a loving God who is intentional in his everlasting love for us. We have also learned that this same God is a Holy God and abhors any kind of sin because it is his very nature and essence to be free from any moral defect. His love makes Him a merciful God and His holiness makes him a just God.

So back to our working definition: The fear of God is an acknowledgment of the God, and having an understanding of who God really is, means we have a balanced view of the mercy as well as the justice of God.

Back in the bible days, the fear (acknowledgment) of God evoked actual fear in the hearts of people and at times it was recorded that people became like dead men. People were actually afraid of God and did not have personal relationships with God. Very few people understood this balanced view of God’s mercy and justice. People like Abraham, David, Job, they understood what it truly meant to fear God and enjoyed a relationship with Him. This fear was inherited from Adam and Eve.  Adam and Eve had always encountered the loving mercies of God in the garden of Eden until the day they sinned. The bible recounts they heard the footsteps of God and were afraid so they hid. God had come to talk to them many times. They had heard God’s footsteps many times. So what was different this particular day? Adam and Eve prior to the fall  lived the Psalm 89:14 life:

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. NIV

Every time God came down to chat, love and faithfulness went before Him. But after they sinned, Adam and Eve experienced Psalm 85:13 for the first time:

Righteousness [justice] will go before Him to prepare the way for His steps. Berean Study Bible

And their response was fear. They were afraid because they saw their unworthiness to stand in the presence of His majesty. This was the expression of the fear of God Isaiah had when he encountered God. Look at what he said:

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Isaiah 6:5 NIV

Fast forward into the era of grace and the pendulum has swung to the other extreme. Now people are not afraid of God. The definition of the fear of God has evolved so much it is now relegated to just having reverence and awe for God. While having reverence and awe for God is extremely important, exclusively doing so without any acknowledgment of the justice of God is detrimental. We have overextended the love and the mercy of God. We are no longer afraid of this God that smote down a man because he touched the ark of God to prevent it from falling! Afterall, God calls us friends and He wants us to have a relationship with Him not to be afraid of Him. Right? WRONG!

Yes God wants a relationship but with only those who know him. And if you truly know God, then you will know that holiness means everything to God. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne. Armed with this knowledge, you will not have an irrational fear of God but rather a holy reverent fear.

live your lives in reverent fear during your temporary stay on earth. 1 Peter 1:17 Berean Study Bible

God is a consuming fire. You cannot come close to God because of His magnificence. He dwells in unapproachable light. He has the power to destroy your life just as easily as he preserves it.  And yet this God stepped into humanity so that you will no longer be afraid to approach him like Adam and Eve. He invites you to commune with Him daily. He listens to your requests and does your bidding. This is having a balance of the justice and the mercy of God. This is the fear of God. This is the beginning of wisdom!

So yes, you should be afraid of God. But this fear, in the dispensation of grace, should drive you to reverence and worship. It causes you to run to God not away from Him. It is this fear that causes you to be in awe. This is the fear that gives you wisdom and keeps you from sinning. Read this scripture carefully and let your heart understand:

Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.” Revelations 15:4 NLT

Grace empowers us to say No and the fear of God keeps us from sinning. Be intentional in your holiness walk.

Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments so we can learn from each other. Sorry, this was a long post!