Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

“The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20:21)

"...Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” 

While God is pure light (1 John 1:5) that does not mean he is not in dark places. Nor does it mean that He does not use darkness for his sovereign purposes. The key to understanding this passage, as with all passages in Scripture, is its context. The first half of chapter 20 reports the account of God dictating the Ten Commandments to Moses. The verses just preceding this one read,

“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’ 20 Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’” (Exodus 20:18-20) 

Darkness, dark times, valleys, pain, and fear—rarely, if ever do we consider any of these to be good things. But all of them can be very useful. Light makes its biggest impact in dark places. When you go to the movies, they always darken the room before starting the film. In times past this was purely for practical reasons. If the house lights were left on, the projected image couldn’t be easily seen on the screen. With today’s technology, we could easily show movies in a well-lit room, but we don’t. We still darken the room. Why? Well, yes, I suppose it does help the projected images on the screen to pop, but more importantly—the contrast between the darkness of the room and the brightness of the screen galvanizes our attention on the film.

Pain, fear, the valleys of life—all of these “get our attention.” As one person said, “We all love to be on the mountain top, but the fruit grows in the valley.” God uses the dark, painful, scary moments and seasons of life to re-galvanize our attention.

“…God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

God is not the author of pain, but he can use it—as hurtful as it may be sometimes—to wake us up and bring us back to an attitude of dependence on Him. I have no desire to relive any of the painful moments of my past. But I wouldn’t exchange the lessons I learned during those painful times for all the money in the world! Romans 8:28 is absolutely true. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.” God purpose for all of us is that we might know Jesus as Savior and grow to full spiritual maturity in Him. And that kind of growth requires a few valleys.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) 

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10)

Until next time...