The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:7 CSB
Do you remember the story of Pharaoh and the Ten Plagues of Egypt? There is a fascinating element that is revealed to us throughout the narrative about the heart of Pharaoh. Exodus 5 begins telling us about the interaction between Moses and Aaron with Pharaoh. Now, Pharaoh didn’t start from a great position. He didn’t know the Lord, the true God. Here are his own words, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him by letting Israel go? I don’t know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go. (Ex. 5:2 CSB)” What Pharaoh didn’t know will hurt him later in the account.
Look at Proverbs 1:7 above. Is the fear of the Lord what we think of when we think about having knowledge or wisdom? When we hear the word fear nowadays, we tend to minimize the part about being terrified as if one is in a dangerous place. Instead, we define it with words like awe and reverence. Now, to be sure, awe and reverence are a part of this instruction, but the word is not limited to just a reverential awe. By Pharaoh not knowing the Lord or regarding Him as the one, true God, he put himself in an incredibly terrifying and dangerous position. Only, he didn’t know it at first.
We are told at least six times that Pharaoh’s heart was hard or he hardened his heart and would not let the Israelites leave Egypt. Amazingly, the Lord (the knower of hearts), predicted that Pharaoh would harden his heart. After these events, we see that the Lord hardens the heart of Pharaoh to accomplish His good plan and to bring light to His unmatched power. The final hardening of his heart led to Pharaoh losing his firstborn son followed by losing his own life in the Red Sea as he relentlessly pursued the Israelites. He truly was in a dangerous place by not having fear of the Lord.
Though God intervened and hardened Pharaoh’s heart towards the end of the account, there were many opportunities for Pharaoh to humble himself before God and pursue wisdom and knowledge. The plagues that God sent on Egypt can be seen as multiple gracious warnings to Pharaoh to begin fearing the Lord. Can you imagine experiencing some of the plagues that the Egyptians suffered and still not recognize God as powerful and holy?
According to Proverbs 1:7, Pharaoh was a fool by refusing to seek or even fear the Lord, and it cost him dearly. As we consider what it means to have a biblical worldview, we must start with the fear of the Lord. Understanding God’s holiness and justice is just as important as understanding His grace and compassion. Our position in light of God’s holiness and justice (apart from being in Christ) is a dangerous one. Similarly, every other human exists in the same terrifying place because of sin. If there were no God, there would be no sin, no violation of moral law. Yet, it is precisely because there is a God, a holy one, we know there is an objective standard by which we should live and by which He measures us.
Knowing that God measures us by a righteous standard is part of our biblical worldview. See, we don’t simply decide to do what is “right” because it is the most convenient or the most logical for our situation, that would be an evolutionary based, relativistic mindset. Someone with a biblical worldview will aim to do what is “right” by God’s standards because He put those standards in place. A biblical worldview understands that because God is God, He gets to make the rules. We also trust that His rules are intended for our good even though we may not understand how or why.
This fear of God we are describing influences any topic even from current headlines. How should we think about our culture’s swing to no longer differentiate between male and female for instance? In the fear of the Lord (pursuing Him through His Word), we discover that God created us and that he created two sexes, male and female. He had a good purpose for doing so. His purpose, in part, reflects our image-of-God bearing nature. The world may be unwilling to acknowledge God’s right to govern over us, but that doesn’t mean we ought to acquiesce to the pressures of those who want to rebel against God. We must hold to what the Scriptures reveal to be true.
In our situation, we might be tempted to cave to the pressure from those who have no fear of God. Because they are loud and threatening and may cost us jobs or create legal troubles for us, we might find ourselves fearing these people. Our fear of the Lord needs to be greater than our fear of any person or group on this earth. Otherwise, we’ll cave to the pressure weighing down on us to “accept” and “tolerate” everybody’s position.
May we be gracious in our response to those around us, yet firm on our foundation. We ought not hate those who are pressing or believing these anti-God messages. We do not need to rail loudly against them, attacking their character, their grandma, and their dog. We ought to lovingly speak truth as we have the opportunity, and hold on to the convictions that are based on the teaching of Scripture. We also ought to patiently teach others. Don’t be surprised when the world doesn’t want to listen. Don’t be afraid of them either. Fear God.
Do you want to be a knowledgeable and wise person knowing how to conduct yourself in a really strange time (2021)? Then pursue God. Start from a place of terror of what God can do to you because of what your sins against Him deserve. Move to a place of reverential awe at His power, integrity, and holiness. Come to adore Him for His indescribable grace towards us. As we look at the world around us and figure out how we should interact with it, let’s always keep a biblical perspective in mind.