The Beginning of Knowledge

Because it's natural to skip over the beginning, it's no wonder our world is so foolishly self-destructive. But if we want to understand anything, the Bible tells us to begin here. Can we respect a King of Israel with world-famous wisdom? Here is the beginning of his Proverbs:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

This basic truth is deeply buried under mountains of knee-jerk rejection. People are naturally rebellious (Romans 3:9-19). We automatically dislike having any authority look over our shoulder (Psalm 2:3-4). We certainly do not want to consider an ultimate authority, like a real King ruling over the universe (Psalm 36:1-4). We refuse to give credit for the stability and progress of the world under Christianity, when it has been honestly applied to government (Romans 12:8, 13:3-4). We would rather trust self-serving doubts about the Bible than the overwhelming science of it’s reliability (Psalm 8:3-4, Occam's Razor). If the Bible does get read, it is seen as simplistic and contradictory, as when someone shouts “Do not judge” but doesn’t know the words that follow (eg Matthew 7:6, 15-20). When read, anything that doesn’t fit with our reality is rejected without a conscious thought. Preachers (both liberal and conservative) avoid discussing this unpleasant Elephant in the Room, even if it solves everyone's problems.  

King Jesus says He has authority over the universe (Matthew 28:18). The kings of old and modern-day dictators have unlimited power in their realm, and there is no one to stop them. Jesus is loving and gracious, so He may give us a long lifetime of chances. But we should also realize that He loves others too, so He might remove us from this earth if He sees that we will never be able to restrain ourselves from hurting others. He doesn't need to defend His justice to anyone, but remember He knows all thoughts and actions perfectly, and can show everyone how wrong we are to challenge Him (Job 40:1-4). 

Instead of removing us from this world, He may allow it to beat us up so badly that we learn to appreciate His protection (Proverbs 3:11-12, Hebrews 12:5, 1 Peter 4:12-13, The Problem of Pain). That fear is the beginning of knowledge. 

Not long ago it was high praise to call someone a “God-fearing man” or woman. It never meant that person was fearful, in fact he or she might seem like a fearless leader. Not only that, you could trust that person to be honest, because they would understand the difference between right (love and justice) and wrong (sin and selfishness). They would dismiss wrong immediately as being foolish (Job 5:2-5), because God would surely correct them sooner or later (Ecclesiastes 12:14, Luke 12:2). Their minds would just be focused on enjoying the good they do for themselves and others (pro-social), not deceit, greed and crime (ie selfishness – see Selfish vs. Social). That’s a person after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). 

But today, we choose leaders that say they are Christian, but don’t act like it (Proverbs 6:16-19). They commit some of the biggest crimes in history, but are acquitted by hypocrites that campaign as Christian.

Jesus wants us to understand His limitless power and righteous authority (Matthew 26:53), but He wants us to be friends (John 15:15). So no one thinks He contradicts Himself, He says simply:

Now I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed someone, has the power to throw that person into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are five sparrows not sold for two assaria? And yet not one of them has gone unnoticed in the sight of God. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not fear; you are more valuable than a great number of sparrows. (Luke 12:4-7)

If we are not friends of Jesus, then we are foolish not to fear the just consequences of our sins (Genesis 22:12, Exodus 20:20, Leviticus 25:17, Deuteronomy 5:29, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Malachi 4:2, Luke 1:50, Acts 9:31, Romans 3:18, Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:12-13, Hebrews 4:1, 1 Peter 2:17, Revelation 14:7, etc. etc.). But if we are His friends, we fear nothing.