Proverbs 9:10 tells the beginning of a tale, that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Really, fear leads to wisdom? How does that work? Rather than just think about it, let’s read about it is a real story with real people.
Joshua 4:19 to 5:1
“On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”
Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the LORD had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.
Do you see it? Do you see the stones of a remembrance telling the tale of the power of God? Can you hear the story being told to the future generations, to the descendants, to the children and the children’s children? “Oh, the stones? Those stone? Let me tell you a story of the power of the LORD.”
Do you see it? Do you see the stones of remembrance and all the Amorite Kings and Canaanite kings? Can you hear their counselors and commanders telling the story of what God did and how they can never be safe because God is against them? That they must defend themselves against the nation of Israel? That they can not pursue their own desires of conquest? That their melted hearts and lack of courage makes them slaves to their own fear because they can only see their own reality but not the reality of God?
The nation of Israel is learning to judge their position in relation to God.
The kings of the Canaanites and Amorites, are judging God based on their position.
Joshua discovers this truth plainly a few chapters later, that God is neither on our side or the side of our enemy (Joshua 5:13-15). He is. I am. And Joshua’s response? “Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
So, the Fear of God Demands a Response
Choice 1: Pride
- Fear of God
- Defiance of God’s Teaching (pride, arrogance)
- Pursuit of Self Preservation (belief in own superiority, supremacy of humanity)
- Lack of Courage (resignation to identity and circumstances dictated by me, the world)
- Response: Avoidance of God and idolatry of me
- Result: Fear of all of life!
Choice 2: Humility
- Fear of God
- Recognition of own Sin (submission, humility)
- Pursuit of Mercy (understanding of value being created by God)
- Appreciation of Grace (acceptance of value having been created by God)
- Response: Worship and Obedience of God
- Result: Joy in all of life! The beautiful fruit of Wisdom!