12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. (Ecclesiastes 12:12–13, NKJV)
As you see from the above notation, this is the 1200th Sword Tip. Seeing that number reminded me of today’s passage. People will always write books. And, people will continue to read and study them. Yet, making intellectual pursuit the goal of one’s life “is grasping for the wind,” as Solomon explained in Ecclesiastes 1:17-18. God’s word, the Bible, is complete; it will not be added to by God, and it cannot be improved upon by human wisdom (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Jude 3; Revelation 22:18-19). Bible study is essential. But, Bible study is not an end in itself. Reading and knowing God’s word is vanity, unless we “fear God and keep His commandments” (verse 13). That is the purpose of life. The Bible teaches us why to fear God and how to obey Him. This is why we read, learn and study the Bible – so that we may live reverently, obey God completely, and thereby, fulfill our God-given purpose. By God’s good grace, may that ever be the purpose that drives our lives (2 Peter 3:17-18).
19 And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” (John 9:19–23, NKJV)
Jesus had healed a man who was blind from birth. His parents knew who healed him, but fear kept them from confessing Jesus to the Jewish leaders. This is a clear example of what Jesus taught about being ashamed of Him: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mk. 8:38). Being silenced by intimidation is the cowardice that results in the second death (Rev. 21:8). Never be ashamed of Jesus and His words, regardless of what other threaten to do to you. This is the teaching of Jesus.
5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. 6 The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground… 10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” (Psalm 147:5–6, 10–11, NKJV)
God’s power and wisdom is unbounded. He does not act as we humans. What He values and exalts is very different from the estimations given by men. He raises up and magnifies the humble of heart, while He crushes wickedness under the strength of His mighty hand. Unlike men, who put confidence in the strength of their military might and prowess, our Lord delights in those who reverence Him and trust His mercy as their salvation in time of trouble. Let us never doubt the robust power and unlimited understanding of the Lord God to provide for and protect those who humbly serve Him and faithfully trust His mercy.
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1, NKJV)
The blessed promises that God will receive us as His children and be a Father to us move us with expectant faith to “cleanse ourselves” of every defilement that sin has introduced into our minds and our bodies. The fruit of repentance is the ceasing of the sins we previously committed. Christians do not continue living in sin; we deliberately, sometimes painstakingly, refuse to continue in sin. This process of eliminating sin enables us to mature in making holy choices in life, because we hold God in reverence and seek to always do what pleases Him. We must devote ourselves to purity of heart and life because of the great promises of familial fellowship God gives us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
4 And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! (Luke 12:4–5, NKJV)
Fear is a powerful emotion. It stirs adrenaline, often evoking a fight or flight reaction. But, fear can be misplaced. We can fear the wrong things for the wrong reasons. Jesus calls our attention to this fact. He commands us to rule over our fear of men, their threats and their retaliations because of our faith. We fail to function with eternity in view when we fear men instead of God. The power of men is limited to this physical world, but, God dwells in eternity. Therefore, we ought to fear displeasing Him, since He has power over both temporal and eternal life. The punishment of hell is real, and reserved for those who fear men more than fearing God and obeying Him. Believe the words of Jesus. With all reverence, fear God more than men. Follow God instead of men (Acts 5:29).
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, NKJV)
The proverbs of Solomon generate knowledge grounded in wisdom, instruction, perception and understanding (Prov. 1:1-2). They provide wisdom’s instruction concerning justice, judgment and equity (Prov. 1:3). They give discretion and enlightenment to the innocent and inexperienced (Prov. 1:4). Furthermore, wise ones will gain learning and acquire good counsel through pondering these proverbs (Prov. 1:5-6). Yet, without the “fear of the Lord,” no such knowledge, wisdom, instruction and counsel will be attained. The fear of the Lord, then, is the starting line, the “beginning” place from which one proceeds to benefit from the proverbs. The “fools” of verse 7 are set in contrast to those who “fear the Lord.” They do not dread displeasing God. They do not stand in awe of Him. They do not revere His name. Thus, they despise the wisdom and knowledge that proceeds from Him. We recall that Jesus said we need “ears to hear” God’s word. The fear of the Lord is an excellent place to start.
5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. (Matthew 17:5–6, NKJV)
Acknowledging the presence of God, Peter, James and John fell on their faces in fear when the Father spoke from the cloud. We too easily forget we are in the presence of God every minute of every day. Additionally, worship services have become so casual and careless in some churches that there is a complete failure to regard the presence of Almighty God. Worship has become about the worshipers instead of the One who is worshiped. We are not advocating falling on our faces as the preferred posture of piety. We are advocating godly fear before the Lord (Matt. 10:28). Fellow Christian, let us present ourselves before the Lord God with humble demeanor and reverent conduct, in our worship of Him and in our daily activities of life. “Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:28).