The Beginning of Wisdom and Knowledge
By Kevin Swanson
When our family heard the news about hurricane Katrina that ravaged 90,000 square miles of southern Louisiana and Mississippi, we were deeply moved. It was hard to believe that a natural disaster such as this could do as much damage as a 100 megaton nuclear warhead. It is being touted as the greatest natural disaster, in material damage, in the history of our country.
Of course, many families like ours, have been pressed to contribute resources to families who lost their homes in this horrific disaster. But what is the message? What do we tell our children about such disasters? In the past, such events would have renewed a healthy fear of God in the minds and hearts of millions, but not so in a post-modern world. There was hardly a mention of God in the newspaper reports, the television interviews, and the political spins taken on the event. Most of the pundits that I heard comment on what took place in New Orleans blamed George W. Bush or some organization called “FEMA” for it all. As far as I could tell, God was a non-issue.
This is not the way it has always been in our country. At the founding of the nation, it was common for newspapers to refer to the providential hand of God in the events of the day. Pastors in the 18th century would preach sermons on these natural disasters, interpreting them exactly as Jesus saw them. Every disaster signaled another wake-up call to repentance. “Except you repent,” says Jesus about a Trade Center Tower that fell in Siloam, “You will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).
Our first president, George Washington, saw the hand of God in the heavy fog that enabled the critical withdrawal of Continental troops from Long Island, even as he saw that Hand bring a heavy snowstorm on December 26, 1776 during his last ditch assault on the Hessian troops at Trenton. Addressing the American people at his inauguration on April 30, 1789, Washington acknowledged the sovereign God over the United States with these words, “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency…We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of heaven cannot be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which heaven itself has ordained.” Washington was a man who had an overwhelming sense of God’s presence and His hand in the events of the day. He was a man who feared God and it was a God-fearing nation.
Now two hundred years later, we don’t hear much about the powerful, providential hand of God anymore. God is hardly real to anybody, and as the psalmist says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” The worldview relentlessly hammered into us for at least the last one hundred years of our history is one that will not permit God to enter man’s experience and act in his world. When a newspaper begins with, “A hurricane destroyed New Orleans,” it is already betraying a worldview, and that is that these are random events taking place in a chance universe, without any ultimate first cause. A newspaper, writing from the point of view of a Christian perspective, would acknowledge that God destroyed New Orleans.
Nevertheless, the Bible is clear on the matter of God’s absolute control over the elements and all things. Here is a smattering of verses to illustrate the point.
“Jehovah does his will in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Nah 1:3
“He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” Mt. 5
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny and not one of them shall fall to the ground without your heavenly father?” Mt. 10
“Shall evil fall on a city and Jehovah hath not done it?” Amos 3:6
“A man’s heart deviseth his way, but Jehovah directs his steps.” Prov 16:9
“A man’s goings are established of Jehovah.” Ps. 37:23
Now, what does the fear of God have to do with education? Some schools will tell us that they are religiously neutral. But neutrality on basic issues like one’s theory of reality, ethics, and truth is impossible. If public school curriculum presents God as if he were not a factor in geography, in the weather, in history, and science, then we already have a religious perspective, don’t we? We get the message. God doesn’t exist, or he is not important in these areas of life.
When I was very young, I can remember reading religiously neutral materials produced for public schools. I spent several years with Dick and Jane, and Alice and Jerry. Characteristic of children’s readers in the 1960s was a clear avoidance of God. That is, God was not a conscious factor in the lives of any of the protogenists. But I couldn’t help but notice that they still lived happy lives without God. There was no God who held moral expectations over them. Therefore there was no sin and no need for atonement. Of course it was all a cheap lie. But as a young child, I was tempted to believe that the world created in these readers was a better world then mine. A worldview with transcendent moral expectations and a concept of sin, and a God who cares about such things can be traumatic to one who has sinned and knows it because he has felt the discipline of his parents over the years! Wouldn’t it be nicer to live in a make believe world where God is not a factor?
Over a hundred years of our recent history, the high priests of the modern naturalistic worldview have taught us faithfully (or religiously) through their newspapers, through their public school textbooks, and through other ministries that God is not a factor. And, there is not much on the fear of God in any of it. After all, why should we fear a God who doesn’t exist? Why fear a God who is at the mercy of hurricanes, dictators, and the press? Why fear a God who could not create a world, but had to rely on chance events to bring it about? Why fear a God who has no righteous standards, no absolute, moral expectations, and did not need to atone for sins by the blood of his Son?
Even as I write about “the fear of God,” there seems to be something strangely awkward about it. I wonder how many of my readers will relate to such a concept. Will they read this article? Will they relate? The fear of God is such a distant concept to our present reality, the worldview we have been swimming in for most of our lives, that few people are able to relate to it.
Let me explain the connection between the fear of God and education. It all starts with a book, written a long time ago on the incredibly important subject of how to educate a child. It is a very old book and comes with terrific recommendations. Of course it is the book of Proverbs. If you were to read the book of Proverbs, right away you would discover (by the 7th verse of the 1st chapter), that the beginning of wisdom and knowledge is the fear of God.
If you, like many parents, hope to give your child a little education before he leaves the house and gets on with life, I would think you would be interested in the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. The word “beginning,” found in Proverbs 1:7 means “the foundation” or “the fountain.” If your child is going to receive a true and genuine, lasting and effective, fruitful and life-blessing education in knowledge and wisdom, those lessons must be rooted in the fear of God. There are many pseudo-wise people in this world that have multiple doctorate degrees, but they do not know the first thing about wisdom and knowledge. A person, a family, or a society that refuses to build their education and lives upon the foundation of all wisdom and knowledge (which is the fear of God), will not survive. As Jesus put it, when hurricane Katrina comes and when the wind blows, that society will come down.
Now how does this apply to parents who must choose an education for their children? Let us say, for example, that you were considering delegating a significant portion of the education of your child to somebody else. I would suggest that you ask two very simple questions. The first question is this. “Are you in the business of knowledge and wisdom?” If they come back with, “No Ma’am. We change oil and tires here. But we don’t provide knowledge and wisdom,” then go somewhere else. But if they do happen to be in the business of providing knowledge and wisdom, then ask them the second question. “What do you teach as the foundation of all knowledge and wisdom?” There is only one right answer to this question. If they do not answer, “The fear of the Lord,” you must leave immediately and don’t forget to take your children with you.
The fear of God starts with recognizing his existence. It should go without saying that teachers and curriculum presenting the fear of God are not going to go out of their way to ignore his existence. But the fear of the Lord, it is more than that. It is a healthy fear. Not the cowering fear of a dog that has been kicked too many times, but a healthy, constant fear of offending God and breaking his law.
Fear is a concept largely lost to children who have never learned to reverence, fear, or stand in awe of their parents. And respect for parents is lost with children who have learned to reverence, fear, or stand in awe of God. A society that does not respect and honor their parents is a society that doesn’t fear God.
Why would I write an article on the fear of God? Only because I am in the business of knowledge and wisdom as Executive Director of an education organization in the state of Colorado, and the beginning of all wisdom and knowledge is the fear of God.
Parents, teach your children the fear of God. When you read the newspapers and watch the newscasts, teach them the fear of God. When you study science, point out that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” When you study history with your children, point out the acts of God in “his story.” When you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you rise up, and when you lie down, teach the fear of God. That is true education and nothing less than that will do for us.
This article serves as an overview to one of the chapters in Kevin Swanson’s new book “Upgrade The Ten Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child.”
Kevin Swanson is the host of the Generations Radio Broadcast, available anywhere in the world, everyday at www.generationsradio.com. He will be one of the keynote speakers at HOME's Annual Convention 2014.
Article used with permission.