One thing about the last two years I think everyone could agree on – if you went back to 2019 and someone described to you the events of 2020-2022, “Ain’t no way!” would be your first thought.
No one would have believed that hundreds of thousands of churches would close their doors. It was unthinkable that hospitals would refuse people entry to visit loved ones even in their dying moments. No one would have ever dreamed that the government would close the doors of small businesses in America, forcing many into bankruptcy. Could anyone have imagined that someone with enough intelligence to be considered eligible to serve as a Justice on the Supreme Court could not answer the question, “What is a woman?” Did anyone ever think we would live in a time where that question needed asking?
The list goes on and on, but I will stop there; you already know.
The times are unstable.
The formula for stable times is tucked away in the middle of the book of Isaiah. Isaiah 33:6, “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.”
Many people will see those words, “wisdom and knowledge,” and shout, “Education is the key!” The question here is – what education? A surgeon and a mechanic have education in their particular fields. But, people do not go to their surgeon to overhaul a transmission. Also, we do not see people lining up at the local garage for their needed brain surgery.
Therefore, “wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times…” brings us to another question – what is wisdom? To find the answer, let us look to the Creator of time and wisdom: God.
Job 28:28, “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”
The “fear” mentioned here is not the quivering, laying in the fetal position type of fear. This fear fits Webster’s third definition for the word, “a profound reverence and awe, especially toward God.” In other words, respect toward the Almighty, Who He is, what He does, and what He says. This fear of the Lord brings us to the point of learning about Who God is and what He says. We study His Word. His Word gives us the dos and don’ts of life. But His Word is much more than commandments to obey. He gives us life principles – how to handle money, get along with the spouse, raise children, employee and employer relationships, and thousands of other topics discussed in the Bible.
The more we love the Creator, the more our hearts want to please Him, and the more we try to do as He says. We do more of what God wants by applying His Word to our life, hence departing from evil. The “understanding” of Job 28:28 is putting into practice the wisdom learned from God.
Moving on – Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”
Here the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Let’s face it; if you do not have respect for God, you will not seek His opinion. The flip side is presented here for understanding. In Job, understanding was to refrain from doing evil; here, it is doing the right thing.
One more verse about wisdom – Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
To summarize all three verses, wisdom and respect toward God are intertwined. And understanding consists of departing from evil, doing His commandments, and a knowledge of the Holy.
Now back to our original verse, Isaiah 33:6, “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times…” Since respect toward God is wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding, is there any wonder the times are anything but stable?
As we push God out of society, the chaos moves in to fill the void. In sixty years, we have moved from knowing what a man and a woman are to being unable to give a definition. We moved from a nation with a Bible in nearly every home to a people illiterate of the Scriptures in one generation.
Sin has been a problem since the Garden of Eden, but throughout history, we have known what is right and what is wrong. None of us obeyed one hundred percent, but people generally understood good from evil. Still, our nation has reached the Isaiah 5:20 point, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
“Woe” implies a warning. Sin is so commonplace that few take responsibility. No one blushes anymore. Our instability, caused by our lack of God’s wisdom and understanding, along with us calling evil, good and good, evil brings us to the warning of Jeremiah 6:15 and 8:12. The two verses are the same, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.”
The further we get away from God, the worse things will get. Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, but does anyone want to hear that?
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As people continue to seek solid answers in these uncertain times, the editors of the Baltimore Post-Examiner are inviting an array of spiritual teachers to share insights from the ages along with words of comfort and hope. These timely messages are not exclusive to any particular faith walk and will be included in our ongoing Spirituality series.
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com