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The Fear of the Lord

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020, #2

Warren E. Berkley

 To Listen, look for play button below.

Welcome to these podcasts I’ll be posting at least once a week, and the subject will be – the Old Testament book of Proverbs. This is #2 – offered on March the 30th.

 

I promised last week, that this time I would call to our attention that key phrase that opens the book, where God tells us where to start.

 

I’m talking about Prov. 1:7 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

 

God is telling us where to start. And it starts with our attitude toward Him, captured by that word “fear.”

 

This is not a frenzied terror that causes you to hide or flee. It is an attitude toward God that knows well who He is, and how displeased He is with sin. But involves a deep respect that compels us to learn more and more about how to serve Him.

 

Hebrews 10:31 says that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. And in that context, our God is a consuming fire. That is an element of Godly fear. Knowing who God is, we abhor any thought of displeasing Him, knowing of His wrath.

 

There is also a strong sense of awe and respect. He loves us and we so appreciate that, we hold Him in the highest esteem.

 

So think of reverence that prompts us to seek Him and know how to please him, combined with this healthy dread of ever displeasing Him.

 

Now remember, this is the starting place to acquire and use knowledge in life.

 

We have to take this attitude of godly fear and connect it with what we do, how we live. In my sermon yesterday I gave some examples of how the fear of God connects to specific actions.

 

Worship – we come before God through Jesus Christ, to worship Him with reverence befitting deity. Worshipping God in spirit and in truth requires a frame of mind that is disciplined, directed and devoted to God.

 

Evangelism is motivated by our knowledge of who God is, His power, His might, His love and His wrath against sin. 2 Cor. 5:11 says – therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.

 

Temptation. Proverbs has a lot to say about the defenses we need to have in place to resist temptation. Prov. 8:13 – “To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” The fear of the Lord and the resulting knowledge and awareness causes us to be alert and resilient against temptation.

 

Relationships. Eph. 5:21 says, “submitting to one another, out of reverence for Christ,” or in the New King James, “submitting to one another, in the fear of God.” And within that context of Ephesians 5 and into chapter 6, very specific applications are made.

 

Gratitude. It may be, ingratitude is one of the primary downfalls of our time. I know, there is immorality, violence, intoxication, murder and greed. But Paul teaches in Romans one, wrong turns away from God begin by not being thankful. Gratitude to God is a function of reverence.

 

Therefore, Prov. 1:7 teaches – there is a starting place. It is the fear of the Lord. That leads us to good knowledge and valuable living before God. Thank you for listening.

 

Proverbs - Introduction

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020

Warren E. Berkley

 

Welcome to these podcasts I’ll be posting at least once a week, and the subject will be – the Old Testament book of Proverbs.

 

I’m recording this on March the 22nd. I’m 72 years old and I’ve been preaching 50 years – I’ve never had a day like today; never a week or event like this in my life. Historical records reflect something like this in 1918. That means my father would have been through that experience, but as far as I remember, he never spoke of it. My three children are going through this. One of my grandsons was with us last week. This will be remembered, and I hope what the next generation remembers is – WE WERE WISE. I want young folks to remember how Christians acted in character, without any pause in our obedience to God. And with these podcasts, I’ll begin audio broadcasting about living in pursuit of wisdom, from the book of Proverbs.

 

What a treasure house of insight into life. Not just navigating life on earth with wisdom in temporal matters.

 

Life in response to God, respectful of His will and boundaries. Warnings about moral crashes; simple statements of understanding about so many things pertinent to a good life on earth – and a good relationship with God.

 

Let’s begin here: In the Bible – Old Testament and New – there is a rich variety of types of writing.

 

In the New Testament – The biographical material about Jesus, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The historical narrative of the spread of the gospel in Acts. The letters or epistles. The final book – Revelation is its’ own kind of writing.

 

In the Old Testament – Books of History, Books of Law. Prophetic Writing. The Psalms. Wisdom literature like Ecclesiastes and Proverbs.

 

So, let me do a simple comparison. If you are in First and Second Thessalonians. The apostle Paul wrote these two letters to Christians in Thessalonica. In many ways, it is very much like a letter – an initial greeting, encouragement, instruction and warning suited to their needs. Those epistles read like letters; they are letters and follow that genre or form of communication.

 

Proverbs is not that kind of writing.

 

In most cultures throughout history – this has been and continues to be a common form of instruction and communication. I’m going to give you a little test. (I’m not going to be able to hear your response.) Think about it.

 

I’m going to begin a sentence and ask you to finish it.

 

Curiosity killed the ________ (cat).

 

Rome was not built in a ____ (day).

 

Let bygones be _______________ (bygones).

 

Those are proverbs or sayings we are familiar with – used to express some knowledge or make an observation, in a brief but memorable form.

 

 

Sometimes these modern cultural proverbs simply reflect experience, not objective truth. But the design is to be memorable and repeatable.

 

In Contrast - An essay, narrative or discourse is different. Proverbs are brief nuggets of wisdom, that put the spotlight on some truth we need from God.

 

Mike Wilson, in his book, said, “The Biblical Proverbs are God’s text messages – little, bite-sized packages of wisdom often delivered in a memorable, witty manner.”

 

There are places in the book of Proverbs where some extended discussion is located. In chapter one and two, then some narrative scenes later in the book.

 

But in the main – we will be studying snapshots, God’s text messages.

 

We will be in pursuit of wisdom from God, communicated mostly in brief sayings.

 

As you read through Proverbs and listen to these podcasts, you’ll see all these familiar topics and relationships.

 

Commitment to God.

Listening to your parents.

Attitude.

Money.

Temptation.

Friendship.

A lot about the use of the tongue.

            (In modern application, the

            keyboard.)

Warnings about sexual temptation.

Responsibility.

The godly woman, the godly man.

 

I’ve named only some of the many topics we encounter in Proverbs. Remember, we are not talking about long discourses or essays or something like the epistles.

 

These are brief sayings, easy to commit to memory – containing wisdom from God. They are calling our names, inviting attention and reminding us of how we should be thinking, speaking, acting and reacting.

 

Listen to the opening:

 

 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 

What is “the fear of the Lord.” I’ll cover that in the next podcast. That will come out next Monday, March the 30th.

 

Thank you for listening.

 

 

Isaiah Insights #16

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

Counselor

Isaiah 9:6

His name shall be called Mighty God!

In Matthew 1:23, one of the names of Christ is “Immanuel” which means “God with us.”

Referring to Christ, the apostle John wrote, “This is the true God and eternal life,” in 1 Jno. 5:20.

And, in Heb. 1:8, God is saying to Jesus, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.”

Jesus is God. What do you say, after reading these affirmations?

But not only is Jesus God, deity. He is called, here in Isaiah, “Mighty God.” Jesus revealed Himself as “the Mighty God” in His birth, His baptism, His miracles, His behavior, His response to attack, His death and certainly in His resurrection.

God raised Jesus from the dead, “having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it,” (Acts 2:24).

Our confessions of faith in Christ can and should affirm His deity, without apology.

Furthermore, whatever may be your burden or battle today, God has the power to meet it, to handle it, strengthen you and use your strength to gain more … all to His glory. He can work great things in us through Jesus, who is The Mighty God.

The names or titles of Jesus are more than just good lyrics for hymns. More than just points of theological debate. Far more than just words on the pages of Scripture.

Who Jesus is – we confess; we sing and preach … but we live day to day knowing who He is – and being strengthened by Him. His name shall be called Mighty God. Might is about power – power given to those who are faithful to Jesus Christ.

 

I’m going to bring the Isaiah Insights to a close with this podcast. After a few days off, I’ll return with a series of podcasts from the book of Proverbs. Stand by for that. And thank you for listening.

Isaiah Insights #15

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

Counselor

Isaiah 9:6

His name shall be called Counselor.

When people are in trouble, distress or pain, where they turn for help is some indication of their character, their condition of heart.

If a man is depressed, and he turns to the local bar for a bout of intoxication – that speaks to his character. There are people who turn to physic “readers” or fortune-tellers.

And sometimes, when someone has sinned, they will turn to a comforter – not to receive rebuke, but to be comforted in their sin. To be justified by excuses. When people are in trouble, distress or pain, where they turn for help is some indication of their character, their condition of heart.

To the Christian, Jesus Christ is our supreme Counselor. And there is something basic here. We need help; we need direction and guidance. Jeremiah said, “the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps,” (Jer. 10:23). Of course, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23).

We need help, and not just anybody is qualified to counsel us. The fact that someone will listen to your questions doesn’t mean they know the right answers.

Education and experience doesn’t necessarily qualify someone to lead you in the decisions of life.

And, if a counselor always tells you exactly what you want to hear, that cannot be good for you.

Jesus Christ is perfectly and supremely qualified to be your Counselor and my Counselor. In Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” (Col. 2:3). “…in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God … for in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted,” (Heb. 2:17-18).

He loves us with a perfect love and through His Word – we can be led out of sin, out of confusion, out of doubt – into fellowship with God.

He is the Wonderful Counselor of Isaiah. 9:6.

Wonderful, Isa. 9:6

Isaiah Insights #14

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

Wonderful

Isaiah 9:6

The next few podcasts will be based on one of the beloved prophecies of Isaiah, in chapter nine, verse six. I’ll begin by reading verses 6 and 7 of Isaiah chapter nine.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace, there will be no end, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

I want to start with that word “wonderful.” I realize it functions here as a modifier, but it has meaning in that role.

Jesus was and is wonderful in so many brilliant ways. When He came in contact with a person, group or event, He transformed it into something it had never been before. When He conversed with people, they were often both convicted and amazed. He was unforgettable, even to His enemies.

 

When the shepherds shared the news of His birth, “all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds,” (Lk. 2:18). It was something to wonder at: “God was manifested in the flesh,” (1 Tim. 3:16).

You and I can know the meaning of this divine wonder, when we trust in Him, follow Him and say “no” to everything He spoke against.

In addition to other Bible reading you are doing, I highly recommend that you make the time to read over and over again – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Refresh the wonder in your heart of who Jesus is and what He did.

Remember when you first heard those stories. Take a little walk back in your history as a Christian and think of those times when Christ and His truth became richer to you. Then, share that with others.

His name shall be called Wonderful.

 

Isaiah Insights #13

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

“It will not stand!”

Isaiah Chapters 7 & 8

One of the primary themes in the next section of Isaiah, beginning with chapter seven – is that God is in control. Now, whatever that might mean to us today, it meant something very direct in the dispensation before Christ came. And this section of Isaiah is a prophetic supplement to the other Old Testament accounts of the divided kingdom period.

 

This was in the days of King Ahaz, who was over the southern kingdom of Judah. Remember, there are two kingdoms – the northern, ruled at this time by Pekah. The southern kingdom was under the rule of Ahaz.

 

Ahaz and the people of Judah were being terrorized by an ugly alliance between Pekah and Rezin, who was head of Syria at the time.

 

Rezin forms this alliance with Pekah and they proceed to put pressure against Ahaz and Judah. If Judah doesn’t bow to this pressure, Ahaz fears that he will lose power – and a putpit placed on his throne.

 

So, Rezin and Pekah plan to attack Judah and force them to help against Assyria. Here’s what Isaiah says. This is Isa. 7:7 – “It will not stand, and it shall not come to pass.”

 

That’s God’s control. It is God’s preservation of the seed nation through which the Messiah will come. And the lesson for us is simple: God keeps His promises.

 

As this historical narrative continues into chapter eight, the point is made – Don’t be afraid of the alliances of worldly empires. God will keep His promise. But you must reverence Him.

 

What verse in chapter eight conveys REVERENCE FOR GOD? Verse 13: “But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear and let him be your dread.”

 

Fear can captivate us, confuse us, distract us. There is a kind of spiritual fear that answers all worldly concern. Solomon said fear God and keep His commandments. It is that reverence that Isaiah was urging the people of Judah to embrace.

Isaiah Insights #12

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

Send Me!

Isa. 6:8,9

“In the year King Uzziah died,” God “appeared” to Isaiah. The man was immediately struck by the holiness of God, confessed his sin and was forgiven.

God had a task that was urgent. He said to Isaiah, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah responded, “Here I am! Send me.” Or, in older translations, “Here Am I. Send Me.”

Now, if you keep reading beyond verse 8, you discover this was no celebrity position or magnificent occupation from an earthly standpoint. In fact, people would not listen or be pleased with what Isaiah said.

His commitment was, “Here am I! Send me.”

A personal note here. I never read this without thinking of my father, who was in a men’s training class in the 1950’s. The preacher was teaching the men about various servant functions in the local church. He handed out cards to the men. The card on one side listed all the functions and there was place to check which one you would volunteer for.

I was seated next to my father and watched. He looked over the various functions, then wrote on the back of the card: “Here am I. Send me.”

What an impression that made on me. And at the time, I had no idea he was quoting Isaiah. Only later, when I was reading Isaiah, did I remember – that’s what my father wrote on the card to volunteer for various tasks in the local church.

But the expression takes me to another thought. What would people say today, in that circumstance?

Some might say, “here am I … but I’m just too busy.” Or, “here am I … but send someone else.” Or, “here am I … best wishes Lord.”

Isaiah becomes one of many examples in Scripture, of men and women who stepped up and out, on faith – to do whatever God might require.

“Here am I. Send me.”

 

Isaiah Insights #11

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

Holy, Holy, Holy

Isa. 6:1-3

With this podcasts, we move into Isaiah chapter 6. Isaiah’s vision of the Lord and His commitment to respond to the Lord’s call.

First, who is He responding to? “The Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,” and identified by this declaration: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.”

One of the first steps one takes out of sin and into salvation is – recognition of who God is. He is holy. That means, He stands apart, “high and lifted up.” He is different, separate from man – absolutely powerful and perfect; deserving of man’s highest regard. Later in the book of Isaiah – this statement: “To whom they will you liken Me, that I should be his equal? Says the Holy One,” (Isa. 40:25).

Isaiah was tremendously impacted by the presence of the Holy One, distinquished in His spendor. And, not just holy – but for emphasis: “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

When one obeys the gospel, the person is not just complying with conditions, submitting to commands and changing his or her life. We must think of responding to the Holy and Almight God.

Reverence is, therefore, a part of conversion; an essential part. We are fearing God and keeping His commandments – when we first step out of sin into Christ through repentance and baptism.

Like Isaiah, we are stimulated by His holiness and responsive to who He is. We will put Him first now; we will be mindful of Him day after day; we will be daily disciples of His Son; we will embrace His people and reach the lost.

Because, we know who we are responding to. The Holy, Almighty God.

I like this quote from Ray Ortlund.

The holiness of God distinguishes him absolutely, even from the sinless angels. The Bible speaks of the splendor of God’s holiness (Psalm 29:2), the majesty of God’s holiness (Exodus 15:11), the incomparability of God’s holiness (Isaiah 40:25). His holiness is simply his God-ness in all his attributes, works, and ways. And he is not just holy; he is “holy, holy, holy,” each word boosting the force of the previous one exponentially.

Please take time to reflect on this and make certain your life is founded on your reverence for who God is.

Ortlund Jr., Raymond C.. Isaiah (Preaching the Word) (p. 77). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Isaiah Insights #10

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

“Woes” In Isaiah

Isa. 5:22-23

Perverters of Justice

This is Isa. 5:22,23– “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.”

One way to get to the point of this form of evil is, imagine you are accused of a crime but not guilty. You and your attorney work together to collect and organize evidence, interview witnesses and set your case in good order.

The day of the trial comes, and as the judge enters to take his place at the bar of justice – you and others present discover, before he came to bar of justice, he visited the bar!

The judge appointed to consider your case is drunk and you realize that in this condition, he is not an administrator of justice, but a perverted of justice.

He is not only drunk with alcohol. His drunken state is a symptom of a deeper inner intoxication. He is high on his appetite, stumbling around in his ego and utterly lacking of good character and wisdom.

If he is a champion of anything, it is mixing drinks and consuming the product of his carnal talent.

Isaiah conveys from God, judgment against the judges, who were caught up in their power. The claim to renown was not justice but being heroes of drinking wine.

Let’s not turn this into an indictment against all who serve in the halls of justice. But let’s be aware that power can corrupt those with undeveloped conscience. While this propensity occurs across all classes and ages, it is especially repulsive  when men who are charged to lead, to judge, to enforce divine law, are champions of craving, carnality and evil.  God, through Isaiah, judges the judges.

Human Wisdom, Isa. 5:21

“Woes” Isa. 5

Isa. 5:21

Human Wisdom

This is Isa. 5:21 – “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight.”

This relates to an earlier podcasts, when I spoke to us about humanism. Exalting man, with arrogance, self-deceit – thinking man can make his own way very well in life without God.

That flawed view emerges again here in chapter eight, verse twenty-one. “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight.”

There are people in our age who seem to be “street smart,” but “life dumb.” By that I mean, they seem to know all the ways of the world, how to navigate the streets of temporal existence, but when it comes to real life, wisdom and eternal outcomes – they are not equipped, not capable and in fact, dumb.

Wise in their own eyes, and perhaps shrewd about the ways of the world in their limited view. But God is pushed away, His will rejected, His promises counted a loss.

It is similar to other indictments and descriptions in Scripture.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the ways of death,” (Prov. 14:12).

In the New Testament, 1 Cor. 3:18-20. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their crafitness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile’.”

Then, in Jeremiah 10:23 – “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.”

Isaiah was speaking to people who were trying to find their way in life without God. His bold words were designed to shake them, to wake them up and take them to repentance about their dependence on their own wisdom. Let’s take need.

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight.”

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