The history of humanity’s progress is often characterized by advancements in empire, discovery, renaissance, enlightenment, industry and information. Mankind has worked tirelessly to subdue the universe and with great success has brought to light many of the wondrous things hidden within it. However, in spite of all his great discoveries and progress, man is still searching for that most illusive treasure that seems to continually escape him. In spite of all his advancements, today’s postmodern man cries out alongside his prehistoric ancestors asking the same question, “Where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?" (Job 28:12)
The ancient Scriptures attempt to respond with the answer,
“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)
But man's not listening.
The Search for Meaning
Never before in the history of mankind has the world been so educated and so socially connected. We live in an era where access to the world’s greatest treasures in the areas of science, medicine, history, philosophy, education, religion and technology are literally in the palm of our hand. And yet, the world still has no answer to give us concerning the meaning and purpose of our existence. Man has conquered the world, and yet, he still hasn’t found the very thing he’s looking for.
This twenty-first century Western world in which we live has declared that self-discovery, self-government and self-expression are the avenues for finding your meaning and purpose in life. “Do what makes you happy, and don’t let others who disagree with you get in your way.” And therefore the tragic story of rebellious man continues on as it always has. He has chosen to worship himself as the creature rather than acknowledging his God as the Creator (Romans 1:25). Pick up your daily newspaper and see the one hidden headline behind all the major headlines - The World Has No Fear of God. It has chosen to move on and forget Him altogether. And rather than turning from evil, men have become irrational inventors of evil instead (Romans 1:30). Claiming to be wise, our society has become increasingly foolish.
“From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding?” (Job 28:20)
The Treasure of Wisdom
True wisdom is found in fearing the Lord, and true understanding is found in avoiding what He defines as evil. The fear of God is a deep sense of awe and wonder at the holiness, power and reality of God. It paralyzes any sense of pride in ourselves, and it is the very thing that leads us away from the presence and pollution of evil. It is wisdom because it provides us with the answer for why the world is the way it is and why man is in the condition that he finds himself in. The fear of the Lord leads you to listen attentively to what He has to tell you. God has made Himself known in the creation and in all that has been made by His power. It is fear that leads a man to look at the universe around him and then to cry out, “Oh God, what is man that you are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4)
The fear of the Lord is wisdom because it gives you the proper view of yourself and your fellow man. We are inadequate and insufficient within ourselves. Who are we kidding? Something is wrong with us. We all sense that we are not as we should be, and everybody deep down knows that something has gone wrong with the world in which we live. We need help. It is this fear that leads us to cry out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)
The fear of the Lord is wisdom because it leads us to recognize that sin is our problem and salvation has to be provided. Wisdom admits and acknowledges weakness. Therefore, it is the fear of God that leads us to finally search outside of ourselves and outside of the universe until we discover our Savior in whom are found all the hidden treasures of wisdom and understanding (Colossians 2:3). He is the wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:30), and He is the end of our search for meaning and purpose. The only way to discover your reason for living is to die to yourself and to live for the One who died for you. Forget yourself and fear God. Find me a society that takes up this principle, and I’ll show you a society of peace and prosperity that this world has never known.
Man’s problem and the problem with the world today is not a lack of progress. Man’s problem and the problem with the world today is a lack of fear.
Terry Evans is the Southeast Director on staff with Unlimited Potential, Inc. and currently serves as the chaplain for the Atlanta Braves.