“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” – Proverbs 9:10 ESV
The idea of the “fear of the Lord” most likely attached itself to the idea of the Temple.
Its first clear mention is made on the plains of Moab prior to Joshua leading the people into the Promised Land.
Moses issues these directives – Deuteronomy 12:2-14
- All the places where the nations serve their gods (so do not remodel them)
- Obliterate them
- God’s name is never to be equivocated with the name of any other deity
- Instead a new and special place would be built
- To establish His name there for His dwelling
- Verse 5 – But you shall seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put His name and make His habitation there.
- All the places where the nations serve their gods (so do not remodel them)
Consider God’s declaration of purpose for the temple – “to establish His name there for His dwelling” Two things God wanted to do in this special place –
- He wanted toreveal Himself by “His name”
- A place of revelation as worshipers continually exalt His character and voice the stories and songs about His working
- God desired a place of encounter, of relationship, of dwelling
God intimated His desire to enjoy and exalted nearness amidst His people – “that I may dwell among them” Exodus 25:8
To dwell is relational affair – consummated worship – God coming near His people as they came near to Him
Solomon knew that the temple was not God’s domicile –
“But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!” – 2 Chronicles 6:18
Solomon had seen through his father David that God had made Himself vastly famous. People of other nations would seek to know the God of Israel personally – listen to his prayer –
“Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.” – 1 Kings 8:41-43
Solomon did not pray for a few to come – but for many
Solomon prayed for the nations to meet God as they came
Solomon prayed that they would know God not as a Gentile, but just as Israel did
Solomon’s vision was that all people would join in humble, joyous, worshipful walk with God – “the fear of the Lord”
Did the report of God’s name go out to the world? Did foreigners ever come to the house of the Lord and learn of the fear of the Lord? Did God answer Solomon’s prayer?
Soon after the temple was complete, the Queen of Sheba –
Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. – 1 Kings 10:1
She came to learn, to listen to Solomon’s wisdom and came away with the understanding that there was a covenant-keeping God who loved.
“She realized that God Himself had established the power of Solomon and the hope that through God’s rulership – there might be justice and righteousness
Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.” 1 kings 10:8-9
Then in verse 24 we understand that this was not an isolated instance.
And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. – 1 Kings 10:24
The world did not recognize Solomon for being brainy or clever – the world recognized that God Himself had put wisdom in the man’s heart.
That very first piece of wisdom, that very first lesson he gave to the world?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” Proverbs 9:10 ESV
Solomon was introducing the world to the worship of God as well as the life of wisdom under God
- God’s purpose was being fulfilled
- His name was great
- The nations were coming to know God personally
Imagine the hopes that came with the riches and desires of the nations turning to God
Imagine the spectacle of unimaginable glory at the consecrration of the temple
Imagine the closing of the event – that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. – 1 Kings 8:60
What could have possibly slowed God’s unfolding plan to draw the nations to Himself?
Imagine the horror
Imagine Solomon leading the way
Just three chapters after the climatic opening of the doors to the nations to know and fear the only God by name, Solomon’s heart was turned towards other gods – constructing shrines within sight of the holy mountain of God. (1 Kings 11:1-8)
Can any believing reader of these verses not feel disappointment to the point of nausea? or Are there those here this morning that can relate – you are here in church this morning but have already taken a few steps backward in your relationship with God.
How can you tell where you are?
I believe our passion for mission is one good temperature rating.
It is hard not to speculate about what might have happened if worship had been pure and steady for at least another generation. It was John Piper who was quoted – mission exists because worship doesn’t
I would like to offer another reason I feel passion for mission is a good temperature gauge on one’s relationship with God.
Verse 11 of Proverbs 9 – For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life.
Why does God want to bless us with old age? When we honour our father and mother the blessing is old age – why?
Adam died when he was 930 years old. At 930 years old, Methuselah was 243 years old.
Methuselah died when he was 969 years old. At 969 years old, Noah was 600 years old – the year of the Deluge.
Noah died when he was 950 years old. At 950 years old, Shem was 448 years old.
Shem died when he was 600 years old. At 600 years old, Abraham was 150 years old.
Abraham died when he was 175 years old. At 175, Jacob was 15 years old.
What am I trying to say –
In our lives the mission of God is passed on from one generation to another. It is from my mom’s heart – to my heart – to my son’s and daughter’s heart and I can absolutely tell you that it will be going to my grandchildren’s heart.
The story of God’s mission is the passion of mission passed from one generation to the next.
Solomon missed his dad. I still have my mom praying for me – I have taken on the stance of Job and I pray from my family and stand in the gap for them everyday – whether they need it or not.
Even when my mom – the first follower of Christ in our family – forced us to memorize scripture every single day – I still fell away. Do you know what brought me back – a book my dad had – Martyrs Mirrors. The history of the saints who died for their commitment to follow Jesus – and I can tell you that it took only days for my heart to be regenerated and I committed once again to follow Him will all my heart and soul and mind and strength and I committed to die for Christ if the need came to this.
I can say, from that moment, at the age of 16, I have never wavered. Not because of my strength, but the strength of those who have gone before me and the power of the grace and peace of our Saviour and the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave to each believer.
Live long so that you can make sure the passion for mission never leaves your family, your church, your community. Keep telling the story of mission and there will be no room for lost passion