“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments.” Psalm 111:10
This morning as I woke, I asked the Lord to confirm to me the calling I have felt led to pursue since the finalization of the election last week. Up to this point I have had a lot of circumstantial affirmations from the Lord about this calling, but I also wanted to have some clear scriptural guidance that would act as my plumb-line if this path was indeed the one the Lord had truly set before me. But, instead of getting a clear answer as I prayed and read scripture this morning, the Lord has presented me with an interesting conflict – two opposing verses.
Here are the verses:
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.” Hebrews 11:23
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1-2
Moses' parents did not fear the authority of their day, instead they feared God more and by fearing God they saved Moses and eventually their nation. In contrast, the writer of Romans talks to God's people about the need to submit to governmental authorities and not resist their godly appointments (in reading all of Romans 13 you will see the even larger scope that the text references in being submissive to worldly appointed leaders). The conflict of these two opposing choices, to submit to authority or to submit to righteousness, seem contradictory. But yet I am certain of the fact that God does not contradict Himself, so in looking at these scriptures I can only speculate that there is something bigger to take into account before I can come to any conclusion regarding what God is trying to tell me through these texts.
As I studied on in seeking what the Lord has to say to me about this matter, the verse above from Psalm 111 and the verses below from Ecclesiastes 12 really opened my eyes to the answer I had been wrestling within God's word for.
“The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.” Ecclesiastes 12: 11-13
Fear leads to wisdom. And that wisdom can be written for many people, but God's wisdom for my life is only found within my own personal context of fearing Him, seeking Him, and obeying Him – as His Spirit leads me. The commands and laws of the Lord, although never incorrect, are not commands specifically meant for every situation. Take for instance if I read in one place in the bible that God called his people to stop and wait on Him, and then in another place I read that God called His people to step out in faith and rest assured the battle was theirs. Each truth was correct for each situation, but each truth was also specific to the work of the Lord in that place and through the particular people He had called to action (or inaction) through that truth.
I have to think that when Moses' parents hid him from the governmental authorities, they were doing so out of specific instructions God gave to them. They feared the Lord OVER their government and chose to be obedient to their call over a general set of commands. In comparison, as I look around our country and at some of the reactions people have had after the election last week, their desire to resist the government has nothing to do with godly fear, but everything to do with the fear of what is in store if they continue to live under the authorities God allowed to be elected to lead our nation. These opposing situations both present fear within difficult governmental situations for God's people, but only one is warranted according to the Lord – and that is the one which has been initiated by Him.
As I look now on the calling I have felt led to pursue, I know with all certainty that my call has come from my fear of the Lord and not of man. Within the context of this new calling, there are no thoughts of self or family preservation involved in the task I see ahead of me, but rather more than likely a lot of sacrifice, pain and grief. But, even as I look at what may be in store for me and my family in taking strives to follow where God is leading, I am reassured by the Lord's promise that He never calls His people to places where He intends to destroy them, but rather to places where they can grow and product abundant fruit for His kingdom.
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding His wisdom as to how we are to respond to the calls He places in each of our lives. With fear guiding each of us in a godly manner, we can produce a testimony of faith just as Moses' parents did, but also in fearing the commands of the Lord when we are asked to be submissive, quiet, and in preparation for what is yet to come is also a testimony of faith. Neither is right or wrong within the circumstances and callings God puts around each command because it is our fear of Him alone that allows us to stand firm wherever He calls.