“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”
Variations on this statement appear three times in Scripture: Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, and Proverbs 9:10. Repetition is important in the Bible, so if God tells us something three times, we’d better pay attention! Wisdom is a big deal to God, and the imparting of wisdom — particularly to our children — is a priority for our Lord. Education should be a priority for all of us.
When Solomon was offered anything he asked in 2 Chronicles 1:7, he responded by asking God for wisdom and knowledge. God replied, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked long life, but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like.”
The Lord blessed King Solomon, because of his good request, with both wisdom and possessions greater than anyone else who ever lived. Yet Solomon said, even in his riches, “How much better to get wisdom than gold!” (Proverbs 16:16)
Jesus himself was known for his wisdom, even by those who did not listen to what he had to say. When speaking at the synagogue in Nazareth, his hometown, the people said, “Where did this man get this wisdom?” (Matthew 13:54) Of course, three verses later we learn that “they took offense at him”. We should not be surprised when Godly wisdom is an offense to those who believe themselves learned.
As a new dad, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the responsibility that I have to train Nate up in the way that he should go, so that when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Paul wrote, “Fathers… bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Matthew 18:6 warns of the consequences of leading children astray. This is why Noah Webster wrote in his 1828 Dictionary’s definition of the word education: “an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”
So it was with regret (though not surprise) that I read this discouraging article about the direction our nation’s Department of Education is taking. Alarmingly, the DOE is moving to adopt “internationally benchmarked education standards”. The only such standards currently in existence are those developed by UNESCO, the education arm of the UN. These standards include the Earth Charter (* see note below), which, in addition to the promotion of a global community and government, promotes in its education goals the ideas of legalized abortion, disarmament, radical environmentalism, international wealth redistribution… the list goes on and on.
Suffice it to say that the last place these people are looking for wisdom is “the fear of the Lord”. What a far cry we are from the beginnings of this nation, when the text by which all children were taught was the New England Primer. Now, the very people who would tell our teachers how and what they must teach count the “fear of the Lord” as foolishness… but then again, who’s really the fool here?
As easy as it would be to point fingers at those in elected or appointed office, though, I must remember that my Biblical mandate as a parent to be my child’s primary teacher is not affected by the circumstances dictating school curricula. Moreover, the descent into our current set of circumstances began long before anyone in the current administration was even born. The shift of educational responsibility to the state, the church, tutors, nannies, daycares — anyone but the parents — began long ago. How easy it is to forget that in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, WE THE PEOPLE are responsible for whatever our representative government deems appropriate. If we Christians don’t like it, then we have a responsibility to create a culture that will produce representation that reflects our values. This can happen only through the unapologetic, unashamed, and unrelenting communication of the Truth of Christ through love to our communities.
Sadly, most who claim to be Christians are either unable or unwilling to see the true source of the problem, or to take ownership of the responsibilities laid out for us in the Word of God. This lack of responsibility is manifested in potshots being taken at symptoms, such as increasingly liberal agendas being taught in our schools, rather than attacking the root cause: A love of this world and a hatred of its Creator. Why is this? Is it because, though we say we want our children taught the things of God, we would rather have others do it because it would be more convenient than doing it ourselves? Sorry, folks, but it doesn’t work that way. As the adage goes, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”
This is not at all to say that parents can only be the primary teachers of their children if they homeschool. I was educated in public school, and am very grateful for what I feel was a very good education. Still, I learned the most important lessons of all at home. I learned that Jesus was God, that He loved me, and that sometimes the things I was taught at school were not true, because lots of people didn’t love Jesus, and didn’t want to teach what he taught. Thanks, Dad and Mom, for giving me a solid foundation.
So, come what may, my prayer is that when Nate grows up he will look back and be able to say that I was the kind of father that wise King Solomon exhorts me to be. These are the lessons I hope he will remember:
Hear, O son, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
for I give you good precepts;
do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a son with my father
he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget,
and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
The beginning of wisdom is this:
Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.”
Hear, my son, and accept my words.
I have taught you the way of wisdom;
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
Keep hold of instruction; do not let go.
Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of the evil.
Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.
The path of righteousness is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
The way of the wicked is like deep darkness,
they do not know over what they stumble.
My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ears to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to their flesh.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
~Excerpted from Proverbs 4
* For further reading on the Earth Charter and the Ark of Hope in which it resides and is transported (mocking the Ark of the Covenant in which the Ten Commandments were placed), I strongly encourage you to read articles from the Modern History Project (secular viewpoint) and Contender Ministries (Christian viewpoint). This is serious business…