“If you’re not a good little boy, Santa Claus is gonna leave you nothing but a bucket of coal.”
Did your parents ever say that to you? Yes, it was a form of blackmail and most often it worked. After all, what would a little boy do with a bucket of coal? Couldn’t show it off to buddies, couldn’t play with it, couldn’t eat it like candy.
“If you’re not a good little boy, God’s gonna get you and throw you into the fires of hell.”
Any of you remember hearing that from parents, teachers and preachers?
The fear of the Lord was instilled at a very young, impressionable age. Unfortunately, when that little boy grew up, he continued to greatly fear that bearded, white-haired old man setting somewhere in the heavens with a judgemental scepter……good little boys on this side, bad little boys on that side. And then, as an adult, if he still allowed religion in his life, this fear which had now become a life-directing terror was often supported by an erroneous interpretation of Job 28:28.
And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord–that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” Job 28:28
I finally bought a Strong’s Concordance because at a certain point in my adult life, I realized I could not uninstall or delete from my brain bank all that had been put in there by church and religion. Reprogramming is not an easy undertaking. For those of you unfamiliar with Strong’s, it is a compilation of every word in the Bible with a cross-reference to the original Chaldee, Hebrew or Greek words and their definitions.
I wanted to know what the original authors had in mind when they wrote the stories, parables, and histories of the ministry of Jesus which was later combined as the canon of the New Testament. That is also true of the Old Testament which is an assembled canon of the writings of revered Jewish authors. Neither of the Testaments was simply laid down before the people and declared to be the official word of God. They were an assortment of histories, myths, folklore, parables and spiritual inspiration. And I was told by a wise, old spiritual adviser that for he who seeks, those books can be a wealth of wisdom and truth.
Very simply stated, I could not continue in life with a headful of “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” teachings floating around in my head. If indeed there was any truth in the scriptures which indicated a loving and compassionate God, I needed to find that truth, or give up the search completely, or go insane.
Slowly, by having the Bible and my Concordance open side by side and sometimes referencing each word of the verse I was reading, so slowly I was seeing for the first time in my life the beauty and true meaning of the writings of this book called the Bible. Even more revelatory was the insight gained when I was able to apply this wisdom in a spiritual realm rather than the inerrant, infallible, literal interpretations of my childhood.
The KJV translation uses in Job 28:28 the words, “fear of the Lord.” Fear carries a highly negative connotation. Fear, actually terror, is what I regularly felt as a young man who knew he fell far short of being the human he was meant to be. At some point, men like me say “What’s the use? I would sooner die being a happy sinner rather than a frightened little boy.”
The Strong’s Concordance also includes in its definition of the word ‘yir’ah’ (fear) the meaning “reverence”. Does it take a college degree to see the vast difference between fear and reverence? Yes, of course I revere, honor, cherish a power greater than myself; yes, I am awed by a loving, compassionate entity worth of being named God. I can finally say in truth and confidence “Reverence for my Lord is wisdom. To shun what is not of the Lord is understanding.”