As I was thinking about where to start with my blogs, I had several ideas about a best “first” Bible Essay. Then, I thought about where the Bible starts … with God (Genesis 1:1). My intent is not to start in Genesis and go through the Bible book by book, but I couldn’t help but think of the importance of starting off in the right place. As I thought about this passage, other passages that emphasize the importance of this foundation came to mind:
- Proverbs 1:7 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
- Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
- Psalms 111:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”
Clearly, these verses could be multiplied. But then, I thought about how God emphasizes the importance of making Him the foundation of our lives through the stories of people in the Bible.
- Enoch avoided death because he “walked with God” – Genesis 5:24.
- Noah avoided destruction in the flood because he “walked with God” and therefore “found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” – Genesis 6:7-9ff.
- Abraham’s willingness to understand this principle is demonstrated throughout his life. Two great examples of this are when God told him to leave his homeland (Genesis 12:1-4) and when God told him to offer Isaac (Genesis 22:1-3). Abraham didn’t question because he understood that all things begin with God and, therefore, following His commands.
With this in mind, is it any wonder that the first thing God tried to instill in minds of the nation of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt was who He is and the importance of making Him the foundation and center of their lives?
- One of the purposes of the plagues was to teach the people of Israel about the Lord. Exodus 6:6-7:
6 “Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I [am] the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 ‘I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I [am] the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
- The first three commandments given to the people emphasized that they must honor Him only and recognize that He is not some image created by man. Exodus 20:2-7:
2 “I [am] the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness [of anything] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth [generations] of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold [him] guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Other examples from the Old Testament could be observed, but once we see this emphasis, is it any wonder that when people tried to trap Jesus’ by asking what the greatest commandment was, that Jesus responded that loving God is the “first and great” commandment?
35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked [Him a question], testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which [is] the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is [the] first and great commandment. [Matthew 22:35-38]
In every generation and dispensation since the foundation of the world, what has set people apart is whether they are willing to acknowledge God. Additional study will further demonstrate that just like the examples in this post this is more than just lip service (Saying, “I believe in God.”) but rather is reflected in a life of honoring God’s will. In another post we will examine together what the Bible says about what happens to those who fail to honor this principle in their lives. But, for now, I simply wish to consider this… Can it be said of the way that we live our lives and the focus of our lives that we represent the concept, “In the beginning, God…”
(All passages quoted from New King James Version unless otherwise noted. Text copied from www.BlueLetterBible.org)