Where Can Wisdom Be Found?

Don’t you love it when you discover an outstanding Bible passage you just didn’t remember studying before? Last week I stumbled upon Job 28. May I share some thoughts from that chapter?

Gold MineJob has been debating with his three friends in chapters 3-27, and 28 is a continuation of Job’s reasoning. The main question of the chapter arrives in verses 12 and 20, but watch how Job builds up to the question in verses 1-11:

1     “Surely there is a mine for silver, And a place where gold is refined.
2      Iron is taken from the earth,
And copper is smelted from ore.
3      Man puts an end to darkness,
And searches every recess
For ore in the darkness and the shadow of death.
4      He breaks open a shaft away from people;
In places forgotten by feet
They hang far away from men;
They swing to and fro.
5      As for the earth, from it comes bread,
But underneath it is turned up as by fire;
6      Its stones are the source of sapphires,
And it contains gold dust.
7      That path no bird knows,
Nor has the falcon’s eye seen it.
8      The proud lions have not trodden it,
Nor has the fierce lion passed over it.
9      He puts his hand on the flint;
He overturns the mountains at the roots.
10   He cuts out channels in the rocks,
And his eye sees every precious thing.
11   He dams up the streams from trickling;
What is hidden he brings forth to light.

Ancient PathsBy gorgeous imagery, Job transports us into the recesses of the earth, into the mines, into the center of the rock. What does man find hidden there in the darkness? He finds precious things, gold, silver, iron, glittering jewels, sparkling dust.

What’s the point, Job? We read on…

12    “But where can wisdom be found?
        And where is the place of understanding?
13    Man does not know its value,
Nor is it found in the land of the living.
14    The deep says, ‘It is not in me’;
And the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’
15    It cannot be purchased for gold,
Nor can silver be weighed for its price.
16    It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
In precious onyx or sapphire.
17    Neither gold nor crystal can equal it,
Nor can it be exchanged for jewelry of fine gold.
18    No mention shall be made of coral or quartz,
For the price of wisdom is above rubies.
19    The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it,
Nor can it be valued in pure gold.
20    “From where then does wisdom come?
        And where is the place of understanding?

WisdomVerses 12 and 20 create an inclusio, which is a section bracketed by two nearly identical statements. The twin statements expose the main point of the section: “Where can wisdom be found, and where is the place of understanding?”

We brilliant humans can search and find so many wonderful, valuable, precious items hidden in the earth…but can we find wisdom in all those places? Man doesn’t even know the value of wisdom–it cannot be measured like gold or silver. You cannot find wisdom in the ocean, you cannot purchase wisdom from a merchant, and you cannot measure wisdom’s value using any earthly economic system.

So, Job reiterates, from where does wisdom come? The answer challenges many:

21    It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
And concealed from the birds of the air.
22    Destruction and Death say,
‘We have heard a report about it with our ears.’
23    God understands its way,
        And He knows its place.
24    For He looks to the ends of the earth,
And sees under the whole heavens,
25    To establish a weight for the wind,
And apportion the waters by measure.
26    When He made a law for the rain,
And a path for the thunderbolt,
27    Then He saw wisdom and declared it;
He prepared it, indeed, He searched it out.
28    And to man He said,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
        And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ”

Wisdom is hidden from mankind. There is a wisdom which comes with age and experience, but not the wisdom which Job seeks: the wisdom of the ages, the rock-solid truth, the understanding of life. That wisdom is hidden from all the living. In fact, those irresistible forces of nature, Destruction and Death, have only heard rumors about wisdom!

God's PaintingGod understands wisdom. Of course He does! Being the Creator of this life, He surely knows how this life operates! He sees and establishes everything. He’s the one who created the physical laws in the first place. Even wisdom He spoke into being.

But God not only understands wisdom, He gracefully reveals wisdom to us! He says to man, “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.”

Apart from God’s revelation, man cannot be truly wise. The most learned scientist, the most widely-traveled archaeologist, the most introspective guru among men still has not found wisdom until he opens up the word of God and examines what God has actually revealed about man and about Himself. In His word we find truth and wisdom, those things which are hidden from mankind.

Does that fill you with excitement? Isn’t that brilliant? Doesn’t that make you want to dig into God’s book and share it with your children? That’s the way I feel, too!

Let us fear the Lord, our Maker. Let us depart from evil. Therein lies wisdom.

Fearing God Isn’t Common Sense

Marker FaceWhy should my three-year-old not use the permanent markers to illustrate his room, his bed, and himself? Isn’t it common sense?!

Why should my nine-year-old not ram her bicycle into the back of the toddler’s tricycle in order to push him along? Isn’t it common sense?

Why should my older boys take baths more than twice a month? Isn’t it common sense?

Why shouldn’t that teenage driver blow through the stop sign in front of my house? You’d think it would be common sense.

How could anybody with a brain vote for [you fill in the blank]? It should be common sense, right?

Perhaps what I think is common isn’t so common after all. When the country is divided in half over which candidate is best, where does common sense leave us? I have a sense and you have a sense about what is right, and if our senses don’t agree, can we really follow the rule of common sense?

Just Believe in Your DreamsThe spirit of the age is “follow your heart,” “do what feels right,” and “go with your gut.” As Luke Skywalker flew his X-Wing over the Death Star towards his tiny target, he heard the ghost of Obi Wan urge, “Trust your feelings, Luke.”

New Age religions are not really new. They are based on ancient philosophies. Buddha taught that divinity is within, and you find true enlightenment through your own experiences. Truth is found within yourself.

The Bible teaches the opposite. Truth is external and must be taught, coming from the Supreme and Sovereign God, Creator, Sustainer, Savior. God created us, and we are not Him. He speaks to us through His word, through His Son Jesus.

Wisdom is not something that just comes through experience, but true wisdom comes from fearing God. Notice the following from Proverbs:

1.29      Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the LORD,
1.30      They would have none of my counsel
And despised my every rebuke.

8.13      The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.

9.10      The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

15.33    The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom,
And before honor is humility.

Read the BibleWhat is fearing the Lord? It’s listening to and obeying Him! It’s setting aside your common sense and relying on God’s sense, which may sometimes not make sense to you. It’s relying on something outside yourself–God’s word–to determine your destiny, your path, your goals.

Man’s “common sense” can become his way of following his own authority and rejecting God’s. I must teach my children not to rely on their common sense but to constantly ask, “What would God have me do? How does God discern this situation?”

The Jews in Thessalonica were called NOBLE because “they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17.11). They didn’t blindly accept Paul’s preaching; they verified it through studying God’s word, which was their ultimate and final guide. It didn’t matter that Paul’s preaching made sense to them or not; they double checked. If they determined the teaching to be from God, they followed it.

Man’s philosophies often make sense to us, and sometimes we accept them because they sound reasonable. But that doesn’t mean they are right. God declares what is right and wrong, and we don’t really have a say in the matter! He’s the one who rules; we don’t.

Fearing God isn’t common sense these days. But it’s still the way to true wisdom.

What Drives Your Vote?

trump hillaryChristians in the United States are in quite the tizzy, some backing Clinton, some backing Trump, and some rabidly denying both as viable candidates, deciding to cast for Gary Johnson or not vote at all. This brings up a probing question:

What drives your vote?

Some vote on fiscal policies. Will the candidate make our country safer and more prosperous?

Some vote on moral issues. Where does the candidate stand on abortion and the definition of family?

Some vote based on a mix of fiscal and moral issues, and the combination of their hottest buttons drives their decision at the polls. Will the candidate support the legalization of drugs and uphold the sanctity of marriage between husband and wife?

But what about the MORAL CHARACTER of the candidate? As I read through Scripture, it seems that God always cared about the integrity of leaders. Always. Without exception. Perhaps it’s helpful to scan through the book of Proverbs and ask whether or not our favorite candidate really measures up to what God would expect from a leader.

REMEMBER–Our whole nation is affected by sin!

Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a disgrace to any people. (14.34)

HOW DO THEY USE THEIR MOUTHS?

pinnochio         Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. (10.6)

The wise of heart will receive commands,
But a babbling fool will be ruined. (10.8)

He who conceals hatred has lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool.
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise. (10.18-19)

With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. (11.9)

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD,
But those who deal faithfully are His delight. (12.22)

The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;
The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. (13.3)

A perverse man spreads strife,
And a slanderer separates intimate friends. (16.28)

He who restrains his words has knowledge,
And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;
When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent. (17.27-28)

ARE THEY PROUD?

When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom. (11.2)

Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling. (16.18)

DO THEY TRUST IN RICHES?

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death. (11.4)

He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf. (11.28)

helping the poorHOW DO THEY TREAT PEOPLE?

He who despises his neighbor lacks sense,
But a man of understanding keeps silent. (11.12)

He who despises his neighbor sins,
But happy is he who is gracious to the poor. (14.12)

He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker,
But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. (14.31)

DO THEY ACT PROPERLY?

A righteous man hates falsehood,
But a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully. (13.5)

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (16.7)

A wicked man receives a bribe from the bosom
To pervert the ways of justice. (17.23)

ARE THEY QUICK-TEMPERED?

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
A fool’s anger is known at once,
But a prudent man conceals dishonor. (12.15-16)

A quick-tempered man acts foolishly,
And a man of evil devices is hated. (14.17)

He who is slow to anger has great understanding,
But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. (14.29)

anger         A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger. (15.1)

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. (16.32)

The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. (17.14)

Like a city that is broken into and without walls
Is a man who has no control over his spirit. (25.28)

Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
So is a contentious man to kindle strife.
The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels,
And they go down into the innermost parts of the body.
Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross
Are burning lips and a wicked heart.
He who hates disguises it with his lips,
But he lays up deceit in his heart.
When he speaks graciously, do not believe him,
For there are seven abominations in his heart.
Though his hatred covers itself with guile,
His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.
He who digs a pit will fall into it,
And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him.
A lying tongue hates those it crushes,
And a flattering mouth works ruin. (26.21-28)

With great sadness I detect in our country today an echoing absence of moral principle, righteous attitude, and godly direction. The United States of America has slipped so far in its ability to discern good from evil that we have put forward two reprobates as political candidates. Neither of these should be respected in our communities as righteous leaders. But maybe that’s the problem–we are no longer looking for righteous leaders.

God help us! He is still in control. Proverbs also asserts this:

The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes. (21.1)