“Where can wisdom be found?” Job exclaimed. “Where does understanding dwell?”
“No mortal can [fully] comprehend its worth,” Job explained. “[Only] God understands the way to it”.
— Job 28:12-13,20-21,23; paraphrased.
The book of Job never ceases to amaze. Hidden in the words of Job are visualisations of a futuristic space-travelling human colony. Visions of interstellar travel and trans-physical interactions beyond our current limitations of science filled the pages of the Book of Job. Most times, when I am reading Job or some other bigger prophets like Ezekiel, Elisha, and Daniel, I tend to forget that I am reading the Bible and not a science fiction novel. I mean, just look at this passage:
There is a mine for silver and a place where gold is refined (this asteroid was found!). Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is smelted from ore. Mortals put an end to the darkness; they search out the farthest recesses [of space] for ore (or minerals) in the blackest darkness [in space]. Far from human dwellings (that is earth) they cut a shaft (doesn’t this sound like asteroid mining, moon landing, mars landing, or other future expeditions?), in places untouched by human feet; far from other people they dangle and sway (doesn’t this sound like space walk?).
— Job 28:1-4, NIV.
To be honest, we still do not know when did Job lived. Many speculate that he is a contemporary of Abraham because he predated the law. This sets him back to roughly 2200BC. Now, if Job was someone who lived on earth over 4000 years ago, how can he write about things that surpasses modern understanding of science and technology? It was either 1) the technology at their time was so advanced that they have exceeded modern technology, or 2) human development was so advanced in the future that we can return to the days of Job to show him. Though both assumptions were mind-blowing, Job, being a man of God, wasn’t in technology. In fact, he criticised it.
From the passage of Job 28, I identified three categories of physical realities: 1) the seen, 2) the unseen, and 3) the transcendent.
“The Seen” are things that we can see with our human eyes; things that our human hands can interact with. These includes the technology that Job were speaking about: the mining, the spaceflight, the destruction of the earth (Job 28:5), the animals, and everything in the physical realm. However, Job wasn’t interested with all these technological developments and human advancement. Rather, he asked the question, “Where can wisdom be found?”
In context, Job’s words echoed the teachings of Ecclesiastes. “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!’” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, NIV). It felt like Job was trying to rebut people by pointing out that all of these are meaningless if we do not have wisdom. Job said, “[wisdom] cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed out in silver. It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or lapis lazuli. Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it, nor can it be had for jewels of gold. Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention; the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.” (Job 28:15-18, NIV). To paraphrase, Job was trying to say that even with all these riches and minerals, if we haven’t had wisdom, these are pointless.
“The Unseen” are things that are beyond the physical realm. In the context of Job 28, the “Unseen” was mentioned as “Destruction” (or Abaddon), and “Death”. In the eyes of Job, the realm of the “Unseen” is also not worth mentioning as there is no wisdom there. He wrote, “Destruction and Death say, ‘Only a rumour of it has reached our ears.’” (Job 28:22, NIV). For Job, Wisdom is transcendent. Whether is it in death or Sheol, we will not find wisdom there. In death, life solidifies and there is no turning back. In Sheol, we will be confronted with every aspect of our lives; the good and the bad. There is only judgement; no wisdom.
Where then can we find Wisdom? “[Only] God understands the way to it,” Job wrote. “He alone knows where it dwells.” (Job 28:23, NIV). Job understood that God’s knowledge of Wisdom came from the Creation itself. When God created the Universe, “He looked at wisdom and appraised it; He confirmed it and tested it.” (Job 28:27, NIV). Job’s knowledge of the Creation echoed what was written in the Proverbs.
When God created the Universe, Wisdom was the first of God’s works. Wisdom was formed at the very beginning when the world came to be. Wisdom was there when God set the heavens in place, when God marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when God established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when God gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep His command, and when God marked out the foundations of the earth (Proverbs 8:22-23, 27-29, NIV). And in everything, Wisdom was constantly at God’s side, delighting day after day and rejoicing in the Presence of God; rejoicing in the created Universe and delighting in humankind (Proverbs 8:30-31, paraphrased).
Job knew that Wisdom is in the knowing that God is beyond the visible and invisible realms. Wisdom is in the recognition that God is beyond all created Universes. Whether is it the visible realm in which we live in, or is it Sheol where the dead goes after they die, God is in control of it all. True wisdom, is in the recognising of God’s sovereignty and the fear of He who can do anything He pleases. That was why Job wrote that “[God] said to the human race, ’The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’” (Job 28:28, NIV).
Jesus echoed a similar teaching when He sent out His twelve disciples. He said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:4-5, NIV).
So, what is Wisdom? Wisdom is the Fear of the Lord. Wisdom is in the knowledge of God’s sovereignty over all created Universes. Wisdom is in the knowledge that this God who designed and built the Universe, came to us, died for us, and was raised from the dead for us. Wisdom is in the knowledge that God transcends everything that we can ever imagine. Wisdom is in the knowledge that He loves us and has made us His adopted children. Wisdom is in the blessed assurance that Jesus is ours. Wisdom is the blessed assurance that we will one day be in perfect communion with Him, regardless of our current circumstances.Image by SpaceX-Imagery from Pixabay
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