Where Is Wisdom?

In Job 28 the question is asked, 

“But where shall wisdom be found?
    And where is the place of understanding?
Man does not know its worth,
    and it is not found in the land of the living.

Job 28.12-13

So often in life we are willing to give so much for so little. We sacrifice things we will never get back in order to get things which will never last. We give up health, time, friendship and fellowship, and relationships in order to gain money, possessions, a sense of self-worth, and perceived status. 

Is this a good idea? Does this sound wise? Does trading fundamental for futile strike you as a good deal?

Where do we look for wisdom, a model for living, the ultimate example of how we should be investing our time, our talent, and our treasure? How do we know where the most valuable of attributes (v.15) is found?

The Word of God to us bound in our Bibles tells us that wisdom once walked as we walk, lived as we live, and that true wisdom can be found in the person of Jesus;

…I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Colossians 2.1-3

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 1.20-25

Job’s question, and all of ours, can be answered in the person and work of Jesus, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Jesus who is the wisdom of God.

How Do I Find God?

Job answers Eliphaz (ch.22) and asks, simply, how do I find God?

Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
that I might come even to his seat!

Job 23.3

It’s interesting and important to remember that this is Job’s response to the worst that life can throw at him: to run towards and to find God.

Rather than look deep within, rather than trying to pull himself up by his own bootstraps, rather than put his hope in the temporary trappings of the world, Job’s singular focus is to find God in the midst of trouble. 

Charles Spurgeon wrote,

“Good men are washed towards God even by the rough waves of their grief; and when their sorrows are deepest, their highest desire is not to escape from them, but to get at their God.”

Do you feel that? Is the current state of the world driving you towards God in a fresh, new, and reinvigorated way?

If you are taking the first steps towards seeking and finding Him, I would encourage you to read this, where we talked about the idea that yes, we can know God. If you already have a relationship with the Almighty, I would encourage you today to prioritise it, to make time for it, to invest in it, to let the worldly circumstances we all find ourselves in push you with renewed vigour to the foot of the cross and to Him who sits on the throne.

Why Bother?

After Job closes his last response with the words ‘There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood” (21.34), Eliphaz replies and asks, simply, why are you bothering to keep going with this, Job?

“Can a man be profitable to God?
Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself.
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right,
or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?

Job 22.2-3

Eliphaz is trying to convince Job, look, stop telling us you are right before God, so what if you are?, does God even care?, why bother?

It’s so easy to feel like this, isn’t it? Why am I bothering to keep going down this path paved with hurdles and obstacles, does it really matter? Does God even care? It is making any difference? 

In Luke 15 we read of three examples that show us that yes, God cares, and that there is a reason for us to be so bothered about the life we are living. Through reading the parables of the lost sheep (15.3-7), the lost coin (15.8-10), and the prodigal son (15.11-32), Luke records for us three proofs that we should be bothered, that we should keep going in the face of push-back, of trials, of temptations, of opposition, of our own self-doubt, of anything. 

Eliphaz asks is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right? Yes, it is.

…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15.7)

…there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15.10)

the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15.22-24)

Be bothered. Keep going. He sees, He cares, and He loves you.

Living a Life of Words

There are things for us to do now we are believers in Jesus, and, sure, choosing words carefully is one of them; kind, loving, caring, encouraging, edifying, counselling, and consistent (James 3.1-12).

Imagine that Jesus was taking another walk on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24.27) with the New Testament in hand, how would He explain this part of James in relation to Himself?

I’m gonna suggest that He would say this – Words of life are found in one place only.

In John 6 Jesus said 

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. 

Basically, you will never tame your own tongue in your own power and never. 

Edwin Blum wrote that

The Holy Spirit, poured out in the world, gives life (salvation) to those who believe. Without the Holy Spirit, man (flesh) is utterly unable to understand Jesus’ person and His works [and then act accordingly].

Jesus continues and says

The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

He was talking about eternal life, how it is only found in Him, that we must partake of His life and work and sacrificed body to truly inherit eternal life, and that we must look beyond the physical rituals of religion to the words that He is saying and the things He is teaching. His Words carry meaning and truth, and because this is hard, some left Him. We read,  

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 

So He asked the 12, are you leaving as well? He had said some tough truths and people left Him…imagine that. Do you know what the 12 said to Him?

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Jesus’ words lead to life. No one else, nobody else’s words lead to eternal life.

It’s so easy to look at passages like James 3.1-12 and be very moral: You need to be in control of your tongue and your speech. Words are powerful, words can heal, words can cut down, words matter, your words matter. 

That’s not incorrect, but it’s incomplete. 

Rather than be all moral and preach-y, we ought to look at passages like this with a Christ-centred lens: Your words do matter, but Jesus has the words of eternal life.

So yes, work hard to choose your words carefully, but ultimately let us rest in the promises of eternal life found in the words of Jesus.

Is Life Fair?

Back in 20.4-11, Zophar said, basically, that the wicked get what is coming to them and die. Here Job responds with another probing question, is life fair?

Why do the wicked live,
reach old age, and grow mighty in power?

Job 21.7

How do we accept things like this?

How do we accept that the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? If we are trying earnestly to live the life that God wants us to live, how can we accept the fact that those who are brazenly not living His life seem to be prospering (v.14)?

In a world where we (want to) control everything and everyone around us, this kind of deep moral contradiction seems to outrage us; he/she is bad…but they are doing well…this should not be so…

Deep down, this is a perspective issue. Do we think we are the ultimate authority and judge in the universe? Do we think that everything ought to be as we want it to be? Are we so detached from objective truth that everything is evaluated through our own lens of subjective truth?

Do you know what, sometimes life isn’t going to feel fair. People who seem to be wicked will seem to be prospering, people who do objectively bad things will seemingly face no consequence, and people who are diligently trying to follow God’s plan for life will be seemingly second best. 

The answer to this is perspective, to look beyond our brief physical habitation on earth. I read somewhere that one of the big problems with people and their assessment of life as unfair is that they only look at themselves and their earthly physical life. No thoughts of eternity, no big picture thoughts. That’s true, isn’t it.

We forget that we are made with eternity in mind.

We forget that we are not working towards earthly rewards and riches.

We forget that no eye has seen, that no ear has heard what is waiting for us.

We forget that we are created, finite beings, with a limited perspective.

We forget that we are not the centre of the universe and ultimate moral judges.

Sometimes life is not going to feel fair by your standards and expectations. When these feelings creep into your mind, turn to the timeless and objective truths of the Word of God, and slowly but surely begin to accept that His perspective is different, bigger, better, and ultimately how you want to see things. 

Social Distancing, Physical Distancing, and the Church

As much of the world now goes into lockdown meaning that voluntary social distancing becomes social distancing through government order, I wanted us to pause our study through Job and consider the difference between social distancing and physical distancing.

Rather than term what we are all doing social distancing,

would it not be better to refer to this as physical distancing?

Social distancing means that we are isolated socially, not in touch with anybody, alone, feeling abandoned, and definitely not part of a loving and living body of people (1 Corinthians 12.12).

Physical distancing is simply just that; you don’t get too close to people.

Small difference in choice of words, HUGE difference in understanding, acceptance, and practice.

For the sake of others, let us practice willingly and obediently physical distancing. The church is still the church despite physical distance. Jesus said that on the bedrock truth that He is the Son of God, that He is Divine, that He is the Messiah, that He is Almighty God,

I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Matthew 16.18b

During times of adversity and tribulation and trial, we will see if the church is really the church.

We will see if this body of people is self-supporting, self-sustaining, and self-supplicating (James 5.16).

We will see if this body of people is Kingdom focused, or kingdom focused (Matthew 6.24).

We will see if the church is filling its God-given mandate to make disciples (Matthew 28.19-20).

We will see if there is fruit and a root (James 2.14-26).

We will see if this called-out-of-the-world group of people really are fully regenerate born again believers part of the living body of Christ, or just a group of consumers who turn up to watch a religious TEDTalk once a week.

This is going sting for some, turn some away (John 6.60), but for those truly in the body this is going to be a defining period of time, a call to action, a call to take up arms, a call to show that yes, we are the church, we aren’t going anywhere, we are here for each other and for the world. 

Brother, sisters, let us practice physical distancing but not social distancing, and let us show the world that we are the church today, tomorrow, and every day.

What Do Words Do?

In between Job’s last question and this one, Bildad interjects and says, basically, that Job ought to listen to the rebuke of his friends. Job then replies and says,

How long will you torment me
and break me in pieces with words?

Job 19.2

Words are so powerful, aren’t they. Here we see Job’s friends using harsh and hard words towards him. Remember that old saying that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me‘? It’s not true, is it. Hard words hurt. Harsh words hurt. Even more so when tensions are high and emotions are frayed. Job is enduring the worst of all earthly circumstances and his friends have not chosen their words wisely, it seems. 

We read in Proverbs that 

Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

16.24

Words have the power to cut people down, but they also have the power to build people up. We read in the book of James that it is so important that we choose our words wisely (3.1-12). Words are so powerful, aren’t they.

Try as we might, we will never make the right choice with our words 100% of the time. But, there was One who did. Peter described this One as having words of eternal life (John 6.68-69). 

There is only one place to go for words that always heal, always encourage, always edify, always build up.

There is only one place to go for words that are always sweet to the soul and are always healthy to the body.

There is only one place to go for words of eternal life.

In this time of global uncertainty, I would encourage you to make the same decision Peter does here,

…Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6.67-69