Man is an amazing and resourceful creature of God. He has discovered precious metals and gems in the depths of the earth. Getting at these wondrous and valuable objects is no easy matter. No other creature could accomplish it. Gold and sapphire do not grow on trees only to be plucked like low-lying fruit harvested by the casual traveler. Mining requires knowledge, planning, skill, determination, and hard work. Darkness gives way to light in hidden places inside the earth. Rivers are dammed up and as the waters drain away, dry land is rediscovered and once-hidden beauties are revealed as treasures made visible.
As impressive as mining is, Job urges any who will listen to him in his reduced state to consider the glory of mining for wisdom. Where shall we find wisdom? The first problem to which he draws our attention is that men do not know the worth of wisdom. Therefore, they seem unwilling to put in the effort necessary to observe life, to consider, evaluate, and to draw sound conclusions. But there is a bigger problem than our lack of interest. We cannot discover ultimate wisdom simply from observation and sound reflection. Job says that wisdom “is not found in the land of the living.” Apparently wisdom comes from another place, and we do not have free access to mine there no matter how much effort or intelligence we might apply to such a worthy enterprise.
If something is beyond a person’s ability he may hire someone else to do the work for him. Since we know how to mine for precious metals and gems, perhaps we can finally dig up enough below the earth to buy anything we want. Can’t anything be purchased for a price? No, there are many things that money cannot buy, and wisdom is one such thing. It is of surpassing worth.
So where does wisdom come from? The gold and sapphire of the earth are God’s illustration for us of the answer. Just as the lion cannot see those glorious treasures as he walks the face of the land, man cannot see the glories of heavenly wisdom. There is a place of understanding, but it is hidden from the eyes of all living. The world of the dead has heard a rumor of it, but there is some other realm in which wisdom truly abides. God knows that place, and He knows the way to it.
It is one thing to know the place of wisdom, of life, and of love, to have heard of these things with your ears and to have longed for that place and all its treasures with your soul. It is another to know the way there. God knows this. To know the way to ultimate wisdom is to know the way to God. He dwells in a land of wisdom, and it is from that high place that He governs all things in heaven and on earth, doing all that pleases Him.
From that place He sees everything. More than that, He rules, and in His ruling He makes beautiful use of all the depths of His own wisdom and knowledge. In wisdom He made the earth, and in wisdom He sustains all that He has made, even the man He uses here to speak these words. Job’s sufferings are not just a little rain shower. They are a torrent of trouble and sorrow from the Almighty. These trials include the gale of advisors who make up stories of Job’s sin and then insist that they have understood the ways of God in the life of this afflicted man. Through all of this there is some comfort in knowing that not only is the hand of the Almighty powerful, but also that the heart of God who ordains all things is wise.
We should be able to endorse the words of Job that close this chapter, words that Solomon seemed to echo in the book of Proverbs: “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” If Job’s friends had the wisdom to hear this word from heaven through the lips of Job, they would do very well to consider and to repent of their own presumptuous advice. They do not know Job’s sin. They do not understand why Job has lost so much and been afflicted suddenly with so much pain. They do not comprehend the ways of God. They should surely have placed their hands over their mouths. They should be the first ones who repent in dust and ashes.
Ultimate wisdom is real. It comes from the place where God dwells. The Wisdom of God came as a man to display the perfect reverence for God, obedience to all His precepts, and supreme love for us on the cross. We have not understood that cross, but we receive it, we embrace it, we boast in it, and we proclaim it. Jesus is Himself heaven’s richest gem, the source of all life and the embodiment of the dwelling place of God. He is the temple in that place. Even now, we worship in Him. He is the only Way for those who are trying to discover where they might find the Wisdom that will stand the test of divine judgment.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great God, reveal to us Your wisdom according to Your plan. You know how to do many great things that cannot be seen by men. Gems are formed in the secrets of the deep. You are doing wonderful things in the hidden place of our souls through the suffering that may be evident to all. Bless us with the great blessing of wisdom according to Your decree for us, for this great gift can only come from Your hand. You have established great wisdom that no one can know, and You have searched it out. You who control the wind and the waves have appointed that some would fear You and turn away from evil. For us, this is true wisdom and understanding, for we could never search out all the hidden resources of Your greatness.