Where Can I Find Wisdom?
Topic: Expository Passage: Job 28
I imagine that many of you have enjoyed the listening to Brian Regan. He is an absolutely hilarious comedian. In one of his segments, he makes fun of the phrase, “If they can put a man on the moon…” Have you ever used that one? For example, you grab a pair of scissors to open a package, and they are useless. You mutter, “They can put a man on the moon, but they can’t make a decent pair of scissors.”
It’s a silly saying when you think about it, but Job 28 essentially uses the same logic, “If they can put a man on the moon…”, to make a very important point.
Remember that we just finished 3 rounds of speeches between Job and his friends. The friends have made 8 attempts to explain Job’s plight, but they strike out every time. As a result, Job 28 replies with an, “If they can put a man on the moon” type of complaint.
Specifically, Job is going to reflect on man’s incredible achievements, but then he laments the fact that despite all that man has achieved (including for us today the fact that we have put a man on the moon), he cannot discover wisdom. Job’s friends are illustration #1.
Instead, true wisdom can only be found in the fear of the Lord and in obedience to his will. As such, this chapter drives home one of the most important lessons of Job. It also very practical for us. Like Job’s friends, we all are prone to lean on human wisdom. We need frequent reminders of how valuable wisdom is and where we can find it. In light of that, let’s begin with vv. 1–11, where Job makes the point that…
I. Man is capable of discovering the earth’s hidden treasures (vv. 1–11).
In these verses, Job makes his, “If they can put a man on the moon,” assertion (read). These verses give an ancient perspective on mining. It’s interesting how little has changed and how much has changed.
Job’s primary point is to highlight man’s incredible ability to discover the earth’s best kept secrets and hidden treasures such as silver, gold, iron, and copper and to mine them from the earth. For example, we have found many ancient Egyptian mine shafts throughout the Sinai Peninsula. They battled terrible heat and bone-dry conditions in search of these metals. Many, many slaves died working in these awful conditions.
Verse 4 describes how they would cut shafts deep into the earth. Job even describes miners swinging back and forth as they are lowered down vertical, dark mining shafts. It’s a graphic picture of the fear miners felt being lowered into the depth of the earth. It reminds me of a NG series we watched this summer on Egyptian archaeology. They went down some of the royal tombs that were cut into the Valley of the Kings. The largest cave was cut out for Seti I. It extends 450’ into the mountainside. It’s an incredible feat, when you don’t have anything but crude hammers and chisels.
Verse 5 probably describes one way they would get through the rock. They would use fire to get the rock very hot, and then they would pour cold water into the pours of the rock, causing it to crack. Job marvels at both man’s effort and accomplishment. He’s able to find “sapphires” and “gold dust.”
Then vv. 7–8 boast about this achievement. Birds like the falcon can fly to some pretty remote places. Just this week, I was watching a show about the Grand Canyon, and they had some incredible video of birds flying around the Canyon. They go places we can’t go. But they have never seen the places where men mine the earth. As well, as strong and proud as the lion is, he also can’t dig mines like we can. Man’s ingenuity is pretty impressive.
Finally, vv. 9–11 marvel at how miners cut through rock, create water channels, damn up underground streams, and bring all sorts of precious metals, minerals, and stones out of the earth.
In sum, the point of all of this is to glory in man’s physical and mental capacities. We are able to discover valuable treasures deep in the earth. It’s a lot like when modern people glory in our ability to put a man on the moon. Both are incredible testimonies to man’s unique brilliance and creativity. But it’s all just a set up for our weakness in other areas. Job follows in vv. 12–22 by lamenting the fact that…
II. Man cannot discover wisdom (vv. 12–22).
Notice how the chapter turns in v. 12. Man can find all these incredible treasures deep in the earth, but “where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”
Job answers in v. 13–14. You can’t dive to the bottom of the ocean and find wisdom or by extension, anywhere else on earth. You don’t discover wisdom the same way you discover diamonds.
And vv. 15–19 say that money can’t buy wisdom either. All the precious treasures we mine from the earth will never be enough to buy wisdom.
But people continue to search. Verses 20–22 picture someone on a mad search for wisdom. He goes all over the earth asking people to show him on a map where wisdom is found, and they can’t show him the spot. So, the detective asks the birds. They fly over every corner of the earth, but they have never spotted wisdom either. Finally, he asks “Destruction and Death,” thinking that maybe wisdom is in the underworld, but nope, it’s not their either. They say, “We have heard a report about it.” “We’ve heard about this thing called wisdom, but we’ve never seen it or found it.”
Again, the point is that no matter how much man searches, he will never find wisdom through his own effort and ingenuity. I’d like to highlight 3 important applications of what Job says. First…
Science, human logic, and human emotion can never lead to ultimate truth, establish values, or reveal righteousness. This one is so important, as our culture runs toward secular humanism, because people think we can determine ultimate truths in our own strength, just like Job’s friends.
For example, how many times during the last few months have we heard politicians say, “Science will determine how we will reopen society”? Now, I want to be clear that science matters. We can learn a lot of valuable information through scientific observation and sound logic. But it is intellectually dishonest to say that science can arrive at the ultimate values that have to drive public policy or any decision-making process.
Or how about the sexual revolution? We’re being told that psychological studies prove that certain people don’t fit traditional gender profiles; therefore, science demands that we throw the biblical sexual ethic out the window. Again, it’s dishonest. For one, there is a mountain of evidence that the biblical ethic produces the healthiest children. But ultimately, science doesn’t drive any of this; values do—namely, individual autonomy. It’s about me, myself, and I. And we can see evidence all around us of how it is destroying the foundation of our culture. So, science, human logic, and human emotion will never lead to ultimate truth, establish values, or reveal righteousness. Therefore, a 2nd application is…
Biblical wisdom must shape every academic discipline. For example, in the early years of WWII, the British were intercepting all sorts of messages from the Germans, but it was all useless, because the Germans had an incredibly complex code system that changed daily. Therefore, to the British, it was all gibberish. But the German ships and outposts had what was called the Enigma Machine. It sorted gibberish into simple messages. Ultimately, the British developed what was essentially the first computer allowing them to put the code together fast enough to use it before it changed again.
In a similar way, mankind has learned a lot information through psychological and scientific studies, and with modern technology we are rapidly learning more all the time. We have immense amounts of data about the world, the human body, and the human mind. But without biblical moorings, none of it can lead to wisdom.
The key to pulling it all together is this Book that we hold in our hands. The Bible alone tells us who God is, where we came from, why we exist, how sin has corrupted our hearts, and how it can be fixed. The Bible is the only tool that allows us to convert all the data into meaningful truth.
That’s why Christian education is so valuable. We should never think that history, science, psychology, literature, or any other subjects are amoral. Everything has to be interpreted through a biblical lens; otherwise, they will all end in bad conclusions with horrifying results.
My point is not that there is no place for secular education or that you are sinning if you put your kids in public school. Sometimes, it’s the only option or the best option. But parents, you better be proactive about making sure that you are helping your kids interpret what they are learning through a biblical grid, because they won’t arrive at biblical conclusions and values without it. Job is clear that true wisdom cannot be discovered apart from supernatural revelation.
To drive home the importance in vv. 15–19 how Job compares the value of wisdom to the earth’s precious treasures. What is more valuable—a mountain of gold or a biblical wisdom? What if I handed you a 75-gallon barrel filled with rubies? Would you be willing to trade it in for wisdom and godliness? God is clear that even the most immense treasures in all the world cannot match the value of walking with the Lord, fearing him, and growing biblical wisdom.
That means that you need to go after wisdom with all your strength. You need to live in the Word and walk with God. You need to guard your spiritual life and make it your highest priority in every decision. And understand that there is nothing you can pass on to your children that is more precious than godliness and wisdom. It’s far more important than the best education, fun childhood memories, or a big inheritance. So, build your family around walking with God and life in the church, because you won’t find the world’s most precious treasures anywhere else. Finally, notice in vv. 23–28…
III. Wisdom is only found in the fear of the Lord (vv. 23–28).
In vv. 23–27, Job makes the point that…
God alone is the keeper of wisdom (vv. 23–27). Verse 23 packs quite a punch. We’ve listened for 24 chapters as 4 men have bumbled around trying to use human logic to determine ultimate truth. And based on what God said in Job 1, we know they have failed miserably. So where is wisdom? Verse 23 answers (read).
You might wonder why God alone possesses wisdom? Afterall, there are some very smart people who study geology and biology. Can’t they discover the origins of the universe? Or think about all we know about the human mind and human behavior. Why can’t I trust a psychiatrist to fix me?
Now, I want to be clear that there is value in all that we have learned. Biblical wisdom demands that we not ignore objective research. To do so, is arrogant.
But we have to remember that man will never reach God’s level. Verses 24–27 say that God alone “sees under the whole heavens.” He made the wind and created the seas. He created the systems that provide us with rain.
Yes, scientists understand some of these systems, but there is so much that we don’t know. For example, we know so little about other galaxies in our universe. We live in an immense universe, but the farthest we have gone is Mars. Woohoo! We don’t even know everything about our own planet. Just think about how many strong assertions that scientists once made that have proven to be bologna. It all demonstrates that for everything that man knows, it’s just a fraction of all that is out there.
In contrast, God made all of it, and he made us. He sees every detail of his creation with perfect perspective and balance. And he alone possesses the mind to put it all together into proper logical conclusions and values (v. 27). As a result, it is essential that we stand before him in complete humility understanding that there is no wisdom outside of God. God alone is the keeper of wisdom. But thankfully, he is not miserly. Verse 28 ends the chapter with the climactic note that…
God offers his wisdom to us (v. 28). This verse is the climax of the chapter, and it’s one of the most important verses in the entire book. It’s also good news, because not only does God possess all wisdom, he has made it available to us! Specifically, we can become wise by (1) fearing the Lord and (2) departing from evil.
So, what does it mean to fear the Lord? First, it means I have an accurate and complete understanding of all that God is as revealed in Scripture. Second, I respond appropriately to God’s nature is both in my affections and my actions. I stand in awe of his glory, I worship him, and love him, and I respond in obedience. I rest in his love and grace. On and on we could go.
God says that as I see him properly and he transforms my heart, I also learn to see the world around me with wisdom. The fear of the Lord is our decoder or Enigma Machine, that turns gibberish into a beautiful picture. Suddenly, I have to the tools to evaluate science, psychology, history, literature, COVID-19, politics, and economics.
And more importantly, I have the tools to evaluate my own life, to see what my priorities should be, how I should view my circumstances and trials, and how to make good decisions. A proper view of God radically reshapes my perspective on everything.
I find it interesting that God adds, “to depart from evil is understanding.” Our society celebrates radical individualism, but wise person doesn’t blaze his own trail or discovering his own route to happiness. No, he humbly acknowledges that God’s way is best. Therefore, he focuses on obeying what God has clearly revealed in his Word and trusts the Lord to direct his steps and give joy. Again, God’s Word is his anchor, not human reasoning, or worldly ambitions.
Do you want understanding? Do you want to make good decisions? Do you want to experience grace-filled joy, contentment, and peaceful, healthy relationships? Do you want to know how to be strong when life is a wreck? The answer is right here! Therefore, I’d like to conclude with 4 applications.
Pursue the fear of the Lord. I want to emphasize that fearing the Lord is much more than knowing all the right answers. The key to this chapter is that my view of God reorients how I look at all of life. The fear of God must drive how I view my family, my job, politics, trials, and current events. Everything must be oriented around God’s nature and promises.
I also want to emphasize that the journey to fearing the Lord is never complete. We saw that last Sunday in Ephesians 3. We need divine strength to continually go deeper into the length, breadth, height, and depth of God’s love. As I do, I think more and more like the Savior and my entire being is reshaped by him.
This task requires first priority in my life. It’s not enough to be a weekend warrior, who tags faith onto the rest of life. No, I must make sure that God’s Word is the loudest voice in my ear. I need to live in the Word, listen to the Word, meditate on the Word, and talk about it with others. I need to intentionally behold the glory of God and spend time at his feet, so that the fear of the Lord reshapes everything about me. 2nd…
Walk in righteousness. Verse 28 is clear that wisdom is not just about what I think but also about what I do. The wise person obeys what God has said, and obedient living breeds wisdom.
So often we spend all our time stressing about the big decisions of life, and we give little attention to how God has clearly revealed the vast majority of his will in Scripture. If you want to make wise decisions about who to marry, where to work, and how to spend your money, give more attention to obedience. God will build wisdom into you, and he will direct your steps.
Pursue wisdom. Godliness and wisdom are not one and the same. As I pursue the fear of the Lord and greater obedience, I also need to build practical skill in decision making. Parents, it’s important that you build this skill into your kids. Spend time in Proverbs and learning from the examples of Bible characters. Talk with wise people about decision making. And just learn to slow down and think logically vs. making impulsive, emotional decisions. As you do these things, you will build wisdom, and our text says it is an invaluable tool as you navigate life.
Recognize the role of the gospel (Col 2:1–4, 8–10). These verses tell us that as NT believers, the foundation of wisdom for us is found in Christ and in our relationship to him. He has transformed my standing with God and my eternity, and his grace empowers me to live a transformed life. Therefore, the only way I can truly live a wise life is if I am in Christ, and if I am pursuing godliness with a rich gospel perspective.
So, if you do not know Christ as Savior, you need to receive him as your Savior. Wise, joyful, and eternally significant living all begins with knowing Christ. Otherwise, life is a hopeless meaningless rat race. We’d love to talk with you today about how you can receive him.
And if you are saved, seek Christ and walk in the gospel every day. In his grace, grow in the fear of the Lord, in obedience, and in wisdom. As you do, God will give wisdom, he will direct your steps, and he will give peace and joy.