Job 28:28 “He (God) said to mankind, the fear of the Lord is this: wisdom.  And to turn from evil is understanding.”

In the middle of the book of Job is a fascinating chapter—chapter 28—which divides the book into two sections.  It follows the three exchanges that Job has with his three “comforters”, which end at somewhat of an impasse and precedes three speeches by Job, Elihu and finally God that build towards God’s judgment, Job’s repentance, and God’s restoration of Job.  Reading through Job, as you come to chapter 28, the tone changes—the struggles that Job is experiencing, both in his circumstances and in his understanding of them—find a moment of calm.  If we were reading in the Psalms, it would be similar to when we come across a “selah”—a moment to pause and reflect.

Up to this point, the book is focused on Job and the struggles he is experiencing.  Suddenly, we come across a chapter which never mentions Job, never discusses the struggles he is experiencing.  But the understanding that Job seeks regarding his troubles, begins to take shape.  Immediately as the chapter begins, the focus is on the source of earthly treasure or material riches.  How man’s ingenuity and effort go into both finding and producing treasure. Even though the treasure was hidden, mankind is able to discover it.
But Job, experiencing the extreme trials and afflictions in his life, is trying to reconcile his suffering with his understanding of God and His ways.  As he is searching to find some meaning, some reason or some explanation of why he is experiencing the afflictions, his questioning leads him to consider where is “wisdom" in all of this—“But where can wisdom be found and where is understanding located?” (v 12).  In the things that the world seeks and treasures, these questions have been answered.  But the answers Job needs are beyond human reasoning, As 1 Cor 2:7 expresses, it is “God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory.”

A popular song’s lyrics “looking for love in all the wrong places” shares the frustration and futility in the quest to find love—mankind’s quest for wisdom is similarly elusive, he’s been looking for answers in all the wrong places.  Man’s efforts, knowledge, and skills to find the source of earthly treasure, to find what is valuable, to uncover what is hidden, to go where no one has gone before has been successfully done.  But the quest for the source of wisdom is different. As verse 13 say, “No man can know its value since it cannot be found in the land of the living.” For most, the quest stops here.  If wisdom is hidden and if its value isn’t something that can be determined by the values of this world, if it isn’t tangible, then there’s no interest.

However, Job, realizing that wisdom can’t be valued or obtained by any treasure in the created world repeats his earlier question, only this time it’s asked and answered, “Where then does wisdom come from and where is understanding located?” (v 20)  The answer is the Creator—“But God understands the way to wisdom, and He knows its location.” (v 23).  In his answer is the recognition that the source isn’t the earthly treasure that we pursue or possess but rather the source is a Person, One who sees and knows all, including the circumstances that Job is experiencing.  God’s advice to us—“The fear of the Lord is this: wisdom.  And to turn from evil is understanding.”

To fear the Lord is to humbly submit to His sovereignty.  But it also entails knowing that no evil dwells with Him, only good.  And this is the good news.  This is what Job needed to be reminded of.  Why?  Because God understands the way to wisdom—not only does He know where it is, He’s examined and evaluated it, He even established it.  Thus, He knows what we are sovereignly experiencing and that the circumstances we experience lead to our ultimate good.

As far as we know, Job never knew the reason for the sufferings he experienced.  But he did know one thing, he knew that his Redeemer lives (Job 19:25).  We may never know the whys or reasons of the difficult times we experience; our questions may appear unanswered when it seems God is absent or oblivious to our trials and not answering our prayers.  But God’s grace to us is taking us to the place of trust in His redemptive purposes for our lives.  This is the path of wisdom!

Rom 11:33, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!  How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!”

Col 2:2-3, “I (Paul) want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery—Christ.  All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him.”

by Mark Ott, Elder

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