Knowing And Understanding God
April 23, 2019
The Bible explains that true wisdom is from God. Some teach that wisdom is simply the application of knowledge; that is, the ability to know right and wrong, and then when to do what is right or wrong. The wisdom of God is far more than that. There is more to God’s wisdom. God’s wisdom certainly deals with His standards of right and wrong, but His standards are eternal and spiritual in nature. His standards are heavenly. The Bible teaches that God’s ways are far beyond ours and are past finding out. Part of what makes God who He is, deals with the fact that He knows everything and is the source of all genuinely good knowledge that is profitable for eternity. Since we are not eternal in nature as people, how can we identify what is profitable for eternity? How can we know how to apply certain facets of knowledge in ways that will provide eternal benefits?
Proof of our weakness concerning the wisdom of God is displayed in the testimony of Job. In Job 28:1-28 Job explains how it is impossible to attain the wisdom of God by our own efforts. Job’s argument is sound and valid based on the context of the book up to chapter 28. For 26 chapters, Job and his friends had been arguing and debating the issues that deal with how God addresses and judges wickedness. Job’s friends proposed that God deals with the wicked with swiftness. They speculated that God judges the wicked with quickness and severity. This is true, but only in some cases. Job on the other hand, explained that God sometimes waits to judge the wicked. Sometimes God lets the wicked go on living in prosperity until He judges them in eternity. This is also true in some cases. So then, how can we tell what God will do? Can people measure righteousness by the manner in which God deals with them if both the righteous and the wicked suffer trials? Can a person measure the movements of God to know what He’s doing or going to do next? One of the greatest challenges for the believer and non-believer alike is that we really don’t know what God is doing. This truth creates uncertainty, anxiety, and frustration. Thus, our weakness concerning the wisdom of God is made quite clear.
In Job 28:1-28 the Bible explains the true dynamics of God’s wisdom compared to human effort. There is nothing we can do to earn wisdom, gain wisdom, or develop wisdom on our own. First, Job explained how mankind is able to labor and create for the increase of wealth, but an increase in wealth has not added wisdom to anyone. In fact, the scriptures show that our constant pursuit of riches is counterproductive to our need of wisdom. Job explained the monumental difficulties that mankind has undertaken to pursue riches of this world. The acquisition of gold, silver, precious stones, and strong metals has required a great deal of work! People have dug deep holes, built great mines, developed elaborate pumps and machines of various kinds, and pulled out hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of precious and valuable materials over the years. People went into dark places, deep places, and dangerous places to pull out the materials this world has valued. The pursuit of the riches of this world has not been easy!
Consider this truth however. When mankind brought sin into the world, God cursed mankind and the ground that we walk on. God showed mercy to allow us to continue living, but our survival comes by the sweat of our brow. In other words, it is exceptionally difficult just to gain the basic needs of life to survive. Yet, history proves that mankind has worked diligently to add onto the burden of life. We have placed a heavier load on ourselves by pursuing riches, enduring the difficulties that come with that pursuit. Though it is hard just to survive, people have embraced brutal challenges and risked much in order to receive greater gain. What does mankind have to show for as a result? Have these risks provided any more clarity concerning the identity of God and His eternal purposes? Have our pursuits and gains of riches in this world helped us understand what God is doing? Consider the foolishness that Job presented. The human race has spent so much time, energy, effort, and focus trying to gain that which is located underneath our feet, hidden in dark recesses of our planet, and in regions that are often uninhabitable. The riches of this world have been placed in places that are beneath us, beyond us, and in the end, do little for us. Though these treasures might be valuable for a time, the more we have, the less valuable they become. Yet we spend our lives trying to get more and don’t know any more about God, His ways, or His purposes. This is the essence of counter-productivity.
After Job explained these truths to his friends, he asked a simple question that all people should be asking, “Where can wisdom be found and where is the place for understanding?” The pursuit of riches of the world in deep and hidden places proves that wisdom doesn’t lie in those regions. We have ventured into the depths of the earth to find precious metals and valuable stones, but did not find wisdom. We’ve ventured into the depths of the seas, rivers, and lakes, and have found valuable resources, but not wisdom. We’ve gone into the air and even into space and have made amazing discoveries. Still, none of those discoveries contained the wisdom of God. The accumulation of resources and experiences has not caused us to understand the works of God any more. We still don’t know the end of our days. We still don’t know what God will do today or tomorrow. We still don’t understand the basic principles of God’s judgments. We still don’t know why God lets some prosper and some suffer. We still don’t know how God will work all things together for good. This proves that wisdom cannot be found, earned, bought, or gained by any human means. With all of the time and effort we’ve spent on self, we as people still ask the same questions about God. Solomon, perhaps the richest man that ever lived, and also the wisest man that ever lived, admitted that his wealth had nothing to do with his wisdom. He acknowledged that his wisdom came from God, and God alone, in spite of his other pursuits and acquisitions.
Thus, the wisdom of God comes only from God. This means that our understanding of God, His ways, His purposes, and His promises, only comes according to God’s divine revelation according to His will. No matter what we do, our understanding of God and His will only come based on the quality of revelation He provides. Only God understands His ways. Only God knows His place. God is the One that has established the factors and sciences of this universe. He didn’t need counsel from anyone. He didn’t need to consult people to form the heavens and the earth, and they all seem to work fine according to His purposes. God alone declared what is wise. Thus, wisdom is the effects of God’s work and His purposes for it. Who but God can know these things? Therefore, God explained the manner in which we receive His revelation for wisdom. God said to fear Him. Our increase in wisdom is based on our fear of God’s sovereign control and power, and His providential planning and superior understanding. When we humbly fear God, He reveals the things of Himself, His purposes, and understanding of those things.
By extension, the fear of the Lord produces a pursuit of holiness. As we fear God and receive His revelation, His revelation causes us to desire His purity so that we are motivated to flee from sin and unrighteousness. This, in effect, causes us to see the revelation of God more clearly, thus provoking greater understanding. Our developing understanding of God causes us to value Him more highly, investing more of our bodies, minds, and souls into the pursuit of God according to His revelation by the Word. This is the manner in which wisdom comes. This is how we gain understanding of God.