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THE BEAUTY, THE BLOOM AND THE BOUNTY
OF DIVINE WISDOM
For Proverbs 8 and its Counsel, see HERE.
I THE SOURCE IS NOT NATURAL BUT SUPERNATURAL
Job 28 speaks solemnly with delightful disquisition, on wisdom's place. Is it to to be found in the caves, the mines, the recesses of the earth, the oceanic depths, is it to be bought as a product, an item, a natural resource, anywhere, for any price, no matter how much ?
No, says Job. It is visible and abundant within the OPERATION of the physical sphere in which life occurs, but while life exhibits it at its own level, it does not inscribe it. It is written into it, not by it. It is in nature, but nature is no signatory to it.
When then is wisdom to be found, if the most precious offering, the most diligent research, the most ardent deployment of human resources is inadequate to obtain it ? if in fact, any idea of looking amidst the creation is a forlorn hope, an exercise in futility ? WHERE, where is the printer that imprints it, and where the writer of the script ?
Man ? does he have in its his resources in some way ? Why "man does not know its value", says Job. This does not seem to mean that man values it too little, but that if it could only be found, it would be invaluable. This is confirmed by the succeeding verses which name various top prices, and deem them mere triviality, far beneath the value of wisdom.
Vast natural resources, like the ocean with its vast array of creations (Job 28:14), for all their grandeur, they cannot provide it, nor answer the question, Where is it!
Do the aerial artists, those staggeringly gifted birds, with their aeronautical exploits of speed, migration and equipment, those prodigies of motion, in the vital and the executive areas alike more than impressive: do they confer to disclose the source of their construction, the nature of their nurture ? do they declare their source, the impresario of their dances, the physicist behind their flight ? Not at all. They exhibit what they are powerless to disclose.
Here the text seems to become heavily ironic, with almost a touch of grave humour. Thus "Destruction and death say, 'We have heard a report about it with our ears,' " though they cannot convey it. Thus when the battle-worn warrior views the desolatory consequences of a failed war, or the triumphant victor reviews the loss of friends or health, destruction may indeed hear a report of what is denied to man in his crushing wars, and death in its mourning over mortality may also have gleaned some idea that there is such a thing, wisdom that might have prevented carnage, and allowed young life to do more than inhabit the pits.
As to its source, its signatory, its sender, the One who not merely invests His products with its resources, that they may be effective in their roles, but contrives the environment, enmeshes its laws, containing its thrust in cohesion, who invented for its sheer thrust, the means and the methods, material, mental and spiritual, who chartered for His creation its codes: it is God who "understands its way," and it is He "who knows its place."
You do not wonder about the gifts of the creator of a superb palace; how much less when it is a dynamic, investigatory, cogitative, inventive, abstract-thought producing, originative and original being such as man! You see it, indeed you are it, and you look for the sufficiency of source, when even a pen-nib would make you do the same. Scale of action, so far from diminishing the need, expands it! Where then is the source in its splendour, where does wisdom subsist ? yes, exist, for under what is this prodigy!
Always there, since there is nowhere to come from for the case of nothing, and no ground for anything to invent itself before it is there to do so, let alone when nothing visible ever shows the power to do this in terms of the whole domain of matter, to advance information, to create knowledge, but what has intelligence; where is this eternal wonder of wit and wisdom ? Indeed, since man came last on the scene of complex, concatenated, conceptually lustrous, integrated marvels, richly equipped in conceptual symbolism in the directive programmatic performances of his being, it was a little to late for him to be the cause of all things, and then of himself. To look for such a result, is like asking the bathroom whether it made the pipes, or the chimney whether it contrived the architecture! It is not just to pose a witless substitute for wisdom, but a woeful substitute for logic.
Imagination is fine and fun; letting it run riot is like any other riot - a malady for man. Thus to man God says, "Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job 28:28). As Psalm 19 declares, "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever." His testimonies, attestations, communications, declaration, commands are more to be desired than gold, yes much fine gold, says the Psalmist. Its price is above rubies, says Job. The 'fear' of God is that bracing, enthusing, brisk, crisp, mercy-loving, fealty, worship and detestation of evil which embraces the good, and finds in God its source, definition and definitive exponent, since it is in Himself that its being is to be found, as too its meaning. Like courage, heart, soul, spirit, mind, mentality, its nature is invisible; like motivation, conception, originality, its nature is beyond the visible, and directs its usage.
With God however, the wisdom is a resource unlimited by a visible form or format, since these things are part of His splendour as Creator, the witness to His power, the productions of His mind, the limited reagents of His depiction, the delimited declarations of His freedom. Like us He creates, unlike us, He creates us, and creates the power of conscious thought, so that we might both realise His splendour and seek His face, to know that wisdom in its intensive being, not merely to see it depicted in its extensive performances. Such wisdom man may himself begin to know, to find, to apply, but only from its source, where the structure of things originates. .
Wisdom recognises reality, hates its abuse and embraces what it is. Since it is personal, wisdom delights in Him, with that scouring of fear and ravishment of delight in His goodness and mercy; and since it is not rebuffed, it leads to Him and by His Spirit is opened its resource. Wisdom like a stream ebullient, leaping and dashing over the rocks of the heights where the snow melts, propels understanding to man; but many would merely pollute it for their own designs, while others even have designs on God, as if to attract to themselves, His products, and seize for their own piratical misconceptions, His glory. Man routinely is so involved, and as routinely spoils his own resources, and those of the globe. What truculence, what tedium in man's resistance to reality!
On this last, we need to await Proverbs 1 in our next section.
Before we do so, however, let us glance at Job 29, where the inter-personal bliss of knowing God as a friend and companion, not instead of the fear but as its culmination (cf. Psalm 2:8-12), is featured. In Job's great biography of trial, or better, amid these annals of action and interaction within the divine depiction found in the book of Job, we learn something of his autobiography as well. Ah! he yearns, for the days when "by His light I walked through darkness", when "the friendly counsel God was over my tent, when the Almighty was yet with me ... and the rock poured out river of oil for me!"
His nostalgia for the pre-test apparatus of life, yes and the Maker of it and the Companion as he lived and worked in the created 'tent' of his once blessed being, this became for him a measure of the blessed felicity of the more normal operations of life as he had known it in the very presence of God.
Thus, before the winds of challenge hit him, wise counsel sat like a dove upon his head, and poured understanding into his heart from the Almighty who had created him in the first place. It was that blessed Being who was rest for his head, his heart, and light and strength for his morals and mind in the second!
Thus we find the basis for the enduements in Job 10:8-13:
"Your hands have made me and fashioned me together round about;
yet do You destroy me.
"Remember, I beseech You, that You have made me as the clay;
and will You bring me into dust again?
"Have You not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?
You have clothed me with skin and flesh, and have fenced me with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and favour, and Your visitation has preserved my spirit.
And these things have You hidden in Your heart:
I know that this is with You. "
Job has seen with the utmost conspicuous clarity, the role of the Creator, the Tutor and the Truth from His lips, and that the creation is a medium for the deployment of wisdom, a format for its functioning and a field for its enterprise; but that wisdom itself comes from the One who put its working in place, enabling its function with unction, whether for benediction, curse or reproof.
HE who reigns supreme, it is He who is articulate, who forms, moulds and disposes, displaces and appoints. It is only with the supreme test to which it was Job's privilege to be called, where neither riches (or lack of them), nor friends (or their ruthless departure from him in trouble), nor family, nor social relish, nor reputation are left, and faith is tried to the uttermost: it is only then that challenge to his peace and clangour amidst his quiet contested his role and place. Only in a rush of adversity was there need to look further at that the glorious conspectus, that multiple spectacular of the God of creation and the Lord of salvation, the Regality of rule and the Friend of those who find Him: and it was only then that his excursions come.
Thus we have the record which contains so much of his autobiography: from princely wisdom to an extravaganzas at all times threatened utter ruin; and then the tower of truth seen with absolute conviction under the duress, and the eventual deliverance, confirmation, consolidation and joy. Such was the text of his life's examination! Such was his student's role...
It was only then, under such pressures, that the questions of why there is disharmony and relinquishment or ruin, arrived in intensity for special focus. When all went like a railway steam-express between cities, then all was understood. When however Job's service to God is to include a probing, a testing of his conduct under severe and gross injustice and false accusation, with friends acting like slanderous enemies, children slaughtered and wife dismissive. with addition even of a bodily affliction (Job 1-2), then his searching became more than that of any explorer, for his soul advanced to the heights, unearthed the depths, and his tongue played like a violin in its mourning.
It was then that his launching after wisdom's place and the understanding of it, moved with increasing velocity.
The record of these vicissitudes moves until in Job 19, Job finds the place of grace past face and function, and the wonder of his beliefs focussed in and on the coming Messiah, the Redeemer. It is He who will speak for him and befriend and deliver him. For freedom, even for its ravishing, God has provided in His wisdom, and the account has expanded in detail over the centuries, and was clear even in those ancient times.
At the height of his researches, his beseechings, It is then when tests past, and all explained, that "in my flesh, I will see God" whom "I shall see for myself." Such was the portent of life in the mouth of faith. Indeed, with his very own life, his "eyes will behold" God, and not some mere functionary, official or appointee. His Redeemer lives, will come to earth, and there as One personally beheld, in that day even though in the interim his body be destroyed, will wisdom show its substance and the Creator His glory. Then, in that day, with Job long past the searing test, there and on this earth, will be His Barrister of Bliss, who in His own self will fill with the beauty of godliness, Job's eyes with the joy of eternity, the magnificence of resurrection. Then, given to immediate personal perception, will Job see God.
In the interim, he lives by faith. The income of the outcome of divine beneficence will be his at last, as we see later in the book, in the last chapter; and in the intervening period, his soul's confidence in this final and spiritual outcome from the One who being Almighty neither does nor can fail! So vast is Job's assurance, in the very midst of his sorrows and tests, that he is now soaring, where before his spirit had almost been searing. Write these words with a pen of iron and use lead for ink, with rock for paper. Let these words never be forgotten: O that it might be so, he exclaims. He desires this testimony to be for all time, and this explosion of wisdom in truth to be recorded past all periods of history. His wish, as we now see, was certainly granted! We read it yet.
Wisdom was already at work to bring Job to the place of spiritual rest; and in his life as with his lips, despite some blustery moments when his trial rankled, he relished wisdom. Finding its source, he rejoiced, and seeing the way of its reception, through the Redeemer, God Himself, to come to this earth at the end of its career for judgment, yes and the resurrection when proud lies will bow to truth, he exulted. Such is the fund of wisdom in Job 19.
Here, in the end, was scouring but not souring; purification but not putrefaction; and here with the slag of spiritual sedateness removed, was Job coming forth as gold; for in the furnace of affliction he spoke. It is the Lord knows how to refine. This also, it is wisdom.
II DIVINE ARDOUR FOR MAN TO HAVE
SUFFERS HUMAN OBSTINACY,
BUT DOES NOT SEVER RESULTS
Proverbs 1 with Job
Yet the Lord also knows how to exhort, draw and engage in caustic therapy, as if caustic soda were sent into the sink pit, where grease had accumulated. If you were grease, you would assuredly not like this; but it is best to keep the place clean, unclogged and free-flowing, rather than soggy and ready for disease. This is seen in Proverbs 1, with the addendum, fly without wings or jet, and over the sea, you get wet. This is so, unless of course you are a bird, but even then, it has biological wings. It does not ignore the situation, but addresses it as required.
Man however has an obtuseness hard to duplicate in nature; for to lack wisdom is one thing; but to seek to efface it, this is another. Here is the fat, pork-fed belly-possessor, cramming in nuts to supplement his diet after dinner, not too concerned about a phenomenon called starvation, and even less about cardiac arrest through imposition on the heart. That is one form of bulk billing which can be fatal.
Similarly, the one who NOT ONLY finds the trumpet blow to arrest attention to verified, uniquely validated wisdom*1, but sees a specialist, often found in secular universities, to gain the best-qualified attendants to provide sound-exclusion with sophisticated ear-muffs, or even electronically by simply throwing the no-hear switch on an apparatus designed to stultify, what of this person ? He diets with wisdom, to starvation, and becomes an optional spiritual Belsen victim by choice.
Thus nature does not introduce you, except by inference and direction, to the Mouth that Masters wisdom, to God (cf. TMR Ch. 5, Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Swift Witness 6); but it does attest Him, not least by its very sophistication of operation and muteness of voice about Him. It is a product, exhibiting machinations and inference, combinations and concepts, masteries and marvels, like any other, and its producer has wisdom which not only is decisively attested, for millenia, but incisively blocked by continual explosions of philosophic artillery, full of air and empty of anything but assumption. The wisdom goes on its way, and all things act as it describes; but philosophies of folly grip the race like a tiger with the teeth about a lamb (cf. SMR Ch. 3).
God however does introduce to wisdom, and man does introduce to rebellion, and rebellion does introduce to disaster, as in the AIDS epidemic in Africa and South East Asia, spreading its tentacles as the bombast about liberty ignores the fact that to imagine you are a bird, or immune to anything, is a liberty, but to act on that basis is a licence which like other intoxication, requires payment for sheer witlessness. We are what we are; imagining otherwise is delusion.
Thus in Job 26, you see that wisdom does not come inscribed on rocks, or invested in mines, or laid out on the oceans, but must be found in supernature, who creates nature, in the personal God whose conceptual sophistication has made products, like man, attesting it; and even able to utilise it and find principles relating to it, as he uses the apparatus of logic to form the products of logic, to relate his conscious thought to the conceptual power of the Creator who made both thinker and thought, nature and its execution of thought, yes and man also, with his perception of both.
Neither order not law, neither concept nor its execution, neither a texture of interactive logic nor a structure of spirit and mind, that utilises a prepared set of pathways for execution of will come by some kind of osmosis of liquid, which is not there, through membranes, which are not there, wrought by forces which are not there, with organisation brilliance which incidentally, also is not there, in a whirl of some world of imagination in which every single component is imagined into place, without precept or principle, reason or ground, means or machination, cause or concept: until what had nothing has the lot.
You go to God, then as Job points out, and long has been His testimony, inviolable as inviolate *2.
There, says Job, is the answer, and in His presence, although He may test you, there is felicity.
THE PEAK OF WISDOM
Now in Proverbs we find that this necessity to move to the Maker is far from being the only or even the main problem for man. After all, God has made it all so obvious*2, and this for so long, in multi-dimensional, continual attestation that it is only rebellion that misses the point, or its results, which may on purpose exclude in victim peoples, knowledge of the truth for the better manipulation of slaves, intellectual or physical ones, for the exaltation of easy wealth, overweening power or grabbing from God His creation.
It has been so in the Islamic invasion of Europe, defeated in such climaxes as the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D., with second class citizenship one of the means of thralldom, and the fear of execution or intimidation another, with the Romanist Inquisition in the same field, intimidatory, torturing, torturous, to forget which, as to forget Belsen, is an obliterative lapse into renewed folly. What we learn from each lapse, should be applied to the commencement of the next. Ignorance of history is knowledge of unwisdom. Terrorism has not had a recent beginning, and the efforts to paralyse thought, de-activate courage, reduce knowledge to ruins and faith to feathers of flight has long been a satanic methodology, aimed at reducing man's spirit to a programmatic device, if not in fact, then in procedure and in vehement violence (cf. The Christian Pilgrimage ... Ch. 9).
It has not been only the physical enslavement which has vitiated man's vigour and made mad the machinations of power lust, but the efforts spiritually to mimic it in , as old as Genghis Khan, as recent as al Qaeda. Thus what is inferior seeks to devastate what is more developed by potent violence, using fear as a lance, to penetrate the muscles of reality. Where these are diseased through self-indulgence, where society has not reckoned with the results of liberty, becoming pompous in pretension, and ignoring wisdom as if it were the very plague: then the collapse of what seeks this world, like a tornado a coastline, moves to his inglorious advent. That however is a priority for the return of the Lord, to visit the ruins and deliver the redeemed.
Yet, past all these movements, it is not only this or that movement of vile violence and presumption*3, suppressing wisdom and increasing folly, that man moves in his mergers with judgment. It is by an individual's own rebellion in his heart that such flights move. Even violence in its heights cannot remake the heart; and even faith in its littleness, can move mountains of impertinent presumption and arrogant disdain. God Himself is on record for the end of such litanies of horror, and grandeurs of illusion. Let us look then at Proverbs 1.
Proverbs 1, if a plumbing device, could eat through grease in cubic metres, within seconds. It is powerful. Having outlined the normal methods of following truth and wisdom, where securely established and clearly seen, in the settled kingdom, Solomon is moved to proceed from discretion, knowledge, learning, prudence, justice, judgment and equity, to the direct contact with the very words of the Almighty. There are principles, there are procedures, there is understanding; but there is also an awareness of and submission to the very wisdom of God, who is not niggardly with it, but abundant in enterprise to supply it to the human race, excellent in attestation and ardent in desire to complete the wonder of man, with his superbly crafted capacity for liberty or rebellion (on order), by bringing in what for such a creation, can only be a free addition: wisdom.
If man were not free*4, it would all be like a ludicrously bathetic preoccupation with a cruise missile, how to make it do the things you want. The sophistication of God's wisdom in His creation is so far beyond such infantile (by comparison) pursuits that it is a yawn to consider such things, in His presence. His concern is to invite, arrest, invest man with what can only have meaning if it is taken at liberty. Wisdom forced is not wisdom by programming, but vision's decease, and power's corruption. Wisdom is personal or mere mathematics, a semblance of truth, a direction to perform, having nothing but orders, incapable of resistance, a mere extension of the propounder. There resistance is as ludicrous as impossible. Here folly is as popular as water, and less to be desired, though its ruins of wilfulness leap like vast breakers, and do break.
Programming is not personal but inscriptive. It is as far removed from truth as is any procedure which merely directs to the performance of set and symbolically indicated paths, however subtle, wit h whatever provisions for response to input. It is all planned by the source. If there were no absolute truth, then clearly no source could supply it, have it or utilise it in a program. It is only because there is, that the question arises, whether or not the particular item in view, such as man, has it. It is only when he follows truth to its intrinsic source that he can find it, since otherwise he is merely involved in the clutter-clatter of routine events, for which truth is irrelevant.
Those who imagine themselves programmed - as some naughty kids are now encouraged to think, with results so appalling that even the renowned Dr Spock was revolted by the results of his own teaching in practice! have the delightfully appealing illusion that they are not responsible for their actions. They might as well do ANYTHING, try anything, maybe blowing up a few thousand, or torturing, who cares: this is the consequence. Yet if programming were the case, then their thoughts could have no bearing, they would merely expand another's devices; and they could know only what was given to them, and at that, could not know the results of transgression, since the term is meaningless when the power is lacking to implement it. Knowledge of being programmed is the liability of illusion.
You could not go beyond your being and become a critic of the establishment of your nature and a surveyor of the grandeur - or otherwise of your construction, if construction at the will of another, for that will be all. It would be a flat contradiction in terms. If this were what you ARE, then to be something else and other, beyond it as the heavens the earth, estimating, evaluating, construing, conquering and imposing one's own will to truly ascertain is mere import of what is delicensed by the model, a confusion of delusion. Even the maker of a program in a relativistic world could not have the truth to impart it, if he would, and the programmed butt of his thought would be as ignorant as he, except in depersonalisation, unaware of it.
But man is wholly contrary to such reductionistic misconception.
He is free enough to ditch wisdom, defy his Creator and in this, attests a position leaving mere manipulative programming for dead, a child's toy. In rebellion he lives, in folly he thrives, until the delusion wears off and the payment day, whether in the mushroom cloud or Aids or watery increments or religious assassins, devoted to death with the pretence of life, be the case. Then it is not a matter of nature not telling wisdom; it is a matter of man dispelling wisdom in conscious autonomy, as if it were a wartime exercise.
Little gods however are a mere machination of imagination. Either the entity has the power to create the universe and is not created, being the background of being, lest it be nothing, and hence necessarily would have no future, so that man would not be here; but here is: or it does not. If it does not, then no god is this, but something instituted, constituted, rendered operative, functional by another, and as such, delimited, defined and directed. If the Creator be realised to be the source, as in fact for man, then the operation of being gods is a confused and illusory pre-occupation with unreality which, as in all such, brings up merely one question: when is the payment for presumptive delusion.
It is not innocent. Presumption may induce delusion, but the cause is judgable, not merely the effect! Nor is the God of creation shown inclined to judge (John 3:17), except the creation become illicit in pride, arrogant in conception, indolent in duty, irresponsible in response; and so determined to be deluded, wilfully ignorant and ignorantly arbitrary. Alas for such a race! How glorious that God intervened directly and personally, to solve the mystery of persons, by showing the authentic original in person, so that persons might meaningfully BE personal. It is when one humbles oneself to be what one is, that one may be made what one might be, in the wisdom of God: a child of God and not a slave of circumstance or a slave to degraded imagination, throwing away gifts and significance, like a plough imagining it is a steak knife, cursing if it were possible those who seek to use it in the earth.
What then of those whose response to wisdom with its redemption, is negative, nebulous, nugatory, clouded with shame, operating in their own name, whether with God as conceived but not accepted as He is and has shown Himself to be with verification, validity and vigour, consistently over time, or without this (*1, *2) ?
Wisdom is denied them; but it is not for the lack of its availability, but through induced culpability, resistance, resentment against truth and insistence on barren ideas which imagine that a universe of craftsmanship is available for a towering creation like man, for desolatory dynamics and devastating thrusts, at will; for he will not avail himself of the concept so much as of its use.
Deluding himself with nothing as creator, and causelessness like eternal motion, as maintainer, in his deluge of confusion, man then plays the tyrant, whether in the personal lust for self, or the national one for wealth, or the international one for power or the dissipative one for delusion whether in religious inventiveness or moral autonomy. He plays his cacaphony as if music were not yet invented, and grieves in his ghastliness as if beauty had never been seen, withering in his witlessness, as if wisdom had never appeared, though it looms like the ice-berg for the Titanic, at the fateful hour, and has loomed while he increases the speed of his thrust at it.
It is as if a child knew he could smash the grand piano, since it only invented itself, and you never know when daddy will find another one materialising from the thin air, which after all has been around so long, it just might produce another, complete with stamp, Steinway. Or it is like someone who seeing that money can buy them, prints it. He never considers them, except to play on them, and pay for them.
The realities of gifts, they ignore, the conditions of peace, they obliterate, the arguments of reason they abhor: irrationality is their dream, and they use reason to argue against it with a self-contradiction in no small trifle amusing, with terrible irony, to behold.
But there is a cost to obfuscation. Proverbs outlines it.
"The fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING of wisdom," it indicates (1:7). In other words, that reverential trust, absolute reliance, that knowledgeable devotion and crisp, clean regard for God and His will, ways, works, wisdom and principles, moral and physical, spiritual and mental, logical and personal, this is where you start in kindergarten. Without that, you are building a house on air, aloft in a furnace.
After that true beginning, in knowing Him personally, by receiving His remedy for sin, predicted from the first and accomplished to the full some 2 millenia ago (we are in time-on, as the news circulates the earth, as Christ foretold, in Matthew 24, to v. 12, with the Jews now back in Jerusalem as in Luke 21:24). Wisdom proceeds in studying His word, grasping its understanding, finding illumination for its purvey and grace for its survey, realm for labour in His service and scope for faith's function; and in working with Him like an apprentice for his task. Thus, man can grow into a form not unlike that of adopted child of God, which indeed he becomes by faith in Him, Lord, Saviour and God, without crimping or simpering into seductive substitutes (Ephesians 1).
Look at King David: what profound reliability and reasonableness, what wisdom and concern, what reliability and faithfulness! To be sure, he fell. Yet he did not make a practice of falling, nor does an athlete, though few are those who never fail. He made an appalling mess in a season of sin in which, being inexperienced in a life of ungodliness, he allowed to flow out as water from a broken cup!
Yet this episode being atypical, showed to him anew the disastrous character of sin, the magnificence of mercy and the summit of divine lovingkindness; and we have Psalm 51, the record of his passion and praise, following his fall, as he moves through his purgation exercise, finding deliverance from the Lord. It was like a fungal infection: horrid to the ultimate, but when removed, it is gone.
So is the beginning of wisdom. In such ways, it may then develop in the heart of man.
Moving on, Proverbs 1 warns against the misery of the myths of collectivity, like communism, in which the illusion is that in being together, you somehow generate, like bees, your own reasons and can trust each other as you concoct ways of advancing your cause. Honour among thieves, however, is first of all more easily heard than seen, and secondly, is merely an artifice by which a method of evil is provided to some degree, with some insulation at the internal level from its own immoral nature.
While follies such as this communalism, urge men to the embrace of whatever-it-is, lawless, irrational, gain-seeking constructions (*3) of the surfeited mind and the starved soul, WISDOM appeals vociferously.
You see this in detail in Proverbs 1:20-33. "How long, you simple ones ..." wisdom calls. Some do not like to be thought of by anyone, including God, nor to be regarded as simple. They prefer to BE simple to being called it. They are experts before instruction, and so knowledgeable before they learn, that nothing becomes their gain, and nonenity their wisdom.
Yet some, like Nathaniel, have no guile; and like children before the Lord, they are ready for the completion of their design, though fouled by sin, with the wisdom on which it depends. It is rather like being an enormous mansion equipped with endless seeming devices and provisions, where you are offered a course of free instruction to understand and utilise it responsibly for its Owner. To take the course is one way; to ignore it is to be off course, since the wisdom of God is so deep that to ignore it is to be a pitiable victim of forces and features which make freedom become a mirage. Even a kitten is not so free when an avalanche of liberty losing its force, leaves a bundle of fur lassoing itself in its endless tangles of constraining wool.
Tangles, constraints, confusions: it is so with whatever is acted on, and is not directed according to purpose.
WISDOM, Proverbs continues (1:21) cries in the most public places. The testimony is not hidden. Proclaimed in power, presented in tenderness, strewn like Autumn leaves on the very ground with appeal, it is near as touch; and yet there is rebellion to the uttermost. How long will "fools hate knowledge"! Instead ? "Turn at my rebuke!" the Lord commands.
Some detest rebuke; but others are willing to be arrested by knowledge, instructed by wisdom, enlightened by truth. Before us, as the chapter proceeds, we find the former. They reject their eternal Former.
It is not too difficult, if they turn. "I will pour out my spirit on you, I will make my words known to you," comes the unequivocally encouraging offer. Christ indicated (Matthew 18) that unless you become as a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. It is necessary to throw out the false preconceptions with the idle presuppositions of irrationality and to start again. God is willing; God can teach, He can move on your spirit by HIS Spirit, He can recreate a clean heart (Psalm 51), make a willing mind, bring understanding to the dull, and light to the unenlightened. But no! In this case, there is an inveterate desire to escape goodness, to avoid wisdom, to evict knowledge.
The divine willingness is countermanded by ephemeral autonomy, and the human foulness is exalted by desire (cf. John 3:19). For this there are results. Some say, I do not want such and such a treatment, when very sick; and we may sympathise if their vital powers are weak and they totter on eternity without help. Yet when in SPIRIT a man desires merely to avoid and to evict God, there are results, eternal in kind, empty in character, where vice meets vice and vacuity inherits something more substantial; for truth in the end judges, and where mercy is despised, what remains!
Thus Proverbs 1 continues (vv. 24ff.).
"Because I have called and you refused,
I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded,
because you disdained all my counsel,
and would have none of my rebuke,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your terror comes, when your terror comes like a storm ..."
This is more than mere cause and effect, as if in some program. This is personal. If the ultimate eviction notice is given to the Lord, then this merely means that without counsel, in defiance of wisdom, contrary to construction, miscreant against his very creation, man becomes like a babe with the umbilical cord severed by its own will - while still in the womb.
A baby cannot do this; but a man, a woman, a child may do so when still in the metaphorical womb of life, as it develops within in the nurturing medium of its provisions and procedures. Preferring darkness to light is an endemic human pathology (John 3:19), and the Bible is filled with instances of its execution. It is as if Christ is killed again, by hanging, the inviolable self of man preferring any martyrdom of love, to his own submission.
Thus terror comes because truth is absent, and the forces that move in the darkness are strong, meaningful and in vast measure, vicious. The vice of man is not the only one (Ephesians 6), and the powers of darkness have in the fallen man, who refuses wisdom, merely one more to add to the myriads of the misled. Numbed with fine feeling, aloof with effrontery, man like Britain before World War II, trusting in diplomacy, becomes like one who awakes in the operating theatre, scarcely knowing why he is there.
Evil does operate. It does have results. The truth does come. Lies whether from unconscious predisposition or direct hatred of God, do not survive. The sentence on sin is irrevocable in the end, when darkness is the chosen domain. Stultification from surfeit does not remove the barren reality. Man who trusts in himself is like the wheat farmers who having had a few good seasons, ignore the line of the norm, and in the end face a highly developed ruin. It was so at various times, in the northern parts of South Australia.
What then for the man who does not take God's revelation seriously, and projects for himself a nest, moral or not, religious or other, psychic or similar ? There is no nest for the autonomous psyche. He but hovers over the ground, and cannot rest.
When the work is fully done, the environment becomes like a self-appointed Belsen, bereft of all good, by desire!
"They would have none of my counsel," wisdom continues, "and despised my every rebuke", so "the complacency of fools will destroy them." Perhaps worst of all, "they will eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies."
So does man in crushing crowds act in anguish, autonomy and emptiness. Even when freely presented with the wisdom of God - and Christ is made to the children of God, the very wisdom of God, as we shall shortly see (I Corinthians 1:30): yet in teeming crowds, they turn in rebellion, rush off with rambunction, unruly and rumbustious in spirit, the S.I.W. as apparent as in any World War I soldier, seeking by wounding himself, an escape from the war. From this, however, there is no escape (cf. Romans 2-3).
One either receives and walks in the Lord, and fights the good fight, overcoming evil with good, or one succumbs in a way so wilful and so wicked, that compassion blenches and mercy flows on to others.
Thus man is not forced to be willing, and God who knows all before any of their works, knowing His own, finds them; but those who prefer in His knowledge, darkness to light even in the face of that light which is Christ (John 3:19), these have a new way of not finding wisdom. It is the wilful way which derides, deposes, drives away the wisdom which calls clearly.
Death and destruction, we found earlier, had HEARD OF WISDOM. It was not as if the term had never met their ears.
Here, however, they hear FROM IT, and still slap its face and move away. Wrought in folly, they gain their associates, as devoid of wisdom as of love, an easy prey to the prayerless, a kin for the careless, derelict in destiny, moving to their chosen ruin.
Who would not weep ? How can anyone not understand why Christ wept (Luke 19:42ff.), and the more, since when they even had their salvation walking among them, demonstrating His authenticity, they could only think of killing Him! And that, necessarily, it was a mere prelude to their own morbid end.
As to that in the case of Jerusalem, in AD 70, it meant multiple crucifixions carried out by Rome and destruction for the city, dismantling of the temple. It is unhappily rather more than symbolic of the case for all such; for it has a lustre of sadness all of its own, that such a wonder of apparatus for instruction, misused, and devilishly abused, should become at one with other destroyed things. It is as if the Jewish Temple were a symbol of that amazing temple called man, where the very stones sing, and the site proclaims, but the priest, the person himself, is both blind and deaf, and glories in it.
It was like a young life filled with promise, broken with disease and assembled with the dead. That it takes time, with some, does nothing to lessen the sorrow.
III DIVINE GRACE REPLENISHES THE
EVEN WHERE SIN HAS STRUCK
Yet life is not limited to such griefs as this. Many are they who rejoice in the divine wisdom, and to these there comes also and no less, the test. Divine light is by its very nature searching (Psalm 11:4, Hebrews 4:13, Ephesians 5:13). However, here is felicity, for in this field is function with unction, grooming into godliness, and if there be falls, these do not enthrall I John 1:7ff., 3:9); for their tenure is short.
Thus though man, though redeemed is not incapable of sin, yet the divine desire is to move truth there continually, to show wisdom, at the foundational level.
Think of it in terms of dressing; and sin is like a fleck on a pale grey suit, to be removed. If the suit becomes a little shabby, yet it is not left alone, and is periodically changed in freshness of texture; or to put it with Paul's imagery, we are changed from glory to glory according to His likeness, this by the work and power of His Spirit (II Cor. 3:18). Those who find this ho-hum, are likely to need just such a change in freshness, and sometimes the trip to the wet-cleaner's can be ... tedious.
On the inward side, the thirst for that freshness, that liveliness that is the exuberance from the divine presence and grace, is like that of a thirsty land in drought. You see it directly or implicitly in such Psalms as 102, 37, 119, yes and 42.
When however sin does arise, as it did in a dynamic of novelty in King David (II Samuel 11), what searchings, internal horrors, what ungainliness, what confusion, what profusion of peace-seeking and what ghastliness of self-revelation, as if leprosy had just formed, or in modern terms, cancer had just been detected in a malign tumour in the throat.
Psalm 51 focusses the matter: against YOU ONLY have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight, claims David. In other words, all creation is God's, and what is done by one member of it to another ultimately is offence against the Maker of both, whose property each is, so that the offence in its primary and indeed ultimate thrust is against God. Hence, claims David, from God he seeks pardon. Pleading he seeks that the Holy Spirit be not taken from him, feeling the nakedness, the spiritual nudity of exposure, He seeks a spiritual purge, a cover of sprinkled blood as by hyssop, a clean heart; and so far does he feel this to be from him, that he asks for it to be CREATED in him.
Saddened in unaccustomed loneliness and entire unloveliness, he seeks the restoration of the joy of salvation, the deliverance from the black brooding of 'blood guiltiness', and using the phrase 'God of my salvation' be asks in becoming guilt-laden penitence mingled with the expectancy of faith. He discerns that external sacrifices that one may make, in selecting animals for that purpose, are not as important as what he now sees. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, these, O God, You will not despise."
Gross is his aversion from his sin, detestation and horror mingle as his liberated spirit seeking to soar, is drawn from the dawn of day to the dusk in one step, where darkness threatens. Like a bird in the hand, his heart palpitates, his song is stilled and only groaning comes to the mouth, as near to lifeless, he yet becomes animated with hope, desperate in enthusiasm for return to the kindness of flight, and the good favour of his indispensable and incomparable God, in whom alone is freedom meaningful, is liberty the fond child of love.
Here we find the opposite of the arrogance of autonomy. David is not only declaring his dependence on God, he is declaring his independence from merit. He knows that God loves mercy and seeks good, and he submits himself to innovative work on his very spirit, to purge, to pardon, to recreate, to refresh, to restore, that he might be in the presence of God, once more, and not act as a ghoulish shadow, unreal, unkempt, unclean.
So is wisdom to be found: "In the hidden part, You will make me to know wisdom," and with it, what is inseparable, "You desire truth in the inward parts."
Here a potential separation is intercepted, and direct divine action restores the unwise soul which has lapsed for a little into things unclean and all but unspeakable; but what is spoken, it is mercy, it is cleansing, it is renovation starting from the innermost parts of David's being.
IV WISDOM IS ACTIVE IN GOD'S WORK:
PARTNER TO SPIRITUAL POWER
Not only is wisdom brought back to the restored, refined, cleansed habitat of the sinning saint, it is a functional equipment for service in saintliness, work in godliness, where it is companion of power from God for the function He desires.
In Colossians 1:9, we see Paul telling of his prayer: "that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." It is not enough to be like a vintage car, kept polished to look nice; the man of God must do well also, for life is a site not only for rest, but for action. There is a walk which must be worthy of God, fruitful in every good work, accompanied by increasing knowledge of God Himself, as one becomes more aware of one's friend with whom one habitually works.
This may not be so in an evil environment, but where friendship is functional, goodwill is great, and each rejoices in the other, then as one works with another, so does the bond grow, the understanding and the joy in service, so joint in its expanded operation. No doubt David was not lest fond of Jonathan because, firstly, he was so unlike his father, being brotherly and concerned, doughty and courageous, fearless as a young lion and enterprising, solicitous and watchful for good. Such things were like a magnet.
So when one works with the Lord, it is an intensive thing for which the term 'pleasure' is inadequate. It is a theme for rejoicing and a garland for savour.
Now in Colossians 1:11 we find that POWER goes with this function, indeed it comes from God's own 'glorious power', one which is friendly with longsuffering and patience, surrounded by joy. If an airplane could think, then as it did its manoeuvres with its accompanying squadron, its engine thrust with power, its wings bore safely the heavy burden of increased gravity and its mission was reached with finality and directness, it might well rejoice. A good purpose, good equipment, good association, good temper and tempering, good grace and good function provides something like the joy of galloping; but where purpose is felicitous, it is so much greater even than that.
Such is what Paul describes in Colossians, and our feature here in theme, is this: that the wisdom of which the apostle speaks is accompanied by POWER from God for the fulfilment of its purpose. It is not some academically anaemic, honour-ridden, self-seeking or glory mongering work; it is a work of purity, power and divinely directed purpose for which man in the Lord, as redeemed is well-equipped. Such is the work of wisdom, and it is no more powerless than a jet-engine.
Indeed, here is a marvellous thing, that not only does the wisdom of God imbue His creation in its method of working, programmatic superlatives, personal provisions and spiritual enduements, whether for calling into being, rebuke or relief (cf. Amos 4, Romans 8:18ff., Genesis 3), but it is declared in propositions, conferred in commandments, elicited in seeking, may respond to entreaty, is collated with man's life by covenant and is made manifest in express and personal action BY the Almighty FOR that summit of creations in clay, that synthesis of mind, spirit and created materials, named mankind
It is in this that the marvel is greatest, that He did not find it sufficient to articulate the programs, or even articulate the propositions and the whole fabric of communication in His book, the Bible, nor even to make this the sole verifiable and validatable religious book in existence(*1, *2), directed to all mankind from God. He went far further. He devised deliverance for man. That is an extraordinary indulgence to a sinful creation, abusing the vast magnitudes of the stunning gift of liberty*4, and even aspiring to becoming parallel to God, and indeed, ousting Him in word, idea or action. The devil is far from being the only one with such a scheme (as in Revelation 12), and is far from being the only one deserving and ready and apt to gain judgment for such irrational effrontery and intrinsic folly.
Even for such a creation, God acted.
Yet even in this, God did not rest. Being One who is not only the reservoir of wisdom and the ultimate in eternal existence, but like light, declaring and manifesting Himself, and being personal, doing this in His eternal Word, He made Himself personally available, even to man. From His word, He may be found in source through the manifestation of His being, like a stream leading to the summit lake; and being further able to empower by His Spirit, whose diffusive influence and directive power enables and ennobles: He personally acted for man. He did not remain silent; He did not only speak, nor did His speech only come episodically, but in system, in method, in development, in testing of His foretellings and confirmations after test, in the wonder of salvation and then ? and then in what it took to make it practically both sufficient and available.
In what way, in the end, other than this: He became man to bring man back to God. It was not enough to make Himself thereby vulnerable; He would also show that even if He HIMSELF were vulnerable, He could cope, would not fall, and would not fail, and in love would even act with WISDOM to rescue the fallen who are penitent, and the stricken who seek His balm where it may be found (cf. Isaiah 55, with 53-54).
And where is that ? why in that same One who came as His eternal Word. made into the form of flesh, so that the sheer marvel of victory continuously over sin might be shown, and the sheer splendour of power over all evil, whether death or disease might be exhibited, rubbishy religious philosophy rationally and realistically placed in the bin, those who propagated it shown for what they were and that ... sin might be etched on His own self, like an inscription on a rock (cf. Zechariah 3:9). Thus, as that prophet foretold, by this means, "in one day" the iniquity was removed.
To encourage faith, He even announced the date for the occurrence many centuries in advance*5, and the method of the death He would vicariously suffer for man, more centuries still*6, so that even a millenium of pre-announcement might be made, and before even that, the method was inscribed (Genesis 3).
Here was wisdom not only equipped with legs and arms, but with mind, knowing its ploy to redeploy man for good rather than evil; and with spirit to inspire; and with action, to pay. Those who like in life simply to play, seldom like to pay, for the whole business aspect is readily lost in the soporifics of superior spiritual pride and zeal; and even some who like to work, are so entranced and infatuated with their own abilities, that god-like they seek to pay their way, like flotsam and jetsam contriving to reach the shore and build a house.
As wise as is the mind of Christ however, so foolish is the mind of man, who can neither manipulate nor manage God, but must either meet His demands of sinless perfection, or realising the gulf that separates from this, in realism receive redemption (Romans 2-3, 5). There is no other way (John 14:6, Acts 4:11-12); but the marvel is this, that THERE IS one way, and it is PAID, the PASSAGE is available and it is all handled with the wisdom of God from the first (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 9:12, 3:23-27), before man ever was made.
So far from this extricating man from his folly and guilt, it increases it, for there is no 'chance' in the matter, and judgment will be according to truth (John 3:19).
V CHRIST IS MADE WISDOM TO US WHO KNOW HIM
I Corinthians 1:30
In accord with this systematically revealed reality of God, Paul moves in I Corinthians to the contrast between naturally roving thought and divinely disclosing reality. He does it with some rigour and oversight in surveying the scene.
While man seeks wisdom, and hindered, harassed and strapped by his customary errors, often merely makes a mess, there is a wisdom from God which exhibits firstly, what one is, then who he is, then what he needs, then where it is to be found, then how it comes and where it is to go.
Greeks sought wisdom, Jews power, but Christ, says Paul, brings in weakness the power of God, and in foolishness the wisdom of God. Such is the wreckage of the human spirit that it needs remedy. Truly an antibiotic does not at first sight appeal, being a small, unsavoury and odd-seeming little unit; but it is needed when disease invades and the defence system is stricken. So is man invaded by sin, his defence system is stricken with pollution and staggers under the load, viruses of spiritual kind invade his cells, and start producing from his very strength, the means of his fall and failure.
The Gospel meets the crisis. Not very many wise or rich or noble are those who receive it; they are too pre-occupied with their sights and sufficiency, as if a thorn-bush confused itself with a rose. Those who awaken to their state are most happy to have help, and thrilled that it is from God Himself, the Creator; for what more fitting, more apt, more appropriate and above all, more effective than from one's own Maker, the remedy and the redress.
Christ is made to us redemption, says Paul in I Cor. 1:30. Thus it is not we but He who fills the place, like Carton in A Tale of Two Cities; and it is He who stands to fall in our place, and then to rise because of His own identity as the only begotten Son of God (II Cor. 5:15). So is the stupefying strength of sin overcome, guilt gutted and life restored. He is however also made to us, sanctification. In other words as in Hebrews 10:10,14, by one offering He has supplied all needed for ever, and the multiplied sacrifices of yore are no more; for in one offering He has provided for ever the need of each soul who depending on Him, receives this life for life transaction.
"Not with the blood of bulls and goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption," Hebrews 9:12 informs us.
More even than this, He is, says Paul, made to us WISDOM. Thus where there is need of INPUT of wisdom, the reservoir in Christ is open in its connection. There is neither limit nor exclusion. What is needed is implicit, what is sought in faith, is explicit, what is desired for developed, this is complicit. Wisdom regales the soul, but how quickly presumption is met, and self-esteem corrected when it seeks to bask, like a lizard on a rock, and be content in its own self!
Wisdom knows the Lord, and knows His wonder, that self-fulfilment is ungainly, but the fulfilment of the will and work of God, this is peace, for it is truth, and it is a life that relies on what is supplied, and supplies what is desired; and then again, if like David numbering his soldiers (I Chronicles 21), it becomes self-complacent or bemused with its own self, then this too is a work of wisdom, that as it is in God it comes, and from Him it goes, so is a humble and a contrite heart restored.
Wisdom is ready; but folly can bellow until a deeper work is wrought.
Wisdom rejoices; peace propels; joy inhabits; grace provides. Such is the wonder of waking with the Lord. That is the way it is.
*1 See CELESTIAL HARMONY FOR THE TERRESTRIAL HOST.
SMR, REASON, REVELATION and the REDEEMER,
SCIENTIFIC METHOD, SATANIC METHOD AND THE MODEL OF SALVATION
See Highway to Hell, Aviary of Idolatry,
Beauty of Holiness Ch. 5, incl. *3,
Journey to God or Fantasy's Flight to the Infernal Ch. 6,
More Marvels ... Ch. 4,
News 98 - 99, and
Christ Incomparable, Lord Indomitable Ch. 2, Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 14.
See Christ Incomparable, Lord Indomitable Ch. 2, SMR pp. 348ff., Little Things Ch. 5.
*5 See Highway of Holiness Ch. 4.
See Psalms 2, 16, 22, 102 and consult Joyful Jottings 22-25, Barbs ... 17 and TMR Ch. 3.