12 ¶ With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. 13 With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding. 14 Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening. 15 Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth. 16 With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his. 17 He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools. 18 He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle. 19 He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty. 20 He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged. 21 He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty. 22 He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death. 23 He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again. 24 He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way. 25 They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.
Job declares in verse 12 that mankind, by age and experience, gain wisdom and understanding. Here again, wisdom and understanding are shown to be synonymous. But, with verse 13, in Job’s argument, God’s sovereignty is declared. With ancient men is wisdom and understanding but with the, “Ancient of Days,” (see Daniel, chapter 7) wisdom is also synonymous with strength.
Proverbs 8:14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
Strength is power.
2Samuel 22:33 God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
Counsel, being linked with wisdom, is understanding, as well.
Deuternomy 32:28 For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them.
Counsel is advice.
Judges 20:7 Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.
God is the ultimate source of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
When God destroys there is no deliverance. Whether it be the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:9), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24), Jericho’s walls (Joshua 6:20), or Damascus, Syria in the future (Isaiah 17:1) there is no remedy when God visits with judgment.
Without implying any spiritual understanding on the part of the Mongols they understood, perhaps only in justification of their conquests, that they could not have done so without God’s permission. The Mongolian Khan Guyug sent, in response to a letter from Pope Innocent IV in 1245, “how could anybody seize or kill by his own power contrary to the command of God?...From the rising of the sun to its setting, all the lands have been made subject to me. Who could do this contrary to the command of God?” (20)
And yet, when the Mongols were poised to destroy Christian Europe God stopped them with the death of an emperor and did the same when they were set to annihilate Islamic Egypt. God raises up and God throws down and there is nothing to prevent Him from causing or permitting what He does, often for reasons we cannot fathom. The Mongol conquests are said to have resulted in the death of 20% of the earth’s estimated population at that time. Why did God allow that to happen?
At the height of the Reformation in Germany a civil war began called the Thirty Year’s War that resulted in the death of 1/6th of Germany’s population of both Catholics and Protestants, including Lutherans and Calvinist denominations. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty over the affairs of man teaches us that nothing can happen that He does not either cause to happen or permit to happen. Why did God permit this to happen if He didn’t ordain it? You can only guess or make theoretical suppositions. In the end, you don’t know and neither does Job or his friends, at this point.
“The deceived and the deceiver are his.” He foils the plans of the deceiver and blinds the eyes of the deceived.
2Samuel 17:14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom.
2Thessalonians 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
Ezekiel 14:9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
Isaiah 19:14 The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.
Read the rest of this passage carefully and then reflect on human history, the rise of empires and the fall of kingdoms. See the power of God in the history of nations, particularly your own. We see all sorts of things in powerful events that make no sense and our thoughts lean to conspiracies and secret cabals orchestrating events because nothing seems to make sense and things are drawn together that do not seem as if they should be so. But, the greatest conspirator is Satan working behind events, in his wickedness in hatred of mankind, but only unleashed by God for a specific purpose and reason and he can go no further than God will allow. It is not hard to understand the reason why the Book of Job is here for us, the oldest written book of the Bible. We must understand God’s sovereignty over us and all of creation before we can even begin to try to understand His love and His mercy and His grace at the Cross of Calvary and the empty tomb.
The fear of God is first and foremost in a human being’s mind if he has any sense at all. A man who fears God seeks to know Him and understand Him. As Solomon said here fear, the beginning of wisdom and understanding, is knowledge of the holy God;
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Godly fear is reverence, as Paul said.
Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
It is awe, as David sang.
Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
So, when you look at current events and are mystified and astonished at what is going on and how complex it seems and impossible to understand without resorting to belief in some smoke-filled room full of people running the world remember that, if there is such a room, they are but pawns, deceived fools because of their wicked hearts, in the issue of history.
We hear preaching often on the sufferings of Christ, who is God, on the Cross, which we should preach and understand, with the resulting tears and guilty feelings for our sins that we say in our simplicity, “put Him there,” but far too little time is spent on God’s sovereignty which we must grasp, or attain unto as the Bible says, if we are to even to begin to understand the Cross and the empty tomb. And always remember, lest you be tempted to throw up your hands and say, what’s the point of my efforts, remember what God really wants;
1Timothy 2:1 ¶ I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
And remember what is God’s definition of the appropriate expression of your faith, or religion, the outward expression of inward faith. This is God’s will, which should be of primary importance in a Christian’s life.
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
And the proof, the fruit, of your faith.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
It all comes back to the first verse of the Bible.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
(20) Baabar, Twentieth Century Mongolia (Cambridge, UK: The White Horse Press, 1999), 3.