Saturday, November 22, 2014

Job chapter 28 comments: God's control over natural processes

1 ¶  Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it. 2  Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone. 3  He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death. 4  The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men. 5  As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire. 6  The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold. 7  There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: 8  The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it. 9  He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. 10  He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. 11  He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light. 12  But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? 13  Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.

In this first section of Chapter 28 Job discusses man’s efforts to dig into the earth as mining has a very ancient history and prehistoric mines have been located in Serbia, Swaziland, and Hungary, as well as other places. In verse 1, the word, “fine,” used to mean, among its other meanings, to make purer as in the word, refine. Here in the first two verses of chapter 28 we have precious metals and useful metals. Man goes to great length and is very clever in drawing out of the earth the treasures it holds for him.

Man makes great effort to bring light into the earth to see to search out anything precious and valuable in the rocks and travels in place where no beast has gone. He spares no effort to obtain that which he wishes in the earth. Fire setting and water had ancient uses in the efforts to mine the earth’s treasures and early man was quite clever and accomplished in his work to obtain them.

But, wisdom and understanding he has failed to find. Man doesn’t know their value and he cannot find them in this life.

Here, wisdom and understanding are shown to be synonymous, similar in meaning. There are over 50 verses in the Bible where wisdom and understanding are linked and there are also cross references between the two. For example, how did the men who wrote the Bible write? By what process?

2Timothy 3:16a  All scripture is given by inspiration of God…

Job 32:8  But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

2Peter 3:15b  …even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

We are told to mine for wisdom and understanding deep within us.

Proverbs 2:2  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Psalms 51:6  Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

The interior of a human being is likened to the heart of the earth where precious and useful things are found by God, something that can bring Him glory, the raw material on which the Holy Ghost works by the Spirit.

Psalm 139:15  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

But, man cannot find wisdom in this life without God.

Proverbs 16:16 ¶  How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

Ecclesiastes 8:17  Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

    14 ¶  The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me. 15  It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. 16  It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. 17  The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. 18  No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. 19  The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

Wisdom is not hiding in the depths of the earth, in some deep mine with gold and silver. It is not found at the bottom of the ocean. Man cannot purchase wisdom with gold or silver or precious stones. You can’t put it on one of your many credit cards.

Acts 3:6  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Christ is our wisdom.

1Corinthians 1:24  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God…30  But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

And He cannot be bought with money.

Acts 8:18  And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19  Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20  But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Job’s statement in verse 18 is repeated in Solomon’s Proverbs.

Proverbs 8:11  For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

    20 ¶  Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? 21  Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. 22  Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. 23  God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof. 24  For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; 25  To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. 26  When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: 27  Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out. 28  And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

Job asks rhetorically, from where does wisdom come? Where is understanding found? It is hid from the eyes of all living things. Destruction and death, whom he personifies here, as he did with the depths of the earth and the sea earlier in a metaphorical way, do not know of wisdom firsthand.

God knows where wisdom is and He knows where understanding resides. One of the doctrines of God is not only His omniscience, knowing all things, but His omnipresence, being able to exist in all places, which is similar to immanence, being near to us at all times, while at the same time being transcendent or apart and above all things.

Here are some important points about science. Why do things seem to operate by order, by rules, most of the time and yet sometimes seem to defy those rules? How is that possible? There are many explanations when it comes to argument but the one explanation the Bible repeatedly makes is that God causes or God allows at all times and in all ways. He does not just set up a pattern. The pattern would not function without His intervention. God is not a watchmaker who wound up the universe and walked away. The sovereignty of God means that he not only made the watch but makes it operate, makes the gears turn so that physical laws only function as such because of God’s operation and that miracles or exceptions to those laws occur by the same fashion.

What about weighing the winds and weighing the waters? The air moved by the wind has weight and mass, an authority from the Argonne National Laboratory states at;

Water vapor is an important component of the earth’s atmosphere and the atmosphere is the context of verse 25. It has weight varying by temperature and humidity. Of course, my explanations are simplifications of complicated processes of which, apparently, Job and his culture were aware.

Verse 26 explains that the water mentioned in the previous verse, evaporated water that condenses to form clouds that release water, as rain operates under God’s rules that He has put in place and upon which He acts. Job states the modern understanding of the relationship between water vapor and lightning, with thunder’s relationship to lightning, those relationships having been the source of much speculation throughout history. Verse 27 insists that God is the source of this activity. Remember the storm that killed Job’s children in chapter 1, verse 19. For wind and storm being synonymous see 21:28 and 27:21 and;

Mark 4:37  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

And also in Luke;

Luke 8:23  But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.

This information about water in the atmosphere, rain, and lightning understood so long ago should not surprise the reader as Solomon refers to the hydrologic cycle in his writings.

Ecclesiastes 1:7  All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

The point Job makes here is very important for the Christian to understand. Natural events do not happen by themselves but are a direct consequence of God operating from the spiritual world in the physical world. So, the next time you hear a preacher or a scientist talk about either God putting in place processes that just work on their own without His touch or about the randomness of things like a tornado or a typhoon be aware that they are ignoring the Bible that insists that God acts constantly in the physical world to make things happen in ways we don’t understand but must acknowledge. We are not given the knowledge of a great many things but as we discover more and more details about natural processes more and more questions are raised. At the end of this part of Job’s argument he states something also of fundamental importance to mankind. Notice a comparison with verse 28 and Solomon’s Ecclesiastes 12:13 under the Law given to Moses.

The fear of the Lord, which is awe (Psalm 33:8), honor (Malachi 1:6), reverence (Hebrews 12:28), plus dread for many who live in disobedience to Him (Isaiah 8:13), is wisdom and to depart from evil, which is malicious speech (Ephesians 4:31;1Peter 2:1), causing trouble (James 3:16) , violent intentions (Genesis 37:20; Psalm 11:5), and even sin against God (Genesis 50:17) is understanding.

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