Does Not Wisdom Call Out?
Study Guide , July 14, 2019
Pastor Clay Olsen
Sister Paige graciously sends me the ‘God’s Minute’ emails, and they are very good. A recent one had a collection of sayings that they called, ‘Backyard Philosophy’ or ‘Nutshell Philosophy’. Have you ever heard any of these helpful sayings like: ‘Exercise daily…walk with the Lord’; or ‘Be fishers of men…you catch ’em, God will clean ’em’; or ‘A lot of kneeling will keep you in good standing’; how about – ‘Give God what’s right, not what’s left’; or this is pretty much right to the point – ‘God loves everyone, but probably prefers “fruits of the spirit” over “religious nuts!”
Speaking of ‘philosophy’…that’s an interesting word. One way it is defined is as ‘a discipline comprising as its core logic; aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology’. That clears it up right there, doesn’t it? But a more practical way, as well as understandable way of thinking about ‘philosophy’ is to understand that the original meaning of the word ‘philosophy’ comes from the Greek roots of ‘philo’, meaning ‘love’, and ‘sophos’, meaning ‘wisdom’. So philosophy really just means ‘the love of wisdom’. So in this sense we should all view ourselves as ‘philosophers’. We are all to be ‘lovers of wisdom’.
The odd thing is though, that so many in our world that either do call themselves or think of themselves as ‘philosophers’ actually do not love wisdom at all. They seem to love human reasoning that is completely detached from divine reasoning. But whenever you detach human reasoning from divine reasoning you no longer have wisdom…you have ‘foolishness’! Therefore philosophers who base their views and their beliefs on human reasoning alone are not lovers of wisdom, they are by default: lovers of ‘foolishness’!
Actually, the battle going on in the minds of everyone is between these things: the ‘foolishness’ of human reasoning and the ‘wisdom’ of God’s reasoning, as found in God’s revelation. And since so few in our world are in pursuit of true wisdom it should be no surprise to any of us that we live in a world where most of the world’s governments, its’ educational systems, the media centers, the social centers, and it’s entertainment centers, and so on, are all voices of foolishness; voices of human reasoning detached from divine reasoning. In fact, we should say that it is really human reasoning under the dominant influence of demonic reasoning. And that should really shake people up world-wide, because they are either serving the purposes of the God of Creation or they are serving the purposes of the little ‘g’ god of this world; the Devil. But the strange thing is that oftentimes statements like that pretty much just result in a ‘yawn’ from most people instead of a surrender in repentance to God. But that’s just the world in which we find ourselves.
Since we are talking about strange things, here’s something else very strange…only this time, it’s something ‘wonderfully strange’. What are we talking about? Well, in the book of Proverbs an entire chapter is devoted to ‘Wisdom’. And here’s the ‘wonderfully strange’ part about it. It doesn’t begin with us pursuing wisdom, rather, it begins with ‘wisdom’ pursing us! Really! Look at this: Prov 8:1-11- “Listen as Wisdom calls out! Hear as understanding raises her voice! On the hilltop along the road, she takes her stand at the crossroads. By the gates at the entrance to the town, on the road leading in, she cries aloud “I call to you, to all of you! I raise my voice to all people. You simple people, use good judgment. You foolish people, show some understanding. Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you. Everything I say is right, for I speak the truth and detest every kind of deception. My advice is wholesome. There is nothing devious or crooked in it. My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge. Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.” NLT
Every nightly news program, every day at school, every morning at Congress should all begin with this reading of Proverbs 8 as a reminder that ‘wisdom’, actually ‘God’, is calling out to everybody to listen to their Maker and Creator! Wisdom is pursuing every person! Again, how amazing…and how encouraging and comforting!
Yet even many followers of Christ often fail to realize or forget that the beginning point of their faith or relationship with God is based upon the fact that God was the One that started this pursuit of them in the first place. God began pursuing you and me before we ever started the pursuing Him in return. And why this is so encouraging and comforting to know is that it assures us that however much we are now seeking God and pursuing God, it is all because we are simply responding to this relationship that God started with us. The reason you are now seeking God is because God was seeking you first! The reason you want to deepen your relationship with God as a child of God is because God wanted to have a relationship with you first and become your forever Father. The only reason you now love God is because God loved you first. Plus, the only reason you are now pursuing wisdom by which to live your life as pleasing to God is because God, as personified by ‘wisdom’, has been pursuing you first, and God is easily pleased by your every response to His wisdom!
Again, how great it is to know that you don’t have to persuade God to love you or like you or lead you or teach you, or persuade God to help you live life, or try to convince Him to never forsake you. No, not at all, because God is the one who started the pursuit of a relationship with you in the first place! You don’t have to convince God to love you. God was already convinced that He loved you and would save you and wanted to spend eternity in Heaven with you before you ever said “Yes” to Him! God’s part in our great salvation was Him saying to us: “Will you take Me to be your Lord and Savior?” And our part in our salvation was simply responding, “Yes Lord, I will”. Why do you think God chose the analogy of a Bridegroom and Bride as a way to illustrate ‘salvation’? When you said “I do” to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior – it was done, because that’s what God wanted you to do before you ever did it!
One thing that we are seeking to clearly communicate here is something that we are to clearly understand about our God, and that is, that He is the pursuer of us! He is the seeker, He is the One calling out to us, and not only to us, but to all who will listen to Him…to all who will respond to His voice, respond to His Spirit, respond to His revelation of His words to the whole world. “Listen as Wisdom calls out! Hear as understanding raises her voice!… “I call to you, to all of you! I raise my voice to all people…Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you…Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.” God is calling out to us! God’s Word is God calling out to His world!
Most people don’t even think realistically about the Bible. They think of it primarily as a ‘book’, when the Bible is primarily a ‘Voice’. It’s like whenever you walk into a room where there is a Bible, you ought to stop and say: “Do you hear something? It’s coming from over there on that shelf. Yeah, It’s like a ‘voice’ calling out to be heard.” Well, of course it is! The ‘voice’ is coming from the Bible! You see, the Bible is a ‘living book’. It’s the only ‘living book’ on earth. Notice Heb 4:12- “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” NASU All other books are inanimate objects made up of pages and covers, but the Bible is animate, it’s the ‘Living Word of God’ because the Spirit of God attends the written Word of God.
So The Bible is the voice of God calling out to the whole world to be heard. The problem is that most of the world is simply spiritually hard of hearing. But the thing is, this ‘spiritually hard of hearing’ problem is self imposed. It’s the result of them hardening their heart and turning away from the spiritual sound of this knocking of God on the door of their lives. And the more they turn away from the knocking of God, turn away from the sound of His voice speaking to their soul, the harder of hearing they become, spiritually speaking. The danger is, and the sad result of this is, that after a while they may no longer hear God’s knocking at all.
That’s one of the reasons we see God in the Bible so often reminding people, “He who has ears to hear, let them hear what the Spirit is saying!” And the striking thing about that is that sometimes He is saying that to His own people. That’s right, because even God’s children tend to not pay attention to His voice as they should, not pay attention to His Word as they should, and they, too, can get spiritually hard of hearing. Just read the first three chapters of the book of Revelation as God calls out to the seven churches: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches!”
So now back to Proverbs 8, and back to this particular battle between wisdom and foolishness. One way to gauge where we are in these areas of wisdom and foolishness is to think of it like an Air Pressure Gauge. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a ‘Wisdom and Foolishness’ meter? It’s important to understand that in our daily perspectives or decisions or discernment that we, too, can fluctuate from time to time between wisdom and foolishness. But something like this would be really helpful wouldn’t it, to be able to just hook that meter up to our head and then check to see how wise or foolish we are being in any given instance or action? Like, “Hey, just give me a minute before we make this purchase or make this decision or carry out this action, and so on… I need to check my wisdom and foolishness meter before we go on here!” That would be helpful! Maybe our IT guys can invent one of those…
Anyway, notice some of the requirements of wisdom. One of the requirements of wisdom is a realization that by nature we are not wise. We are not inherently wise. You can be a ‘wise-guy’ by nature, but not a wise man or wise woman by nature. Those are way different… Actually, the book of Proverbs tells us that it’s not wisdom that is bound up in the heart of a child, but it is foolishness that is bound up in the heart of a child. Meaning, that from the git-go we each have a lot to work through and to work on in order to drive out our foolishness and instead develop wisdom. And even after developing some wisdom we even have to be careful to not revert to foolishness. We need to check our meter, remember?
What we are saying here is that a key requirement of developing wisdom is humility…or an admission that by nature we are not wise people. So back to the call of Wisdom: “I raise my voice to all people. You simple people, use good judgment.” It’s fascinating that in Jesus’ sermon on the mount that He also begins with a similar call. Notice: Matt 5:3- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” NASU The ‘poor in spirit’ means those who realize their spiritual need and their complete dependence upon the mercy and grace of God to meet their need. Our very relationship with God begins with humility; with a humble admission of our need that can only be met by God, or again; our need for God’s mercy in His forgiveness and His grace in granting us new life in union with our God. So humility is key to our very union with God and then it is also key to our communion with God, or our development of the skills we need to rightly worship God and serve His purposes for our lives.
And knowledge in all of this is certainly important. But remember, ‘knowledge’ comes with a warning: 1 Cor 8:1- “…Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” KJV One thing you do not want in your life is to be ‘puffethed up’! Being ‘puffethed up’ is not good for you or anyone else. So be careful; just the acquisition of ‘knowledge’ without the guidance of love and wisdom will leave you ‘puffethed up’, or puffed up, or proud…arrogant. And James tells us the Lord resists the proud; He distances Himself from the proud, but He draws near to the humble, and to the wise.
Let’s identify another key point about wisdom and then we’ll flesh it out more next time. But how interesting that the Hebrew word for ‘wisdom’ is ‘khokma’. And ‘khokma’ refers to ‘skills’, as in skills in crafting and building. An example of that is what God said about two of the men chosen to oversee the building of the Tabernacle and all of its furnishings. Notice: Ex 31:3-6- “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.” NASU The word for ‘wisdom’ here is that word ‘khokma’ which means ‘highly skilled’ in all kinds of craftsmanship. How amazing is that?
So in the same way that a highly skilled craftsman works to make and build valuable works in life, so a wise follower of Jesus Christ is actually a highly skilled craftsman in building valuable works for God in his or her service to God. How about that? I think we’re on to something here! And we’ll unpack it further next time.