Knowledge & Wisdom
Who can fathom the mind of the LORD, or instruct the LORD as His counsellor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge, or showed Him the path of understanding?
Acknowledge the [LORD] … serve Him with whole hearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart, and understands every desire and every thought
Do you know … those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?
There is a danger of being overwhelmed when we consider One who perfectly knows all aspects of the vast complexity throughout the entirety of creation (Job 28:24), let alone One who has searched out the deep things of God (I Cor.2:10). It is a truism that the more we know, the more we realise we don’t know. How different it is for God. The simple reality of our God is that ‘everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account’ (Heb.4:13). He knows all that is, all that will be (e.g. Gen.41:16, 39; Dan.2:28-30), and all that ever could have been anywhere or at any time (see e.g. II Kings 13:19; Matt.11:21-23). He not only knows the beginning and the end of all things (because he is there and created them as they are), but He also makes it known (Is.46:10, see also 48:3. We are aware of course that God does not reveal everything He knows, Dt.29:29). He is always fully aware of all He knows. He never forgets anything or needs to remind Himself, or relearn something. As one scholar of a previous generation puts it: ‘his knowledge is retentive and eternalised’ (!) As we have seen with other attributes however, it is not enough to simply say that God knows all things. It more a case that all things are because He knows them. We might even say that all things are, and exist as they do because the Father knows the Son and is known by Him. This is the foundation of all knowledge.
In a profound sense, this is His qualification to be God. There is an interesting passage in Is.41:21-29 (and which is revisited in Is.44:6-7), where the LORD God of
Israel challenges the idols to demonstrate whether they are in fact gods at all. The dispute hinges on whether they can foretell what is to come, or at least explain history so that we might know what the future holds (vv.22-23; 44:7). But they can do nothing, they can offer no counsel, they can answer no question. They are false. By contrast, the true and Living God is He who knows and reveals the future, and so He is vindicated in His claim to be beyond compare and without equal (40:25), and alone worthy to be glorified (42:8-9), and trusted as Saviour (43:10-13).
God’s wisdom is found in His unwavering ability to devise both the perfect end (His glory and our good) and the perfect means of achieving that end (Rom.8:28). He sees the end from the beginning, and so in His wise deliberation there is no need for educated guesswork, the balance of probabilities or conjecture based on experience. He doesn’t make His decisions based on intuition. He is never wrong, misguided, mistaken, deceived, or in error. He is fully aware of all the implications of every decision He makes or could make. There is no unintended consequence. Truly ‘his wisdom is profound … counsel and understanding are His’ (Job.9:4 & 12:13). How many are your works LORD! In wisdom you made them all (Ps.104:24). No improvement can be made, and the demonstration of this is the Church’s glorious hope (Eph.3:10-11).
What might stagger us is the realisation that we can in some limited measure access and share in His wisdom (Jas.1:5). Only God could ever fully know the mind of God (Matt.11:27). But there is the danger that glimpsing even the palest reflection of His wisdom will prove so shockingly counter-intuitive that we will struggle to believe it is wisdom, and to live by it. As we will see in our questions below, God’s wisdom can often look suspiciously like folly to a sinful mind (I Cor.1:18-2:10; Jas 3:13-18), and even after we are redeemed we are warned about the perils of flirting with God’s wisdom but then not living by it (Jas.1:6. We reveal our folly if we despise God’s wisdom and instruction, Prov.1:7). The Wisdom of God is not a play thing with which to indulge our intellectual curiosity, it is a call to faith and the path of life (Prov.3:5-8, 13:20). We show our wisdom and understanding to the watching world by trusting in the Lord’s wisdom and understanding, and so living according to His decrees and Laws (Dt.4:6-8).
‘To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ, Amen.’ (Rom.16:27)
What would you say to someone who struggled to see why any of this mattered to how they lived their life as a Christian?
How does this affect our experience of prayer?
Read I Cor.1:18-30
Why would God seek to destroy the wisdom of the wise (1:19, see also Is.44:25)?
Why has He made foolish the wisdom of the world (1:20)?
Why is the Gospel foolishness from the perspective of the world’s wisdom (1:21)?
What does Paul mean when he says that Christ Jesus has become for us the wisdom from God (1:30)?
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom’ (Ps.111:10, also Prov.9:10). What is the fear of the LORD, and how does it lead us inexorably to wisdom? How could we cultivate this as part of our corporate worship at MIE?
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
For further reflection
ReadMatt.6:25-34; 10:26-31 & Luke 12:22-33
So much of our anxiety in life comes from our lack of knowledge. We can barely make sense of what is happening now (Eccl.8:17), let alone grasp with any confidence what might happen in the future (Eccl.8:7; Jas.4:13-16). From this ignorance is born fear and worry.
Jesus is pretty strident in addressing this sin. His emphatic ‘Do not worry’ (Matt.6:25) is a bit of a shock to those for whom worry is a state of being! But Jesus goes on to express mild disbelief that His disciples would entertain such a pagan attitude (Matt.6:32).
At least part of His antidote is to put before us a vision of God who is intimately acquainted not only with every detail of who we are (Matt.10:29), but also of all that we need, and of all our future holds… and this God is our Father. We labour under the misconception that if only I had all the information I’d be able to make all the decisions I need, and then I’d be secure, and free from all anxiety. That is highly unlikely, even if it were possible. Jesus’ alternative is to trust the all-knowing, and all-wise Father. Have another read at Luke 12:22-33. Do I believe God is wisely working in my life today? …in the world today? Why is it more difficult to believe this in the face of catastrophe? Does your confidence in the knowledge and wisdom of God liberate you as Jesus envisages it would?
And one just for fun
Jesus at one point notes the limitations of His knowledge (Matt.24:36). How do you make sense of this? Is this a limitation that only applied to His earthly life? Do you think it undermines our creedal belief that Jesus was ‘true God from true God’? Why / Why not?