Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 12 2019 - Job 28 – Searching for wisdom

Job's "friends" have sought to counsel him with their wisdom. But their words have not helped poor Job. He longs for wisdom beyond that of his friends, wisdom that will give him some insight into his suffering and act as a light in his darkness and a hope in his despair. In this chapter, In asking where such wisdom can be found, Job has provided us with a wonderful piece of poetry.

Job begins by celebrating the capability of human beings to discover things. He talks about the search for precious metals and jewels. Though hidden away, deep in the earth, people have discovered how to dig them out and to identify them among in the dirt. Dangling from ropes, they bring light into the dark places of the earth with their candles. Nothing remains hidden from them.

We could add many more examples from modern discoveries concerning the planets of our solar system, and many other discoveries of science and the amazing artefacts of human technology. Job's celebrates the wonderful power humans for discovering what is hidden, recognising what is valuable and going to extraordinary lengths to dig it out. But all of this only underlines Job's pained question in verse 12, "But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell?"

In verses 13-19 Job declares that wisdom is more valuable than anything valued in his day – more valuable than gold, silver and rubies. What makes gold so valuable? It is valuable because it is beautiful and does not decay, but above all it is valuable because it is rare. So wisdom is even more valuable because it is even more difficult to find. It cannot be bought with gold or precious stones. Job concludes by repeating his question of verse 12 in verse 19, and adding that wisdom is hidden from the eyes of every living thing and is beyond all discovery (vv. 21-22).

But there is one who knows where wisdom can be found and that is God, the creator of all things (vv. 23-27). He has shown his wisdom in creation and in wisdom he governs the world he has made. We may not understand the ways of God but we can trust him. So Job concludes, "The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding" (v.28). As someone has written: "Wisdom is not a matter of understanding why suffering happens; rather, true wisdom is a matter of knowing the God who knows why suffering happens." It is the wisdom that trusts and obeys.

I want now to take you beyond Job to the pages of the New Testament, to God's ultimate revelation of himself in the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, the apostle Paul writes of the wisdom and power of God displayed in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. God's wisdom is very different from human wisdom. Why would God allow his holy and righteous Son to be nailed to a cross and die in agony? How does that display wisdom or power?

But it is the wisdom of God, for if we have but eyes to see it, the cross has a purpose in the plans of God, an ultimate purpose. And this purpose is revealed in Christ's resurrection from the dead. For it is here, in the cross of Christ and in his resurrection that God is acting to put the world to rights and to mend a world twisted and broken by human sin and rebellion. Here is wisdom at which angels would stand with mouths agape – that is, if they could cease their praise.

And here is the answer to Job's pained question of where wisdom is to be found. For in Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). This is where you must mine for wisdom. Wisdom beyond mere human discovery consists of knowing and trusting God in Christ. This will not answer all your questions, but it will still and satisfy your soul in the face of the unanswerable question "Why?"

Father God, we thank you that you have displayed your love for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to trust you even when we cannot understand why things are happening to us, those we love or to your world. Help us to long for, pray for and work for the day when Christ shall return and all things are made new and all questions are silenced in the glory of your presence.

Jun 12 2013 - Acts 8:14-40 – Into Africa

Today’s passage falls into two halves. In the first half we read of an apostolic visit to Samaria, and in the second half we have the wonderful story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.

Peter and John were sent to Samaria by the rest of the apostles to find out whether Samaritans were truly becoming Christians. This would be quite remarkable; Jews and Samaritans had not got on with each other for centuries. Was the gospel of Jesus Christ really able to bridge this ancient divide?

They discovered that all they had heard was true but they were eager to see more. So they prayed that these Samaritan believers might manifestly receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as they, the apostles, had experienced his coming on the day of Pentecost. This would be a sign to all that they were not second-class believers but fully heirs to all that Jesus had promised to those who followed him.

Simon, having seen how the gift of the Spirit was given through the apostles’ prayers and laying on of hands, offered the apostles money if they would only give him the same power. He seems to have wanted to recover his reputation as a powerful wonderworker. Peter responded, “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!” (Acts 8:20).

Simon has given his name to the sin of Simony, the attempt to buy a high office within the church. This practice may be rare today, but do those with power and status in society sometimes wield undue influence in the life of our churches? I suspect we still need to heed the words of James in James 2:1-5 who reminds us not to favour the rich or to despise the poor. The gospel breaks down all barriers of wealth, class and ethnicity.

We turn now to the second half of this passage, the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. What an easy time he had of it! An angel told Philip where to go; the Spirit pointed out the man he was to speak to; he turns out to be reading Isaiah 53 and asks Philip if he will explain it to him! It’s never happened like that for me.

This is part of the continuing story of the risen Jesus extending his kingdom across the world. The Gospel is on the move from Jerusalem to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Soon it will be on its way by chariot into Africa. Human agents are used in telling the message but the risen Saviour is directing the operations.

And is it really any different today? In the person and power of the outpoured Spirit, Jesus is still building his church and establishing his kingdom. He goes before us to work in hearts and lives and calls us to see where he is at work and to work with him. Sharing the good news is not about trotting out a well-rehearsed formula but about coming alongside, starting where people are, responding sensitively to their questions and telling them the good news about Jesus. That’s what Philip did and that’s what we can do also.

Perhaps it never happened like that for me because my eyes are not sufficiently open to where God is at work in those around me.

Lord Jesus, we remember that you said that you would build your church and that the dominion of darkness would be pushed back and defeated. Thank you that you are still at work by your Spirit to draw people to yourself. Make us sensitive to discern where you are at work, wise to know how we may be used to speak of you and unashamed in our testimony.

Peter Misselbrook