Ephesians 4:7-16; Wisdom knows some wonderful things, but not all.

Class Outline:

Thursday July 29, 2021


Moses, the prophets, the wisdom writers, and all the NT writers were true spiritual partners sharing the same Lord, same image, same faith, hope, doctrines of man, and doctrines of God, speaking with the same authority, and making similar religious and ethical demands on their hearers. In short, they drank from the same spiritual well.


While the wisdom literature does not contain anything about the history of Israel, nor does it mention any of the covenants of God with Israel, it focuses more on everyday life than history, more on the regular than the unique, more on the individual (though not outside of his social relationships) than the nation, more on personal experience than sacred tradition. One commentator begins his work on Proverbs (D. Kidner):


“There are details of character small enough to escape the mesh of the law and the broadsides of the prophets, and yet decisive in personal dealings. Proverbs moves in this realm, asking what a person is like to live with, or to employ; how he manages his affairs, his time and himself.” [Kidner]


The principle of wisdom is taught in chapters 1-9 of Proverbs.


Pro 1-9: Wisdom (female teacher) has insight into all life. She is an attribute of God used in creation of the world (no one exempt). She calls to all. She is had by those who fear the Lord.


All the attributes of God are one as God is one. Our finite minds look at one attribute at a time, and God accommodates us by revealing and describing one at a time, but also while He is sure to tell us that He is one. Some overemphasize one attribute to the exclusion of another and they make a heresy out of a truth. God is mercy and God is justice. To God, these are one, but to some Christians, they are Calvinists and other Arminian. There is much error in this. So, as we look at wisdom, we are looking at one aspect of God, but we must try to remember that it is one with all others, and in us, one will all other virtue.


That said, since wisdom was God’s wise master-workman, when He created the world, wisdom is a part of the fabric of the universe. Laws of physics and chemistry and biology; the animal kingdom; flora; etc. all exist under the supremacy of God’s wisdom. Man, with self-determination given by God, has fallen from God’s sovereign will, but God has worked to offer man life, and through Christ, more abundantly that he can imagine. Wisdom will cause a man to live or die because it is an unmovable law of the universe.


PRO 2:1-12

My son, if you will receive my sayings,

And treasure my commandments within you,

2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom,

Incline your heart to understanding;

3 For if you cry for discernment,

Lift your voice for understanding;

4 If you seek her as silver,

And search for her as for hidden treasures;

5 Then you will discern the fear of the Lord,

And discover the knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord gives wisdom;

From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;

He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

8 Guarding the paths of justice,

And He preserves the way of His godly ones.

9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice

And equity and every good course.

10 For wisdom will enter your heart,

And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

11 Discretion will guard you,

Understanding will watch over you,

12 To deliver you from the way of evil,

From the man who speaks perverse things;


After this, chapters 10-31 (10-29 by Solomon), the hundreds of couplet proverbs are given to us and they pertain to all aspects of life.


Followed, the proverbs promise health and a long rich life. This is repeated many times. This truth bears out in history. Wise people, especially wise people who fear the Lord do far better in life than fools or the wicked. And although it is true that the foolish wicked can live long and can get rich, they are by far the minority in their group. They only look like a majority because they often gain power and influence over the populace, but by far most foolish wicked people suffer greatly.


Wisdom doesn’t always seem to be supreme, but then we trust the immutability and faithfulness of God. God is working in ways we cannot understand.


We must also consider that long life and wealth (as referred to in the biblical wisdom literature) do not always refer to length of time and materialism. Long life can mean quality of life and wealth the richness of spiritual life. Christ, after all, was poor and died young according to world standards.


And we must not set the standard of wisdom’s promises on the fact that sometimes the godly wise suffer greatly and the foolish wicked sometimes get away with it.


The standard reward of wisdom is not always followed as we would like it (cut and dry). That is the purpose of the other wisdom books Ecclesiastes and Job. God’s ways are sometime beyond us.


The following scene is soon after the final destruction of Jerusalem and the last of the captives were taken to Babylon. A surviving group of Jews, not taken captive, have plans to migrate to Egypt. They pause to ask Jeremiah, also residing in Judea, to ask God what they should do. They promise the great prophet that they will abide by whatever instructions God gives. God tells them to remain in Judea, promising protection, and if they go to Egypt, God promises their destruction. They go to Egypt and take Jeremiah with them. In Egypt they continue their worship of the Queen of Heaven, who associated with the Assyro-Babylonian Ishtar, known throughout Palestine and the surrounding region as Ashtart (Gk. Astarte). Excavations around the region of Judah have found to date 822 figurines of this goddess, 400 in Jerusalem alone.


JER 44:15-18

Then all the men who were aware that their wives were burning sacrifices to other gods, along with all the women who were standing by, as a large assembly, including all the people who were living in Pathros in the land of Egypt, responded to Jeremiah, saying, 16 "As for the message that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord [Yavah], we are not going to listen to you! 17 "But rather we will certainly carry out every word that has proceeded from our mouths, by burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, just as we ourselves, our forefathers, our kings and our princes did in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then we had plenty of food, and were well off, and saw no misfortune. 18 "But since we stopped burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, we have lacked everything and have met our end by the sword and by famine."


“plenty of food” - the “good old days” of Manasseh’s reign when idolatry was allowed. “Met our end” - the days of Josiah (grandson) who stopped idolatry.


Times of great idolatry sometimes also had strong economies. God tests the hearts of men. These failed, blaming the one good king, Josiah, for their calamity.


They remember the days of idolatry as good. Manasseh’s long reign, though mostly evil, was a time of prosperity and peace. Josiah was a great reformer and did away with idol worship, but he met a tragic death and bad times came upon Judah directly after. These women who worship the Queen of Heaven could care less about the detail of history, and its complicated causes, and prefer, as almost all people do, to oversimplify the world and conclude that things were good for them when they were free to worship the goddess of heaven and bad for them when they could not.


Not everything in history can be understood, but bad interpreters don’t understand what should be known. Josiah was the last good king of Judah. Before him there was evil, but Josiah was Judah’s last great hope. They rejected him and gave into their idolatry, and after Josiah’s death, four terrible kings followed, three were his sons, and one grandson, and then Judah was crushed and the people taken to Babylon. In the minds of these genius’, the whole thing was Josiah’s fault.


I relate this to make the point: times of great idolatry and godlessness in a nation might also be times of economic prosperity. This was the case many times in the history of Israel, particularly Solomon’s reign and Jeroboam II.


“God’s hand conducted life’s opera but from a score which even the wisest could not read.” [David Hubbard, The Preacher’s Commentary, Ecclesiastes / Song of Solomon, p. 96]