Practical Wisdom in the Space Age
“The making of wisdom succeed means advantage.”—Eccl. 10:10.
1. Despite man’s plunge into the “space age” recently, why must there be something faulty about his wisdom?
RECENTLY man’s wisdom plunged him into what he calls “the space age.” Yet man’s wisdom has not opened for him the way to heaven. By hundreds of thousands of miles man, by means of his instruments, has penetrated into outer space to learn some of its secrets. Despite all this wisdom, man has not gained access into heaven, the home of God. By all his probing into the bottomless depths of space scientific man is not even interested in learning more about God, the Creator. Is there not, then, something faulty about man’s “space age” wisdom? Is it practical?
2, 3. (a) How does scientific man probing into deep space show himself to be like the unreasoning cow? (b) To what words of Solomon does he take no heed?
2 The farther that inquiring man reaches into deep space with rockets and satellites equipped with measuring instruments, the more he is confronted with the evidence that there is one God of all creation, that God is, that the intelligent Creator of all the universe is. Man is obliged to see and acknowledge the wisdom, the understanding, the knowledge and the discernment with which all the universe came into existence. But reliance upon his own wisdom and pride in his own accomplishments make man unreasonable, just like a dumb brute beast. A cow in the field looks at the wonders of earth and sky but cannot appreciate that there is a supreme, all-powerful, all-wise Creator who made and arranged all these glorious things in all their array and harmony. So the prideful man of science in the space age has become. He sees, but he reasons not and understands not. He wants to avoid the fact that there is a God to whom he is responsible and whose will he should seek to know and to do. He therefore does not himself use qualities that he sees exhibited in the works of creation, and he proves his materialistic wisdom to be impractical. He takes no heed to the following words penned by a famous king who had practical wisdom thousands of years before the space age:
3 “Jehovah himself in wisdom founded the earth. He solidly fixed the heavens in discernment. By his knowledge the surging waters themselves were split apart, and the cloudy skies keep dripping down light rain. My son, may they [that is, wisdom, discernment and knowledge exhibited in God’s creation] not get away from your eyes. Safeguard practical wisdom and thinking ability.”—Prov. 3:19-21.
4, 5. (a) What reasons did King Solomon give for advising us to keep such faculties? (b) How do the reasons given by Solomon apply especially to this time?
4 But why should we keep such wisdom, discernment and knowledge before our mental eyes as being connected with Jehovah God as the Creator? Why safeguard the wisdom that is practical, and why hold onto our thinking ability, not letting it be regimented by domineering, self-seeking men? The king of practical wisdom continued writing to explain why, saying: “And they will prove to be life to your soul and charm to your throat. In that case you will walk in security on your way, and even your foot will not strike against anything. Whenever you lie down you will feel no dread, and you will certainly lie down and your sleep will certainly be pleasurable. You will not need to be afraid of any sudden dreadful thing, nor of the storm upon the wicked ones, because it is coming. For Jehovah himself will prove to be, in effect, your confidence, and he will certainly keep your foot against capture.”—Prov. 3:22-26.
5 Such benefits from practical wisdom, discernment, knowledge and thinking ability in connection with Jehovah God are indeed needed in this time of fear of surprise attack, of a shower of death from the skies, of a violent death to our souls from outer space or from deep submarine levels of the great oceans. Aside from such things of man’s causing, there is the universal war of Armageddon that is coming like a storm upon all those who are wicked in God’s sight. The military scientists freely admit they have no defense against missile warfare. Much less so have they against Armageddon.
6, 7. (a) That it is useless to look to man to teach practical wisdom was shown by what Columbia University student recently? (b) In dismissing the suit how did the Superior Court judge rule against looking to things human for wisdom?
6 In the face of such manifest lack of discernment and understanding on the part of the scientists of this space age, it is of no use to look to man himself for practical wisdom that will mean a secure life for us in happiness and peace. Here, now, is something of an illustration of this. A young man of the State of New Jersey attended the Columbia University in New York city. Later he sued the university at law for his tuition money and damages for the time that he had spent at Columbia University as a student. Why? The New York World Telegram and Sun reports: “He claimed Columbia detained him by falsely professing to teach wisdom.”
7 Superior Court Judge Gerald Foley dismissed the suit on June 13, 1958. Said he: “If there is one thing a person of ordinary intelligence knows, it is that wisdom cannot be taught, if indeed, it can even be defined.” Then the judge made a powerful reference to human inability when he concluded with these words: “No rational person would accept the claim of any man or institution that wisdom can be taught and no rational person would draw from the material [presented in this legal case] that Columbia conveyed the impression that it could or would teach wisdom.” However, the New York World Telegram and Sun reported that the former Columbia University student is unsatisfied and says “he will appeal the dismissal of his suit charging the institution with failing to teach him wisdom.”—June 14, 1958.
8, 9. (a) From where was the Superior Court judge not in position to say that man alone gets wisdom? (b) From where did Solomon acknowledge that he got his wisdom, and what did he say of its benefits?
8 We have every reason to believe that the Appeals Court will affirm the sane ruling of this Superior Court judge, that wisdom cannot be taught by any worldly institution of man. It was not within the province of this judge of a nonreligious court to say that wisdom comes only from the heavenly source, that is to say, from Jehovah God, whose four main personal qualities are wisdom, justice, power and love. It was God who, in the first place, implanted in man what wisdom man possesses; and thus man was created on the human level in the image and likeness of God his Maker. So man ought to display more common sense than a cow, now in this “space age” especially. Man ought to get some of the understanding and discernment that wise King Solomon had, which is written down and preserved for us in the Bible book of Proverbs. King Solomon knew from where he got his wisdom, and he was humble and thankful enough to confess it. In Proverbs 2:6-22 he wrote down:
9 “Jehovah himself gives wisdom; out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment. And for the upright ones he will treasure up practical wisdom; for those walking in integrity he is a shield, by observing the paths of judgment, and he will guard the very way of his men of loving-kindness. In that case you will understand righteousness and judgment and uprightness, the entire course of what is good. When wisdom enters into your heart and knowledge itself becomes pleasant to your very soul, thinking ability itself will keep guard over you, discernment itself will safeguard you, to deliver you from the bad way, from the man speaking perverse things, from those leaving the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, from those who are rejoicing in doing bad, who are joyful in the perverse things of badness; those whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their general course; to deliver you from the strange woman, from the foreign woman who has made her own sayings smooth, who is leaving the confidential friend of her youth and who has forgotten the very covenant of her God. . . . As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”
10. How is man’s wisdom shown to be impractical, but how is the wisdom that we get and use from God shown to be practical?
10 Man’s wisdom in this “space age” has increased the dangers, the hazards for him and the threats to his very existence amid all the material advantages that he enjoys. It is therefore impractical wisdom. Not so the wisdom that Jehovah God gives, together with the knowledge, discernment and understanding that he also gives. These things from him help us to be upright and to walk in integrity according to a higher standard than man’s, according to God’s standard. Just think of having Almighty Jehovah God as our shield because we walk in this integrity. And if we are upright, just think of this God as treasuring up something for us, “practical wisdom,” or, really, the fruitage of practical wisdom, that is, an abiding success, an effectual working, the good effects of our working. In this way we never come to a real loss; we are never wasting or misapplying our efforts; we are laying up treasure with God. And this treasure has to do with eternity, for Jehovah God is eternal. “Even from time indefinite to time indefinite you are God,” said the prophet Moses to Him in worship. (Ps. 90:2) Our treasure is thus assured of being eternal, to time indefinite in the future just as far as Jehovah was God to time indefinite in the past, which means endlessly. Wisdom that brings such an abiding success is truly “practical wisdom,” sound and efficient wisdom. So practical wisdom means more than mere wisdom, such as man now has.
11. What did another man, nineteen hundred years ago, write to the Ephesians about wisdom?
11 A thousand years after wise King Solomon, another man wrote about wisdom, a man whose writings have a circulation today greater than that of any living writer on earth. In his letter to the Ephesians, which is circulated in the pages of the Bible, this man, the apostle Paul of nineteen hundred years ago, wrote these words to his fellow Christians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in union with Christ, . . . his loved one. By means of him we have the release by ransom through the blood of that one, yes, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his undeserved kindness. This he caused to abound toward us in all wisdom [sophía, Greek] and good sense [phrónesis], in that he made known to us the sacred secret of his will. It is according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself.”—Eph. 1:3-9.
“THE SACRED SECRET OF HIS WILL”
12. Why is it that the “space age” scientists have failed to get the blessings that are to be found in those “heavenly places”?
12 The “space age” scientists have set off nuclear explosions some three hundred miles up in space and have sent man-made satellites into orbit around the sun and bounced radar signals off the planet Venus. They have not, however, penetrated into the “heavenly places in union with Christ.” That is why they have not come to know “every spiritual blessing” that is to be found in those heavens. This proves that it is not by means of materialistic science that we gain the spiritual blessings in those heavens. It is only by means of the way that God has arranged; it is only by means of his loved one, Jesus Christ. God’s way has to do with the blood of his Son, that is to say, with the pouring out of the perfect human life of Jesus Christ as a ransom sacrifice for us. Scientists who do not recognize the ransom sacrifice of God’s Son Jesus Christ cannot appreciate God’s undeserved kindness nor can they get the vital benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice. They cannot enjoy the blessing of release from the condemnation for their inborn sinful state. They cannot enjoy the blessing of the forgiveness of their trespasses by God against whom they continually trespass. Only in the riches of God’s undeserved kindness toward repentant sinners does he grant such a lifesaving blessing to us by means of Jesus Christ.
13. How is it “in all wisdom and good sense” that God has made his undeserved kindness abound toward us believers?
13 This undeserved kindness God has made abound toward us believers “in all wisdom and good sense, in that he made known to us the sacred secret of his will.” Not that he had done this in all wisdom and good sense on his own part, but that he has done this by imparting to us believers “all wisdom and good sense.” By this statement the apostle Paul emphasizes that God the Father of Jesus Christ is the source of all wisdom and good sense and consequently what measure we have of these qualities we have from God. Along with wisdom from him we have good sense, prudence, insight. Coupled with good sense, such wisdom is practical wisdom, because it is a wisdom that acts in harmony with the revealed will of God.
14. (a) How did Paul explain that God had not imparted His “wisdom in a sacred secret” to his enemies? (b) Hence what does his revealing of his sacred secret to us express?
14 With all the wisdom that worldly scientists have been accumulating over the centuries they have not been able to solve or unravel the “sacred secret” of God’s will, not to speak of the secret of what life is and how it is produced or gained. God’s will is a secret that he has held sacred to himself until his time to reveal his will or a particular part of his will. Even when he did reveal it, God did not choose to reveal it to everybody, friend and enemy alike. Says the apostle Paul: “We speak God’s wisdom in a sacred secret, the hidden wisdom, which God foreordained before the systems of things for our glory. This wisdom not one of the rulers of this system of things came to know, for if they had known it they would not have impaled the glorious Lord. But just as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, neither have there been conceived in the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him.’ For it is to us God has revealed them through his spirit, for the spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:7-10) In line with that, King Solomon’s father, David, said: “The intimacy with Jehovah belongs to those fearful of him, also his covenant, to cause them to know it.” (Ps. 25:14) For this reason Jehovah’s revealing the sacred secret of his will to us expresses the riches of his undeserved kindness toward us. Therefore, oh how favored we are!
15. What is that sacred secret of God’s will as briefly explained by Paul to the Ephesians?
15 What is that sacred secret of God’s will? It is God’s purpose to have a certain administration of things. According to this administration he makes his Son Jesus Christ the head or chief one of his universal organization, so that all things in heaven and in earth must be gathered together under his glorified Son as their head. This is the administration that God sets up for his universal organization through his faithful exalted Son Jesus Christ. It is a theocratic arrangement of things, for it is an arrangement made by God and also God rules the arrangement, doing so through the one whom He made the head, his glorified Son. Thus his now revealed purpose is “for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times, namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth. Yes, in him, in union with whom we were also assigned as heirs, in that we were foreordained according to the purpose of him who operates all things according to the way his will counsels.”—Eph. 1:10-12.
16. Because of knowledge of this sacred secret, how can we act with wisdom and good sense?
16 Having this certain knowledge of his purpose and seeing that it circles around Jesus Christ his Son, we can act with all wisdom and good sense. Knowing that God “operates things according to the way his will counsels,” we can wisely keep in harmony with his will, and not be disappointed or frustrated by having our selfish plans and arrangements broken up because of their being contrary to God’s will. We will not be deceived into thinking that we are accomplishing something, that we are doing something big, that we are getting somewhere, when, as a matter of fact, we are ignoring God and not acting in line with his irresistible purpose and his arrangement for us to gain eternal life and enjoy a part under his theocratic administration in which Jesus Christ is head.
17, 18. (a) In view of the sacred secret concerning Christ, how do we display practical wisdom? (b) As to the creature’s highest position, how does Paul show who has the almighty backing of God?
17 However, since we have been informed of the sacred secret of God’s will regarding Christ, we can act with the wisdom and good sense that God gives along with that information. We can avoid what is not wise, what does not make good sense or what does not show prudence and insight when it is measured up against God’s will in Christ. We display practical wisdom, therefore, when we subject ourselves to Jesus Christ as God’s highly exalted one and follow him according to his teachings and instructions. Let scientists rocket a man into outer space if they can, yet no man, no creature in heaven or on earth, can get higher than God’s Son, Jesus Christ. No man can subject all nations and governments under himself and maintain his supreme position for all time. This is not God’s will for sinful man. No other creature fits in with the sacred secret of God’s will so as to be the anointed ruler in God’s kingdom. Only Jesus Christ does so. Hence only he has the almighty backing of the all-powerful God. That is why Paul said to the believers:
18 “I continue mentioning you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the accurate knowledge of him, the eyes of your heart having been enlightened, that you may know . . . what the surpassing greatness of his power is toward us believers. It is according to the operation of the mightiness of his strength, with which he has operated in the case of the Christ when he raised him up from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above every government and authority and power and lordship and every name named, not only in this system of things, but also in that to come. He also subjected all things under his feet, and made him head over all things to the congregation, which is his body.”—Eph. 1:16-23.
19. (a) How has the accurate knowledge concerning the holding and exercising of the world domination been revealed to us? (b) Why will no worldly political meeting or “space age” nation decide this matter?
19 What a wonderful, thrilling thing it is to know, then, who the one is whom the supreme, almighty God has appointed to hold and to exercise the world domination! On this point we have accurate knowledge, and we have had it revealed to us, not through the diplomatic channels of this world, not through the meetings of the heads of governments or of the foreign ministers of the governments of this world, but through God’s Word and under the enlightening force of his spirit. Jesus Christ our Lord is the one whom the Father of glory has seated in the kingdom of the long-promised new world, to rule in heaven and over the earth and all who are permitted to inhabit the earth. No summit meeting will decide this, no session of the Security Council or of the General Assembly of the United Nations will decide this. Neither will the nation or the military bloc of nations that has the greatest stock of missiles or that has made the greatest strides in the mastery of outer space decide this. It has already been decided, long ago, nineteen hundred years ago. And since A.D. 1914 the oft-foretold kingdom, whose anointed King fulfills the sacred secret of God, has been exercising the power and the dominion in the heavens far beyond the reach of man’s space rockets and satellites.
20. What further feature of God’s sacred secret will no gathering of politicians prevent?
20 There is a further feature of God’s sacred secret, namely, to have associated with his King Jesus Christ in his heavenly kingdom a congregation of 144,000 faithful followers chosen by God from among men during this Christian era. No gathering of powerful politicians for deciding how the rulership of this earth is going to be split between them will prevent this feature either.
21, 22. (a) What vision of Daniel was fulfilled in 1914? (b) What further part of that vision as to world rulership will soon be fulfilled?
21 All the testimony gathered from Bible prophecy and from earthly events that fulfill prophecy is to this effect: That in the world-changing year of 1914 the vision that the prophet Daniel saw was fulfilled; “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
22 And soon now the further part of the vision concerning the congregation of the saintly followers of Jesus Christ will be fulfilled: “The Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints received the kingdom.” God’s angel explained this to Daniel, saying: “The kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.”—Dan. 7:13, 14, 22, 27, RS.
23. In fighting against God’s decision and arrangement, why will the nations be acting with impractical wisdom?
23 Let the missile-equipped, space-probing nations fight a hot or a cold war over this issue of world domination. There would be absolutely no need to fight if they merely recognized Jehovah God’s decision and action in the matter. In their ignoring and unwittingly fighting against God’s decision and arrangement in the matter they may act with all the accumulated military wisdom of the ages; but they will nonetheless act with impractical wisdom. Theirs will be a war of miscalculation indeed, for they misjudge Jehovah God by the apparently weak, defenseless appearance of his witnesses on earth, the true followers of the Lamb Jesus Christ. Hence concerning the nations who lack practical wisdom and who show no more understanding than a brute beast it is written: “These will battle with the Lamb, but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also those called and chosen and faithful with him will do so.”—Rev 17:12-14.
EXERCISE OF FORETHOUGHT WISE
24, 25. (a) What is the attitude of those who desire to be on the winning side in the universal fight? (b) What advice of the Lamb do we follow?
24 Persons who desire to be on the winning side in the universal fight for world domination do not follow the nations in ignorance of the sacred secret of God. They do not care to be drawn into any war of miscalculation against God and his Lamb Jesus Christ. In harmony with “God’s wisdom in a sacred secret, the hidden wisdom,” these lovers of life and happiness follow the advice of the Lamb Jesus Christ that he gave when a notably great crowd followed him. The question was, Would they all continue to follow him to the end? Did they fully know what this required? So concerning this we read:
25 “Now great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and said to them: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own soul, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever is not carrying his torture stake and coming after me cannot be my disciple. For example, who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and figure out the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, he might lay its foundation but not have the funds to finish it, and all the onlookers might start to ridicule him, saying: “This man started to build but had not the funds to finish.” Or what king, marching to meet another king in war does not first sit down and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand troops to cope with the one that comes against him with twenty thousand? If, in fact, he cannot do so, then while that one is yet far away he sends out a body of ambassadors and sues for peace. Thus, you may be sure, none of you that does not say good-bye to all his belongings can be my disciple. Salt, to be sure, is fine. But if even the salt loses its strength, with what will it be mixed? It is suitable neither for soil nor for manure. People throw it outside. Let him that has ears to listen listen.’”—Luke 14:25-35.
26. What would be practical wisdom with regard to building a watchtower or going to war with a superior enemy?
26 To get the security or the protection of property that a watchtower makes possible, one has to have the funds with which to complete it to its required height. To avoid ridicule or the poking of fun at one, one has to be practical in wisdom and calculate first whether one has enough money to complete the proposed tower, before one ever starts building and wasting time, material, energy and money and showing unwisdom. In war, to avoid suffering a calamitous defeat or even the wiping out of his army and himself, a king has to show good sense and do some calculating. Can he win against the king coming with a double-size army and possibly better equipped? Or would it be safer to sue for peace and not risk a fight? If this latter course is advisable, then it would be practical wisdom for the weaker king to sue for peace.
27. How was worldly wisdom shown respecting handling the 1959 Berlin crisis, but how do the nations not act with practical wisdom concerning the impending universal war?
27 Not otherwise in this space age. Even in the Berlin crisis of 1959 the need to negotiate was seen to be advisable rather than to risk a nuclear war with all the disastrous consequences to both sides in the conflict. But how about the impending universal war between God Almighty and all this wicked system of things? Ah, in this more serious case the nations see no need to negotiate, no need to send now before Armageddon comes like a surprise attack and sue for peace with Almighty God. Yet they cannot possibly win against him. To continue to ignore Jehovah’s warnings through his witnesses until the battle is joined at Armageddon means annihilation for all the nations of this world. So they show no practical wisdom.
28. Where has the spirit of revelation shown us that the kings of earth are being gathered, and why cannot we afford to be like them?
28 We toward whom God’s loving-kindness has abounded in all wisdom and good sense cannot afford to do like the world rulers. We must act with the “spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the accurate knowledge of him, the eyes of your heart having been enlightened.” With our enlightened eyes we see what the prophetic Revelation has said concerning the “expressions inspired by demons” that come forth through the mouths of impressive speakers: “They go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty. And they gathered them together to the place that is called in Hebrew Armageddon.” (Rev. 16:13, 14, 16, footnote) We have the accurate knowledge that the kings are being gathered to destruction at the hands of God Almighty and his King of kings. Personally, we witnesses of Jehovah have acted with practical wisdom and refused to go along with them.
29. How have we acted unlike those kings, and how have we shown hate of those dear to us according to the flesh?
29 We have sued for peace with God through his Lamb Jesus Christ, through whose blood we have the release from condemnation and the forgiveness of our trespasses against God. We have counted the cost, figured out the cost of a thorough, complete undertaking. Determined to meet all personal expenses involved and being sure that with God’s help we can meet the expense, we have said good-by to all our selfish belongings and have dedicated ourselves to God to be disciples of his now-reigning Son, Jesus Christ. This has meant hating or loving less our personal fleshly relatives, father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters. Even our present earthly life we cannot afford to hold too dear to us.
30, 31. (a) Why must we be the “salt of the earth” all the time? (b) After we have undertaken discipleship, why is it impractical wisdom for us to drop out?
30 Now that we have been for some time in the way following Christ as his disciples, we dare not grow weak in our decidedness. We dare not become like salt that loses its strength and is no longer fine. To become so would mean to become useless, a subject of ridicule to this world and unfit for God, in fact, a reproach upon God, hence like strengthless, contaminated salt fit only to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Yes, it means destruction.
31 We must continue to be the “salt of the earth” all the time. (Matt. 5:13) It is practical wisdom first to sit down and figure out the expense of undertaking discipleship. It is impractical wisdom, therefore, after we have undertaken it, to refuse to pay the further expense and continue in discipleship to the end. Worldly wisdom may make it appear to be the best thing for one to drop out, but such wisdom is not practical. It is not good sense, for it dictates what may be selfishly advantageous for the time being but what will mean disgrace and destruction in the end. Practical wisdom never hesitates to pay the running expenses until the entire cost is met and the glorious reward of discipleship is ours! We must follow God’s Lamb no matter where he goes!—Rev. 14:4.