The Wisdom of God
A series of questions Almighty God put to Job can lead us in the way of true wisdom.
INFINITE is the wisdom of God! And great is the power of the One who can do everything and has made all things. Yes, his creations in heaven and earth testify to his supremacy and unfathomable wisdom. His wisdom manifest in nature, both inanimate and animate, stirs us up to worship and glorify him, thus keeping us humble. To man on earth he asks:
“Can you tie fast the bonds of the Kimah constellation, or can you loosen the very cords of the Kesil constellation? Can you bring forth the Mazzaroth constellation in its appointed time? And as for the Ash constellation alongside its sons, can you conduct them? Have you come to know the statutes of the heavens, or could you put its authority in the earth?”—Job 38:31-33.
The Almighty God raised those questions to show the littleness of man, both in wisdom and power, when compared with his Creator. Can man control the many heavenly constellations in which God’s wisdom is reflected? “There are 88 recognized constellations in the heavens now,” says James S. Pickering in 1001 Questions Answered About Astronomy. “Constellations should be considered in the same light as geographical entities. They designate specific areas on the celestial sphere, and are the addresses of all stars and other objects permanently within their borders and of planets, comets, meteors, the Sun, Moon and other temporary visitors to their areas. Constellations are infinite in depth.”
HIS WISDOM IN THE HEAVENS
We do not know which of the mighty constellations or star groups the Most High God speaks of in those questions to Job. Many persons think that Orion is meant by the term Kesil constellation, that the Kimah constellation is the Pleiades and that the Ash constellation is the Great Bear. Some constellations, such as the Pleiades and Orion, are constituted of stars that give the appearance of being held together by chains and cords; so the idea is: Can man loosen the bands of a star group so that they fly apart and no longer appear as a fixed constellation? Can man move these mighty stars from the places God has assigned them in his wisdom? Man can neither place in order the clustering Kimah nor displace the cords of the Kesil constellation. He can merely behold the power and wisdom of God.
The wonderful order apparent in the entire celestial sphere is due to the commands that have been laid down by the Sovereign of the Universe, Jehovah God. God is the One who can bring forth the Mazzaroth constellation in its appointed time. Said Jehovah of all the heavenly hosts: “Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name.” (Isa. 40:26) God, who can call all the stars by name, is the One who calls them forth in their respective seasons; but this is not in man’s province. God can even bring forth the stars to battle, as he did in the days of Deborah and Barak: “From heaven did the stars fight, from their orbits they fought against Sisera.” It is not in the power of man to order the motions of the stars, nor is man entrusted with the conduct of them.—Judg. 5:20.
Even if modern man has gained a little knowledge about “the statutes of the heavens,” can he put its authority in the earth? The laws of nature are the thoughts of God. In his wisdom he originated these laws that guide the heavenly bodies. Man knows that the heavenly bodies exercise a controlling influence over our weather, tides and atmosphere, yet how utterly impotent he is in exercising any command! The heavenly bodies, such as our sun, exercise authority in unusual ways, as the book Our Astonishing Atmosphere says:
“The dark patches on the sun which we call sunspots are believed to be areas of intense activity. Great surges of atomic upheaval boil up from inside the sun. Accompanying these solar eruptions are huge flares that can be seen sweeping out from the sun’s surface into space. And associated with the flares are streams of electrically charged atomic particles that are spewed out from the sun like water from a hose. . . . When sunspots are active the earth’s magnetism is disturbed. Compass needles misbehave, and the earth acts as though it were a magnet influenced by tremendous electric currents passing near to it. Immediately after a sunspot flare is seen there is a disturbance of radio communications over the sunlit area of the earth. And a day later comes the magnetic storm, the aurora, and a further disturbance of radio communications, less severe than the first but affecting the entire world. Electric currents set up in the earth’s crust can be powerful enough to upset telephone communications as well.”
WISDOM IN THE CLOUDS
If man cannot control the statutes of the heavens and exercise authority over the heavenly bodies, what about that which is nearer to our earth—the clouds? God asks: “Can you raise your voice even to the cloud, so that a heaving mass of water itself may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are!’? Who put wisdom in the cloud layers, or who gave understanding to the sky phenomenon? Who can exactly number the clouds in wisdom, or the water jars of heaven—who can tip them over, when the dust pours out as into a molten mass, and the clods of earth themselves get stuck together?”—Job 38:34-38.
Who is it that can raise his voice to the cloud so that it will let loose an abundance of rain? Not Job. No man can command a cloud to appear above him and then order it to let loose its water. The process of a cloud’s letting loose its water shows great wisdom. Research in cloud physics has made much progress, but what has already been learned is that it is one of many complex sky phenomena. There are many factors involved in the process of rain about which man knows very little. Says the volume The World We Live In:
“The processes by which a cloud manufactures rain remain obscure; it appears that several mechanisms may operate, varying with the temperature of the cloud. In the cold upper strata of lofty clouds it is believed that water vapor congeals on tiny floating crystals of ice which continue to grow until they are heavy enough to fall. On reaching warmer levels they melt and descend as rain. At lower levels raindrops may form through the simple coalescence of minute droplets into larger ones. But there appear to be other requirements. One theory demands the presence of microscopic nuclei, in the form of dust or salt particles, upon which the water vapor can condense to form the cloud droplets. Another theory holds that electricity plays an essential role in rain formation.”
Wisdom in the cloud layers indeed! And who has the wisdom to number exactly the countless clouds? The One of whom it is said: “He is counting the number of the stars,” the great Cloudmaker and Rainmaker, Jehovah. (Ps. 147:4) Jehovah, the Source of all wisdom, determines the number of the clouds and when their contents shall be poured out on the earth.
God likens the rain-filled clouds to water jars of heaven, and He can tip them according to his pleasure. And when the clouds have poured down rain in abundance, so that the dust becomes mire and the clods cleave fast together, who can seal up those water jars of heaven and prevent more rain from falling? Jehovah can hold back rain as well as produce it. The prophet Elijah prayed for God to hold back rain: “Elijah was a man with feelings like ours, and yet in prayer he prayed for it not to rain; and it did not rain upon the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the land put forth its fruit.” (Jas. 5:17, 18) Men who have true wisdom take up the words of Jeremiah: “Do there exist among the vain idols of the nations any that can pour down rain, or can even the heavens themselves give copious showers? Are you not the One, O Jehovah our God? And we hope in you, for you yourself have done all these things.”—Jer. 14:22.
With rain and clouds there is often lightning. Can any man give life to the lightnings, so that they may fulfill his wishes? Man may wield electric forces, but the lightnings, who can send and who can control them? In God’s words to Job the lightnings are represented as reporting to God the accomplishment of their task: “Here we are!” Could Job get the lightnings to do so for him? One of the assigned tasks of lightning is to fertilize the earth electrically. “Lightning is the world’s greatest producer of nitrogen compounds,” said Science Digest for July, 1956. “In very dilute forms, these compounds fall to earth with rain. . . . It’s even considered possible that without lightning, virtually all plant life on earth might actually wither and die.” What wisdom in lightning! “The scientific study of lightning has been going on for more than two hundred years,” reports the volume Our Astonishing Atmosphere. “Though lightning has been recognized for so long as a mammoth electric flash, its cause and detailed behaviour have remained mysteries to the present time.”
HIS WISDOM IN ANIMAL CREATION
Jehovah now takes examples of his wisdom from the animal creation, illustrating the various endowments and capabilities of living creatures. Jehovah asks: “Can you hunt prey for a lion itself and can you satisfy the lively appetite of young lions, when they crouch in the hiding places, or keep lying in the covert for an ambush? Who prepares for the raven its food when its own young ones cry to God for help, when they keep wandering about because there is nothing to eat?”—Job 38:39-41.
All the animal creation shows the matchless handiwork and loving providence of God beyond man’s understanding. Even before man was created and given dominion over the fish and fowls and beasts and creeping things, God was providing for these creatures, the lion as well as the raven. God asks Job if he would undertake to provide food for the lions. Was not this far beyond his power? The lions can shift for themselves. “The maned young lions are roaring for the prey and for seeking their food from God himself.”—Ps. 104:21.
God’s care does not end with the noble lion; it extends even to the raven, though unclean by Mosaic law. (Deut. 14:11-14) The raven was the first creature to go forth from the ark and to stay out and trust to Jehovah God to provide for it in the earth cleansed by the global Flood. (Gen. 8:6, 7) Not only is the raven’s home in desolate places, but its food is scanty and must be sought over a wide extent of country, as indicated by its habit of flying restlessly about in search of food. They get their food from God. God’s own Son said: “Mark well that the ravens neither sow seed nor reap, and they have neither barn nor storehouse, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more worth are you than birds?” (Luke 12:24) Since God provides for the unclean raven, we can be certain that he will not forget or forsake those persons who put their trust in him.
God cares for the wild animals at their season of greatest need. Their instinct comes directly from God and guides them to help themselves when giving birth. So God asks Job: “Have you come to know the appointed time for the mountain goats of the crag to give birth? Do you observe just when the hinds bring forth with birth pangs? Do you count the lunar months that they fulfill, or have you come to know the appointed time that they give birth? They bow down when they cast forth their young ones, when they get rid of their pangs. Their sons become robust, they get big in the open field; they actually go forth and do not return to them.”—Job 39:1-4.
Can any man keep an exact register of all these happenings and exercise such providential care over these creatures, the mountain goats and the hinds, as to preserve them from dangers during the time of giving birth? Wild goats and hinds are continued from age to age, but not by the care of man. If man even knew when they were going to bring forth, could he tend to them as he can for domestic animals?
Man has difficulty even getting near mountain goats, to observe them in the wild state. “The high mountains,” wrote the psalmist, “are for the mountain goats.” (Ps. 104:18) At one time Saul hunted for David “upon the bare rocks of the mountain goats.” (1 Sam. 24:2) The lonely cliffs above the Dead Sea in the wilderness of En-gedi must have been special haunts for wild goats. But wherever they live, man does not find it easy to get close to them, as the Swiss traveler Johanne Burckhardt wrote in his Travels in Syria:
“As we approached the summit of the mountain [St. Catherine, adjacent to Mount Sinai], we saw at a distance a small flock of mountain-goats feeding among the rocks. One of our Arabs left us, and by a widely circuitous route endeavored to get to the leeward of them, and near enough to fire at them; he enjoined us to remain in sight of them, and to sit down in order not to alarm them. He had nearly reached a favorable spot behind a rock, when the goats suddenly took to flight. They could not have seen the Arab; but the wind changed, and thus they smelt him.”
Just as the mountain goats get along without man, so do the hinds, the female deer. By God-given instinct, when the hind knows she is about to give birth, she secludes herself in the forest and conceals her young and cares for it. Her young ones soon “become robust” and “go forth and do not return.” They shift on their own, cared for by God.
Jehovah’s questions to Job should stir us to worship him, to trust him and to study, not only his Book of nature, but his written Word, the Book of life-giving wisdom. Then our thankfulness for his goodness will be increased: “Respond to Jehovah with thanksgiving, you people; . . . the One who is covering the heavens with clouds, the One preparing rain for the earth, the One making the mountains to sprout green grass. To the beasts he is giving their food, to the young ravens that keep calling.” “Jehovah is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works.”—Ps. 147:7-9; 145:9.