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God’s Word for You

Obadiah 8 The wisdom of the wise

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, March 17, 2018

8 “In that day,” declares the LORD,
  “will I not destroy the wise men of Edom,
  men of understanding
  in the mountains of Esau?

The words that are parallel here are “wise men” and “men of understanding.” The first term is hokam (חָכָם), which can mean clever or skillful at a craft (“the skilled craftsman,” Isaiah 3:3), or wise in learning (“the wise men who understood the times,” Esther 1:13). Here it’s paired with “men of understanding,” so it seems pretty clear that the Lord is threatening Edom’s thinkers and philosophers; men of insight and understanding. The words are different, but the thought is almost identical to 1 Corinthians 1:19: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

What will stop the great thinkers from coming under the judgment of God? One of the greatest physicists of human history died this week. Stephen Hawking was a man who overcame a terrible disability (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) to continue to blaze trails in studying the radiation emitted by black holes and many other intellectual pursuits. But he was crippled by something far worse than ALS. It was his own hardened heart and opposition to Christ. He did not merely doubt; he opposed Christ, and therefore he falls under the judgment here: the wise men and the men of understanding who will be destroyed and brought down by God’s judgment. His punishment is too terrible to contemplate. We must use it as a warning: Anyone who uses the gifts given to them by God to oppose God and to try to lead people away from Christ makes himself into a shark in the sea of sin. But thanks be to God, who rescues us from these shark-infested waters, and saves us from drowning in the sea of unbelief.

Jesus was gentle and inviting with his words. He liked to quote Isaiah: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3; cp. Matthew 12;20). Cherish your faith. Most of us are not blessed with world-class minds, but recognize what a greater blessing it is to have a heaven-class faith. You may not understand cosmology or quantum mechanics. You may never have heard of a Higgs boson. But you know Jesus Christ. Put your faith in him and cherish his forgiveness. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). Let that be the wisdom you embrace for eternal life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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