Proverbs 8 Sermon The Eternal Wisdom of God in Christ (Rev. Erik Veerman)
Proverbs 8 - The Eternal Wisdom of God in Christ
Our sermon text this morning is Proverbs 8. You can find that on page 631.
There’s really so much here in this chapter… including some profound philosophical themes on the existence of God. How God in all of his wisdom speaks to humanity in different ways. For the kids here, there may be times when you find this particular sermon a little deep. I want to ask that you try to stay with me, today. But I would also be glad to meet separately to help explain more. Proverbs 8 so rich and invaluable.
As I read, listen for the ways in which God’s wisdom reveals God himself.
Reading of Proverbs 8
“I would believe in God, if he would just show himself to me.”
Maybe you’ve heard that before or thought that or even think that now.
It’s a common response to the question of God’s existence. Over the centuries, many have expressed that sentiment. One person said, “If God actually existed, and if he made himself unmistakably plain, I would have to believe that he exists.” The argument is that because God appears silent, he therefore doesn’t exist.
I don’t want to minimize that thought. We each have family or friends who perhaps think that or may say something similar. Or maybe you are here, today, and that thought has crossed your mind.
Well, my goal today is to make the case from Proverbs 8 that God does speak – that he has revealed and is revealing himself. What I’d like you to see today is an overabundance of God’s revelation to us. God testifies to his existence and his nature all around us and within us. And at the very center of that revelation is Christ.
My hope is that by the end of this sermon that either (1) your confidence in the revelation of God will be enriched or (2) that if you came here today wondering whether God even exists, that you will leave with a profound sense of his presence and that all things exist because of and for Christ.
I believe that is the purpose of the chapter.
Look at the two questions in verse 1. “Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice?” That’s how the chapter begins, and all through it, God’s wisdom speaks. And as you heard, the wisdom of God is personified. She’s speaking. This is not the first time that Solomon has used this poetic device to reveal God’s wisdom. There is a little bit of that back in chapter 1. Wisdom is a feminine noun in the Hebrew – so she is lady wisdom. King Solomon wants his sons to hear her and embrace her.
And look at verses 2-4. What is she doing?
She is calling out. She is raising her voice. On the heights, she stands. At the crossroads and at the city gates, she cries aloud. In other words, she’s everywhere, raising her voice for all to hear. And what is her message? That God is truth and he is just… and he is the creator of all things. And right there with him at every point is his wisdom.
I would say, chapter 8 here, is like the pinnacle of God’s revelation of wisdom so far, perhaps even the climax of wisdom in the Scriptures.
It’s magnificent. These verses take us to the very edge of time and space. It’s like God opens the gates of heaven and reveals not just his wisdom, but himself. He’s there for you to hear and see and to take hold of and to believe.
So let’s now get into this chapter. By the way, there’s an outline in the hymn sheet insert.
Four points and you can see the subpoints in the insert. These brief summaries are what God reveals in Proverbs 8 and our response.
1. He’s revealed his all-encompassing truth in Christ to embrace – the first 11 verses
2. The perfect justice of God in Christ (on which) to rest assured – verses 12 to 21
3. The eternal wisdom of God in Christ to behold – that’s verses 22 to 31
4. And, the last 5 verses, the abundant grace of God in Christ to believe
I won’t repeat those since you have them in front of you.
1. The all-encompassing truth of God in Christ to embrace (8:1-11)
The first 11 verses are the call. We’ve already seen how she’s calling. She’s standing, it says, “on the heights” for everyone to hear. I want you to notice something all through these verses. Wisdom’s call is not just for God’s people.
No, rather the call is for everyone.
· We see that first in verse 4. “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man.” It’s to everyone - the whole world. That same phrase, “children of man” is also found down in verse 31.
· Similarly, in the middle of the chapter, verses 14-17, wisdom is speaking to kings and rulers – all kings and rulers. It says in 17, “all who govern justly.”
· And let me add one more thing. All the calls to seek wisdom or to love wisdom or to listen to wisdom are for anyone. For example, verse 35 – “whoever finds me finds life.” Whoever does. The call of wisdom is for me. It’s for you. It’s for your neighbor, your friend. It’s for all who are near and far off. She’s calling for you.
And what is wisdom’s call? That’s the focus of verses 5-11. If you just scan the verses, you will see that language of truth and knowledge and understanding. And there’s a contrast between truth, which is not twisted or crooked (as it says), but straight, and wickedness, which goes against truth by deception and lies.
There are a couple of things apparent in Wisdom’s call.
· First, truth is objective. What I mean is that truth is out there to be known and understood. She’s saying truth is not something relative or subjective. Wisdom says in verse 7, “my mouth will utter truth.”
· That’s one thing. And second there’s a premise in her call: truth and knowledge can be found. We can seek it. We can obtain it. We can desire truth and wisdom. It’s precious like jewels, verse 11. Truth can be sought after.
Now, those things may sound basic to you, but they are profound. Truth is there to know and find and embrace. I’m using the word “embrace” in the title of point 1 because the three commands here are Learn, hear, and take. You see, it’s more than just knowing, it’s embracing this truth.
Let me add one thing that perhaps you weren’t thinking about – the mere presence of truth itself testifies to God himself. In other words, the mere presence of objective knowledge that can be obtained points to the existence of one who establishes truth and is wisdom.
One of the greatest Christian philosophers of the 20th century was Francis Schaeffer. I’ve mentioned him before. He and his wife started L’Abri in Switzerland. That was a community seeking the truth and wisdom of God.
One of Schaeffer’s books is titled “He Is There and He Is Not Silent.” It’s a great book. If you are the philosophical type, he goes in to the metaphysical, the epistemological, and the existential reasons for God. That would be being, knowledge, and experience. Basically, he lays out the case for God and the Christian worldview from multiple angles.
Schaeffer writes this about truth: “The beginning for modern and postmodern people [basically all of us] is the existence of God and the existence of truth… There is nothing more practical nor more basic than the conviction that there is truth that can be known. Without this conviction life becomes more and more intolerable, and more and more filled with alienation, the more consistently we live with the loss of truth.”
Schaeffer is echoing the words of Proverbs 8. There is truth and that truth can be known.
I think one of the compelling aspects of this chapter is the fact that God’s truth and his wisdom are personal and knowable.
But you ask, ok, but how can we in our finitude, relate to and know the truth of God? That’s an important question.
We read from the Gospel of John chapter 1 earlier. It’s the most beautiful expression in all of Scripture of the wisdom and truth of God entering into his creation. “In the beginning was the Word and the word was with God, and the Word was God.”
The Greek word for “word” is “logos.” Maybe you’ve heard that before. But it’s important to know that it’s not a disconnected impersonal logos as the Greek philosophers would have understood it. No, rather it’s logos, wisdom, that is personal and knowable. Truth is knowable to us because the logos of God became flesh. That’s later in John chapter 1. In other words, the truth of God can be known because God has revealed himself by entering in to his creation.
What I’m saying is that these first 11 verses of Proverbs 8 are fulfilled in Christ. As the apostle Paul put it in his first letter to the Corinthian church, “he,” that is Christ, “became to us wisdom from God.” Because of that we can know the truth and wisdom of God.
Let me summarize point 1 this way: the truth and wisdom of God can be known because the truth and wisdom of God has been made known.
The all-encompassing truth of God in Christ to embrace.
2. The perfect justice of God in Christ (on which) to rest assured
And now, second: The perfect justice of God in Christ (on which) we can rest assured.
This is the second part of Wisdom’s call, verses 12 to 21. You’ll notice that there’s a change in focus. Lady wisdom opened with an appeal to listen to truth. She now turns to declare her character. - wisdom’s character – God’s character.
These verses very much relate to the moral nature of wisdom. I’m using the word justice in point 2 because you’ll see the word just or justice in verses 15, 16, and 20.
Righteous is another word here in verses 18 and 20. And it’s contrasted with “evil” verse 13. So, God and his wisdom are just and righteous.
Now, if you get anything out of our study of Proverbs, I hope this one thing sticks with you. True wisdom is lived out in God’s standard of what is good and right. We’ve seen that over and over. God’s wisdom has a moral standard to it – his standard.
Sometimes people say, “you know, it’s fine if you want to live by some moral standard, but don’t impose your standard on me. I want to live the way I want to live.”
But these verses, 12-21, give a different message. They are saying that God’s standard of righteousness and justice is for all. It’s saying that his standard applies to all mankind, all kings, all rulers (verses 15 and 16).
Not only is truth objective, but there’s also an objective moral standard which defines good and evil. I’ve used the word objective a few times so far… what I’m saying is that both truth and goodness are outside of us. There is a standard which transcends individuals. The definitions of good and evil are not something we each come up with, but are for us to seek and discover.
One argument for an external, absolute moral standard is actually the sense everyone of us has within us of right and wrong. To be sure, we disagree over what fits in each category but it is very hard to deny the innate human sense that moral categories exist. Even those who say that what is good and what is bad are subjective still draw the line somewhere.
Where does that come from? I ask because if we existed by chance, then we would not have an internal sense of right and wrong in us. We would just be products of random events only able to react to stimulus. But we do. We each have a moral sense deep down in the fabric of our very being. That sense of right and wrong testifies to a God who establishes what is right and wrong.
I like how Psalm 19 puts it, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;”
The external law of God is revealed in the hearts of his creatures. There’s a testimony within each of us that testifies and affirms the testimony of God outside of us.
And ultimately, the testimony of God’s law, his standard, is found in Christ. You see, the perfect standard of what is good and true and right is found in the one who became for us the righteousness of God.
Earlier I quoted from 1 Corinthians chapter 1 “Jesus became to us wisdom from God” but I didn’t finish the sentence. Here it is: “you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” The wisdom of God is righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
Here’s what God’s wisdom is declaring: God is just and righteous. He calls us to justice and righteousness. And his perfect justice and righteousness are found in Jesus, who revealed and fulfilled his justice and righteousness. A justice and righteousness that we can have in him.
This section ends with a reminder that the justice of God is not only good, but it’s precious. In other words, God is not imposing his justice and righteousness as something oppressive. No, they are a rich blessing and benefit. God’s wisdom compares their fruit to precious metals, saying it’s even better than gold and silver, verse 19. It’s an “inheritance,” verse 21 to those who love wisdom. An inheritance upon which we can rest assured.
The perfect justice of God in Christ (on which) we can rest assured
3. The eternal wisdom of God in Christ to behold (8:22-31)
Number 3. The eternal wisdom of God in Christ to behold.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been enamored by the beauty and wonder of the universe.
One particular memory comes to mind. I was in northern Wisconsin one summer as a high schooler. And that summer, the northern lights were on full display. It was like these white and green horses galloping across the sky. Wave after wave. I remember being so overcome by and in awe of God’s grandeur and wonder.
I often go back in my mind to things I’ve seen and experienced… beautiful sunsets over the ocean, grand show capped mountains, the milky way on a dark night, canyons and fjords, lush valleys, pale blue glacial lakes, stunning waterfalls.
My heart is always stirred by the beauty and glory of it all, a glory that reflects the glory of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” That’s back in Psalm 19.
Yes, God reveals himself in his word. Yes, he speaks to us in the Scriptures of his character and nature and of salvation and grace.
But even if a person denies the Bible, there is still the entire universe which testifies to the vastness of God’s being. It testifies to his wisdom in crafting the seas and the skies and the stars. Galaxy after galaxy all the way down to the intricate interworking of cells and atoms.
What verses 22-31 do is herald the wisdom of God in all of his majesty as he fashioned and formed the universe.
Before any of it was made, his wisdom was there. As it says, before the beginning of the earth (verse 23) wisdom was there. Before the depths were formed and the springs gushed forth, his wisdom was there. Before the mountains and fields sprung up, God’s wisdom was there.
When God established the heavens (verse 27) wisdom was there. When he firmed up the skies and established the fountains of the deep, wisdom was there. Every step of the way, his wisdom guided as the master workman (verse 30)
And what is God’s wisdom, here, in creation? It is the wisdom of God in Christ. When we think of the Son of God – of Christ, we often only consider his incarnation – when he became man. But the Scriptures speak of his pre-incarnate role in creating all things – as God’s agent in speaking forth the creation all around us.
The author of Hebrews speaks of this. He writes of the Son of God, “through whom,” it says, God “created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” So, when we are beholding the glory and wonder of God in the universe around us, we are beholding the glory and wonder of God in Christ.
Colossians 1 puts it this way, “For by him [that is, Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
And let me add, that includes not just the heavens and earth out there. But it includes the wisdom of God in creating us. This section on wisdom’s call concludes in verse 31. God is “rejoicing in his inhabited world” and “delighting in the children of man.”
We hold a special place in God’s creation. As the Scriptures say, we’re each created in his image. What that means is each of us testifies to God’s workmanship and wisdom – the wisdom of creation that is the wisdom of Christ.
Do you hear it? The wisdom of God is calling out for all of us to hear…
· wisdom that reveals truth which can be known in Christ.
· wisdom in the righteousness and justice of God, which is fulfilled in Christ.
· and wisdom in the creation of all things. All things which testify to God’s glory and all things which God created through Christ.
4. The abundant grace of God in Christ to believe (8:32-36)
And that bring us to the last point, the abundant grace of God in Christ to believe.
There’s an important question to ask? If God has revealed himself in these ways, if his wisdom has been calling out all over, then why are so many deaf to his voice or blind to his wisdom? Why do many claim that he has not made himself known?
Blaise Pascal, the 17th century mathematician and philosopher answered that question well. Pascal wrote, “[God] has willed to make himself quite recognizable… willing to appear openly to those who seek Him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from Him with all their heart. He so regulates the knowledge of Himself that He has given signs of Himself, visible to those who seek Him, and not to those who seek Him not. There is enough light for those who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who [desire not].” Pascal is saying, there’s no lack of God’s testimony all around us. God reveals his truth, and he shows forth the wonder of his creation, and he testifies to his nature within us. Rather, what is lacking is listening to God, and seeking out his wisdom.
Scattered all throughout this chapter is the call to hear, to take, to love, and to seek God and his wisdom. Verse 17, for example, wisdom says, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.”
You see, it’s not a matter of whether God is speaking or whether his wisdom is calling. No, the matter is whether we are listening and seeking God and his wisdom.
These last few verses drive that point home. Wisdom calls out in verse 32, “listen to me.” And again, verse 34, “blessed is the one who listens to me.” That means listening to the testimony of God all around you… listening to the testimony of his truth, his justice and righteousness, his creation, and listening to the testimony of God in his Word.
So I ask, are you listening? Are you seeking the wisdom of God in Christ? He is there, and he is not silent. And when you seek him, you will find him. And a curious thing will happen. You will find that he was the one seeking you.
Chapter 8 closes with a great promise in verse 35, “for whoever finds me, finds life.” I think that verse could end right there, but no, it gets better. “for whoever finds me, finds life AND obtains favor from the Lord.”
When you seek God in Christ, he will not only give you his wisdom, but he will give you life and favor. The Hebrew word for favor is God’s acceptance or pleasure. His grace, if you will. And that favor is only found in Christ. He is the one who brings you to God. To God and his wisdom. Brings you from death, verse 36, to new life in him.
In closing, it is this favor… God’s favor in Christ which reveals all of Proverbs 8.
· It awakens your hearts to embrace his truth – the truth of Christ.
· With God’s favor, you can rest and trust in his justice and righteousness – the justice and righteousness of Christ.
· You can behold him in all of his creation – the creation which he fashioned through Christ.
· And it is his favor which blesses you abundantly with life, when you believe in him
May we all hear the call of wisdom in Christ.