The Lost Wisdom
Guest Contribution submitted by Debbie’s Dad
Concerning Edom. Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Is there no longer any wisdom in Teman? Has good counsel been lost to the prudent? Has their wisdom decayed?
Today’s verse is Jeremiah’s introduction to a prophecy about the destruction of the people of Edom, a country to the south and east of the Dead Sea. The ancient city of Petra, Jordan is a tourist site today with amazing buildings carved out of the sone mountainsides – this was Edom. It claimed to have wise men that created the cities, and impregnable stone dwellings provided security. The Edomites (descendants of Esau) were continually in conflict with Judah, and Jeremiah asked how their wisdom was lost and decayed. Obadiah similarly prophesied that the wise men of Edom would be destroyed (Obadiah 8). Why would this be? Because these people, though knowledgeable in stonework, industry, and strategy, lacked the spiritual wisdom to trust in their Creator.
In the 1930s, another poet, T.S. Eliot, looked at British society and wrote of the paucity of wisdom in the secular culture and its attitude toward Christianity. He wrote of the frantic search of the people and the failure to find true wisdom and meaning:
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.
[Excerpt from Part 1, Choruses from “The Rock” by T. S. Eliot; 1934]
Even as the Edomites were centuries earlier, Eliot observed the society failed to find the “wisdom …lost in knowledge”. Of course, this was because in their frenzied search, they only moved “farther from God and nearer to the Dust.”
The book of Proverbs describes the path of those who cannot find true wisdom (Proverbs 1:29-31) because they did not choose the fear of the Lord (the beginning of wisdom):
- They would not accept my counsel,
- They spurned all my reproof.
- So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way
- And be satiated with their own devices.”
This was the path of the Edomites – they gained knowledge, built a society, smelted copper, and carved beautiful buildings that remain today for tourists to marvel at. But they were conquered by the Babylonians in the sixth century, subsumed by the Romans in the second century, and were called “Idumeans.” Herod the Great was an Idumean, the king of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth, and the fool that sought to kill the infant Son of God and slaughtered the innocent male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem (Matthew 2). Herod was a child of the Edomites, and he “ate the fruit of his own way and lived by his own devices.”
Pray that our society will not have “Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word” as Eliot would say; rather, we should pray that we will …Know that wisdom is thus for your soul; If you find it, then there will be a future, And your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 24:14). We do not want the Lord to look at us and ask, “Is there no longer any wisdom?”