Exodus 28:3 Tell all the skilled men to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so that he may serve me as priest.
It’s very interesting to have this passage when I spent yesterday at a seminar on the practical implications of the New Testament concept of the priesthood of the believer. That aside, the turn of phrase in the Hebrew (preserved in the Japanese, ignored in the NIV) is very interesting. It says, “Those wise people whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom.” What is especially interesting to me about this is that this is talking about craftsmen, not academics. Today we tend to associate wisdom with academic credentials, but these men were quite probably illiterate. This is closely associated with a current crisis in America, (one of several) which has people with college degrees out of work, but a real shortage of welders and the like, who are exactly the sort of people referred to here. We tend to have a very skewed definition of wisdom. There are no academic degrees in common sense, probably because it’s extremely hard to teach. Here, God is saying that He fills people with a spirit of wisdom. I think that’s closely connected to what James said. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) That doesn’t sound like an academic degree to me. Opportunities for formal education are wonderful, but they aren’t the definition of wisdom. The Bible is very clear: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 and other similar passages)
I feel like America has a severe shortage of the Spirit of Wisdom at this point! However, focusing on that sets me up as a “wise one” in my own mind, which can be very dangerous. It is very human to feel your own opinions are correct, and that you have all the facts needed for correct decisions. However, in practical reality that is seldom the case, so my focus must be on the Biblical definition of wisdom. The more I press in to know more of God, the more His Spirit will fill me and express His character through me, and that includes the wisdom I need for all the decisions of my life. I grew up in a family replete with academic degrees, which is nice, but a greater blessing was that I was raised by parents who cared far more about God and His Word than their academic degrees. I am to look to God and apply His standards, His Word, to everything, myself included. That should keep me humble! I have spent far too much of my life mired in pride of intellect, proving that intellect is not the same as wisdom. Some Nazi scientists were very intellectual, and I certainly don’t want to copy them.
Father, thank You for this Word. Among other benefits of yesterday’s seminar was the awareness that academic credentials have very little to do with serving God. Thank You for that reminder. Help me receive and apply Your wisdom, rather than leaning on my own understanding, just as You have said, (Proverbs 3:5-6) so that Your will may be done in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!