Wisdom is that attribute of God whereby He produces the best possible results with the best possible means. Wisdom and knowledge are not the same, but they are closely related. Knowledge is acquired by accumulating facts, but wisdom (chochmah) results from insight into the things that are studied. Knowledge is the material out of which wisdom builds its structure. An uneducated man may be wiser than the most educated scholar – in fact they often are! When we speak of God’s wisdom, it means His ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means. God in His wisdom applies His infinite knowledge so that He attains His goals in a way which glorifies Him the most. Everything that God does is done with perfect wisdom, first for His own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number of His creatures for the longest time. God sees each thing in its proper relation to everything else, and so He is able to work toward His predestined goals with flawless precision.
When we say that God is wise, we are trying to take a word and fill it with an incomprehensible fullness of meaning. “The Lord of Hosts has made His counsel wonderful and His wisdom great” (Is. 28:29). “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). There is a secondary wisdom which God has measured out to each of His creatures. The wisdom of an ant is not the same as the wisdom of an archangel. But the wisdom of any creature, or of all creatures together, is infinitesimally small when compared to the wisdom of God. For this reason Paul refers to God as the “only wise God” (Rom. 16:27).
Sometimes we are tempted to think that we could do things better than God, but that attitude demonstrates how little we know of the wisdom of God. An infinitely wise God must always work in a manner that cannot be improved on by His creatures. The wisest of wise men, like the prophet Daniel, acknowledged this when he prayed, “wisdom and power belong to Him… He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him” (Dan. 2:20-22). Even the wisest of created beings, the holy angels, who are vastly intelligent and extremely wise, constantly acknowledge the superiority of God’s wisdom. Yochanan (John) was transported to heaven, and he heard the voice of many angels before the throne, worshipping God and saying, “Amen, blessing, and glory and wisdom and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 7:11-12).
When the Holy Scriptures use the word “wisdom” when referring to God and good men, it carries with it a strong moral connotation. Wisdom is conceived of as being pure, loving and good. Ya’akov (James), the brother of Messiah, tells us that the wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy. But there is another wisdom which is not from above, but is from below. Wisdom that is mere shrewdness, cunning or cleverness is attributed to evil men and evil angels, but such wisdom is treacherous and false. It is earthly, natural, and demonic. The Scriptures testify that Satan was the anointed cherub who covers, who had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty (Ezekiel 28:12). He still has great wisdom, intelligence, cunning and shrewdness. One way to understand the history of the world is as a contest between the wisdom of God and the cunning of Satan. The outcome of this battle is not in doubt. The imperfect must eventually fall before the perfect. God has warned that He will take the wise in their own craftiness and to bring the understanding of the prudent to nothing. “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside” (1 Cor. 1:19).
GOD’S WISDOM IS SEEN THROUGHOUT CREATION
God’s wisdom is displayed throughout His vast, complex, organized, and beautiful universe. “It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the universe by His wisdom, and by His understandingHe stretched out the heavens” (Jer. 51:15). There is abundant evidence of God’s wise designs throughout the universe. From the hugest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles we see the most wonderful adaptation of means to accomplish the highest good of God’s creatures as well as His own glory.
GOD’S WISDOM IS SEEN IN “ORDINARY” WATER
To help us better appreciate the wisdom of God I’d like to consider a simple ordinary substance that most of us take for granted – water – simple, plain, ordinary water. Water can be touched and felt. It has weight and requires space, but it has no form of its own. It is tasteless, colorless, transparent, liquid and buoyant. Water is the most abundant substance on the surface of the earth. Seventy percent of the world’s surface is water. Our bodies are made mostly of water. A newborn baby consists of about seventy seven percent water, and an adult about sixty percent.
THREE KINDS OF WATER
There are not one but three kinds of water. Normal water is made up of two atoms of hydrogen joined to one atom of oxygen. Why does this combination of these two gases in this exact mathematical formula produce a liquid without which life on earth would be impossible, while these same elements combined in a slightly different proportion result in a poison? Regular hydrogen has one proton and no neutron in its nucleus. Besides regular water there are two other kinds of water. One form is called deuterium, or “heavy water.” The hydrogen nucleus of heavy water has one proton and one neutron. Tritium (which is produced only in nuclear reactions), has one proton and two neutrons in the hydrogen nucleus. Ordinary sea or fresh water consists of five thousand parts regular water and one part deuterium.
WATER IS UNIQUE TO EARTH
As far as we know water is found only on planet Earth, the only place created by God as an abode for man and other living things. There is no body of water in the solar system or an any other planet that we know of. Without water there can be no life as we know it. The most fertile land without water is a desert and produces nothing. But with water land and lakes and seas can sustain the millions of kinds of plants and animals native to our watery planet.
WATER’S MANY USES
Water is probably the most useful substance on earth. Water carries food to our body’s cells. It is crucial in carrying away the waste that is produced by them. Water helps regulate the temperature of our bodies and prevents them from getting too hot or too cold. The loss of ten to twenty percent of the water in our bodies can result in death. We drink water and we use it in cooking, heating, putting out fires, and treating diseases. Water cleanses our homes and our utensils. We bath in it. We swim in it. We play with it.
Water, when falling downward, can create hydro-electric power, usable energy to light and heat our homes and power our machines. Water is the basis of steam power to run our turbines and engines. Water is almost impossible to compress. It is extremely hard to squeeze it into a smaller volume. This property makes it of value in hydraulic machines. Water carries the world’s products in ships to the ends of the earth. Through rivers lakes and oceans it provides important avenues of transportation. Water is also used in heating and ventilation, for irrigation and hydrotherapy, and in photosynthesis. Water refracts light so that we can see the spectrum of light that forms into a beautiful rainbow. Frozen water forms a surface as smooth as glass and provides a magnificent playground for winter sports. There would be no skiing, no skating, no snowmobiling, no ice fishing, and no hockey without water.
Water supports all life on earth and yet water is one of the greatest solvents. More things will dissolve in water than in almost any other known substance. For this reason pure water is almost never found in nature. Water in wells, rivers, lakes, rivers and oceans always contain minerals dissolved from the earth. Even rainwater, which is the purest form of natural water, contains many chemicals that are dissolved from the air. Every river that runs into the ocean carries these minerals in solution. These minerals help nourish the fish and the other living things in the seas.
Water is life-giving but it can be incredibly destructive when it is out of control. Water can uproot giant trees; water can erode solid rock; it can wear down hills and mountains. It can wipe out cities; it can destroy entire regions. In fact God once used water to destroy the entire world. And yet despite its destructive power there are few things more refreshing than a cool glass of water.
WATER’S THREE STATES AND MANY FORMS
Water comes to us in three states: liquid, gas and solid, but it comes in a multitude of ways. It comes to us in liquid forms like rains, sleet, rivers, streams, lakes, geysers, springs, waterfalls, wells and oceans. It comes as a solid like ice, hail, snow, frost, icebergs, huge glaciers miles long, or in tiny snowflakes. It comes to us as a gas in clouds, dew, fog, steam, mists, vapor and humidity.
WATER’S UNUSUAL PROPERTIES
Snow is water in a solid form with great beauty and other wonders designed into it. Because of the laws that God in His wisdom has designed into creation, every individual snowflake appears in a specific design and is a creation of exquisite beauty. Usually snowflakes appear in a star shaped figure based on a hexagon, or six pointed star. It is not unfair to claim that each snowfall contains billions of gorgeous little Jewish stars falling down from the heavens! The delicacy and beauty of these designs if seen under a microscope, are beautiful beyond description. Snow is so white that almost nothing else on earth surpasses it in whiteness.
By God’s wisdom water has other unusual properties. Most substances contract when they freeze. But water does the exact opposite. When subjected to a temperature below freezing, water will solidify into ice and become as solid as a mineral. When water freezes it expands in size. This soft liquid, when it is frozen, can break through steel or solid rock. That is why it can break our pipes in winter, and crack our streets and highways. This weak substance, when frozen into ice, can form a bridge over rivers and lakes capable of holding tons of weight without the support of pillars or suspension cables. Consider that six inches of ice on a lake can support cars and trucks weighing several tons!
Did you ever wonder why ice forms on the top of lakes and rivers? You probably took it for granted, but it is most unusual. If water contracted, as is normal with most other substances, ice would get heavier than the water it was in and the ice would sink. But ice forms on the surface of the water, even though cold water is heavier than warm water and sinks to the bottom. Since a given weight of ice occupies a greater space than an equal weight of water, solid ice floats. Because of God’s wise design, when changed into ice, it rises to the surface. Rivers, lakes and oceans would gradually become frozen blocks of ice, and all the fish and other water life would die. Eventually there would be little life in the northern regions if it weren’t for this unusual property of water.
Water has another amazing property called surface tension. Water molecules cling together to form a type of surface. A solid metal needle will float when carefully placed on the surface of water. This tension enables water spiders and certain other insects to actually “walk on water.”
Water displays God’s wisdom with its property of specific heat. Specific heat is a measure of the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one gram one degree Celsius. Water has a higher specific heat than almost any other substance. For example, it takes 33 times as much heat to raise the temperature of water one degree centigrade as it takes to raise the temperature of gold by the same amount. In rising 1 degree centigrade, water stores 33 times as much heat as gold does. It gives off 33 times as much heat as gold when it cools. This high specific heat property of water protects most living things (which consist mostly of water) from drastic temperature changes. It also has an important influence on weather and climate. Oceans and lakes are cooler than nearby land in summer and they help cool the land. In winter they slowly give off the heat absorbed in summer and help to warm the land. Currents of warm and cool ocean water greatly modify temperatures in some parts of the earth.
THE WATER CYCLE
The earth’s great water system, the great oceans, the clouds over our heads, the showers of rain, the rivers and lakes of the world, truly display the wisdom of God. “He gives rain on the earth, and sends waters on the fields” (Job 5:10). There is an endless circulation of the world’s water through the water cycle. It is vitally important for climate and life on earth. Without the evaporation and condensation of water the land would consist mostly of swamps and deserts. Lakes and oceans would be stagnant, and the earth would be uninhabitable. The wisdom of God’s magnificent waterworks system becomes even more wonderful when we consider that most of the world’s rain comes from the oceans. Ocean water is saline. It is a mixture of minerals and salts, making it unfit for drinking or irrigation purposes. Before this water can be used it must be desalinated. Here is what happens: the heat from the sun vaporizes the water of the ocean and other bodies of water and converts it into a gaseous form. It is then raised into the atmosphere where the microscopic particles of water are collected, cooled and condensed into clouds. Clouds are really gigantic reservoirs of water floating over our heads, created by the energy of the sun on sea water. The clouds are then pushed over the land by the force of the winds. When the temperature and other atmospheric conditions are right, these huge reservoirs of water begin to discharge their load of billions of tons of water, not in one mighty Niagara Falls, but in a gentle sprinkle of refreshing rain, tenderly washing the dust from the delicate petals of flowers and bringing life giving moisture to the plants and animals.
Its true that man has accomplished the desalinization of salt water, but it is very expensive and only produces a relatively little amount. Some cities have desalinization plants, but they are used mostly for drinking water. But what man is able to do in the most limited way, God in His unfathomable wisdom is able to do in a much better way and on a much larger scale. The forces involved in the production of a single cloud or shower of rain that we take for granted is so enormous that it is a miracle beyond all comprehension. One physicist estimated that in order to produce four inches of rain over an area of 10,000 square miles, it would require the burning of 640,000,000 tons of coal to evaporate enough water for such a rain! To cool the vapors that were produced and condense it into clouds would require another 800 million horsepower of refrigeration working day and night for 100 days! (The state of Michigan has 58, 216 square miles, more than five times as much land area as the above example).
It is estimated that the average farmer receives annually, free of charge, more than 400,000 gallons of water for every acre of his land. The annual rainfall of the states of the Midwest is almost equal to all the water in the Great Lakes! This entire process is governed by God’s wise laws, so that the given rainfall in one area is just about the same every year. God in His wisdom makes this possible year after year to make our lives livable and the prosperity that we have achieved possible. Paul reminded the people of Lystra that God did them good and gave them rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying their hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17).
Furthermore, all these complex operations are automatic. They have their own power source and require no engineer to regulate them. There is no wear and tear in the mechanism, and no cost for upkeep or repair. They cause no noise or air pollution. There is no burning of fuels, no breaking or rusting of pipes; their mechanism operates without ceasing and has never stopped since the day they were put into place by their Creator.
God must love water. He created so much of it. It accomplishes so much. It comes to us in so many different ways, with such beauty and unusual properties custom crafted by a Master Creator. No wonder that Messiah Yeshua compared Himself to “living water.” He and He alone is able to cleanse, wash, refresh, and give life. He and He alone is able to quench the thirst of every soul that is thirsty for God.
When we get to heaven,