Closer Look at Scripture

Twinkly Trash: A Closer Look at Job 28

A mine shaft with a beam of light symbolizes the true treasure found in the analogy in Job 28.

Reading the Bible is an essential part of discipleship. When the Holy Spirit gets involved, things can get quite exciting. How many times have you been studying the same patch of scripture you have read 5, 10, or even 100 times and found that the 6th, 11th, or 101sttime, the verses open up to a whole deeper meaning that you have ever seen before? I love it when that happens. It’s even better when the meaning is connected to a situation in your life. That is what happened to me last week. I was driving to work when I had the thought, “Twinkly Trash.” I wasn’t sure what to make of the phrase, but I love analogies and alliterations, so I started pondering. Nothing was really connecting, though, until I got into my prayer closet that night. I found that my bookmark was at Job 28.

An Overview of Job

The book of Job, as you probably know, is about a devoted man of God. God tests Job when He allows Satan to take away his material goods, his family, and even his very health. It is all in an effort to prove that Job is a loyal and righteous man. Job does his best to keep a stiff upper lip through the whole thing. Even when his three friends show up to tell him how wicked he must be if God is allowing all this calamity. (In fact, he probably is getting off lightly for whatever terrible thing he has done). Job first tries to assert his innocence, but ends up admitting that he really doesn’t understand why God does the things He does. He wishes for a mediator between himself and God or at least that he could be dead already. Petulent, his friends are insulted that he isn’t listening to their great wisdom. They accuse him of more wickedness for his apparent lack of the fear of God.

Job responds with the last ounce of his optimism. He asserts that there IS a mediator between God and man in Job 19:35. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth…” (This is an obvious reference to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.) Then his patience runs out. Job’s friends criticize him for being wicked, and they talk back and forth. Job gets a little testy, lamenting that wicked people often seem to prosper while the innocent suffer. His cries in chapter 27 take an abrupt swerve to a new track from a literal discussion about God and man to an analogy between wisdom and mining in chapter 28.

Job 28: The Analogy

Job 28 starts with the idea of how mankind works so very hard to dig precious, sparkly items like silver, gold, and iron out of the depths of the darkness of the earth. These mines are dim and gloomy. And, often people on the surface even forget about the ones toiling away under the soil where food is grown. In fact, people find valuable items so deep that no birds of prey, even with their eyesight, can see these trails. No beasts dare to go there. The work is dangerous, too. Mankind cuts through rock, dams up streams, and digs under mountains. They excavate the mounds to find every hidden and precious thing and bring them to the light. But as hard as they work and as much as they risk, at the end of the day, all they have are temporal treasures, shiny baubles that will mean nothing in eternity.

Job 28:12 says, “But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living.”Here is where we are brought back into the discussion between Job and his friends. Job makes the analogy of man digging for treasure in the heart of the earth and searching for wisdom and knowledge in the natural. Mining operations take skill and know-how. While men will spend their lives perfecting their craft, they neglect to seek after the knowledge that is really worth having.

The Lesson in the Chapter

True wisdom can’t be found in nature or in things that man says have value. But, where can we find it? It’s not in dark caverns or at the bottom of the sea. We can’t buy it with gold, silver, or jewels. It is hidden from the living, and if mankind were to dig so deep that we hit the realm of the dead, occupants there would say that they have only heard rumors of it but have no true understanding. No one, in fact, has understanding but God. He sees and knows everything. He controls the wind, the rain, the lightning, and thunder because He made them. The chapter then ends with the money shot. God says, “‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

The Lesson For Today

So many people these days find themselves like the minors of old. They are searching, seeking, and toiling in dark and dangerous conditions for physical wealth or earthly wisdom, an inundation of often useless information. It is all little more than twinkly trash in the scheme of things. This earth is passing away. The most valuable thing that we can possess can’t be found in any physical places. We can only receive it from God Himself, and that is the fear of the Lord. This true, reverential fear makes us concerned and alert that we don’t offend a holy God so that we turn from the sin that separates us from Him.

To fear the Lord and continue in sin is not possible. Wisdom causes us to make an earnest effort to cease from all sin and offense. In fact, 1 John 3:6 says, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” Yes, born again, red hot believers still sin sometimes, but we keep short accounts. We ask for forgiveness immediately and examine ourselves with regularity. 

The Rest of Job

Job’s point in this chapter is that if we would spend as much effort seeking after the Lord as we do seeking after wealth and earthly knowledge, we would be a lot better off And, that is the path that he will choose to take. The rest of the book of Job has more accusations of Job’s wickedness from a fourth friend who shows up right before God has enough. Through a series of rhetorical questions, He makes sure everyone understands that He is God and we are not. Job agrees, and this pleases God so much that He allows him to intercede for his friends who have now upset God with their treatment of Job and their faulty advice throughout the book. 

One Bible commentary said about Job 28, “What God does not reveal, we can’t know.” That’s as appropriate for Job 28 as it is for the rest of the Bible itself. We must read and study God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit to get to know and understand the great and wonderful Father God who calls us His children. He is our great treasure hidden in a field and our pearl of great price. Everything else that seems to sparkle and shine is little more than twinkly trash.

If you to look closely at scripture, try Three Simple Instructions From God to Us. In it, we look at Hebrews 3-4. Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.