Merchandise of Wisdom, Part I

The Merchandise of Wisdom

“They’re like sheep without a shepherd,” thought Philip, looking with concern over the large crowd milling about restlessly, trying to get closer to Jesus.  Occasionally a child cried hungrily, or someone laughed joyful.  Looking westward, Phillip saw the sun slowly sinking below the dusty plain.  “Soon it will be dark,” he mused, “and they haven’t even brought anything to eat!  Imagine coming all the way out to the wilderness without bringing any food!”

Jesus and the disciples had come to this lonely, desolate spot near Bethesda to get some greatly needed rest.  They had spent so much time ministering to the people during their recent travels they had not even taken spare moments to eat.  Yet, it was so exciting seeing people healed and set free!  Hadn’t Jesus promised such miracles would take place when He had sent them forth in pairs?  But on returning, their fatigue became obvious, and Jesus had led them away from the crowds to recover.

And so they had come to the wilderness to get a few moments rest.  But the crowds had guessed their direction, and before long they were coming from all directions.

By now, as the stillness of twilight lay across the land, Phillip had been joined by Andrew.  “Perhaps we should speak to the Master.  Unless He sends them home, they will faint for hunger here in the wilderness,” he said as he watched Jesus pick His way through the crowd to where they stood.

“Master, this is a lonely place, and the day is now over.  Send the people away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves,” Phillip said as he and Andrew moved forward to meet Jesus.

In spite of His sorrow over the recent loss of His cousin John, who had been beheaded by Herod, Jesus looked with deep compassion over the crowd.d

“They need not go away.  Why don’t you give them something to eat?”  He said, smiling slightly, the way He always did when He was testing their faith.

But Phillip and Andrew did not notice, for they were overwhelmed by Jesus’ suggestion that they feed all the people.  “Why, there must be five thousand men,” thought Andrew, “not including women and children!”

Phillip responded, “It would take a fortune to feed all these people!  And all we have are five loaves and two fishes!  A little boy’s dinner!”

Jesus merely had His disciples gather the people together in groups and have them sit down on the mountainside.  Jesus then took the boy’s food, lifted it toward Heaven and asked His Father to bless it.

Slowly, He broke the loaves and fishes, dividing them among the disciples, who in turn broke the pieces again and distributed the pieces among all the people.

As the people ate, they recalled a similar miracle in a similar wilderness when Moses spoke the Word of God and water appeared out of the rock.  And as they remembered how their forefathers had received manna from heaven every morning, a great sense of awe came over them as they recognized that God had moved mightily on their behalf!


The Spiritual Medium of Exchange

Imagine yourself on the Sahara desert, wandering for hours in the heat of the day without shelter or water.  You need water desperately, but there is none to be found except for the mirages that appear over the sun-baked sand.  And you think, “I’d give all the money I have for just a little glass of water!”

Suddenly you realize that money is valuable only as far as it meets a particular need.  What is most valuable is the answer to the need itself!  If you need water, all the diamonds in the world will not quench your thirst.  And some of the wealthiest people in the world are finding that money will not buy them health, or peace of mind!

Money itself is only a medium of exchange, a system of barter.  But the power of money is extremely limited!  Even if someone appeared with a glass of water, there is still no guarantee that he will exchange that water for your money, especially if he does not have faith in your money!  And money is also extremely vulnerable to the ravages of rust, moths, or theft!


God’s Medium of Exchange

But did you know that God has given His children a better medium of exchange than money?  God has given us the means of receiving whatever it is we need without limitation, without the problems of worldly means of barter which are subject to inflation or devaluation, subject to theft or loss!

It is God’s medium of exchange that Jesus used to meet the needs of those people in the wilderness!  The disciples must have recognized that even if they had the tremendous amount of money to buy all that bread, there was still no guarantee that there was that much bread available to be bought!  But Jesus knew there was a better way!  Jesus had something which worked every time, as a medium of exchange, in spite of the need!

Let’s discover what the medium of exchange is that God has provided for His children:

13 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
14 For her profit is better than the profit of silver
And her gain better than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels;
And nothing you desire compares with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
In her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways
And all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.  (Proverbs 3:13-18)

Now, if you skimmed over this passage, go back and read it again!  See if you can discover in this passage what God’s medium of exchange is.  We know it is God’s medium of exchange because He Himself recommends that we use it!

Wisdom is God’s medium of exchange!  It is the merchandise of wisdom that is more precious than rubies, or gold or silver!  It is wisdom that is a tree of life, that is, the true means of receiving what we need in this life.

If wisdom is God’s medium of exchange, therefore, His means of obtaining God’s answer to every need, then what is wisdom and how is it obtained?

We have just read that the Lord founded the earth by wisdom, so let us look in Hebrews to find out how He did it:

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.  (Hebrews 11:3)

In other words, using faith we know that God spoke His Word, and the very power of that Word created worlds where once there was nothing.  And that is the same Word, the same wisdom, that accomplished miracles through Jesus and Moses in the wilderness!

What is wisdom then?  Wisdom is the God-given ability to apply and speak God’s Word in faith in a specific situation and see results.  We see God’s provision appear where there is no provision, see God’s healing appear where there is no healing, see the water turned into wine, see the stones made into bread, if necessary!  Wisdom is knowing the plans and the purposes of God through His Word.

You might ask, “If wisdom is God’s medium of exchange, how do I receive it?  It sounds like I need it.”

We will find the answer to this question in our next blog article!



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