God: the Source of Life, Knowledge, and Wisdom (Isaiah 28ff.)
More than any other writing prophet, Isaiah takes us repeatedly to a vision of God that, once grasped, will cause us to bow low in humble adoration. God is the source of all that we are, all that we have and all that we know. Three hundred years earlier, Solomon had encapsulated this truth: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7) and “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Now Isaiah shows us the God who is the source of that knowledge and wisdom, and why our understanding of who God is matters in our life and work.
God has given us our very being: “[You] have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Is. 46:3-4).
God has given us knowledge and understanding: “I am the Lord your God who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go” (Is. 48:17). The God who made us and gave us understanding is the only source of such knowledge:
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?.... See, he takes up the isles like fine dust. Lebanon would not provide fuel enough, nor are its animals enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him; they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? (Is. 40:12-18).
Once we recognize God as the source of our life, our knowledge and our wisdom, it gives us a new perspective on our work. The very fact that we have the knowledge or the skill to do the work we do takes us back to our source, God, who created us with the skill sets and interests that come together in our lives. Living in the “fear” (the awe-filled awareness) of the Lord is the starting point for knowledge and wisdom. Recognizing this also allows us to learn from others to whom God has given complementary knowledge or skill. Creative teamwork on the job is possible when we respect God’s work in others as well as in ourselves.
When we experience God at work in us, our work becomes fruitful. “The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding” (Is. 28:26, NLT). We could also say that “the artisan knows just what to do, for God has given him or her understanding.” Or, “the entrepreneur knows just what to do, for God has given that person understanding.” In mysterious ways, we become co-creators with God in our work as instruments in God’s hand for purposes deeper than we even know.