But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? – Job 12:7-12
This is short passage with only a passing reference to the sea, but the questions and underlying content here is so meaningful to me as a geoscientist that I just had to dwell here to a bit. We are instructed to learn from the the animals, birds, and the very earth itself.
As someone who has studied the earth and how it works for most of my life I can attest to the fact that no matter how much one learns about the earth there are far more questions than answers. What is interesting and encouraging about this passage is that we are directed to ask, to know, to be curious. I am convinced that in science, and in our pursuit of spiritual truths, curiosity is more important than raw knowledge
This flows against those who would prefer to accept someone else’s interpretation of who God is or what He wants us to do. I am convinced that God wants, as Tozer put it, “children of the burning heart”. He wants us to be like little children exploring our world, learning new things, and yes, making mistakes. God has already told us that he will be there to carry us like a son or daughter when we fall.
The passage implies that the answer to the questions we pose should point us toward a source, the hand of God — a truth that is apparently obvious for those who look closely. In the world, and all that I see, it is clear that all the complexity of life on earth and it’s amazing processes have much more in common with a composed symphony by Mozart than a pile of random sticks.
The last part of passage holds an intriguing question, “Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?” I had to think about this for while, the analogy is imperfect, but it does make one think. Do we often eat foods we have tasted and found distasteful? How often do we allow our ears to listen to words that are distasteful in movies, television, or even friends. It seems like what the last part is saying is that the old and wise learn how to listen to words that bring understanding — the rest they refuse to “taste”.
Prayer: God You have given us evidence for your creativity and love of beauty are all around us. Give us eyes to see it.