There is a mine for silver and a place where gold is refined. Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is smelted from ore. Mortals put an end to the darkness; they search out the farthest recesses for ore in the blackest darkness. Far from human dwellings they cut a shaft, in places untouched by human feet; far from other people they dangle and sway. The earth, from which food comes, is transformed below as by fire; lapis lazuli comes from its rocks, and its dust contains nuggets of gold. No bird of prey knows that hidden path, no falcon’s eye has seen it. Proud beasts do not set foot on it, and no lion prowls there. People assault the flinty rock with their hands and lay bare the roots of the mountains. They tunnel through the rock; their eyes see all its treasures. They search the sources of the rivers and bring hidden things to light. – Job 28:1-11
This passage is an interesting one for a geologist…especially one who used to mine and explore for metals and minerals for a living. I chose to get out of the mining and exploration game long ago for two main reasons: 1) the travel and work schedule were making it very difficult to spend time with my wife; and 2) I could not go on searching for minerals and metals knowing that if I found them the land they were located under would be devastated by mining.
Why do human’s place such value on things like silver and gold? As this passage makes clear the birds and the beasts have no such care for silver or gold. When was the last time you saw an eagle or a bear digging for minerals or metals…they know better. They focus their energy on important things like food and water.
We mortals are always searching for treasure in the darkness when all we really have to do is stop moving and striving and let the light of God overtake us. Instead we try to make our own light…put an end to darkness…by striving to wrestle treasures from the earth…replacing our darkness with artificial light.
Some metals are mined because they are used to make things, but many of the most valuable minerals and metals are mined because they are valuable and can make the person who finds them rich. It is sad how much of our time and energy is invested chasing after “flinty rock” from which we can wrestle riches.
We search the “sources of the rivers” to find treasure. This is what the old gold prospectors would do to find gold. They would pan their way up the rivers until they found the source. God offers us a more valuable treasure. We need only find the One River that can make all other treasures seem like trash.
Prayer: God you are the only true treasure that is worth seeking. Help us to keep this in perspective.