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Reform Magazine | November 20, 2017

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Chapter & verse: Job 28

Chapter & verse: Job 28

John Proctor on mining for wisdom

At a village chapel service in the Pennines, the local minister mentioned mining. Old shafts lie in the hills, and, at one time, a good deal of valuable metal came out of that ground. Is there a Bible passage about mining? There is one – only one – that covers the topic in detail: Job 28.

Coal wasn’t a big part of life in Bible times. They mined for metal – working metals like iron and copper as well as precious metal like gold and silver. They also mined for precious stones, from marble to emerald to amethyst. There was a lot of small-scale open-cast mining, I imagine, perhaps particularly for iron ore. But this chapter suggests there were more elaborate workings too.

Whoever wrote this chapter knew something about mining and respected the people who did it. These lines talk of skill and persistence, knowhow and courage, commitment, danger, isolation and achievement. They tell of skills to take pride in, of insight and enterprise that depend on experience, of discovery made possible by care, strength and teamwork.

Never think that the Bible takes us away from the practical side of human life. In many places, it faces very directly the world of skilled hard work, and speaks with great respect of those who know that world. Sowing, sweeping, shepherding, fishing, buying and selling, digging and harvesting. All of it can be a line of sight into God. So too can mining.

Miners dig, says our chapter, with courage, ingenuity and persistence. They go beneath the surface, to find value, worth, treasure and beauty. It’s exactly the same with looking for wisdom. Wisdom is a practical thing. It’s about living life the way God wants it to be lived. Living in a way that honours the giver. Handling life with honesty, respect, sense and dignity. How do I show more of that? How can that sort of everyday godliness be more true of me than it has been? …

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the July/August 2017 edition of  Reform

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