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2. The Wise and All-Encompassing Providence of God.


The majestic fullness of the providential acts of God in this world are revealed sequentially in two forms: 1)The Old Testament states that the entire universe is preserved in God’s "right hand"; 2) The New Testament shows the highest and most perfect expression of God’s wisdom and love in the incarnation of the Son of God for the salvation of the world and its transfiguration into the Kingdom of Glory.

In this latter conclusive, expressly New Testament meaning, Wisdom is the name given to the Lord Jesus Christ. "The Greeks seek after wisdom, — writes the Apostle Paul, — but we preach Christ crucified... Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." —"But we speak the wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom…which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him" (1 Cor. 1:2). Either in this apparent, open fashion, or in a mysterious and hidden one, everything is united within one all-encompassing Wisdom of God. And the Church firmly and directly preaches our Saviour to be the Personified Wisdom: "Neither of wisdom or power or wealth do we boast, but of Thee, the Father’s facet of wisdom, Christ!" (Irmos 3, Canon 4th tone).

Yet we need to consider the Old Testament image of wisdom more attentively, because of the present-age attempts to introduce something new, also under the name of "Wisdom," into Orthodox faith.

The first page of Genesis, relating the creation of the world, offers us enough to stop searching for some independent worldly wisdom outside the Tri-faceted wisdom of God. The 103rd psalm would be sufficient, even in its first lines: "O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honor and majesty…In wisdom hast Thou made them all!." The 138th psalm marvelously presents the consciousness of a simple believer, whose soul is entirely immersed in God’s providence:

O Lord, Thou hast searched me, and known me.

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off.

Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether.

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.

If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.

For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

My substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

The Old Testament representation of God’s Providence is universally Christian. And one must admit that these feelings are ancient, genuine, and perceived with freshness. The Providence of God in Old Testament writings is often presented through live images, through allegories and personifications, because life itself is the subject. The same methods are used in artistic literature, and even in our usual speech.

Among the Old Testament books, two books in particular abundantly refer to wisdom. These books are the Proverbs and the Wisdom of Solomon. Personification is widely employed in them, giving the reader an opportunity to imagine the Biblical wisdom as personified. But, in fact, imagery is the most common method of expressing one‘s thoughts.

Allegory is present in our speech all the time: the weather is "deceptive," sight is "failing," holidays are "approaching" and so on. Personification is the general artistic technique. "Why, gloomy woods, are you pensive? Darkened with sadness?" "Heavenly clouds, eternal pilgrims! Racing on the azure steppes in a chain of pearls, same as I, outcasts, from the beloved north toward the southern lands." (M. Lermontov) "My bluebells, flowers of the steppes? Why do you, azure ones, look at me?"(Russian folk song).

In addition, the writer of the book of Proverbs gives a warning in its first words that he is writing mainly for the "youth" and for the "simple," hoping that the reader is capable of "comprehending the parable therein," that is, allegory, "intricate speech and its riddles."

At the same time the author definitely states that he is speaking of the Godly source of Providence present in the world. We thus have the right to relate separate excerpts of the two above-named books to others, where the Old Testament thought rises to the coming of the Savior into the world as the highest expression of God’s Providence.

Human wisdom is also praised in these books, if it is united with moral sensitivity, because the latter also has Godly Wisdom as its source.

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