I recently spoke at my church on the subject of Treasure -‘riches stored in secret places’ . The talk was developed from an extended meditation on bible passages about treasure, riches, gold and silver. I only scraped the surface – there are many more passages I could have chosen.
Bob Gass in Word for Today last week had two items relevant to what I want to say this morning.
The first was to encourage us that there is no substitute for spending time alone with God. There He gives us: ‘hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places’ (Is 45:3). The best place to find these treasures is in God’s word.
Later last week, Bob encouraged us to ‘place these words on your heart. Get them deep inside you’ (Deut 11:18 TM). That reminded me of another passage in The Message which talks about meditating on the word of God ‘Righteous chews on wisdom like a dog on a bone, rolls virtue around on his tongue. His heart pumps God’s word like blood through his veins’ (Ps 37:30,31 TM).
Today I want to talk about that treasure. The Bible has a lot to say about it. In the New Testament it is linked to the Gospel:
In Colossians, Paul prays ‘that they may have the full riches of complete understanding… that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Col 2:3) – again, God’s talking about hidden treasure, we have to dig about, make an effort to find it.
Earlier in the same letter, Paul writes that he was given ‘the word of God in its fullness – the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages… the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Col 1:-27).
So here we have treasure linked to the mystery of God – the Gospel – and to wisdom and knowledge.
Turning to the OT, Proverbs is all about wisdom and in the early chapters Solomon tells his son ‘wisdom… insight… understanding if you look for it as for silver, and search for it as hidden treasure… then you will find the knowledge of God.’ Pr 2:2-5
He goes on, ‘choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire compares with her.’ Pr 8:10,11.
‘those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honour… my fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses silver.’ Pr 8: 17-19.
‘my fruit is better than fine gold’ – which made me think of the fruit of the Spirit: ‘love – joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith/or faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’ Gal 5:22,23.
You could argue that wisdom is the Holy Spirit. Pr 8 goes on, ‘the Lord possessed me at the beginning of his way, before his works of old,’ v22. This verse varies depending on the translation, but the gist of it is that wisdom has been around since before time began.
You could also argue that just as God is love, so also He is wisdom.
I’ve since looked up some commentaries where it is suggested that wisdom is the Word, i.e. Jesus as in John 1, ‘in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. eH He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made.’
The Holy Spirit was also there at Creation – hovering over the waters (Gen 1:2)
But we needn’t worry too much about whether wisdom is Jesus or the Holy Spirit – we worship the triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all God.
But I digress….
To return to the NT,
Paul writes about the gospel as – ‘the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages… the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Col 1:-27). And then ‘the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Col 2:3)
The gospel, mystery of God, Christ – Christ is the gospel. It’s a mystery that’s been kept hidden, but has now been revealed in Christ.
What about us? We have this treasure in jars of clay – we are but dust (Ps 103:14), yet God entrusts His treasure to us. Paul gives a reason for this ‘we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us’ 2Cor 4:7.
And what are we to do with this treasure?
Give it away!
‘Freely you have received, freely give’ Mt 10:8 Jesus was sending out the Twelve, instructing them to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is near, to heal the sick, cast out demons – and they were to do this free of charge, ‘Freely you have received, freely give’
Jesus also likened the kingdom of heaven, or the gospel, to treasure hidden in a field, and a pearl of great price. Mt 13:45&46 which people will sell all that they have to obtain – yet we have it free of charge. A free gift to us, which cost Jesus everything on the cross.
Paul also says that he preaches free of charge: ‘When I preach the gospel, I can’t boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I don’t preach the gospel! …and what is my reward?…. that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge’ 1Cor 9:16&18.
So we give this treasure away – and we can’t keep quiet about it.
Even in OT times, the prophets couldn’t keep quiet, Jeremiah wrote: ‘if I say “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot’ Jer 20:9.
The people did not want to hear Jeremiah’s words of coming disaster, but he couldn’t keep quiet.
The same with Peter and John in Acts. They saw a crippled man begging and told him ‘silver and gold have I none. But what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk’ Acts 3:6. The priests and religious leaders took exception to this and hauled them up before the Sandhedrin and told them not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore. Peter and John refused saying they would obey God rather than men, ‘we can’t help speaking about what we have seen and heard’ Acts 4:20
Peter wrote that we are always to be prepared to give and answer when asked for the reason for the hope, the heavenly hope that we have 1Pet 3:15.
People may question our motives in speaking about Jesus and accuse us of trying to force our opinions on them. Not so, we are like the men with leprosy in the OT who were outside the gates of Samaria. The Arameans were laying siege to the city and everyone inside was starving. The men decided to risk asking the Arameans for help, and went to their camp – only to find that the arameans had all fled. So they started taking gold and other things from the tents – then they realised that that was wrong, they should go and tell the city officials – it was too good to keep to themselves 2Ki 7:9
It’s the same with us – we have this treasure, the gospel, the words of eternal life, and it’s too good to keep to ourselves.
First of all we need to spend time with God, getting close to Him, and meditating on His Word.
Digging in His Word for hidden treasure – and when we find it, tell others, give it away. God will always give us more. In God’s crazy arithmetic, the more we give away, the more He gives.