Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hidden Treasure (part 1)

Matthew 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Let’s break down the riches of this short parable to find to see it for all it has to teach us.

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up."

Like treasure hidden in a field, the Gospel is found most often by those who were not looking for it.

Who looks for treasure in an open field? Treasure seekers will spend their time looking in more likely locations- caves, shipwrecks, & shorelines. Spiritual seekers often do the same, hitting all the gurus with appealing messages that overtly sound really good right from the get go. The Gospel has no such appeal with all of its focus on our sin nature. This is how the “seeker-sensitive” word-faith, name it & claim it, blab it & grab it churches grow to the point of seating thousands while the true Gospel treasure is only found by the few drawn to dig into the dirt of their sinful nature.

So there was found the treasure, not intentionally looked for, but stumbled upon in the course of daily life. It seems, at first, to the uninitiated, a purely happy accident.

But the mature come to understand the complete sovereignty of God, that there are no “accidents” in all of God’s creation, happy or otherwise. God is the creator of all we see & He is likewise the sustainer of all we see, down to the most minor of minutia…

Matthew 6:25-34 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (26) Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (27) And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (28) And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, (29) yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (30) But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (31) Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' (32) For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. (33) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (34) Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

If God sovereignly cares even for such trivial concerns as the natural “grass of the field”, of course He would have concern for the Heavenly lasting treasure hidden under that perishing pastureland, now wouldn’t He? This first half of the parable magnifies the absolute authority of God over all of His creation. But note the fuller context of the quote above; though God is fully in control, this does not mean that our life will not have its share of “anxious… trouble” The “trouble” of Judas was known & prophesied of long before it happened, but it was still allowed to happen (Matt. 26:24).

So it is only as we mature & reflect on all the circumstances in our life that led to that supposed “accidental” finding of the riches of Christ, that we realize that it was indeed not a mere “lucky” happenstance that we stumbled upon His righteousness. Surely, it was one ordained circumstance after another that led us to toiling in that field with shovel in hand, merely intent on laboring for another day’s wage, but gaining eternal riches instead. How wrong we were to think that it was we who “decided” to accept Christ into our soul. No, it was God who prepared our hearts, so that at the right time, when we were ready, He could lead us to the exact spot, in the exact field, to dig to “find” that eternal treasure.

The fact that the treasure was hidden directly implies the doctrine of election. The treasure was not exposed for all passers-by to see & apprehend in all of its magnificence. It was instead buried & only found by the “elect”. Many try to quibble with election on ethical grounds, but one thing is for sure- no one can argue with it on Biblical grounds. Election is implicit in this parable by the fact that Christ’s glory is “hidden”, but is also explicit by the mere fact that He using a parable in the first place…

Matthew 13:9-17 “He who has ears, let him hear.” (10) Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" (11) And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. (12) For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (13) This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. (14) Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: "'You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. (15) For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.' (16) But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. (17) For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Parables then have a twofold purpose; they allow the elect natural man, the “wheat”, to peer into the spiritual kingdom, while also shielding such insight from the “tares”, those who would have no such residence there. This is also why Jesus particularly restrained the full revelation of His glory when speaking in public, most often choosing instead the still prophetic, but demure title “Son of Man” in place of the more direct “Son of God”.

The utter sovereignty of God, & the doctrine of election that both Scripturally & rationally descends from that idea of complete sovereignty, are like golden threads weaved through the whole of God’s Word; no one can deny them without concordantly denying the entire revelation of His Word.

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