“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21)
What is our treasure, and where is our heart? These are the key questions that should be burning in the spirit of every Christian. Martin Luther wrote in his Large Catechism, to what your heart clings, this is your god. And that beloved friends is why our land is so full of many gods. Each man is doing what is right in his own eyes, and therefore has become his own god (cf. Judges 21:25). That each man or woman has an alter ego is not as serious an issue as that each one has an ‘ego altar’ where they bow down. Hence, the worshiping of the works of their own hands, i.e. the creation rather than the creator, stands as the indictment in Revelation, and one that leads to final and complete alienation from God. Isaiah’s proclamation is as irrevocable as it is unequivocal
For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning
Against everyone who is proud and lofty
and against everyone who is lifted up,
That he may be abased.
Against all the lofty mountains,
Against all hills that are lifted up,
Against all the ships of Tarshish,
and against all the beautiful craft.
And the pride of man will be humbled,
And the loftiness of men will be abased,
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
(Isaiah 2: 12, 14, 16-17, spiritual portions indented)
None of our beautiful craft, our beautiful spiritual creations in the material world will survive God’s righteous judgment. These treasures on earth will lie in the dust. Rather, we must lay up our treasures in heaven, as all else will be abased.
In the call to offer this website as our Treasury, we did not purpose it in ignorance of what is our true Treasure. It is a treasure that contains a treasury, full of the mysteries of God, for which we are the stewards (1 Cor. 4:1).
Of all the treasures we can imagine, one there is from which all the treasures in heaven flow, and from which even Heaven itself has issued forth. That is our Lord, He is our treasure, the unfathomable Christ,
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Rom. 11:33)
Yes, “We have this treasure” inside of us. Paul reminds the Corinthians that there is another life, another breath, another spirit, that shines within us who are ‘born from above’ [Gk. ανωθεν]. Our treasure is not what we do and what we make, it is not ourselves, but far greater than our human mind can grasp. Thanks be to God we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).
For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as bond-servants for Jesus sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves. (2 Cor. 4:5-7, emphasis added)
Words beyond compare are these. God shines within us, bringing Christ, the Light of Day One (Gen. 1), giving us the knowledge of His glory, viz. Christ himself. If we have seen Him we have seen the Father, and as woman is the glory of man, so is Christ Jesus the glory of God. His light within us conveys the knowledge of God, for which reason we must grow up into the head, even Christ. (Eph. 4:15)
Christ is, of course, The Treasure of which we speak, and also the Treasury, because our Treasury can only be composed by Him. How so? Because, as Peter declared He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). To whom would we go?
If anyone would know what is good and what is true, what is holy and what is everlasting, there is but one place to go. Paul wrote to the congregation of the Colossians about “all the riches of the full assurance of understanding to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, of Christ, in whom are all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom hidden.” (Col. 2:2-3) The words of the Lord as Matthew recorded them on this mystery, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.
It is the disciple’s task then to dig into that field and uncover that treasure. In Matthew’s gospel the kingdom is within you, because your new life is in the Spirit which gives Life (cf. John 6:63), and therefore, you must sell all your possessions and give to the poor (Mt. 19:21) and you shall have treasure in Heaven. Another way to hear these words of the Logos is to understand that we must divest ourselves of this world if we truly want to choose Life. And this is a choice and a straight walk in the ways of righteousness. This treasure, Christ our Life, is hidden in this field, and cannot be seen because this Life is not visible, it is Spirit, and can only be known by its fruits.
To recapitulate this fundamental truth of God’s mystery, namely the riches of the glory of the mystery among the nations
“of which I became a servant according to the stewardship of God given to me for you to fulfill the word of God, the mystery having been hidden from the ages and from the generations, but now manifested to His holy ones, to whom God willed to make known what [is] the riches of the glory of the mystery among the nations, who is Christ in you, the hope of the glory; whom we preach, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, in order that we may present every man, complete in Christ. (Col. 1:25-28)
What greater treasure could there be? Is this not the greatest gift, for which we can never do anything to earn. It is God’s undeserved kindness, grace upon grace, and we must confess, as did Bob Dylan, “What can I do for you?”
This treasure is hidden in this field. It is Spirit, that can come and go, without witness, because it is not of this domain. The riches of this glory require us to sell everything we have; indeed, we are to affirm with David “I shall not want.” And as John wrote in his first epistle (2:15), we are not to love the world or the things of the world. The reason that Jesus told the rich young man to sell everything he had, was because Jesus could see that the man valued his possessions more than he loved his fellow man.
We have this Treasure, inside of us. That is the mystery of God in Christ, with God and Christ dwelling in us, if we keep His word, that is keep his commandments (John 14:15-16, 20-21, 23).
Why then do Christians not remain with the Lord like Peter, saying “Lord to whom shall we go?” How can Christians go to other places to gain knowledge of truth, knowledge and wisdom of God? Does it make sense to read someone else’s Conversations with God, instead of having your own? When the Lord says “My sheep hear My voice, I know them and they follow Me” (John 10:27), can you absolutely affirm that it is true of you? Do you know the Lord’s voice? Can you discern His voice from the voice of your own heart, from the voice of the world, from the voice of your own subconscious mind [contoured by the adversary as ruler of this world]?
This is all important, because it really goes to the question of where you put your treasure, and consequently, where your heart will be.
There is a beautiful song written by Misha Goetz, daughter of evangelist, singer and songwriter Marty Goetz. It is called “Weight of Glory,” and one of the key lines in the song is “We have this treasure inside of us and in your Spirit, Lord, we will trust.” Based upon Paul’s profound expansion of understanding of the indwelling Christ, it captures the spirit of what Paul was saying to the Corinthians.
For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord , and ourselves your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, the one saying “Out of darkness light shall shine,” [is he] who shone in our hearts for [the purpose of] illumination of the glory of God in the face of Christ. And we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the preeminence of the power might be of God and not of us. (2 Cor. 4:5-7)
Could it be any clearer? Our treasure is the glory of God that can indwell as the Spirit of Christ and though it can inhabit an earthen vessel, it is not of that earthen vessel, nor of ourselves, but of God. For this reason we must be humbled greatly to know, that nothing of ourselves commends us, for which reason we are, like Paul, in being good stewards of the Mysteries of God, be trustworthy, and not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus alone.
And those who received Him, he gave to them authority to become children of God, to the ones believing in his name, who were born, not by means of blood, nor by the will of the flesh nor of will of a man but from God. (John 1:12-13)
This treasure of Spirit cannot come about by the will of the flesh, or by physical birth, in short does not arise out of flesh and blood. Rather, this is a divine birth from God into sharing the divine nature of Christ (2Pe1:4), by receiving Him. It is a gift of the same divine life which Jesus had before the foundation of the world, His glory. As flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God — being of this space-time singularity and destined to pass into non-being — it must be a life from outside of this abyss. It is as Paul wrote to the Romans (6:23) “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Now to understand the treasures within this treasury that is the Logos, we may look into the chirality formed by the Hebrew scriptures referring to treasure. There were treasures in the House of YHWH, and treasures in the House of the king, but above all it was understood Isa. 33:5-6 “The fear of the LORD is his treasure.”
The treasure of this world, code-named Mammon, profanes the enduring and precious realities of God. To wit, Ezekiel’s proclamation to the adversary whom he addresses “king of Tyre” (Ezek. 28:12-19). Like the foundation stones of Revelation 21, this ‘anointed cherub’ was covered with every precious stone and he walked up and down among the stones of fire (v.14). These stones of fire are the chiral or mirror image of the living stones Peter speaks of, which refer to disciples as “a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God” (1Pe 2:5). Chirality is formed between this celestial son of God and the priest in Solomon’s temple who wore the stone breastplate, and with the ‘living stones’ that are the spiritual priesthood.
And as the heavenly worship was corrupted by unrighteousness, so was the temple in Jerusalem. The words of Ezekiel speak for themselves.
By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence and you sinned. Therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned your sanctuaries, Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; It has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you. (Ezek. 28:16-18)
So we see in the multiple layers of meaning in this text how not only the priesthood of the temple in Jerusalem, but the rulers, the leaders of the church today, and all the people of the world do actually profane the sanctuary of God, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit within. By desiring the treasure of this world, people corrupt the sanctuary. How true the words of Christ Jesus and how the resonate here “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” (John2:16) Now as disciples are a spiritual house, indeed they are the house of God, so the stakes are higher now. Jesus speaks as the Logos not only to a fallen and corrupt priesthood, but to all humanity, as He proclaims that we are corrupted by trade, and we profane what is sacred by commerce. Is it any wonder then, that we are to refrain from commerce on the Sabbath? Certainly, that would profane the Lords’ holy day.
In fact, the reader can gather even more meaning by reading the passage in its poetic structure, laid out in thought-couplets with physical and spiritual components as pairs. Here we are deriving an additional spiritual reference to the physical, showing the spiritual corruption in the sanctuary of God, i.e. in the leadership of God’s people. The priests and the prophets are all corrupt (cf. Jer. 23:11-15). The tables are filled with vomit (Isa. 28:8), it is the regurgitated food which the pastors who are fat sheep cannot digest, because they have no ears to hear and eyes to see and they cannot understand. Isaiah’s commission discloses this truth
Then I heard the voice of the Lord [Adonai] saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, “Here I am. Send me!” And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive.
Keep on looking, but do not understand.
Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears heavy,
And their eyes besmeared,
Lest they see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”
Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered,
Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant,
Houses are without people,
And the land is utterly desolate.” (Isaiah 6:8-11, spiritual portions of couplets indented)
By seeking worldly treasures and profaning sanctuaries with trade, and pride in material settings, the people become blind and deaf to the Lord. There is no understanding, prophet and priest are cut off. Religion has become a business, but thanks be to God our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:19-21) and Paul reminds us that we do not set our minds on earthly things. Without knowledge of God, and love and truth, the people will perish, and they will be just as the description above:
Coming round full to the treasure dilemma, it would be redundant, repetitive even, to rehearse the “you can’t serve God and Mammon” dictum. It is central, and the Adversary has been brought down to show just why this is so, just why trade corrupts. But to strike a fundamental note on this topic consider the words of Moses
“Behold, to YHWH your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth and all that is in it.” (Deut. 10:14)
Might that perhaps provide a hint at just why the idea of commerce is a blow against the kingdom of God? Well it is at the heart of the rebellion and it leads to a twisted sense of who is the Creator, and who the creation; it adds to a deformed view of who provides and who receives the bounty of Providence. And it is one of the Adversary’s favorite planks in his platform, for with it he will force people during the endurance to choose between YHWH and himself. Those most laminated into the mind of the Adversary will sack anything they can out of the earth with no regard to any form of life, or for their workers, and will sell it at any price they can get.
So to return to our focus on our treasure, and what it actually means to lay up treasure in heaven, Christians need to remember what are ‘acceptable sacrifices’ which Peter refers to [cited above]. We love because He first loved us. We give the words of lips, thanksgiving for our lives and the gifts we receive, because we are His beloved children who receive grace upon grace.
The treasures to lay up in heaven consist not in great works we can take pride in, and thereby render worthless. We can do no great works. For those who claim to, the Lord will come back and say He does not know them. But there is a scarcity of love in the land, a dearth of faithfulness and loyalty, and a famine of the knowledge of God (cf. Hosea 4:1). So, how ought disciples respond to that?
Jesus addresses the seven congregations during the end times
“You have left your first love. Remember, therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first” (Rev. 2:5), “Be faithful and I will give you the crown of life” (2:10), “You have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent, therefore . . . ” (2:15-16), “Nevertheless, what you have, hold fast until I come” (2:25), “Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it [my commandments] and repent.” (3:3), and “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich [treasure of heaven] . . .” (3:18). We see love, faithfulness, keeping His word, aka Commandments, and seeking the heavenly Treasury of knowledge and wisdom in Him. These admonitions address the shortcomings of six of the congregations, but what of the remaining one, Philadelphia?
Philadelphia receives no criticism from the Lord. Their name implies the love they keep and their deeds exemplify that love, reminding us that keeping Commandments is Love, for God and neighbor. Philadelphia has an open door put before them by the Lord because of the key of David which He wields, which opens up the knowledge of God, encoded in Hebraic poetry such as David wrote. They keep the word of endurance, the end time gospel (Matt. 24:13-14), so they remain faithful and loyal through the period of great affliction. “Hold fast what you have,” says Jesus (Rev. 3:11), in order that no one take your crown.” It is a sign of their kingly priesthood (cf. 1 Pet. 2:9), and likewise represents the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord which they receive. They hold the key of the House of David, as Eliakim son of Hilkiah (Isa. 22:22) to open the Treasury of David. [This subject is deep enough for its own post on the House of David and the key of knowledge. Look to see this in the days ahead.] This is the unfathomable riches of His knowledge and wisdom (Rom. 11:33).
We have this Treasure. It is the glory of the knowledge of God in the face of Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 4:6-7), and it shines through the love and the knowledge, and the wisdom, and the faithfulness, which those disciples radiate out by virtue of the Spirit of Christ within them. It is God’s power and not our own. It is Christ in us, He is the Image of the invisible God and we are His fractal expressions, self-similar to Him, walking in His ways to the glory of His name. This is the walk in the freedom of the glory of the sons of God (Rom. 8:21). And it is by this that we may lay up treasures in heaven which cannot decay. Flesh is flesh, and Spirit is Spirit, and flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom. But if our Treasure is Spirit, then our heart will be there in Spirit, glorified to inherit the kingdom of God; born through the presence of the Father and the Son, our parents, our Spirit will be glorified and receive a glorified vessel in which to dwell, and there we will be with the King of kings to eternity. Lay up, therefore, your Treasures in heaven.