BBC reports that Historic Environment Scotland, Treasure Trove Unit, and the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrance’s conservation team have discovered an ancient Viking pot full of treasure, including six silver Anglo-Saxon disc brooches, a silver brooch from Ireland, Byzantine silk, a gold ingot, and gold and crystal objects wrapped in cloth bundles (read article here). The objects date from the 8th or 9th Century. The article goes on to tell us what the discover cannot tell us, at least without years of further research and theorizing. Stuart Campbell of the Treasure Trove Unit says, “”The complexity of the material in the hoard raises more questions than it answers, and like all the best archaeology, this find doesn’t give any easy answers. Questions about the motivations and cultural identity of the individuals who buried it will occupy scholars and researchers for years to come” (ibid.).
While we do not know whether the owner of this pot was a Christian or was more interested in laying up treasure in heaven, we do know that he (or she) was laying up treasure on this earth. We also know that this treasure did not continue to benefit the owner following his or her demise. The photographs released with the find also show that the objects have been worn and decayed with time. It seems like a fitting illustration of what Jesus taught.
In the Sermon on the Mount, he wrote, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mat. 6:19-21). He doesn’t condemn saving or even making money. He does continue to warn that one inevitably chooses God or money as master (Mat. 6:24). This find in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, reminds us of the ultimate futility in laying up treasures on the earth. What’s held and hoarded isn’t stored in heaven, but it does reflect what’s in the heart. Later, Paul urges Timothy to teach the need to fix the hope on God rather than riches (1 Tim. 6:17).
It would be great to find out that this was the church treasury of a congregation of God’s people being taken and used to help the poor or preach the gospel or the personal portfolio of a person who put his riches to good use in the kingdom. It’s not statistically probable, but it’s possible. What I do know is that there is a Perfect, Heavenly Accountant who knows what we treasure most. May our legacy be that we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mat. 6:33).
Do you want the truth as bad as Jiang Xulian wanted a six-karat diamond from Thailand? The 30-year-old woman stole the jewel from a jewelry fair in Nonthaburi, swallowed it, and tried to smuggle it out of the country. CCTV caught the heist and an X-ray in Bangkok revealed the diamond in her large intestine. Eventually, a surgeon removed the gem, worth $392,000, and Xulian faces three years in prison (read more here).
In successive parables, Jesus compared the search and pursuit of the kingdom of heaven to treasure, the first unspecified valuables and the second pearls (Mat. 13:44-46). David calls the law of the Lord “more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold” (Ps. 19:10; cf. 119:72, 127). Solomon adds his inspired counsel to “buy truth, and do not sell it” (Prov. 23:23). Repeatedly, the Bible lays out the superiority of spiritual treasure above not only physical treasure but all else (Mat. 6:19-21).
- Some do not stand in the truth (John 8:44).
- Some question even the existence of truth (John 18:38).
- Some suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18).
- Some exchange the truth for a lie (Rom. 1:25).
- Some do not obey the truth (Rom. 2:8).
- Some are not straightforward about the truth (Gal. 2:14).
- Some do not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved (2 Th. 2:10).
- Some do not believe the truth (2 Th. 2:12).
- Some are self-deprived of the truth (1 Tim. 6:5).
- Some have gone astray from the truth (2 Tim. 2:18).
- Some are always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:7).
- Some oppose the truth (2 Tim. 3:8).
- Some turn their ears away from the truth (2 Tim. 4:4; Ti. 1:14).
- Some lie against the truth (Jas. 3:14).
- Some stray from the truth (Jas. 5:19).
- Some malign the truth (2 Pet. 2:2).
- Some do not practice the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).
- Some do not have the truth in them (1 Jn. 1:8; 2:4; etc.).
The point of Scripture is that these are people who not only do not want the truth but are trying to avoid it. They lack sufficient hunger and desire for the will of God or the rule of God in their lives. It is not something they treasure.
What about us? Do we want God’s truth so badly that we are willing to sacrifice, pursue, and strive to obtain it? Its value is without comparison! Its reward is beyond comprehension. Let’s encourage each other to be truth-lovers, willing to pay whatever price is necessary to have it.
With the recent discovery of kimberlite on the east coast of Antarctica around Mount Meredith in the Prince Charles Mountains, there is considerable talk that much more may lay beneath the ice and cold at the south pole. Kimberlite is a type of rock known to contain diamonds, named for Kimberly, South Africa, which lays not far to the north. It is a rare rock, and the discovery of it in Kimberly led to a 19th-century diamond rush.
Despite the promise and prospect of diamonds in Antarctica, there will not likely be an onslaught of prospectors there. There is the forbidding cold, isolation, and winter darkness, the meticulous restrictions forged by environmentalists, and how difficult it is to travel there. For now, it is an interesting discovery. Whether or not there will be diamond mining there in the future, time will tell (Alister Doyle, Reuters, 12/18/13).
Is it possible that an even bigger treasure is buried, not beneath ice or international treaties, but rather mounds of fear, indifference, and the like? Paul says “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Co. 4:7). The treasure is the message of salvation through Christ (cf. 2 Co. 4:2-6) and we are the earthen vessels. God gets this treasure to the world through us. But, far too many of us are burying this treasure like one man did in the parable of the talents (Mat. 25:25). In a similar parable in Luke, a man hides his mina in a handkerchief (19:20). In both parables, the application is the same. God does not want us to keep this treasure hidden and inaccessible.
The soul-saving message of grace should not be buried. We should not keep it in isolation, be cold or forbidding in any way. God wants every person to have access to this treasure (1 Ti. 2:4), and He is counting on us to share it!