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The Imperishable Treasure

• Greg Boyd

God is the only eternal one. All else is temporary. However, it is human nature to put our trust in temporary things, to focus on things that will not last. Jesus invites us to treasure that which will not be destroyed. When we set our hearts on God’s kingdom and his righteousness, we will discover the only treasure that endures.

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In Revelation, John emphasizes God’s eternality. The Creator is the was, the is, the coming. God is the “age-after-age Living One.” He is the First and the Last, Beginning and the End, Alpha and Omega. This emphasis is made to show the contrast with all that is created, which is temporary. Everything comes into being and goes out of being.

There are many things that are grand, beautiful and glorious. They appear permanent, but Jesus says they are transitory. He made this point specifically about the Temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1-2). Jesus confronted the trust the disciples were putting in impressive buildings—even one dedicated to Yahweh—because all that humans build, like everything that is created, eventually comes toppling down.

Throughout history humans have tried to design buildings and societies that will last forever, but it never works. In Revelation, the Beast, which represents the political wing of the Dragon’s reign, is given authority by the Dragon to rule the world. But in Revelation 18:2 we read, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’

In the last 5,000 years, there have been 32 highly-advanced civilizations or empires prior to the modern period. All of these civilizations assumed they would be around for a very long time, if not forever. All were wrong. Some fell through defeat at the hands of a superior army, but usually internal factors contributed as well. This was the case for Rome which was the greatest empire the world had ever seen when Revelation was written. Everything created comes into being and goes out of being. There is only One being who is exempt from this rule, and that is the uncreated Creator.

With this in mind, Jesus said,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also … But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:19-21,33)

Jesus is saying three things here. First, do not set your heart on perishable treasures. Nothing on earth should be our ultimate treasure. Second, store up a treasure in heaven. We are invited to treasure what lasts. We are storing up treasure for ourselves when we seek first the kingdom and its righteousness because this will fashion our heart in a certain direction, and we’ll be developing the kind of character that reflects the will of God. In contrast, if your treasure is in your possessions, money, fame, respect, appearance, security, country, etc., it will form your heart in a certain direction. You’ll find you cling to things, and you’ve developed a kind of character that is greedy, trite and self-centered.

Third, stay anchored in hope. We live in a Good Friday world, but Easter is coming. The resurrection of life fully manifest is the end toward which we are moving. God will transform this world and his glorious love will pervade all things. We must set our eyes on this because this is rooted in the transcendent, eternal glory of God’s essential nature.

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Topics: Discipleship, Hope, Worship

Sermon Series: Good Heavens!


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Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 4:1-11 (The Message)

    Then I looked, and, oh!—a door open into Heaven. The trumpet-voice, the first voice in my vision, called out, “Ascend and enter. I’ll show you what happens next.” I was caught up at once in deep worship and, oh!—a Throne set in Heaven with One Seated on the Throne, suffused in gem hues of amber and flame with a nimbus of emerald. Twenty-four thrones circled the Throne, with Twenty-four Elders seated, white-robed, gold-crowned. Lightning flash and thunder crash pulsed from the Throne. Seven fire-blazing torches fronted the Throne (these are the Sevenfold Spirit of God). Before the Throne it was like a clear crystal sea. Prowling around the Throne were Four Animals, all eyes. Eyes to look ahead, eyes to look behind. The first Animal like a lion, the second like an ox, the third with a human face, the fourth like an eagle in flight. The Four Animals were winged, each with six wings. They were all eyes, seeing around and within. And they chanted night and day, never taking a break:
    Holy, holy, holy
    Is God our Master, Sovereign-Strong,
    The Was, The Is, The Coming
    Every time the Animals gave glory and honor and thanks to the One Seated on the Throne—the age-after-age Living One—the Twenty-four Elders would fall prostrate before the One Seated on the Throne. They worshiped the age-after-age Living One. They threw their crowns at the foot of the Throne, chanting,
    Worthy, O Master! Yes, our God!
    Take the glory! the honor! the power!
    You created it all;
    It was created because you wanted it.

  • Matthew 24:1-2

    Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

  • Matthew 6:19-21, 33

    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also....But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

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