As a child, I used to dream about finding hidden treasure. I had heard of people who found Honus Wagner baseball cards or maybe the Action Comics issue with the first appearance of Superman. These are just a couple of items that have no intrinsic value, but due to demand and the rarity of them, people pay top dollar – over $2 million each for the card and the comic at auction. Unbelievable, right?
Maybe you have boxes of baseball cards or comic books in storage or maybe Beanie Babies? Remember when those were selling for way more than they were worth? Now, people are using them for filler in Christmas gifts to grandkids or maybe in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes?
The concept of finding a treasure is something that has permeated culture for years.
Whether it be novels about buried pirate treasure on some remote island, stories of famous, hat-wearing, whip-yielding archeologists searching for biblical relics, the search for secret maps on famous American documents or even the escapades of a group of "Goonies". . .finding an elusive treasure has been a dream for many.
I read where off the coast of Caesarea Maritima a few weeks ago in Israel, the largest collection of ancient gold coinswas found on the seabed. These coins are mostly from Egypt and are in pristine condition, considering they have been sitting on the seabed for 1,000 years.
As I read the story, I couldn’t help but think “I’ve been to that location four or five times. Too bad I didn’t take a dive and find those.”
Often when people have valuables in their possession that they desire to keep hidden and protect, they will place them in inconspicuous places. While a safe or safe deposit box are good options, there are times when a less obvious place is desired.
In the time of the New Testament, clay pottery was common. In fact, you can go to Israel today, in many of the digs and places near them and find pieces of first century clay pottery on the ground.
And. . .it’s not worth anything, except to the tourist.
The pottery made out of this common clay was, at times, used by families to secure their treasures. They money or valuables would be kept in such pottery – for the same reason that people “hide” valuables in plain sight today.
Paul alludes to this practice when speaking about the value of the gospel that God has entrusted to us, his church.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV)
The audio file attached to this post is of the sermon I preached yesterday on this subject. I hope it is encouraging and challenging to you.