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Friday, June 18, 2010

A Treasure Trove

If you listen obediently to the Voice of GOD, you God, and heartily obey all his commandments that I command you today, GOD, your God, will place you on high, high above all the nations of the world. All these blessings will come down on you and spread out beyond you because you have responded to the Voice of GOD, your God: GOD’s blessing inside the city, GOD’s blessing in the country; GOD’s blessing on your children, the crops of your land, the young of your livestock, the calves of your herds, the lambs of your flocks.  GOD’s blessing on your basket and bread bowl; GOD’s blessing in your coming in, GOD’s blessing in your going out.  GOD will defeat your enemies who attack you. They’ll come at you on one road and run away on seven roads. GOD will order a blessing on your barns and workplaces; he’ll bless you in the land that GOD, your God, is giving you. GOD will form you as a people holy to him, just as he promised you, if you keep the commandments of GOD, your God, and live the way he has shown you. (Deut. 28: 1-9)

Moses is about at the end of his leadership with the people of Israel. He has seen them through their deliverance from the slavery of Egypt, into the miraculous crossing over the Red Sea, around the wilderness of Sinai, and into the promised land of milk and honey. During that time, God was establishing rules of conduct for the nation of Israel that would provide a means of salvation to them – pointing them to God and providing a means of worship for them as a nation. The rules of conduct were penned by Moses and now form the first five chapters of the Bible known as the Pentateuch. Within these pages, the Law of Moses is recorded for all future generations. Boundaries for daily conduct were clearly defined, not so much to place any new form of bondage on the nation of Israel, but to keep them from entering into bondage again. If they were to obediently observe the rules defined in the Law and live within the boundaries God had faithfully described, they were to know blessing in their homes.

As we consider these words penned by Moses so many years ago, it occurs to me that we may not fully recognize the meaning of “blessing”. Many times, we read over words and simply accept them at face value, not giving any more thought to those words. Webster describes “blessing” as anything that is conducive to our happiness or welfare. In other words, a blessing is something that is given or provided that directly provides for our protection and preservation. It is a thing that gives us a sense of approval and encourages us in difficult times. It is a sign to us that divine care is rendered in a loving, careful manner, seeing that every measure is taken to provide for our spiritual, physical, and material prosperity and happiness.

We would do well to see that these blessings in our lives come directly from GOD, our God. Moses uses both names of God that describe exactly who is bestowing this protection and provision. Jehovah Elohim is his name. The God who is unchangeable in his promises, permanent in his existence, and capable of becoming everything we need. He is the righteous God, demanding holiness because he is holy, yet moved by divine compassion. In this name, we see the creative power of God, but also his absolute power and authority. The God who promises blessing is the one who does so on the sole basis of covenant relationship.

In exploring these various blessings or gifts promised, it comes without surprise that they are conditioned on the obedience of the one looking to God for these blessings. We do our part, and God does his. This is the basis of covenant relationship – there are conditions to be met. In order to fully understand, apprehend and appreciate the blessings in our lives, we need to be obedient to the revealed will of God as he has defined it in his Word. In so doing, we are given provisions beyond number, protection beyond our means, and deep-seated happiness that is not based on circumstance, but upon the sense of tremendous welfare we enjoy. We sometimes describe blessing in our lives as a “treasure”.

Treasures are wonderful things. They can be described as anything that we consider as a type of “wealth” that we could store up or hoard. Treasures are wealth of any kind or of any form that produce a sense of “richness” in our lives. They are more than money, more than flocks or herds, and definitely more than a fleeting thing enjoyed. A treasure is something held as precious, cherished, and prized.

Treasures in the natural sense are often things “hoarded” for ourselves, kept for our own enjoyment or use. The treasures of God are never meant for self-gratification, or self-enjoyment. They are designed to be on display and to be put in use for his glory and honor. The treasures of God are given in generous measure to an obedient heart. In turn, what has abundantly been supplied is to be shared without measure.

God makes provision for many blessings in our lives, just as he did for the nation of Israel. As we examine the progression described on our text, we can see that the blessings promised come down on us individually (they are individually apprehended, enjoyed), but then they spread out beyond each of us (affecting all those around us). The blessing comes inside our cities – in the midst of our commerce and daily lives. The blessing spreads out to our country – in the areas of government, trade, and military might. It reaches the next generation (our children) and ensures an inheritance for them. The increase of our material goods (lands, flocks, herds, and livestock) is completely at the hand of God. Even our table is blessed by his protective hand, so that the daily provision for our bread is met. In fact, all our movement is affected by the blessings of God – whether it is in our coming in or our going out, he is there leading the way, protecting each step we take and bringing us into each new day by his hand. Enemies will not stand a chance against us – they come at us one way and flee in confusion in seven different ways, all because of the divine care and perfect deliverance of our sovereign God. Our workplaces and barns will know the blessing of God, just by our presence there. Perhaps the greatest blessing of all is that he is making us into a holy people – a provision that goes beyond my ability to comprehend or ability to provide in my own efforts.

God is in the work of making us each into something of extreme value – a treasure of his purpose. A thing of value is declared by the one who beholds it to be of worth, usefulness and importance to the one that possesses it. In God’s eyes, we are a treasure trove – a valuable and productive discovery that he declares as most excellent. As a result of his touch in our lives, we are declared to be something that is intrinsically valuable and desirable. He considers us to be of more value than any other possession he has. He declares us to be his riches – that which he esteems, prizes and regards highly. We are his treasures.