THE HIDDEN TREASURE AND THE PEARL
A PARABLE STUDY
Alan Campbell B.A.
'Again the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it'. - (Matthew 13:44-46)INTRODUCTION
In the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew there are seven Kingdom Parables and we find that they can be divided up as follows:
A. THE SOWER AND THE SEED:
Which the Lord Jesus addressed to the multitudes and then explained to His disciples in private.
B. THE WHEAT AND THE TARES:
Which again was told to the multitudes and then explained privately to the disciples.
C. THE MUSTARD SEED
D. THE HIDDEN LEAVEN:
Both of which were addressed to the crowds, but for which no explanation is given.
E. THE HIDDEN TREASURE,
F. THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
G. THE DRAGNET:
These three were told privately to the disciples and again no explanation is given.
We shall be looking in detail at The Hidden Treasure and The Pearl of Great Price, but before we do so we need to ask ourselves:
WHAT ARE THE PARABLES All ABOUT?
Parables were a unique feature of our Lord's teaching ministry. Thus we read:
'Without a parable spake He not unto them.' - Matthew 13:34
We should also take note of the fact that Parables were given not only to reveal but also to conceal; therefore Jesus said to the Disciples:
'It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven but to them it is not given... therefore speak 1 unto them in parables: because they seeing, see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand ... but blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear.' - Matthew 13:11-16
You will also observe in reading the Parables of Matthew thirteen that the basic, primary and essential topic is THE KINGDOM. Whilst it is possible to use these Parables to preach and to present the evangelistic message of personal salvation, or for that matter the message of the Christian's growth in grace, the main thrust of Jesus' message was the Kingdom of God and so they must be seen first and foremost in their Israelitish context. So we begin our study by asking:
WHAT IS THE FIELD?
Our parable commences:
'The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field.' - Matthew 13:44
We do not have to look very far for our answer, for a few verses earlier our Lord had categorically stated:
'The field is the world.'- Matthew 13:38
However as the story proceeds you will find that it is not the field which is of primary importance, but rather the treasure which is hidden therein. The field is purely incidental or by the way. The man is prepared to pay the highest price possible for the field in order to possess the treasure buried in it. His main aim in making the purchase is the treasure rather than the field, please keep this in mind. It is because of the treasure that the whole field or world is bought at such a tremendous price.
WHO IS THIS MAN?
Many who have not given thought or study to the matter have claimed that the man in the Parable represents the sinner who when he finally realises the true value of salvation gives up everything to obtain it. This explanation however runs contrary to the whole message of the Scriptures that salvation is free to the sinner, without money or price; in fact there is nothing he or she can do of themselves to obtain it.
'But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace which is by one man Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.' - Romans 5:15,
'For the wages of sin is death: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.' - Romans 6:23
So salvation comes to us as a free gift, by grace through faith alone. Therefore the unidentified man in our story is none other than the SON OF MAN, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS. Not only is He the one who created and formed both the field and the treasure in the first place, but He knows where it has been hidden, and it is He who comes to seek it out and purchase it or buy it back. The man in the story is identical to the Good Shepherd who left the ninety nine sheep to seek and to recover the one who had strayed from the fold. He knows the value of the treasure and He is prepared to pay the price, even all that He has to obtain it.
WHAT IS THE TREASURE?
As in so many other instances we find that the Scriptures explain themselves. The Hidden Treasure is neither Christ nor is it the experience of salvation. Turn to the Old Testament and there we read:
'Ye have seen what 1 did unto the Egyptians, and how 1 bare you on eagles' wings and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a PECULIAR TREASURE unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.' - Exodus 19:5-6
So God's Word clearly states that the Israel people are the Treasure. What was in fact taking place at the foot of the Holy Mountain of Sinai, in the passage we have just read, was a marriage ceremony. The husband was Almighty God, the bride was the nation of Israel, and Moses was the officiating minister. The terms of the marriage contract were that Israel promised to love and worship the one true and living God and keep His Commandments, Statutes and Judgements. He in turn promised to bless the Israelites both materially and spiritually above all the other nations of the earth. They were to be God's witnesses, His peculiar treasure. Just as, a bride at her wedding takes her vows and says 'I do,' so the people of Israel answered to Moses:
HOW DID THE TREASURE BECOME LOST, HIDDEN OR CONCEALED?
'All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.' - Exodus 19:8
Unfortunately Israel did not remain faithful to Almighty God. Even the great King Solomon who presided over Israel at the height of its power allowed his many foreign wives to turn his heart away from the true and living God to practice their multi-faith idolatry.
As a result of this we read:
'And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment and they two were alone in the field. And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him and rent it in twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces; for thus saith the Lord the God of Israel, Behold 1 will rend the Kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to thee. But he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake the city which 1 have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, because they have forsaken me and worshipped Ashtaroth the goddess of the Zidonians... howbeit 1 will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand but 1 will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant's sake ... but 1 will take the kingdom out of his son's hand and will give it unto thee even ten tribes' - I Kings 11:29-35
Sure enough this remarkable prophecy of judgement and disintegration was fulfilled in the days of Solomon's son Rehoboam. The Ten Northern Tribes rebelled and formed a separate Kingdom of Israel ruled by Jeroboam. Rehoboam retained the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi to form the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Henceforth they are spoken of in history and prophecy as Two Kingdoms, Two Houses, Two Families, Two Nations, Two Sticks, Two Sisters and Two Sons.
Rehoboam assembled a great army to march north, subdue the rebels and reunite the Israel Kingdom but was expressly forbidden by God to do so.
'Thus saith the Lord. Ye shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the Children of Israel: return every man to his house FOR THIS THING IS FROM ME.' - I Kings 12:24
Some two centuries later the Northern Kingdom of Israel became so wicked and apostate that God allowed them to be conquered by the Assyrians, together with an estimated two hundred thousand Judahites from the Southern Kingdom as well. They were deported into exile from 745-676 B.C. never to return to Palestine. Thus we read:
'And the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of His sight... and the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel and afflicted them and delivered them unto the hand of the spoilers until He had cast them out of his sight.' - II Kings 17:18-20
'In the ninth year of Hoshea, the King of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away into Assyria and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the River of Gozan and in the cities of the Medes.' - II Kings 17:6
'And the King of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria and put them in Halah and in Habor by the River of Gozan and in the cities of the Medes because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded and would not hear them nor do them. Now in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah did Sennacherib King of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took them.' - II Kings 18:11-13
Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Hosea that God would give the House of Israel, His National Bride, a Bill of Divorcement and put them out of His House which was Palestine so that they would become LO-AMMI or NOT MY PEOPLE (Hosea 1:9).
Thus was the Israel Treasure lost and hidden even as the Lord had spoken by Hosea saying:
'Therefore behold 1 will hedge up thy way with thorns and make a wall that she shall not find her paths.' - Hosea 2:6
But that was not the end of the story for the sarne God had declared through the prophet Amos:
'For lo 1 will command and 1 will sift the House of Israel among all nations like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.' - Amos 9.9
So it came to pass that these lost, divorced Israelites, hidden to the world unrecognised by the masses of humanity, but known to their God, migrated across the steppes of modern Russia, into Europe as Khumri, Gimira, Scythians, Sarmatians, Galatians, Gauls, Celts, Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Normans, to settle in Holland, Scandanavia and the British Isles, the isles and coast lands North and West of Palestine where ultimately they would receive the Christian Gospel, the Open Bible and the Reformed Faith.
The Eternal God who had declared that none of His precious Israel treasure would be lost, promised to come and seek and find them.
'For thus saith the Lord God; Behold 1 even 1 will both search my sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered so 1 will seek out my sheep and deliver them... 1 will seek that which was lost and bring again that which was driven away and will bind up that which was broken and will strengthen that which was sick' - Ezekiel 34:11-16
And come He did, in the person of His lovely Son, our Lord Jesus Christ who declared:
'I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel' - Matthew 15:24
The word 'lost', in this instance means 'to be put away in punishment.' To save these lost sheep of Israel, the Lord Jesus had to die, for He declares:
'1 am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.' - John 10:11
In like manner the man in our Parable had to give all that he had to purchase the field which contained the prize, even Israel, the Hidden Treasure, and so this brings us to:
THE PURCHASE PRICE
Israel having once been cast away and divorced the Law of God made it clear that the only way to be restored and released from this penalty was by the death of the husband.
'For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law as long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband' - Romans 7:2
Thus it becomes crystal clear that the redemption and restoration to favour of the House of Israel could only come about by the death of Him who wrote the Bill of Divorce. This brings us to Calvary, the greatest act of love that the world has ever witnessed, for there upon that cruel tree the Lord Jesus Christ, perfect God, yet perfect man, in whom the scriptures declare 'dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily', our Kinsman Redeemer, poured out the life that was in His blood to annul the bill of divorce, to purchase redemption for Israel, and salvation and healing for the 'whosoever will'. He died that Israel might go free, His rnatchless atonement procured pardon and release, He initiated a New Covenant by His death at Calvary. Hence the writer to the Hebrews could declare:
'Without the shedding of blood there is no remission.' - Hebrews 9:22
The highest possible price - the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ was paid for Israel the Hidden Treasure.
Looking forward to that great transaction of the ages, God Almighty speaks to Israel through the prophet Isaiah and states:
'Thus saith the Lord, where is the bill of your mother's divorcement whom 1 have put away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom 1 have sold you? Behold for your iniquities have ye sold yourself, and for your transgressions is your mother put away. Wherefore when 1 came, was there no man? When 1 called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all that 1 cannot redeem? or have 1 no power to deliver?' - Isaiah 50:1-2
Where is the Bill of Israel's Divorce? Underneath the blood on the tree of Calvary. The price is paid, the Hidden Treasure has been purchased, and so we come to look at the reason the Lord Jesus carne:
REDEMPTION HIS COMMISSION
Here are some of the many Scriptures which speak of our Lord coming to Redeem the Israel people:
1) 'Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquilies.' - Psalm 130:7-8
2) 'And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS for he shall save His people from their sins.' - Matthew 1:21
3) 'Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for rnany.' - Matthew 20:28
4) 'Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for He hath visited and redeemed His people.' - Luke 1:68
5) 'Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written. Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.' - Galatians 3:13
6) 'Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish or spot, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.' - I Peter 1:18-20
Thus did our Lord Jesus Christ purchase Israel with His own blood upon that cruel tree at Calvary. To get Israel, He also bought the field or the whole world and so the Redemption of Israel made Salvation available to the 'whosoever will' that the Scripture might one day be fulfilled:
'For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive' - I Corinthians 15:22
So also as God had promised Abraham, through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Before leaving the treasure we must look at one more point:
THE TWO HIDINGS
If you look carefully at the parable you will find that the treasure is not only hidden at the start of the story, but that even when the man, whom we have now identiried as the Lord Jesus, finds it, He hides it again.
The treasure which we now know to be Israel was not immediately unveiled at the time of our Lord's first advent, or even at the point when the ransom price was paid by His death, burial and resurrection, but rather in the plan of God it continued to be concealed.
The reason for this lies in an understanding of:
THE SEVEN TIMES PUNISHMENT
In Leviticus 26:14-18 we read this message of warning from God to Israel:
'But if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments. And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul shall abhor my judgements ... 1 also will do this unto you; 1 will even appoint over you terror, consumption ... and 1 will set my face against you and ye shall be slain before your enemies ... And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, then 1 will punish you SEVEN TIMES more for your sins.'
This warning of a SEVEN TIMES PUNISHMENT is repeated again three times, in verses 21, 24 and 28.
'I will chastise you SEVEN TIMES for your sins'
Now the question arises as to the actual length of this period of punishment and chastisement, and the answer is simply obtained.
1 PROPHETIC TIME = 360 YEARS
7 PROPHETIC TIMES = 2,520 YEARS
The Scriptures, as we have seen, record the sin and disobedience of the Kingdom of Israel resulting in their divorce and deportation from Palestine; this marks the start of the Seven Times Punishment. By measuring 2,520 years from the Assyrian captivities (adding a year for the passing from the B.C. to A. D. eras) we find some amazing terminal dates after which Israel, God's Treasure ceases, to be lost or hidden, but emerges fully on the stage of world history as the great nation and company of nations promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and fulfilled in the United States and British Commonwealth:THE SEVEN TIMES FULFILLED
A) 745 B.C. - Tiglath-Pileser - King of Assyria begins a series of aggressive raids against Israel.
2520 Years Later:
1776 A.D. - American Declaration of Independence
B) 740 B.C. - Assyrians capture Arpad.
2520 Years Later:
1781 A.D. - Decisive American victory at Yorktown
C) 738 B.C. - Assyrians capture Calno.
2520 Years Later:
1783 A.D. - Peace Treaty ends American War of Independence.
D) 732 B.C. - Assyrians deport Manasseh and the other tribes on the east of the River Jordan, Reuben and Gad.
2520 Years Later:
1789 A. D. - George Washington becomes first President of the United States under its new Constitution.
E) 723 B.C. - Shalmaneser of Assyria begins the siege of Samaria the capital city of Israel.
2520 Years Later:
1798 A.D. - The Irish Rebellion of 1798.
F) 721 B.C. -Fall of Samaria, King Sargon of Assyria deports the Israelites to captivity in Media.
2520 Years Later:
1801 A.D. - Union of Great Britain and Ireland to form the United Kingdom ruled over by a direct descendent of David King of Israel.
G) 700/701 B.C. - Sennacherib of Assyria invades and deports rnore Israelites, plus 200,000 out of Judah.
2520 Years Later:
1820/1821 A.D. - Fiscal Union and amalgamation of the currencies of Great Britain and Ireland.
Now let us pass on in our studies to:
There has been a tendency amongst Evangelical and Kingdom believers to say that these two Parables mean one and the same thing.
It is true that there are certain important similarities between the two stories but there are also certain important differences. Before looking at these let us examine:THE SYMBOLISM
Throughout the Scripture the pearl is regarded as something very costly and precious. Let us look at a few examples:
'And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, decked with gold and precious stones and pearls.' - Revelation 17:4
'The merchandise ofgold and silver and precious stones and of pearls.' - Revelation 18:12
'Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls.' - Revelation 18:16
'And the twelve gates (of New Jerusalem) were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl.' - Revelation 21:21
Pearls are also likened to and used as a symbol to represent truth and sound doctrine, and so we read in our Lord's Sermon on the Mount:
A VITAL DIFFERENCE
'Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn again and rend you.' - Matthew 7:7
It is, I feel, most important to note at this point that whilst all other precious metals and gemstones, gold, silver, diamonds, emeralds and rubies are mined out of the ground the real genuine pearl is formed in living matter by the secretions building up in the wound in the pearl oyster.
WHO IS THE MAN IN THIS STORY?
He is described as a merchant man dealing in precious stones, a familiar Figure in the Middle East in those days. In this point the two parables are identical, whilst the object of the purchase is different, the men and the price they pay in each story are the same. They are one and the same man, even our Lord Jesus Christ who paid the highest possible price even His blood:
'And being found as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.' - Philippians 2:8-10
WHAT DID THE MERCHANT MAN PURCHASE?
'For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.' - II Corinthians 8:9
The pearl which the merchant bought, contrary to popular theology and hymnology, is not the Lord Jesus Christ, neither is it Israel the Hidden Treasure. What else you may ask then did our Lord purchase with His blood? Let the Scriptures once again explain themselves and give the answer.
'Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.' - Acts 20:28
'For ye (the Church of God at Corinth) are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's' - I Corinthians 6:20
So we see that Christ died not only for His Israel bride, but also for the Church which is His body.
Just as pearls in the natural are formed and created in the wounds of the pearl oyster so likewise in the five bleeding wounds which Christ bore on Calvary, including the spear wound in His side from which flowed blood and water emblematic of our new birth experience, was formed the Pearl of Great Price, the Church of the Living God. This is the same church, ecclesia, or body of called out ones, concerning which our Lord told Peter:
'I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' - Matthew 16:18
The Pearl for which Christ gave His life is the whole body of blood washed, Spirit filled believers in all ages who are symbolically described in the Apocalypse in the following words:
'And I looked and lo, aLamb stood on mount Sion, and with him an hundred and forty four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And 1 heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and 1 heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty four thousand which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These are they which followed the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men being the first fruits unto God and unto the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile for they were without fault before the throne of God.' - Revelation 14: 1-5
These are the overcoming Christian Israelites who have come out of Babylon to follow the Lamb, and are not defiled with the false doctrines of the 'mother church' or her 'harlot daughters.' These are ultimately destined to form the Executive Body or Government over the New Jerusalem Bride, when Christ returns and the Kingdom Age begins.
So now we understand the Parables of the Treasure and the Pearl. It is the story of True Israel and the True Church.
We cannot have a National Message which excludes or ignores the role of the Church. Neither can we preach a Church centred message which excludes or ignores God's dealings with His Nation.
The true Church of God, proclaiming the Full Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, Healer, Baptizer and Coming King is the vehicle to bring Israel back to God, the instrument which prepares the National Bride for the Wedding Feast.
Let us therefore get out and fulfil the commission to reach our race and nation for already we can hear the cry: 'Behold the Bridegroom cometh,' yes even 'Behold I come quickly.'
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