For Bible Study Nerds

In the ancient world, storing treasure typically boiled down to one of these two methods: hide it or guard it (or both). There were no banks or safety deposit boxes in those days, so a man’s wealth was, literally, only those valuables which he could somehow protect.

Royal wealth (including riches in the temple treasury) had to be guarded by soldiers because it was always a primary aim of any invading army. It required heavy military defenses in order to discourage enemies from attempting to plunder the nation’s assets. Still, even then, it was never really safe because there was always some army that was stronger lurking nearby.

Personal wealth could be used to buy luxury and power, sure, but it was also a constant target for lawless men, bands of robbers, and even enemy armies. Since people with personal wealth didn’t typically posses soldiers to guard their treasure, they most frequently resorted to hiding their riches: underneath a house; in a field; in a cave or some other secret place nearby. The trouble with hiding treasure was that natural elements—rust, insects, wild animals, water and natural disasters—could sometimes “invade” and destroy it. And, of course, robbers could find it and steal it away.

So, despite its obvious advantages, wealth in Jesus’ time was always a precarious thing—easily taken or destroyed. Jesus, then, advised against placing too much of one’s life into the acquisition and holding of earthly wealth. A better investment for your life, he said, was to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20).



Works Cited:

[ZP5, 807-809]



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