Managing for the Master—Till He Comes
Laying Up Treasure in Heaven
Lesson #6 for February 11, 2023
Scriptures:Genesis 6:5-14; 13:10-12; 32:22-31; Mark 8:36-37; Hebrews 11:8-13; 24-29;2 Corinthians 4:18.
- How should we decide what to invest in? Is it more important to know the rate of return? Or, how long it will be before we will see results? Or, what the final payout will be?
[From the Bible study guide=BSG:] Jesus gave us the world’s best investment strategy when He said: “ ‘Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal’ ” (Matt. 6:19, 20, NKJV). Jesus concludes His investment strategy by saying, “ ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ ” (Matt. 6:21, NKJV). In other words: show Me what you spend your money on, and I will show you where your heart is, because wherever you put your money, your heart is sure to follow, if it’s not there already.
Do you want a heart for the kingdom of God? If so, then put your money where it will reap eternal rewards. Put your time and your money and prayer into God’s work. If you do, you will soon become even more interested in that work, and your heart will follow, as well. This week we will review texts and illustrations that show us how to store up treasures in heaven and, ultimately, reap an eternal reward.?Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* for Sabbath Afternoon, February 4.†‡§
- What does it mean to “Put your time and your money and prayer into God’s work”? How is that related to all our other responsibilities and duties? How does that relate to caring for your family, earning a living, and providing for your retirement, especially if you are growing older?
- Why do you think it is that virtually all of the great heroes in the Old Testament were wealthy? Some of those wealthy individuals were asked to make major life alterations. Consider especially the stories of Noah, Abraham, and Moses.
- How do you suppose Noah responded when God first told him to start building a large boat on the dry land? Did Noah have numerous conversations with God before that occasion? Was that the first large boat ever built?
Genesis 6:5-14: 5 When the LORD saw how wicked everyone on earth was and how evil their thoughts were all the time, 6he was sorry that he had ever made them and put them on the earth. He was so filled with regret 7that he said, “I will wipe out these people I have created, and also the animals and the birds, because I am sorry that I made any of them.” 8But the LORD was pleased with Noah.
9-10 This is the story of Noah. He had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Noah had no faults and was the only good man of his time. He lived in fellowship with God, 11but everyone else was evil in God’s sight, and violence had spread everywhere. 12God looked at the world and saw that it was evil, for the people were all living evil lives.
13 God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to the whole human race. I will destroy them completely, because the world is full of their violent deeds. 14Build a boat for yourself out of good timber; make rooms in it and cover it with tar inside and out.”CAmerican Bible Society. (1992). The Holy Bible: The Good News Translation* (2nd ed.,Genesis 6:5-14). New York: American Bible Society [abbreviated as Good News Bible].†‡
- Many people in our day believe that evolution and uniformity?the idea that all things will continue as they have in the past?is the answer to our origins and our future. Many people before the flood had the same idea! We do not know why Noah stood out as different from all the rest of the world; however, he certainly did.
[From the writings of Ellen G. White=EGW:] The world before the Flood reasoned that for centuries the laws of nature had been fixed. The recurring seasons had come in their order. Heretofore rain had never fallen; the earth had been watered by a mist or dew. The rivers had never yet passed their boundaries, but had borne their waters safely to the sea. Fixed decrees had kept the waters from overflowing their banks.—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 96.3-97.0.†‡ [Did anybody know about rain?]‡
- Living in a relatively peaceful world where almost everyone goes about his own business, how do you convince a person that a disaster is coming? And how do you convince people to invest their time and their means toward God’s goal?
2 Peter 3:3-7: 3First of all, you must understand that in these last days some people will appear whose lives are controlled by their own lusts. They will mock you 4and will ask, “He promised to come, didn’t he? Where is he? Our ancestors have already died, but everything is still the same as it was since the creation of the world!” 5They purposely ignore the fact that long ago God gave a command, and the heavens and earth were created. The earth was formed out of water and by water, 6and it was also by water, the water of the flood, that the old world was destroyed. 7But the heavens and the earth that now exist are being preserved by the same command of God, in order to be destroyed by fire. They are being kept for the day when godless people will be judged and destroyed.?Good News Bible.*
- Would we be willing to make a major life alteration if we had God’s instructions to do so? Do we have such instructions? How can you be sure that it is God directing you? Is the Bible God’s instructions to us?
- Think of the story of Abram/Abraham. He apparently lived a very comfortable life in a city surrounded by family and friends. Then, God told him to pull up his roots and start on a long journey to an unknown destination! Abraham took an enormous crowd with him, animals and people.
- Once again, we must ask ourselves this question: Had God talked to Abraham on other occasions before that? On what was Abraham’s faith based?
Genesis 12:1-3: 1 The LORD said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. 2I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
But I will curse those who curse you.
And through you I will bless all the nations.”?Good News Bible.*†
[EGW:] “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”Hebrews 11:8. [KJV*] Abraham’s unquestioning obedience is one of the most striking evidences of faith to be found in all the Bible.—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 126.2.‡
- Would we be willing to leave everything and embark on such a journey? Abraham lived a life full of unexpected requests from God. After following God’s instructions for many years, he suddenly was asked to take his promised son to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him. (SeeHebrews 11:8-13.)
- Abraham was a wealthy herder and leader besides being a very successful evangelist and “university director.” He was respected by almost all those around him.
[EGW:] Abraham’s household comprised more than a thousand souls. Those who were led by his teachings to worship the one God, found a home in his encampment; and here, as in a school, they received such instruction as would prepare them to be representatives of the true faith. Thus, a great responsibility rested upon him. He was training heads of families, and his methods of government would be carried out in the households over which they should preside.?Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 141.1.†‡
- How did Noah and Abraham develop a faith based on evidence that led them to make the decisions that they did to follow God’s will? Remember that they had no Bible, no prophet to guide them, and no Sabbath school class or church group with which to participate. So, how does that relate to us in our day?
2 Corinthians 4:18: For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts for ever. [sic]?Good News Bible.*‡ [How does this relate to Plato’s teachings about the body and the soul?]‡
- By contrast, Lot made bad decisions. In his early years, he followed Uncle Abraham wherever he went. They both had flocks and herds and were very wealthy. After returning from their sojourn in Egypt, things became too crowded in the fields in the hills of Judea. So, Abraham offered Lot the choice to go to wherever he wanted to move and settle.
- Why do you think Lot chose the valley of the Jordan River? Clearly, from a purely human standpoint, it was the right thing to do. But, as we know, Lot’s story did not end well. After escaping with his life from the city of Sodom, losing his wife, and then fathering sons by his two daughters, he ended up living in a cave rather than returning to live with Uncle Abraham!
- Abraham had rescued Lot when Sodom and Gomorrah were attacked and conquered by leaders from militant groups coming from the east. But, Lot went back and moved into Sodom once again!
- Genesis 18 gives us the story of the end of Sodom and Gomorrah. Like many areas in Palestine in those days, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed with fertility cult worship, sodomy, and idolatry. Did Abraham ever visit his nephew, Lot, in Sodom? How much did Abraham know about Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities? If Abraham had not traveled down to Sodom, what did people tell him about the lives of people living in the Jordan Valley? Surely, Abraham must have visited Sodom when he rescued Lot and returned him to his home there. Did Abraham get any idea at that point in time of the kind of lives people were living in Sodom and Gomorrah?
- When God visited Abraham in person with two angels, Abraham ended up having a very interesting conversation with the Lord.
Genesis 18:20-33: 20 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “There are terrible accusations against Sodom and Gomorrah, and their sin is very great. 21I must go down to find out whether or not the accusations which I have heard are true.” [This is an anthropomorphism, thinking God has our limitations!]
22 Then the two men left and went on towards Sodom, but the LORD remained with Abraham. 23Abraham approached the LORD and asked, “Are you really going to destroy the innocent with the guilty? 24If there are fifty innocent people in the city, will you destroy the whole city? Won’t you spare it in order to save the fifty? 25Surely you won’t kill the innocent with the guilty. That’s impossible! You can’t do that. If you did, the innocent would be punished along with the guilty. That is impossible. The judge of all the earth has to act justly.”
26 The LORD answered, “If I find fifty innocent people in Sodom, I will spare the whole city for their sake.”
27 Abraham spoke again: “Please forgive my boldness in continuing to speak to you, Lord. I am only a man and have no right to say anything. 28But perhaps there will be only 45 innocent people instead of fifty. Will you destroy the whole city because there are five too few?”
The LORD answered, “I will not destroy the city if I find 45 innocent people.”
29 Abraham spoke again: “Perhaps there will be only forty.”
He replied, “I will not destroy it if there are forty.”
30 Abraham said, “Please don’t be angry, Lord, but I must speak again. What if there are only thirty?”
He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty.”
31 Abraham said, “Please forgive my boldness in continuing to speak to you, Lord. Suppose that only twenty are found?”
He said, “I will not destroy the city if I find twenty.”
32 Abraham said, “Please don’t be angry, Lord, and I will speak just once more. What if only ten are found?”
He said, “I will not destroy it if there are ten.” 33After he had finished speaking with Abraham, the LORD went away, and Abraham returned home.?Good News Bible.*†‡ [Abraham probably thought that he had taken care of things!]‡
- Would you consider that conversation between Abraham and Christ a true example of prayer? If Abraham had asked Christ to spare the city if there were only four righteous people there, how do you think Christ would have responded? Or, one?
- The story of Jacob is one of numerous ups and downs. After following his mother’s advice and deceiving his father, he had to flee from the wrath of his brother, Esau. His mother advised him to run away to her brother’s home in Haran.
- Sleeping with a rock for a pillow on the way to Haran, Jacob had that incredible vision of the ladder between earth and heaven. (Genesis 28:10-22) And there, he promised to return to God a faithful tithe. We do not know how he got the idea that 10% of his income should be given back to God, and we do not know to whom he returned that 10%. What we do know is that after staying for 20 years with Uncle Laban, he finally escaped the enmity of Laban’s sons, taking with him his two wives and two concubines and all his flocks and herds and headed back for his father’s home in Palestine.
Genesis 32:22-31: 22 That same night Jacob got up, took his two wives, his two concubines, and his eleven children, and crossed the River Jabbok. 23After he had sent them across, he also sent across all that he owned, 24but he stayed behind, alone.
Then a man came and wrestled with him until just before daybreak. 25When the man saw that he was not winning the struggle, he struck Jacob on the hip, and it was thrown out of joint. 26The man said, “Let me go; daylight is coming.”
“I won’t, unless you bless me,” Jacob answered.
27 “What is your name?” the man asked.
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have struggled with God and with men, and you have won; so your name will be Israel.”
29 Jacob said, “Now tell me your name.”
But he answered, “Why do you want to know my name?” Then he blessed Jacob.
30 Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face, and I am still alive”; so he named the place Peniel. 31The sun rose as Jacob was leaving Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.?Good News Bible.*†
- How much did Jacob see of the Being that “attacked” him? How long did that wrestling match last? What led Jacob to ask for a blessing in the end?
- Jacob ended up spending the last few years of his life in Egypt under the care of his son, Joseph. Before he died, he asked to be taken back to Palestine and buried with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, and Leah in the cave of Machpelah.
- We live in a world where lives are relatively short. God’s plan for us was that we should live forever. How important is it that we keep in mind God’s long-term plans for us even if we should die? How often do our plans include consideration of the eternal consequences?
- Let us consider the case of Moses. Think of his childhood. He was supposed to have been thrown into the river and killed as an infant. However, instead, he was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter but still spent his first 12 years with his parents.
- Hebrews 11:24-29 suggest that Moses maintained his faith in God and made the right choices to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. How do you think Moses maintained that faith relationship with God that made him to be such an example for all his followers and those of us down to our day?
- Try to imagine the incredible miracles that Moses under God’s guidance was able to perform in order to get the children of Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and finally, into the land of Canaan.
Hebrews 11:29: It was faith that made the Israelites able to cross the Red Sea as if on dry land; when the Egyptians tried to do it, the water swallowed them up.?Good News Bible.*
- How would you describe the faith of the Israelites just before God led them across the Red Sea? Were they confident of their leadership? Or, were they terrified?
- Egypt was probably the most powerful nation in the world in the days of Moses. Should Moses have just remained in Egypt until he became Pharaoh, and then, arranged for the children of Israel to leave?
Numbers 20:10-13: 10 He and Aaron assembled the whole community in front of the rock, and Moses said, “Listen, you rebels! Do we have to get water out of this rock for you?” 11Then Moses raised the stick and struck the rock twice with it [as on a previous occasion Moses had been instructed by God], and a great stream of water gushed out, and all the people and animals drank.
12 But the LORD reprimanded Moses and Aaron. He said, “Because you did not have enough faith to acknowledge my holy power before the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land that I promised to give them.”
13 This happened at Meribah, where the people of Israel complained against the LORD and where he showed them that he was holy.?Good News Bible.*†‡
- If Moses was such a great example of faith, what happened at Meribah? What led God to make such a decision regarding two of His best followers?
- Consider these words about Abraham and Moses from Ellen White.
[EGW:] The heritage that God has promised to His people is not in this world. Abraham had no possession in the earth, “no, not so much as to set his foot on.”Acts 7:5. He possessed great substance, and he used it to the glory of God and the good of his fellow men; but he did not look upon this world as his home. The Lord had called him to leave his idolatrous countrymen, with the promise of the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession; yet neither he nor his son nor his son’s son received it. When Abraham desired a burial place for his dead, he had to buy it of the Canaanites. His sole possession in the Land of Promise was that rock-hewn tomb in the cave of Machpelah.—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 169.3.†‡
[EGW:] The magnificent palace of Pharaoh and the monarch’s throne were held out as an inducement to Moses; but he knew that the sinful pleasures that make men forget God were in its lordly courts. He looked beyond the gorgeous palace, beyond a monarch’s crown, to the high honors that will be bestowed on the saints of the Most High in a kingdom untainted by sin. He saw by faith an imperishable crown that the King of heaven would place on the brow of the overcomer. This faith led him to turn away from the lordly ones of earth and join the humble, poor, despised nation that had chosen to obey God rather than to serve sin.—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 246.1.†‡
- We need to be constantly aware of the fact that apart from God’s blessings, we would not only have nothing, but also we would not even be alive! And no matter how much we might gain during this earthly life, all of that will be for nothing if we survive only until the second coming of Jesus. So, Jesus advised us to store up riches in heaven where thieves cannot rob and moths cannot destroy. (Matthew 6:20)
- Did Moses’s parents teach him anything about the future that had been promised to Israel? Did he ever get the idea that he might be part of that future? Later, how did Moses compare the palaces in Egypt with his new home in the heavenly kingdom when he got there? And the earthly land of Canaan?
- Noah was, no doubt, a great example of faith. We know almost nothing about his personal life before, during, or after the flood. We know a great deal more about the experience of Abraham. After having been promised a son, Abraham had to wait 25 years! Finally, God came to Abraham, and this is what happened.
Genesis 17:16-18: 16 “I will bless her, and I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she will become the mother of nations, and there will be kings among her descendants.”
17Abraham bowed down with his face touching the ground, but he began to laugh when he thought, “Can a man have a child when he is a hundred years old? Can Sarah have a child at ninety?” 18He asked God, “Why not let Ishmael be my heir?”?Good News Bible.*†
Genesis 18:9-15: 9 Then they asked him, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
“She is there in the tent,” he answered.
10 One of them said, “Nine months from now I will come back, and your wife Sarah will have a son.” [Try to image this scene!]
Sarah was behind him, at the door of the tent, listening. 11Abraham and Sarah were very old, and Sarah had stopped having her monthly periods. 12So Sarah laughed to herself and said, “Now that I am old and worn out, can I still enjoy sex? And besides, my husband is old too.”
13 Then the LORD asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Can I really have a child when I am so old?’ 14Is anything too hard for the LORD? As I said, nine months from now I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”
15 Because Sarah was afraid, she denied it. “I didn’t laugh,” she said.
“Yes, you did,” he replied. “You laughed.”?Good News Bible.*†‡
- Is it all right to laugh at what God tells you and then to lie about it? God rewarded Abraham and Sarah despite their laughter and lies. Later, they named their son Isaac, which means laughter or s/he laughs!
- Considering all of that, Abraham was willing to offer his son on the altar when God asked him to. Of course, we know that God eventually provided a substitute.
- We have already studied many passages in Scripture warning us of the deceitfulness of riches. It certainly meant disaster for Lot.
- Ultimately, the real question is: How are we supposed to store up treasure in heaven? (Matthew 6:19-20) How do we invest in heaven?
[EGW:] Earthly treasures are blessings when rightly used. Those who have them should realize that they are lent them of God and should cheerfully spend their means to advance His cause.—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church,* vol. 1, 141.3.‡ ‡
[BSG] Those who love money will never have enough of it (Eccles. 5:10). Paul tells us that this love is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). The way we use our money is a test of faithfulness for eternity (Luke 16:10, 11). But if our money is invested only in worldly undertakings, we will love mammon more than God (Luke 16:13). God wants our hearts (Prov. 23:26), and we can offer them to Him by investing in His work. Therefore, we will make “friends” among those who will receive us in the “everlasting habitations” (Luke 16:9), where we will love and serve God, not possessions (Luke 16:13).?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 81.†‡§
- Do you believe the words of Paul which he wrote in1 Timothy 6:10?
1 Timothy 6:10: For the love of money is a source of all kinds of evil. Some have been so eager to have it that they have wandered away from the faith and have broken their hearts with many sorrows.?Good News Bible.*†
- Most people in our world today would consider money to be a great blessing. How can the love of money be a source of all kinds of evil?
[BSG:] In terms of sin, Heaven invested the blood of Jesus in our salvation. Jesus, the Lamb, who was slain before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:18, 19), gave us the promise that the Holy Spirit would remain with us always, as assurance of our redemption (Eph. 1:13, 14). The blood of martyrs is a most precious investment that was shed for God’s Word (Rev. 6:9, 10). The dead in Christ are investors waiting for an inheritance that includes the end of sin and the restoration of all things (2 Pet. 3:13,Rev. 21:1–7).?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 81.†‡§
- What does “invested the blood of Jesus” mean? How is blood an investment?
1 Peter 1:18-19: 18For you know what was paid to set you free from the worthless manner of life handed down by your ancestors. It was not something that can be destroyed, such as silver or gold; 19it was the costly sacrifice of Christ, who was like a lamb without defect or flaw.?Good News Bible.*
Ephesians 1:13-14: 13 And you also became God’s people when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation. You believed in Christ, and God put his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit he had promised. 14The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised his people, and this assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are his. Let us praise his glory!?Good News Bible.*†
- How many Seventh-day Adventist Christians in our day are investing their life and possessions in the spreading of the gospel? What percentage do it?
- Let us be honest. There are a lot of external forces impacting our lives, trying to prevent us from doing what God asks us to do, even impulses from within our naturally selfish hearts would lead us to lust and sin.
- However, despite all of that, we can be faithful to God and do His will. It may not be easy.
2 Timothy 3:12: Everyone who wants to live a godly life in union with Christ Jesus will be persecuted.?Good News Bible.*
- Noah, Abraham, and Moses received direct instructions from God as to what they were supposed to do. Should we expect that kind of direct instructions? Or, do we already have adequate instruction in God’s Word?
- Can we afford to ignore public opinion and even scientific interpretations? How do they relate to knowing and doing God’s will?
- What kinds of perils faced Abraham and his large group of travelers as they journeyed to that unknown place to which God was taking them? Were they ever stopped and challenged about their progress?
- Imagine Moses with Aaron by his side, challenging Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the world! But, Moses trusted God’s directions; and he succeeded.
[BSG:] Psychologically, people give priority to the immediate fulfillment of their desires and urgent needs, or to those needs and desires that are before their eyes. In reality, hope deferred discourages (Prov. 13:12). Therefore, patience is required to wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises according to His perfect timing (Rom. 8:25). Human beings tend to seek instant gratification, wanting to hasten the fulfillment of the promises and the attainment of their expectations.?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 82.‡§
- How can we keep our faith strong, trusting God and His directions and investing in God’s work?
[EGW:] Walk the narrow plank of faith. Trust all on the promises of the Lord. Trust God in darkness. That is the time to have faith.—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church,* vol. 1, 167.1.‡
- The way Jacob’s life started, it looked like it could become a disaster! It was not until he was more than 70 years old that he fled his home. And yet, God could see in Jacob the kind of person with whom He could work. Can He work with any of us?
Hosea 12:4-5: 4He fought against an angel and won. He wept and asked for a blessing. And at Bethel God came to our ancestor Jacob and spoke with him. 5This was the LORD God Almighty—the LORD is the name by which he is to be worshipped.?Good News Bible.*
- By contrast, Lot also started with a very promising life, following the example of his uncle, Abraham. But, the end of his life that we know about was a disaster.
- So, where are we on that spectrum between the ultimate example of Jacob and the example of Lot? Are we ready to invest our treasures in heaven?
[EGW:] There is now a good opportunity for them to use their means for the benefit of suffering humanity and also for the advancement of the truth.—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church,* vol. 1, 494.2 & 638.2.‡
- Learning patience and waiting for God to give us directions is not easy from a selfish, human standpoint.
[EGW:] There are many who become restless when they cannot know the definite outcome of affairs. They cannot endure uncertainty, and in their impatience they refuse to wait to see the salvation of God.—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 687.1.‡
[BSG:] Do you find yourself growing restless when you can’t immediately know the outcome of affairs? Why do you think that patiently enduring life’s uncertainties and waiting for God’s salvation is so difficult for many of us? How does impatience hinder faith (Heb. 11:1, 2, 6; Heb. 6:15; Heb. 10:36)? Why do you think that is so??Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 84.‡§
[EGW:] Those who still cling to their earthly treasure, and will not make a right disposition of that which is lent them of God, will lose their treasure in heaven, lose everlasting life.—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church,* vol. 1, 173.1-174.0.‡
- Does faithfulness in tithing and the giving of offerings improve our faith? Does learning to trust that God will use what we give for the best possible results improve our faith?
©2022, Kenneth Hart, MD, MA, MPH. Permission is hereby granted for any noncommercial use of these materials. Free distribution of all or of a portion of this material such as to a Bible study class is encouraged. *Electronic version. †Bold type is added. ‡Brackets and content in brackets are added. §Italic type is in the source. Info@theox.org
Last Modified: December 18, 2022