By Roger Grohman
A treasure hunt: The very sound of this kind of an expedition seems to carry with it intrigue and mystery. This lesson, however, will touch on something a little more complex.
It may be difficult for those who are not in tune with our topic to understand what this lesson is saying. It is perhaps hard for them to see Jesus Christ as a prospector, searching for the valuable possession of souls in this wicked world. Yet Scripture indeed likens Him to a businessman who came for a specific reason and purpose, which was to seek and to save that which was lost.
Matthew 13:44 compares the kingdom of heaven to a treasure hidden in a field. This parable tells of a man discovering and hiding a treasure while digging or working in the field. With suppressed joy, (for others would have come to steal it while he was away, if they had known the treasure was there) he sold all that he had and bought the field.
This appeared to be a great price to pay to achieve his purpose. The parallel here is so fitting. We were hidden in the field of this world without hope, lost, degenerate, alone, helpless, headed for death and destruction. Then Jesus came to this world, in human form to redeem mankind from his condemned state of sin. He saw the treasure of the soul and the great possibility of value and worth far beyond the riches of this world. Sin had tainted and destroyed God’s perfect creation, therefore, with His own blood, He purchased the field to obtain the precious treasure hidden deep in the earth.
He looked beyond our failures, hang-ups, fears, frustrations, and inadequacies and saw the gold of men’s souls. Though man is lost and undone, God saw the possibility of extracting from our lives the final product of pure gold.
It is a long, laborious journey from dust to purity, but God’s love, patience, longsuffering, is beyond our finite and human comprehension. Not only did He come to purchase a treasure, but in the process He Himself became a treasure that we might receive the result of His purchase which is everlasting life.
For a prospector to obtain gold, he must put forth effort. The finest strains of gold are often found deep in the heart of the earth; therefore, it takes labor, pain, sweat, tears, and determination, to obtain them.
Finding the attractive yellow metal is the goal of the Great Prospector. No other thrill can compare with the joy of angels rejoicing over the repenting sinner. When the few first traces of gold glisten in the sand of a riverbed, “finding color” as it is described, there is an incentive for work, better things to come.
Let us look briefly at the different methods of prospecting and compare them spiritually.
There are two basic kinds of mining used in our world to obtain this precious metal: placer or surface mining and mother lode mining.
Perhaps the reader has viewed the pictures or read the early American historical writings of the gold rush days. Many people, when they think of gold mining, envision an old prospector in tattered trousers and an old patched cotton shirt, perspiration dripping from his brow, kneeling in the hot sun by a babbling brook with a pan in his hands, swishing and swirling a few grains of sand in the water to wash and cleanse the dirt away. This mining process is called placer mining or surface mining.
Placer mining involves panning for gold, finding gold nuggets, flakes, and dust. Flash floods, mudslides, earthquakes, and other cataclysm bring the gold to the surface where it can be found. Sand and water then wear the gold into rounded nuggets.
Many in our world today speak of deliverance as the result of trauma that drove them to the reality of their need for divine deliverance. Some natural experience of desperation brought them to the surface of reality so that they might be led to the Christ of Calvary. Jesus knows just where to find us. When we reach the place of desolation, alone, and deserted, God knows the obstructions, undercurrents, and eddies of sin. In the midst of life’s streams He can visualize where the gold has lodged. No matter what we may look like after all of sin’s destruction, He sees beyond our present condition and views the potential product.
Perhaps some have drifted farther than others, and have been broken into piecemeal nuggets, before they realized what their original creative purpose was. Many people do not realize what the prospector’s purpose is in reaching down to the bedrock of sin to redeem and sanctify us. Few men ever discovered the bountiful reward they had dreamed of by placer mining. The greatest rewards from gold mining were found by what is the mother lode mining process. Mother lode mining involves much labor and toil. Mother lodes are usually found deep in the heart of the earth; therefore, the mining process involves much digging and great amounts of high pressure cleansing.
The term “mother lode” originally described a certain area of gold-producing country lying along the western Sierra Nevada range of mountains that contain a large amount of quartz rock. About half of the gold mined in California during the gold rush days came from this mother lode country. The term mother lode now refers to any rich vein of gold ore. The very presence of placer gold in a stream bed is evidence of a mother lode in the area above the placer gold.
The miner will begin working from the lowest location where he has found placer gold, and continue working upward toward its original source. As he works upstream the miner will take samples every few feet until he no longer finds color. He then knows that he is above the original source and therefore begins the next part of his exploration: mining in the bedrock, or crevice mining.
The miner needs tools to get down to bedrock. In his quest for the best, he must dig to the bottom because the gold, has probably been working its way to the bottom of the crevice for a long time. The miner may have to use a pick or crowbar to pry off a piece of bedrock.
The Lord of glory, in His loving search for the best gold, dug for most of us from the crevices and crannies of a world of sin and corruption. At first, it may have just been a little showing of “color” located downstream, but God in His divine patience, dreamed not just of the “showing,” but realized through his sacrifice and labor of love, that the most valuable veins of spiritual worth were hidden in the bedrock, and must be mined. Our patient, longsuffering, forgiving, and loving Savior desired and waited for the precious fruit of the earth. He knew that the best was hid among the dregs of the carnal flesh of this world, and came to seek and save that which was lost. He brought us from the low place of sin to the high place of His kingdom. We who were bound by the law of sin, had been steadily working our way down to the bottom of sin’s bedrock. God cared enough to invest His blood so that we would have an opportunity to enjoy His presence forever.
We can draw a beautiful parallel here with how our Lord reached down into the depths of a sinful world, and dug us from our condition of sin to save us. The great expression of Love came to us when God came from the portals of heaven to dwell among lost humanity. He who was rich became poor, that we who are poor might receive the riches of life eternal. God came to earth and wrapped Himself in the garments of flesh to redeem and sanctify us.
The effort Christ demonstrated, the pain He endured and the determination He manifested all displayed God’s love in action to bring a lost and dying man from the dregs and depths of sin. We need to catch a glimpse again of the supreme price paid on Golgotha’s hill to redeem and sanctify us. Calvary was not a small, insignificant event, but it was a sacrifice beyond human comprehension that brought Him to Calvary’s tree. It took determination to endure the scourgings of Pilate’s Prateorian regiments as they mutilated His precious visage.
Just as the prospector must dig into the heart of the earth for the best gold, our Lord Jesus Christ delved into the deepest pits of sin to obtain the small insignificant elements of the church and perfect it for His glory.
We were all sinners destined for eternal death. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The righteous died for the unrighteous, the holy for the unholy. Our response should be to allow God to reside in our hearts and always to show appreciation to Him for the price He paid.
In Luke 12:34 Christ stated, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Where our most treasured possession, investments, and desires are, there will our hearts be also.
The children of Israel had settled into the daily routine of enjoying the blessings of the land God had given them. For many years they worshiped at the entrance to the Tabernacle and became accustomed to the beautiful presence of the Shekinah Glory of God’s manifested power. A nonchalant, casual atmosphere tainted the sacrificial system, and traditionalism was the attitude of the day.
The worldly-minded people approached the aged prophet Samuel and to his horror demanded, “Give us a king like the other nations. Let us be like the other people of the nations round about us.” God’s response to Samuel’s grief concerning Israel’s request was not what Samuel expected to hear, however. God promised that He would allow them to have a king, and also explained to Samuel that the people of Israel had not rejected him, but had rejected God Almighty.
The Lord called the son of a muleteer to be the first king of Israel, and anointed him with power and wisdom. Even though Saul was head and shoulders above all that were in Israel, his physical size was riot the factor that led God to choose him as King. Because he was small in his own eyes and humble before God, there was no limit to the power of God’s presence that he felt and had at his call.
Unfortunately, Saul lost his humility and his spiritual insight, and he came to the place where he despised holy things. Consequently he found himself in a spiritual vacuum, and was not equipped to obtain the goals for which he strove.
The prophet Samuel informed Saul that God had taken the kingdom from him and given it unto another. I Samuel 13:14 speaks clearly concerning the purpose and plan of God not only for Saul but for the lives of mankind even today: “The LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people.” Because Saul did not keep the spiritual precepts of the commandments of God in proper perspective, he fell short of fulfilling the goals God had intended for him to attain in leading Israel.
There comes a time in the life of every man, when the Savior calls, exhorts and woos him. Whether the mercy of God will change his life depends on whether or not that individual will heed the call of God. God said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3). God is still seeking a man today who will have the spiritual attributes of a David, watching and obeying, listening, and humble. God is looking for those whom He can trust; those who, in spite of all their human frailties, still have an earnest desire within their spirits to yield to God and seek His will.
The Lord spoke to Samuel and told him to stop mourning for Saul. God had rejected the sacrifice from the carnal nature of Saul, and also had lifted his anointing from the shoulders of the king. God next commanded Samuel to go to the house of Jesse the Bethlehemite and anoint one of Jesse’s sons whom God had already chosen as the next king of Israel. God not only sent Samuel to the exact town, home, family, but he also gave Samuel specific instructions pertaining to the future of Israel’s government.
It is comforting to know that God still communicates to mankind; God still speaks through anointed ministers of His church, giving direction to His people. God is a specific God; He never leaves any question to the direction man is to take regarding the salvation of his soul. He clearly reveals His will in this area in the Bible. Let us now look at what happened when Samuel arrived at Jesse’s house to notify Jesse that the Lord was going to choose from his household the next ruler of Israel.
Jesse brought out his first son—the one he thought would be God’s will for the land of Israel. How often we attempt to choose our own blueprints for the will of God in our lives and, like Jesse, offer what we think is the best.
Immediately Samuel informed Jesse that God was not looking for another man similar to Saul, but instead He was looking for a heart that could be developed into pure gold. How many generations will pass before we realize that the Lord does not see as man sees, “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).
We are all aware of the pressures and demands made upon men in every area of society concerning outward appearance. Many people in society place great emphasis upon the outward appearance and the material things of life. God never changes, however. He still views mankind in the same way that He did in the past.
The Lord instructed Samuel, while choosing the new king, not to look on his countenance nor at his stature. God clearly and directly emphasized that He was not looking for outward impressiveness in choosing a king. People are often impressed by the countenance of men. All around us are the signs of a world that has, by its lifestyle, left God out of the picture. The world has designed an outward appearance that is not pleasing to God. Still today, God declares that He responds to those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
After his eldest son, Eliab, Jesse called for Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel, but God also refused him. Then came Shammah and four others, but the Lord did not choose any of the seven brothers. Finally after the parade of the prominent sons, Jesse brought before the man of God the youngest, smallest son of the family. He was just the keeper of the sheep! Surely this lad, his brow dampened by the sweat of laboring among the sheep, his hair tousled by the wind, and burrs clinging to his ragged shepherd’s robe, was not king material! Surely this shepherd boy could not be the future king of Israel!
God in His infinite mercy reaches down and saves those who respond to His will. We all can be thankful for that expression of mercy. Many times God rejects the one we consider to be king material. When we watch people as they come to the Lord, we might think some are better fit for the sheepcote than for the throne room. We sometimes place human souls upon a stage or in a spiritual lineup, and tend to think that God made a mistake by calling that individual to the kingdom.
Perhaps we have a Jesse mentality, and would like for the most debonair and wealthy individual to be born into the kingdom, while not having much hope for those people who are from the “other side of the tracks.” May God help us not to evaluate people in this light for “there go we except for the grace of God.” It is fortunate for us that no one but God was responsible for deciding whether we could enter into the kingdom.
God told Samuel to arise and anoint Jesse’s youngest son, the shepherd boy David, as king. David’s life was transformed from that moment onward. Though David sinned as king he never lost his place as Saul did. The difference between Saul and David was that Saul never learned to repent while David sought after God’s mercies with all his heart. It is the truly repentant man who understands the tender mercies that David talked about throughout all of his psalms.
From a shepherd to a king, from the sheepcote to the throne room came a man after God’s own heart. David knew how to get to the heart of the Almighty. When David sinned he learned that godly sorrow works repentance and therefore knew how to weep and cry his way into the mercies of the Lord.
It is important to realize, while in the mining process, that our Great Savior is touched by the feeling of our infirmities. He wants us to express sorrow for our sins, for when we do so we find He is willing and able to forgive us to the uttermost.
God will return for a people who are called, chosen, and faithful. We were alone, lost and without hope until God dug us from the muck and mire of the wicked world. The great Prospector dug us from the mirey clay of sin. It was not the stature nor the countenance that was worth beholding, but it was the potential of good that He beheld in the final product. God looked beyond our outward appearance and chose to reach for our hearts.
Our Savior looks at treasure in a different light than we do. Our hopes and desires for this present life many times outweigh the principal reason for His coming to seek and save. Some layup treasures where moth and rust can eat away and corrode. They live in constant fear that man will break in and steal their meager earthly treasures; therefore, they spend much to protect so little. The Lord exhorts us to lay up treasures in heaven where thieves cannot break in and steal. Let us recognize that God must become the focal point of our very existence in this life and the one to come.
Paul gives us an insight to why the Lord mined us from the darkness and dross of the world. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (II Corinthians 4:7). We were mined to “shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).
The above article, “The Mining Process” was written by Roger Grohman. The article was excerpted from Grohman’s book Gold Tried in the Fire.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.