Jeremiah 31:21: “Set up road markers for yourself; make yourself guideposts; consider well the highway, the road by which you went. Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities.” (ESV)
n the movies, you see them, the Pirates hoping to recover their buried loot, their booty, their treasure. They know exactly where it is, sort-a, kind-a, maybe. The map shows them the way and they do all they can to follow this secret map with the unmistakable X to mark the spot. When they reach the land of their treasure and lay their eyes upon it, then total celebration ensues.
Humans are frequently guilty of treating God’s Word as a treasure map. We pull it out only when we think it will benefit us. We tend to bury it among other “ancient treasures” where it collects dust. Such is the case reported to us in both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. God’s written word had apparently been lost for a time until Hilkiah, who was cleaning out the temple treasury reported, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 34:15).
We may remember its worth occasionally as we see the giant X that marks the spot on its cover. However, the ancient words become unfamiliar to us through disuse. “If only it were not so vague,” we believe, “then I could have the treasure it intends for me.” So we follow it, sort-a kind-a, maybe.
This should not be. God never intended his word to be exclusive or hidden. Instead, he intended for his word to be big and bold. God’s Word is not to be a secret treasure map. Rather he designed it to be a big giant billboard, a blimp, a stadium scoreboard of the grandest scale.
Jeremiah reports that the people were to set up markers and guideposts. They were to memorize the path that they were taking. Why, you ask? Israel is about to take a little trip to Babylon and will not return any time soon. They might be tempted to write up an exclusive map and lock it away; nevertheless, God had and has big plans. Many would have to know about the return. The treasure of treasures was about to be revealed in that abandoned land.
God returned Israel to the land of promise. For the only time in history that really mattered, X would mark the spot of the real treasure. Some say, rightly so, it looks more like a cross. Here Jesus the priceless treasure would die. Some tried to lock him up and hide him away in a secret and secure way. However, Jesus would not be contained, nor known only by a few. He revealed himself to the disciples and the disciples revealed him to the world.
Our map that leads to eternal treasure is something we are fortunate to share. We no longer hide it away, but prominently display, read and hear its words. It sets up for us markers and guideposts. It gives light to our path. God’s Word reminds us of another return, the return of Jesus. On that day, when Jesus makes all land the land of our treasure, total celebration will ensue.
The Rev. Seth A. Meyer is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Winfield.