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Parable of the Hidden Treasure

by Robert Garrett

I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Now today as we continue our lessons on the seven parables that Jesus gave us in Matthew chapter 13, we come to the fifth parable.  If you heard the previous lessons, then you know that Jesus said that these parables were mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. And we learned that a Bible mystery is the revelation of a new truth and it is not the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy.

Now that definition of a Bible mystery is given several times in the New Testament.  Ephesians chapter three verses four and five speak of the mystery of Christ which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed to God’s holy apostles and prophets.  And in Colossians chapter one verse 26 we read of the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.

We also saw in earlier lessons that the prophets foretold of the sufferings of the Christ and they foretold of the glories that would follow.  That is 1 Peter chapter one verses 10 and 11.   What they did not prophesy was what would take place between these two events. They did not foretell the present period of time this present evil age of Galatians 1:3-5 which has lasted almost 2000 years, which period would separate between the sufferings and the glories.

With that in mind, let us look at parable number five, the parable of the hidden treasure in verse 44.  We read: The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again and then in his joy went and sold all that he had and bought the field.

Now the treasure has often been interpreted as the truth or the gospel or salvation or the Church and that a person should sacrifice or be willing to sacrifice all to obtain these treasures. It is true that the disciples left everything to follow Jesus, but that is not the point of this parable, nor should we water it down and say that it means we must be willing to give up everything. How does one prove he is willing?  But such explanations ignore the fact that here Jesus is revealing a new truth about the kingdom. To give one’s all to follow God is not a new truth. It has always been so. The treasure is not symbolic of salvation nor does it symbolize the Church, nor is the finder symbolic of someone discovering or finding those things. This parable has nothing whatsoever to do with a person discovering the gospel. It has nothing to do with someone discovering the true Church. The gospel cannot be bought. Salvation is not for sale.

In Romans 6:23 we read that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  We have nothing of value that we can give in exchange for the gospel.  Salvation, the Scripture tells us, is by grace, not from yourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast.

But the one who bought the field in which the treasure is hid has something to boast of. He sold everything, sacrificed everything in order to buy the field.  Again, the gospel is not hidden. When we receive it, we are not to hide it, but are to be lights in this dark world.  What then does this parable mean?

To me the most satisfactory interpretation of this parable is that the treasure is the nation of Israel and the parable is speaking of Israel’s temporary hardening of heart. That hardening of heart that is taking place during this period of time, this present evil age between the past sufferings of Christ and the future glories of Christ.  For that is exactly what the Holy Spirit is telling us in Romans 11 verse 25 to 27 where Paul says, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited. Israel has experienced a hardening in heart until the full number of Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved as it is written.  The deliverer will come from Zion. He will turn godlessness away from Jacob and this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

Now the mystery of Israel’s temporary hardening of heart to last until the full number of the Gentiles have come in agrees with the mystery of the hidden treasure. They both explain Israel’s present rejection and future glory.  The kingdom prophesied in the Old Testament without any mystery is the one promised to Israel in fulfillment of God’s covenant with David.  The thing revealed in this parable is a mystery phase of the kingdom which was not prophesied by the Old Testament prophets. It was hidden from them.  It is not the fulfillment of what was prophesied.  The prophesy cannot yet be fulfilled because Israel has rejected the Son of David.  They have rejected their king.


However, that rejection has only delayed not nullified the promise, because the promise to David was unconditional.  You can see by reading 2 Samuel chapter seven verses eight to 16 and Psalms 89 verses three, four and 34 to 37.  The treasure, the treasure is Israel.  Of Israel God has said, “Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all the people. For the earth is mine.” That is Exodus chapter 19 verse five.  And in Psalms 135 verse four: The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel for his special treasure.

Please do not be confused by the fact that there are a number of references in the New Testament where application to the Church or to the believer is made of some statement or prophecy in the Old Testament, which statement or prophecy was directed to the nation of Israel. Those that teach that the Church replaces Israel often point to these references as proof of their theory.  An example would be Peter’s application of Exodus 19 verses five and six to the Church in 1 Peter chapter two verse nine. But this does not disinherit Israel.  Whatever spiritual blessings are promised to Israel are also ours, because Ephesians 1:3 says that God has blessed us, that is the Church. God has blessed us in heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Israel shall yet become a royal priesthood, a, holy nation when under the new covenant God’s laws will be written on their hearts.

As one writer of old has aptly said, the blessing which they forfeited under the law was offered to them in grace, but refusing this they were set aside until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.  Meanwhile the treasure is hidden till the time for its display has come.

When Jesus began his ministry Israel was the first object of his search. He said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” Matthew 15:24.  When he sent out the 12, he instructed them, “Do not go among the Gentiles or any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” That is Matthew 10:5-6.  He discovered, as it were, the treasure hidden in the field of the world and unable to take immediate possession of it because of their hardness of heart. He hid it again and then in his joy went and sold all that he had and bought that field.

Consider our Lord’s lament over Jerusalem in Matthew 23 verse 37 to 39.  “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you.  How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look. Your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

The house left desolate is the house of David. That is 2 Samuel 7:16. That is the royal dynasty to rule over Israel. The promised restoration of Israel involves the restoration of the house of David. Jesus is that Son of David and as they have rejected him they have rejected their restoration. And they cannot be restored until they say blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Now as it is in the parable of the weeds, the field is the world. The field must be purchased at the cross before he could take title to the hidden treasure. Caiaphas, the high priest made a prophesy of which the Holy Spirit said, “He prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation.” That is John 11:50-51.  There was no other way that Israel’s blessing could be accomplished. The field must be purchased.  And in his purchase of the field he also secures the blessing of the Gentile nations through the gospel, John 1:29.  John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

He sold all that he had.  2 Corinthians chapter eight verse nine. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.

Philippians chapter two verses six through eight.  Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.

That expression, with joy. The joy of our Lord will be echoed by Israel in that day when the treasure is uncovered and Israel is restored.

Isaiah 52:9-10.  Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem. For the Lord has comforted his people.  He has redeemed Jerusalem.  The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all nations.  All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.

And in Isaiah 62 verse two and three. The nations will see your righteousness, that is the righteousness of Israel. The nations will see your righteousness and all kings your glory. You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.  You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.


The parable ends with the purchase of the field. It does not take us to the day when the treasure shall be uncovered, because that event is not a mystery.  The unearthing of the treasure belongs tot eh future coming of the kingdom in glory promised by the Old Testament prophets. It belongs to the time prophesied when Israel finally repents and turns to Jesus as their Messiah.  The New Testament joyfully declares that that time will be when this mystery is concluded.

For emphasis we repeat again Romans 11:25 to 27.   I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited.  Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles come in.  And so all Israel will be saved.  As it is written, the deliverer will come from Zion. He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. This is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.

So the mystery of Israel’s temporary hardening of heart to last until the full number of the Gentiles have come in agrees with the mystery of the hidden treasure. They both explain Israel’s present rejection and a future glory.

Unfortunately, some confuse Israel with the Church.  They wrongly declare that the many explicit prophesies about the kingdom must not be taken at face value, but are spiritually fulfilled in the Church. They say the Church is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the kingdom because Jesus said, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Now if the kingdom of prophecy did not come on Pentecost, they say, then the words of Jesus failed, because he said it is near.  However, as we see how this word is used elsewhere it obviously does not demand immediately fulfillment. James says in James 5:8, “The Lord’s coming is near.” But the Lord has not yet come.” And Peter says in 1 Peter four verses seven through eight, “The end of all things is near.” But the end has not yet come.  Furthermore, Jesus spoke a parable in Luke 19 verse 11 to 27 because the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. This parable teaches a definite and long delay in setting up the kingdom of Old Testament prophecy.  It can only be set up when the King returns.

The anti millennialists also fail to understand that the coming of the kingdom for Israel was conditional upon the repentance of Israel and Israel did not repent.  God had foreseen this before the creation of the world and laid his plans accordingly. Jesus is revealing this in these parables of the mysteries of the kingdom.

As we read in Ephesians 1:9-10 we see that God made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure which he purposed in Christ to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment.

The apostle Peter in the third chapter of Acts calls on Israel to repent and turn to God. He tells them that if they, Israel, would repent, not only would their sins be blotted out, but God would send to them the Christ who would restore all that had been promised by the holy prophets. That is Acts chapter three from verse 12 through 21.  This promise was only given to the nation of Israel. Gentiles were never promised that if they would repent the Christ would come.

The apostle James recognizing this mystery phase of the kingdom, the formation of the Church during the time of Israel’s temporary rejection, the treasure hidden in the field, he spoke of the time when the treasure would be unearthed.  I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent.  Its ruins I will rebuild and I will restore it.

It would be after this, that is, after God has finished taking from the Gentiles a people from himself.  That is Acts 15 verses 13 through 18.

Now this parable is not speaking of the restoration of Israel, but of the period of her suspension, the hardening in part which is not permanent, but is to last until the full number of Gentiles has come in.

As we have pointed out earlier, the prophets foretold the sufferings of the Christ and they foretold the glories that would follow, 1 Peter 1:10-11.  What they did not prophesy was what would take place between these two events.  They did not foretell the present period of time, this present evil age of Galatians 1:3-5, which has lasted almost 2000 years, which period would separate between the sufferings and the glories.  They prophesied the eventual repentance and restoration of Israel, but not this hardening of Israel’s heart during this present even age during which time God would be forming the Church, the bride of Christ.

The disciples asked Jesus some questions in Matthew 24.  What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?

We don’t have time to read our Lord’s description of this age. We ask you to please read it for yourself in Matthew chapter 24.  As you read his answer in that chapter, you will see that the age he describes will be a lengthy one with many evil things happening. It is obviously this present evil age of Galatians 1:3-5 and will only be brought to an end by his glorious return.

You can see how these parables in Matthew 13, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, are describing this same period of time in Mathew 24, the activity of Satan within the kingdom, the persecutions, the falling away of some. These are all contrary to the kingdom as described by the Old Testament prophets.  We await the coming of our Lord of the setting up of his glorious kingdom.  Until then we must heed our Lord’s warning as he describes the very times in which we live.

“Watch out,” Jesus said, “that no one deceives you. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness the love of most will grow cold.  But he who stand firm to the end will be saved.”


One Response to “Parable of the Hidden Treasure”

  1. Ron Bartanen says:

    An excellent article! –Ron B.

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2 corinthians 1:3-4