“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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-20

Have you ever read these verses and wondered to yourself just what a killjoy Jesus is? I mean come on, here He is, the Son of God, the only one who could really give us our hearts desire, telling us to ‘take it easy’ on the treasures here on earth and wait for those in heaven? Is He trying to get out of blessing us? Is He trying to kop out?

In truth, I used to think that way. And because I know that I am irrevocably forgiven, I can admit to it openly, knowing that He understands. And because of what Jesus did for me, I know He doesn’t hold it against me.

But what if I got it all wrong? What if God was always trying to give us a little slice of heaven while we are here on earth, and the things which we hold dear have ironically become stumbling blocks, preventing us from entering into that heaven?

Ludicrous? Too good to be true? Well, let’s see.

“So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.” Exodus 3:8

When Israel was under bondage in Egypt, God sent Moses to tell His people that He was going to bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey; a land so vast, it held 6 tribes of people.

Now, compare that promise with their situation, wouldn’t you consider that to be heaven here on earth? In Egypt, they were oppressed, but in the land, they would be free. In Egypt, they ate the bread of toil, but in the land, they would eat of produce for which they need not toil. Indeed, this was said of the land;

“I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.” Joshua 24:13

Nevermind them, even if we were given land for which we did not labor, dwell in cities which we did not build, eat of the vineyards and olive groves we did not plant, we would consider that heaven here on earth, wouldn’t we?

Indeed, David said it best when He said,

“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
he brought me into a spacious place.” Psalm 118:5 [NIV]

Israel was literally hard pressed by the Egyptians, but God brought them to a land spacious enough to hold 6 tribes. But they didn’t get there immediately, did they? When they were about to enter the land the first time, they sent in spies, and this was the report.

“Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.” Numbers 13:27-28

Something held them back, something made them afraid, they had something to lose, and that is why

“So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron,…” Numbers 14:1-2

But what were they holding on to?

““If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.”” Numbers 14:2-4

They were holding on to Egypt. Ironic, isn’t it?

You know, it is said that a farmer defending his only horse fights more valiantly than an army of the best knights. Isn’t it so true that when you know you’ve got nothing to lose, when you know there’s no other treasure apart from that which you are fighting for; you have no fear, you have no apprehension. There is nothing that can stand in your way because there is nothing that is holding you back.

Now, what about you? Is God showing you another land; a land which, like Israel, you can obviously see is flowing with milk and honey? But because of what you have right now, because you don’t want to risk losing it, you are not prepared to follow His lead? Are your ‘treasures’ getting in your way of possessing your land?

You know beloved, that’s really the irony. For when we look at Israel’s conquest of the land, we see that first of all, the land was already theirs, even before the first sword was picked up. For remember what Rahab said to Joshua’s spies the second time around?

“I know the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” Joshua 2:9-11

Nevermind that, remember who Joshua saw just before they were supposed to go into battle with Jericho?

“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”
So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come.” Joshua 5:13-14

And what did God require of them in order that they may take Jericho?

“You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.” Joshua 6:3-5

Just walk around it a few times and make some noise. Easy, isn’t it?

So God prepared that way ahead, God went with them, and God made the road to victory easy. No wonder God said,

“I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.” Joshua 24:13

You know, they could have entered the land with Moses the first time. But because they treasured their old way of life, they treasured their fears, they treasured what little they had so much, it made them unable to trust that God will provide much more for them. The very thing which they treasured became the obstacle standing in the way of them experiencing our Father’s provision.

Beloved child of God, if you find yourself at a crossroads today, if you find that God is leading you to open a new chapter in your life, know this, and know this well,

“This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need.” Matthew 6:8 [MSG]

If He has already given you this much, how much more will He not give you, especially since you are following the path of His leading? Indeed,

“Do not ye treasure to you treasures [here] in earth, where rust and moth destroyeth, and where thieves delve out and steal;
but gather to you treasures in heaven [but treasure to you treasures in heaven], where neither rust nor moth destroyeth, and where thieves delve not out, nor steal.” Matthew 6:19-20 [WYC]

Do not treasure to yourself the things which are around you. But instead, step forward in faith, knowing that as surely as

“…I know the plans I have for you,” declared the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 [NIV]

So surely will He give you “…land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.” Joshua 24:13

And let Jesus give you a piece of heaven here on earth.

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