Treasures in Heaven

Haftarah Reading: Behar/Bechukotai (Jeremiah 16:19-17:14)
Gospel Reading: Luke 12:15-34
Commentary by: Kelsey Bryant

Living in the Messianic Kingdom includes understanding its currency. This currency isn’t the ordinary paper and coins that we exchange for goods and services; this is the kind of treasure we enjoy as a reward in the World to Come. We can’t comprehend its exact nature right now, but it’s sufficient to know that our King Yeshua encourages us to lay it up and instructs us how to do so while we live and work on earth.

From Genesis to Revelation, God teaches us to rely on Him for our wealth. It won’t always (or even usually) be the type that provides material luxury, but, whether spiritual or physical, it will always benefit our soul and spirit, God’s ultimate concern. Abraham refused to be made rich by the Sodomite king (Genesis 14:23) and chose to follow the Lord’s leading into the wilderness, depending on His providence alone (Hebrews 11:8-10). At the other end of the Bible, Yeshua rebukes the Laodiceans for trusting in the wealth they’ve accumulated for themselves and advises them to turn to God (Revelation 3:17-18).

The currency of the Kingdom teaches us to trust in God and not ourselves. It teaches us to look beyond this world where selfish motives reign and into the next where God’s will is always done. Our Haftarah portion in Jeremiah illustrates the same lesson in many different ways.

The very first verse, 16:19, establishes Adonai as the one and only sure foundation: “Adonai, my strength, my stronghold, my refuge in the day of affliction, to You will the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: ‘Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, futility and useless things.’” (TLV)

Jeremiah 17:5-8 gives a beautiful, poetic parable contrasting “the one who trusts in man” and “the one who trusts in Adonai, whose confidence is in Adonai.” If we are planted by the streams of living water like the green tree, we will find our nourishment in what the Lord provides. It is senseless to rely on something that will not last the drought of judgment or disaster.

The rest of the passage describes the folly of “one who gets wealth, unjustly” and forsakes Adonai, and how Adonai is our only hope for life, healing, and salvation. He gives to every man “according to the fruit of his deeds.” Our deeds on earth reveal where our treasure is: Are we trusting God’s statement that the real “good life” is in the Kingdom? Or do we believe that our life on this earth should be deluxe, therefore focusing our energies on fulfilling every fleshly desire?

Yeshua adds to this theme in one of the clearest teachings we have on the subject. The rich man in the parable of Luke 12:16-21 resembles the wealthy fool of Jeremiah 17:11, whose riches abandon him in the middle of his days. Although the rich man gained his prosperity justly, he became a fool when he determined his own plans and neglected to render anything to God, living only for himself and not caring about the Kingdom.

In the following verses, Yeshua addresses the heart of the issue: trust that God will provide. Ever since our first forefather sinned, we’re wired to worry about preserving our lives. We want to keep death and even discomfort as far away as possible. Which means we desperately pour everything we have into making a good life for ourselves. If we remain in a state of separation from God, it’s no wonder we feel we can rely only on the work we do, the wealth we accumulate, the future we build.

But Yeshua shows us a better way. We have a Heavenly Father we can depend on; He has our best interests at heart. They may not look like the best to human eyes, but if we see them with transformed eyes, we’ll realize His wisdom. He calls us to seek His Kingdom first, and all the things we worry about for ourselves will be added to us. We don’t need riches on earth; we’d do better to focus on the riches in the life to come. We don’t have the means and ability to guarantee life and comfort on earth; only God does. Why worry? Why rely on the little we can do and ignore the everything God can do? Not that we shouldn’t be prudent, but the only way to live a truly abundant life is to put God’s Kingdom first, trusting in Him and not ourselves.