This salvation parable is found in Matthew 6:19-24. Below is the first part of the parable.
Do not store up treasures for yourselves upon earth,
where moths and rust consume,
and where thieves break through and steal.
Store up treasures for yourselves in Heaven,
where neither moths nor rust consume,
and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
This parable is about storing up treasures for yourself. This is about your treasures. That makes it personal! There are only two options you have for storing your treasures. For those of us with Christian biblical heritages, we assume earth and heaven are two places – one is we where we live now and the other is where we will spend eternity. But, that was not what Jesus had in mind.
His Jewish audience knew exactly what “Heaven” meant. It is a euphemism for the “unspoken name of God,” “YHVH.” Jewish people used euphemisms to “avoid profaning the name of God.” Jesus was referring to God -- not a place. This is what his Jewish audience heard – “You can store your treasures on earth or with God!”
Very few people view this parable as a “salvation parable.” But it is important to remember Jesus was an expert teacher of the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) and that almost everything he taught was a commentary on specific Jewish Scriptures. Once we identify that Scripture, we will understand this parable. It is Malachi 3:16b-4:1.
And a Book of Remembrance was written before Yahweh
for those who stand in awe of Yahweh and who value His name.
“They shall be Mine,” says Yahweh of hosts.
“On the day I make up My treasure, I will have compassion on them
as a man has compassion on his own son who serves him.”
And you shall return and see the difference
between the innocent and the guilty,
between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like a fire-pot;
and all the arrogant and everyone doing wickedness will be stubble.
And on the day which is coming, I will set them ablaze,” says Yahweh of hosts,
“and will not leave them a root or branches.”
On that day, “the treasures you laid up with God” will be “the only thing protecting you from being set ablaze by God!” Now you know what the audience knew as they listened to Jesus teach. It is clear that by this time, he had the audience’s attention! So, what kind of treasures does God want? Now let’s continue with the parable in Matthew.
The lamp of the body is the eye.
If therefore you have a good eye,
your whole body will be full of light.
But if you have an evil eye,
your whole body will be full of darkness.
If therefore the light that is in you is darkness,
how great is that darkness!
“Good eye” and “evil eye” are idioms and their words cannot be taken literally. This is an English idiom -- “You really put your foot in your mouth this time!” If its words were taken literally, someone would have actually put their own foot in their mouth. But most Americans know that it means – “you said or did something that you should not have said or done.”
The way we discover the meanings of idioms Jesus used is find verses in the Jewish Scriptures in which they appear. “Good eye” is found in Proverbs 22:9.
He that has a good eye shall be blessed;
for he gives his bread to the poor.
The person with a “good eye” is the one that “gave bread to the poor.” “Evil eye” is found in Deuteronomy 15:9:
"Beware that there be not a thought in your wicked heart, saying,
`The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and you have an
evil eye against your poor brother, and you give him nothing;
and he cries unto Yahweh against you, and it be sin unto you.’"
The person with a “evil eye” is the one “who gave his poor brother nothing.” I bet some of you recognized that this parable teaches the same lessons the Parable of the Great Day of Judgment Jesus taught in Matthew 25:31-46. If you have already started building a Jewish Jesus vocabulary (click here to see) you already know this:
The person with a “good eye” did “acts of TZEDAQAH.”
The person with an “evil eye” did “acts of RAH.”
Now let’s see how Jesus ends the parable in Matthew:
No one can serve two masters;
for either he will hate one and love the other,
or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.
Now we know what Malachi meant by “one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.” The only “treasures” people can layup with God are “acts of TZEDAQAH.” This is the core message Jesus repeated throughout his teachings:
Do acts of TZEDAQAH and be the Kingdom of God!
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