More Than Gold

Scripture: Exodus 25:1-40
Date: 06/23/2007 
Gold, the most precious metal on earth, is spoken of often in the Scriptures. Gold represents our salvation in Jesus Christ. It describes God’s word and genuine faith.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

We are back recently from a very interesting vacation. I thought I’d tell you a little bit about it. I have been to all fifty of the United States except two, at least until a couple of weeks ago. I had never been to Alaska and I had never been to North Dakota. We’d been invited several times to come to Alaska and participate in a men’s retreat up there. I thought, well, I’ve always heard how beautiful these Alaskan cruises are where you cruise the inside passage this time of year and look at the glaciers and mountains. I thought, well, I’m going to take Mrs. Batchelor and we’re going to leave the kids with grandma and we’re going to go on a cruise together. We haven’t done that since our honeymoon. So we did that, and Bonnie and Ed are still recovering from… But it was wonderful and so what I did is we cruised up, we saw the inside passage and it was beautiful. There was a little bit of rain, but it was nice just to be together and see some of the sights and the mountains and the glaciers and take some the excursions.

Alaska is like a country in itself. Then at the end of the cruise we sort of did a baton pass and Stephen flew up to meet me, Karen flew back down to take care of Nathan. Stephen and I went to a men’s retreat. Now I’ve done a number of men’s retreats before and they’re really fun because, you know, I like to think that I’m a MAN. Some people think that pastors are kind of wimpy and nerdy, but let me assure you, I’m a man. I like to break things and fix things and to ride and shoot and all that sort of stuff, and so I was looking forward to going up to this men’s retreat. But I’ll tell you, I’ve never been to a men’s retreat quite like this one. We had about hundred men. They said it was the biggest attendance they’d ever had. There was no way to get to the spot by car. You had to either fly in and everybody in Alaska has got an airplane just about.

You either fly in and land on this river bar and these landings were, every one of them was like… I’ll tell you, they’re pretty hairy landings. They just come around, they have to turn at the last minute or hit this hill, and then kill the power and then bounce to a stop and if you don’t make it, you’re doomed because there’s a box canyon at the end. You could only land one way. Every time another plane came in, and they must have had fifteen planes that came in, your heart goes… And the other men all rode these four-wheelers, these ATV’s in. So here’s a picture. We did it up at this mining cabin. I’ll tell you more about that. This is out on a river. It’s an old mining cabin one of the members owns. I’ve never met so many Christians that own their own claim. Up in Alaska a lot of them still have claims that they’re working.

I’ve also never been to a men’s retreat, a Bible study, where about fifty percent of the men have their Bibles in one hand and a pistol as big as a canon in the other. This is a picture. See them all holding their firearms? That’s me there in the middle. I tell you, Alaska is sort of a radical country and it produces radical people. So here are all the men; we all got together for our Bible studies, but they had grizzly actually roaming around the area and so they all came packing. We’d study. Sabbath morning we’re having our Bible study and they’ve all got their shotguns and their pistols and their ATV’s and they were ready for anything. It was a great experience, and I enjoyed very much joining the men up there. Men flew in from not only all over Alaska but they flew in from different parts of the northwest and it was a good experience.

As a little gift, and by the way, something else we did a day later is I got to fly several times different planes which was fun that I haven’t flown, and the day after we got an opportunity. They flew Stephen and I up to Mount McKinley and we landed on a glacier and it was quite an experience because Mount McKinley is the tallest mountain in North America anyway. It’s twenty thousand, three hundred feet and they landed us just at the base and I took all ofthese pictures and video and then my guide elbowed me later. He says, “That actually is not Mt. McKinley. It’s the one to the left.” Because we’re just surrounded with mountains, but that was a big one there too. Ha! Anyway we got this memorial picture of another mountain, but Mt. McKinley is to the left of it. I did get some video. Anyway it was a great experience and before I left the men’s retreat, one of them said, “We’ve got a presentation we want to make, Pastor Doug.” They gave me this vial with a gold nugget in it. Now it wasn’t actually this vial. This is one that Karen bought for the boys. I got mine at home. This is actually gold flakes that they press. It’s real gold, but it’s so thin it actually stays suspended a little while in water because gold, you can flatten it out like you wouldn’t believe. While I was up there at the gold claim and gold country and during our cruise they’re giving us all the gold history, I started thinking about gold. It’s mentioned in the Bible about as much as anything. So my message this morning is talking about “More Than Gold”.

The Bible talks an awful lot about gold, but then it talks about something that’s worth more than gold and what real gold is from a biblical perspective. In the Bible gold is mentioned just about five hundred times in scripture. A lot of history has been shaped by man’s pursuit of gold. We’re here in Sacramento. What really grew this city? A fellow named Sutter who had a ranch and a sawmill up in the hills and they found gold. All the streets and we’ve got all these towns and streets and suburbs everything from Placerville and Placer County. That’s a form of gold mining. All have these gold names.

Matter of fact, 1848, 1849, one of the largest immigrations of humanity was on the heels of the Gold Rush in Northern California. How do you think Alaska got settled? It was largely after the discovery of gold in the Yukon, both in British Columbia and Alaska, people went up there by swarms. Australia, same thing, big discovery of gold. Some of the people who really made wealth were not the miners. Very few actually found enough. Back then, you know gold right now is six hundred and fifty dollars an ounce. Back then it was like twenty dollars an ounce so you had to mine an awful lot of it to get any real money out of it.

To find real gold takes a lot of work and a lot of digging. One of the people who found a lot of gold during the gold rush was actually Levi Strauss. You know how denim jeans got invented? A man named Levi Strauss came to California hoping to sell tents to the miners. They didn’t have very much money to buy the tents and he had all of this indigo blue died denim to make these cotton tents. He was just about ready to go bankrupt and he prayed. He said, “Lord, I don’t know what to do. I need some advice.” While he was waiting for God to guide him, he thought, “Well, I’m going to make myself a pair of pants out of this denim.” He had brass grommets for the rivets of the tents. So he thought, “I’m going to reinforce the seams.” He reinforced all the seams of the pants and he made himself some of these denim pants, thick heavy cotton pants with the grommets. All the miners said, “We don’t need any tents, but where do we get a pair of pants like that?” All of a sudden he went into a booming business making overalls and pants for all of the miners. Of course, as they say, the rest is history. He really found gold in blue, as you might say.

Well, one reason that gold is so important is it’s very rare. It is something that is very precious. You read in the Bible, 1 Kings 10:21, the greatest time of glory for God’s people, the golden era in the history of God’s people was the time of Solomon. Listen to what it says here, 1 Kings 10:21, “All King Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; not one was of silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon.” Now people often in the Bible you’ll hear reference to silver and gold, silver and gold, silver and gold. In reality gold is worth much more than silver. It is something the people have died for. There is a famous poem that I thought I’d read to you by Thomas Hood. “Gold, gold, gold, gold, bright and yellow, hard and cold. Molten, graven, hammered and rolled. Heavy to get, light to hold. Hoarded, bartered, bought and sold, stolen, borrowed, squandered gold. Spurned by the young, clung by the old, to the verge of the churchyard mold. Price of many a crime untold. Good or bad a thousand fold. Gold, gold, gold, gold.” Have you heard that before? It’s an old poem. About 1880 that was written.

Gold is very precious. When you think about the Olympics what medal does everybody remember? There’s actually three medals that get recognition. You’ve got the bronze and you’ve got the silver, but what is everyone going for? The gold. It’s considered to be the supreme standard. Pure gold is the most malleable and ductile of all medals. In fact, listen to these amazing facts. One ounce of gold can be drawn, one ounce of gold can be drawn into a wire sixty-two miles long. A goldsmith can hammer one ounce of gold into a thin translucent sheet so thin you can just about see through it covering more than a hundred square feet only five millionths of an inch thick. So thin that it would require a thousand sheets of this to make the thickness of a newspaper. Now who took my gold? No, that’s my chapstick, but I’ll sell it to you.

See, this is why they can sell this when you travel to Alaska. I saw Sherle. She said, “Oh, I’ve got some of that.” It’s real gold, but it is so thin it actually floats. It can be hammered so thin. It’s one of the most incredible substances and it is very rare because of that. One ounce of gold is required, only one ounce of gold is required to plate a copper thread one thousand miles long. Can you imagine that? One ounce of gold can do that. It is the softest of metals. It’s an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. One cubic foot of gold weighs more than a thousand pounds. It’s a very rare metal and is a very precious metal.

Now in the Bible when you look through all the references of gold in the Bible where do you suppose the most references are found? Not Revelation, no. It’s in Exodus and Leviticus where it talks about the construction of the temple. Because on earth there was more gold in the temple of God than any other earthly edifice. Matter of fact, you begin to read about all the gold that was accumulated by David. David had a crown that weighed a talent of gold that he captured from the king of the Ammonites. Can you imagine wearing a seventy pound crown? Somewhere between fifty and seventy pounds, a crown of gold. That would rest pretty heavy on someone’s shoulders, but when they built the temple… For instance, you go to Exodus 25:3, “And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold…” Verse 8, “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

Then in that chapter there are seventeen references just in chapter 25 of Exodus to gold. Everything was gold. The table of showbread, gold. The candle of light there in the sanctuary was gold, the seven candle stand. The ark of the covenant was gold. The altar of incense was gold. The walls were engraved with gold. Gold, gold, gold. Can you think about what it must have looked like? What message is God trying to send? As they carried that tabernacle through that desolate, bleak wilderness, you’ve got this jewel. You can’t help but wonder if God isn’t trying to tell us that the church, His temple on earth, and Christians, your body is a temple, in this desert of a world, in this barren world, we are to stand out like gold in the wilderness, to be precious like that, to be rare. It is indeed rare in this world. So that temple was to be a symbol of God’s glory in this dark world, the purity, the holiness.

One reason gold is so valuable is it’s incorruptible. Now you can have… even stainless steel will oxidize after a while. Iron, of course, will rust. Silver and bronze and copper will tarnish, but gold retains its luster even after a thousand years. Gold is extremely inactive. It’s unaffected by air, heat, moisture, and most solvents. Matter of fact, I remember reading when Howard Carter spent all those years looking for the treasures of King Tut, and he finally stood before the door of King Tut. They made a hole and they stuck a light in, and he looked for the first time into the chamber that had not been disturbed and they said, “Do you see anything?” And after his eyes became adjusted he said, “Yes, I see things. Wonderful things!” Everywhere he saw the glint of gold even though for three thousand years nobody had been in this room. The gold was still shiny.

That’s one thing that makes gold so precious. But the gold of this world in God’s eyes does not retain its luster. Notice what it says in James chapter five. Gold as money is not going to last. “Your gold and your silver,” James 5:3. “Your gold and silver are corroded…” Can gold corrode? Well, not normally. You know there are some, I understand cyanide, there are actually some liquids that will dissolve gold. For years the alchemists, you’ve heard of alchemy? The alchemists tried for years to mix lead and all of these different metals and chemicals to try to create gold. Can you imagine how rich someone would be if they could find some chemical combination to make gold? They have artificial pearls, cultured pearls. Matter of fact, they’ve got artificial diamonds that are made, they found a process now where they can make diamonds that are virtually indistinguishable from natural diamonds. But they still have not come up with a way to make artificial gold. But God says that the good is going to corrupt, the gold of this world that people are heaping up.

“Your gold and your silver are corroded, and the corrosion shall be a witness against you will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure for the last days.” Ezekiel and Isaiah and Jeremiah talk about the judgment when people are going to cast their gold and their silver in the streets. The gold of this world does not bring any lasting happiness. Where should our gold be? Jesus says, Matthew chapter six, verse twenty, “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 will your heart be also.” One of the reasons that King Tut’s treasure was so unique is because virtually every other Egyptian tomb that was discovered by archeologists and explorers had already been ransacked by thieves. King Tut’s treasures, and I’ve been to Cairo and seen them, they were among the most glorious, they are unsurpassed, the most exquisite treasures of ancient Egypt that have ever been discovered. King Tut was a poor pharaoh. He was actually buried, didn’t even get a pyramid, underground. Can you imagine the treasures that were in the pyramid of Cheops, the great pyramid? How much wealth must have been stored there, but when they finally found it, thieves broke through and stole it. Even though they made all of these trapdoors and things to try to block it and hide it, it was all ransacked by thieves. None of the treasure that we store in this world is making it to heaven. The only thing that gets out of this world un-corroded is characters, golden character. We’re going to talk about that in a little bit here.

I heard a story one time about a sailor that was shipwrecked in the South Pacific on one of these islands, probably like one of the islands that Vicki was talking about in her children’s story. By the way, I’ve been to Ponapei a couple of times and met some of the missionaries from the islands you were on. So here the sailor is shipwrecked and he’s taken on this island before it had been discovered and the natives came rushing down, and he thought, “Oh, no! They’re going to kill me!” But instead they hoisted them on their shoulders and they carried him through the village and they set him on this elaborate bamboo throne with feathers and they let him know that he was the king. He thought, “Hey! This is great. I’m king.” Well, after a while he found out that this was their pattern. Every year they would select someone to be a king for a year.

They thought, “Hey, this is great.” But then he became suspicious. He thought, “Where are all the other kings from former years?” He had eventually learned the language at this point and they said, “Well, after you serve as king for a year, we take you to this island over there that’s totally desolate right now. There’s nothing on the island. There’s no edible trees, and we leave you there.” They usually starved to death. He thought, “Oh, well, I don’t know if I like the sound of that.” But he realized, “Hey, I am king for a year, and I can do whatever I want for a year.” So you know what he did? He ordered all of the people on the island to begin to make boats and they took these boats and they began to transport exotic trees and fruit trees over to the other island. He had them go there and build huts. He had them dig wells, and he made a virtual paradise. So at the end of the year when he was transported to this other island instead of it being barren he had a paradise to live in. Well, you know that’s sort of what it’s like in this world. We know at the end of this life we’re going to be transported somewhere. The idea is we want to be sending materials and provisions on ahead and storing our treasures in heaven now, right? By the lives that we’re living. Gold in the Bible is also compared to the word of God. For instance our sermon is based on that passage.

I heard an amazing fact one time about a prayer on a pin. I think I may have shared this with you before, but it just was so astounding to me. Back in the late 1800’s a prisoner who had been a forger named A. Schiller, they don’t even know his first name because the records are destroyed. He died in Sing Sing Prison. You’ve all heard of Sing Sing Prison. As they were collecting his personal effects one of the guards noticed that there were six silver pins and one gold pin that were set on a piece of velvet by themselves. He thought, “Why is this?” and he picked up the pins and he looked at them. He thought, “Why did he keep these pins?”

He always kept them in his top pocket wrapped up in this velvet container. He looked and he thought, “The top of these pins look a little different.” He became suspicious. He thought, “Well, the man is a forger. I wonder what he did.” He took a magnifying glass that was in this man’s cell and he looked at the top of the pins and he thought, “What is this?” They found a more powerful magnifying glass and they discovered on the head of each one of these six pins this man had taken the entire Lord’s Prayer. What has it got, two hundred and ninety-two words in it? And he had etched the Lord’s Prayer perfectly on the top of all six of the pins. It probably took him all thirty-eight years that he was in the prison to do this. The gold pin in particular and this is an actual photograph of the head of the pin. Keep in mind, this is the top of a normal sized straight pin.

With powerful magnifying glass and an instrument so small you probably could not see it with your naked eye, this forger had spent his time etching the word of God into the top of those pins. There you have it there, the Lord’s Prayer, the entire thing. Isn’t that amazing? How many of you would like to have the word of God etched in your hearts like that, in the gold of your heart? Well, it should be. The Bible tells us in Psalm 119:127, “Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold, yes, than fine gold!” purified, refined gold. You know so often it seems like people resent the law of God, they see it as a restriction. They reject the law of God. They resist the law of God. They think that the Ten Commandments are ten limitations. In reality if we would love the law of God and see that when the law of God is in our hearts, that’s what real happiness and liberty comes from. That’s why it says we should hide His word in our hearts. How many of you would like to have the Lord write His law upon your hearts? What is the new covenant? The new covenant is the law of God not just written in stone but it’s written in the heart. If a man could do it on the top of a pin, we know the Lord could do it in our hearts, and I wish He would write it in all of our hearts with His finger.

More important than gold. Psalm 19, and this was part of our memory verse. If you read verse eight, “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes…” And then verse ten and eleven, “More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them” what is the benefit of having the gold of God’s word in our hearts? “…by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.” You know I was excited when at the end of our brief prayer retreat the men handed me a little vial with a little bit of gold in it. I want to make sure I grab the gold and not my chapstick. That’s my chapstick; this is the gold. I was so excited. This is not what they gave me. They gave me a gold nugget. It might be worth fifty dollars.

It’s not a big nugget, but you can hear it clink when you go back and forth with it. I was so excited, I said, “Did you get it from that river right here?” He said, “Right here.” I said, “There’s still gold in this river?” “Oh, yeah. Lots of it. You’ve just got to work for it. It’s here and you mine it.” I thought, man, I’d like to go up there sometime and not just spend the Sabbath reading the Bible. I’d like to go up there for a week and dig around, find some gold. Am I the only one who sometimes thinks it would be fun to pull gold out of the ground? Oh, come on. Fess up some of you men. Treasure just laying there. Most of these guys are very successful. They make a lot more money as plumbers and doctors and other things, but they still enjoy going out to their claims and finding the gold in the ground, digging for it and refining it and sifting it and dredging it and all of the things. They’ve got all of these tools and tricks. One of the old timers up there that actually owned the cabin he went around and he said, he had a magnet and they were using it for picking up cans around the campsite. I said, “You’ve got this powerful magnet on the end of a pole just to pick up these cans?” He said, “Oh, no, no, no. I’m just doing that for fun.” He said, “This is for mining.” I said, “Really?”

I said, “Gold is not magnetic.” He said, “No, but magnetite is and there’s usually a lot of gold in the sand where there’s a lot of magnetite.” And he said if you go around and you find this naturally occurring magnetic sand, he said, there’s usually gold in that sand. So he goes up and down the beach with this magnet and where there’s a lot of magnetic sand they often find gold. They love looking for it. They spend a lot of time looking for it. They invest money in looking for it. They take vacations to go mining. They spend much more money on their equipment and the vacation than they ever get from the gold, but if they find a hundred and fifty dollars worth of gold they’re thrilled. You know if you want truth in God’s word you’ve got to dig and when you find it, it is such a thrill that it’s greatly encouraging. It’s like mining for treasure. The word of God is better than gold. Proverbs 16:16, “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold!” You know one reason we spend so much money on our educations, I won’t ask how many of you are still paying off student loans, one reason we pay so much for education is because wisdom and knowledge is more valuable than gold. This is what Solomon says all of the time.

Now having said all this about gold and how exciting it is and how precious it is, we’ve all heard about fool’s gold. Probably all of us who have been out in the hills at some time found something shiny and said, “Eureka!” and we got all excited and we thought we had found gold. I’ve done it more than once, and then you found out you’ve got iron pyrite. Now, I’ve found some iron pyrite before, and it’s a naturally occurring mineral. It’s not iron and bronze mixed up together, but these crystals are absolutely gorgeous. Matter of fact, Stephen has got a rock collection. I think he may still have some of this iron pyrite. You just kind of hang onto it and say, “Wow. It may not be gold, but it is hard and it is beautiful.” But it’s very common and because it’s very common and it’s not pliable, you can’t make anything out of it because it’s so brittle.

It’s not worth anything like gold. A lot of people have found fool’s gold. I’ll tell you a trick. I’ve got a friend of mine that he took some gold paint, and you can get gold paint that looks very convincing, and he took some stones and he painted some stones good and let it dry, and then he tossed them. We have a little creek on our land that runs year round up in the hills. He tossed them in the creek right by a spot that he knows that I pass as a trick just to get me all excited. I thought that’s a pretty dirty trick. You’re down there at the water, and you go, “Eureka!” and you pull them out and they’re rocks. You hit them and they crack and it’s just rocks that are painted gold. Make a fool out of me. But I’ve got my mind made up, what to do is if I ever sell my land, what you want to do is you want to paint a lot of rocks and toss them in the creek. And you drive along and say, “Here’s our creek,” and spend a little time there and act like you don’t even see it. Then have them go, “Yeah, we’ll buy the land!” No, don’t repeat that. Was this recorded? Fool’s gold.

You know there’s a story in the Bible where during the reign of Solomon his father had actually captured a lot of golden shields from one of the nations that he conquered, King David. Solomon took these golden shields, I don’t remember how many of them there were, but hundreds of them, and they put them all around the courtyard and the temple and it was glorious and the sun would shine off these golden shields. Well, the son of Solomon was not as wise as his father, Rehoboam. And because he made some bad choices the king, he turned his back on God is what he did. The king of Egypt Shishak came and he plundered Jerusalem and he went into the temple and he took all of the golden shields that Solomon had set up. He did not take the ark and the things from the temple. He thought he’d respect their God, but he did take all the golden shields.

Well, Rehoboam, it really was a constant reminder of his folly, so he thought, well, I can at least create the illusion of my greatness that I used to have so he ordered that all these bronze shields should be made. Notice here, 1 Kings 14:26, you write these down or look them up. “And he” Shishak “took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made. Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guards, who guarded the doorway of the king's house.”

Here he’s got brass shields instead of gold shields, counterfeit in the house of the Lord, and he would go through this great pomp and ceremony and where they used to bring out the gold shields. Now the soldiers are still guarding the brass shields, and bringing them out. They’re virtually worthless. All the Greek soldiers had brass shields. I wonder if that happens in our churches today. We’ve lost the gold and so to cover up the absence we create bronze or brass shields, and we treat them like they’re gold. Just sort of manmade doctrines and manmade religion and instead of real biblical love, the real love that comes as a gift of the Holy Spirit, we’ve got a lot of things we call love that aren’t real Bible love. I wonder if this story is in the Bible to remind us that there are still counterfeits. Some of still fall for fool’s gold.

It’s not the real gold that’s in the house of the Lord. In Matthew 23:16 Jesus said something interesting you may have missed. “Woe to you, blind guides…” Christ is talking to the hypocrites in the church. “…who say, `Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.' Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?” The gold in the temple was especially sacred because it was the dwelling place of God. For someone to say, “Ah, if you swear by the temple, that doesn’t really count, but if you swear by the gold of the temple then it’s important…” if you take that gold out of the temple, it’s just common gold. It’s the temple that made it important. Do you hear what Jesus is saying here? It’s the presence of God that made the Gold special so why would swearing by the gold of the temple be more important than the temple? It’s the dwelling place and it’s the presence of God. Sometimes we make the same mistake the hypocrites made back in Christ’s day. We put all the emphasis on the trappings of the church, and we forget it’s the presence of God in the temple, God in our hearts, that’s what the value is, that’s what the real gold is. There are so many counterfeits out there that we get distracted by.

Real gold, good deeds might be valuable, but separated from a converted heart, they are fool’s gold. Good deeds if they’re not coming from right motives, iron pyrite, it’s bronze. What God wants is the good that comes from a loving heart and the right motives. Would you recognize real gold if you saw it? I’ll bet you just about everybody in this room, if you’ve done any hiking, your eyes have probably rested on varying amounts of gold and you didn’t know it; you walked right by it. I think it happens to virtually everybody. The biggest nugget every found in Alaska was found in Ruby, Alaska in 1998, not too long ago, by a miner named Barry Clay who was out on his claim pushing a bulldozer to open up a road to his mine and rolling up on the dirt in front of the blade of the dozer was this great big nugget of gold. It was two hundred and ninety-four ounces of gold.

That’s twenty pounds. That’s a lot of gold. It’s not the biggest nugget. The biggest nugget ever found is what they call the Welcome Stranger Nugget that was found in Australia. It was turned up by a wagon wheel by accident, and it was about three hundred pounds of gold in one nugget. Can you imagine that? They never got a photograph of it. They broke it up right away and melted it down. It would probably be worth more today. This nugget that they found up in Alaska was worth three million dollars by today’s standards. In 1799, one of the first gold rushes in America had nothing to do with California. In 1799 a twelve year old boy named Conrad Reed was playing hooky from church and he went out fishing in a creek by his father’s homestead, saw a black rock in the creek that got his attention. He picked it up and it was unusually heavy so he brought it home and they thought, “Hey, this is great. It’ll hold the door open.” They used it as a doorstop for years. One day there was this traveling salesman that came through and Conrad’s father told him about the unusual rock that they had found. The man looked it over, he said, “I’ll give you three dollars and eighteen cents for that rock.” He knew what it was.

They had one of the biggest gold nuggets that had been discovered in North Carolina, using it as a doorstop for years and they didn’t know what they had there. It had a certain amount of impurities mixed into it and so the color of gold sometimes changes depending on what the impurities are that are mixed into it. You know, I understand that gold, when it is absolutely pure, is almost transparent. That’s why it tells us in Revelation that the streets of the city, the gold is like transparent glass because everything in heaven is going to be what? Pure. Everybody there is going to be pure as well. Would you recognize the gold? a lot of people like Conrad Reed and his family are tripping over gold every day and they don’t know it. My heart aches when I think about it. How many people drive by every day, they see this church here. Maybe we need a neon sign that would say something to the effect “Would you like to live forever? Inquire within.” All these people that are going by and they don’t realize how close they are to the answers for everlasting life. The gold that they’re really looking for, so many people on their way downtown to make gold and it’s not going to satisfy them. So many of the people that go on gold rushes they actually lose everything, some of them lose their lives, they lose their health. Very few get gold. Some who do get gold get misery along with it. The real gold is the truth that comes from Christ. How many people drive by and they don’t know?

You know the Bible talks about people who don’t recognize the gold. Have you heard the story? Now if you know this story a lot of the Bible makes sense. It’s the story of the stumbling stone, a rock of offense, the cornerstone. You’ve got to know the story for a lot of this scripture to make sense. When they were building Solomon’s temple, and you can find this, by the way, in the book Prophets and Kings. When they were building the temple Solomon had all of the stones precut. They were measured specifically. The engineers had them precut at a quarry, polished there. They were then brought to the building site and it was assembled. You remember reading it was a very unusual temple that was built because all you could hear was the muffled sound of the grinding of stones into position. They did not have the typical loud noises of a building site.

Well, the cornerstone for the building, when it came time and the foundation was done and they were getting ready to set the cornerstone, is the most important stone in the building because if your corner is not straight, any of you who have done masonry knows if you get off on your corner, if it’s not level, if it’s not straight the walls get crooked, the walls are no longer level; everything is out of plumb. The cornerstone had to set on a rock that was uneven on Mt. Moriah. There’s actually a rock there. Any of you been to Israel? In Israel there is a building called the mosque of Omar. They call it the Dome of the Rock. It’s built over the site where the Jewish temple used to be which is built over the site where David had this vision of an angel above Jerusalem which was over the site where Abraham offered Isaac. It is a very sacred spot in Jewish history.

There is a rock, it is over bedrock. Part of the building was to rest right down on the rock. So part of the stone was an odd shape because it set on the rock. They had chiseled into the rock, made a place for it; they chiseled the stone and it was going to rest there. Well, they sent the stone up ahead plenty of time in advance. All of the workmen are wondering what is this big, odd boulder? And they kept tripping over and bumping into this boulder while they were doing the other pavement of the foundation. Finally when it came time to put a stone in place for the corner they couldn’t find the right stone. The reason being this big odd stone that had come from the quarry as one of the first stones, they thought that it was misshapen and they rolled it off the hill from the temple mount down into the Kidron Valley which is between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives and they left it there. In the meantime, they kept trying different stones that crumbled under the weight or they cracked in the sun. Then they sent a message back to the quarry and they said, “Where is the cornerstone?”

They said, “We sent it to you a long time ago.” “There’s nothing like that here,” and they searched and searched and they finally found the stone that they had stumbled over, the stone that they had rejected was the chief cornerstone the whole temple was to be built on and they had rolled it down the hill. Well, fortunately it was undamaged and they brought it back and it fit perfectly in position and the temple of Solomon was built based on squaring from this cornerstone. Now this was a famous story in Israel’s history. Unfortunately the story is not in the Bible. It’s in the Jewish histories and traditions but reference to the story is over and over in the Bible. Jesus mentions this the same way Conrad Reed and his family were tripping over that golden rock, Christ says, Matthew 21:42. Jesus said, “Did you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” In other words, God allowed this to happen to teach Israel a lesson.

The same way they were rejecting the cornerstone from the temple sometimes the church rejects the Cornerstone of the church. It is amazing how much can happen in the church that looks authentic without the cornerstone. I heard one pastor say one time, “If the Holy Spirit was completely withdrawn from most churches in North America we would very likely continue to do everything we’re doing with the same degree of success and never know the Holy Spirit is missing.” Because we’re so used to doing our programs and our procedures and our policies and our preaching and it’s all so manmade and contrived and we’re tripping over the gold of the cornerstone. In the time of Christ, was the Jewish nation still very active? Did they have their rituals? Did they have their sacrifice? Did they have their temple? Did they have their forms? Did they have their ceremonies? Did they have the fruit, or were they a fig tree of just leaves? Could that happen to the church again? When Christ came the first time the church had all kinds of form and ceremony and culture, but they didn’t have God. Could it happen again just before Jesus comes that the church becomes an institution that is missing the gold, missing the cornerstone? That’s a rhetorical question. I think you know the answer.

Now what is God’s gold? God has a gold in the Bible that He recommends. He filled the temple with gold; it was all a symbol of something. He’s not telling us to go stake our claim in Alaska or up in Placerville. God is not telling us to go digging in the earth to see if we can find earthly treasure. When we read about all the gold in the temple and the gold in the New Jerusalem it’s all symbolic of another kind of gold. Revelation 3:17-18 speaking to the church in the last days there’s a very serious warning that’s given. We become comfortable with our earthly religion, our earthly treasure, our manmade righteousness and we get lukewarm. Revelation 3:17 “Because you say, `I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…”

Like the rich, young ruler, he thinks he’s rich, but he knows something is missing. Jesus says go get rid of your earthly gold and you’ll have treasure in heaven, I’ll give you heavenly gold. Give it to the poor. He couldn’t do it. His treasure was still on earth. He went away wretched, miserable, poor. “Because you say, `I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…” listen to what He says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold…” Why would you buy gold? I see these ads every now and then on TV, “Buy gold!” How much does it cost? $600.00 an ounce. How much is it worth? You pay more than $600.00 an ounce to buy it and then you hope it’s going to go up in value. It could go down in value. I mean, it always seems strange.

I suppose there are financial advisors that say if you want stability in your portfolio that you should invest in a certain amount of gold. it could go up, could go down. That, to me, seems a little risky. Now when Jesus says buy gold, is Jesus a financial money manager? Does He work for Dean Witter? Buy gold! What kind of gold is He selling? You read in Isaiah, He says, buy it without money, without price. How do we buy that gold? In other words, you can only get it from Me; I’m the merchant. What is that gold? Buy that gold “that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” In other words, I’ve got the solution for all of these problems in Laodicea. One of the things is we need God’s gold.

You read in the book, Christ’s Object Lessons, I searched first an inspired commentary on what is that gold? It’s very plainly stated here. Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 158, “The gold tried in the fire” spoken of here in Revelation chapter three, “is faith that works by love. Only this can bring us into harmony with God. We might be active, we may do much work, but without love, such love as dwelt in the heart of Christ, we can never be numbered with the family of heaven.” We need that real golden heart of Christ. There’s another reference, and this is in 21 Manuscript Release, p. 383, “Brethren, we must have genuine faith which is the gold tried in the fire, but we much cherish that faith which works by love and purifies the soul.” Unless our faith has a purifying influence it is worthless. If people say, “Oh, I love God and I believe,” and they’re not allowing the Spirit of Christ and the love of God to purify then that’s not the right kind of gold. The gold that Christ is offering is a gold that is going to be purified in a furnace of fire which brings me to the next point.

Purifying gold. If you want God’s gold it is a gold in the heart and that heart goes through fiery trials. To purify gold you heat it up. You don’t have to heat gold as hot as you do steel or iron, but it’s a hotter temperature than lead. But when they smelt gold they continue to heat it and stir it and they get all of the impurities out of it. Most of the gold that people buy, jewelry, it’s not pure gold. For one thing, if you had a pure gold ring you could squash it very easily. You could bite it and dent it right away. It’s different combinations of gold. When people say, “That’s fourteen karat gold.”

That’s still not pure gold. The purest gold becomes very soft. It’s pliable. What kind of hearts should we have? Are hearts hard? The purer they are, the more pliable they are for God to shape. By the way, what was in the very middle of the temple of God? The holiest place of all was the Ark of the Covenant and in that Ark of the Covenant was the word of God. Isn’t that right? In our hearts of gold is to be the word of God. It must be purified. 1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” What is tested? Faith. What is that pure gold? Faith that works by love.

We need to have our hearts purified by God’s trials. Peter also says in chapter 4, same book, verse 12, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you…” Why does God allow trials to come into our lives? To purify the gold. God is coming for a bride without spot or without wrinkle and it takes heat to get the spots and the wrinkles out. Proverbs 30:12, “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness.” Now this message, I think you’re hearing a common theme, we’re talking about genuine purity. God warns us in His word there’s a generation that is pure in its own eyes, but they are not washed from their filthiness. Doesn’t the Lord say in the last days many will come and say, “Lord, Lord! I taught in Your name, cast out devils, did many wonderful works!” We’re pure in our own eyes. We think we’re rich and increased with goods and what does He say? I don’t know you. We need to have the genuine article in our own hearts, purity of heart. “Blessed are the pure in heart, they will see God.”

In life, life is made up of golden opportunities and golden moments, and those moments must be seized. You know often when a person retires they get, what kind of watch do they give them? A bronze watch? Typically they think you know you’re going to get your gold watch. That’s like the gold medal. It’s a symbol of many years of faithful service. A boy one time was given his grandfather who was deceased; his grandfather had committed to him his golden watch that he had received at retirement and the boy cherished it. He was out playing in the barn one day and he had the gold watch with him and it slipped out of his pocket. When he realized that he had lost it playing in the barn he was absolutely frantic, and he began to dig around through the feed and through the hay and try and find it and he realized it was hopeless.

It was a big barn and it was just full of straw. “How am I ever going to find that golden watch? It’s going to be hidden in the hay, hard to see!” Finally it occurred to him, before it winds out, that’s back when you used to have to wind them, “If I listen very carefully maybe I can hear it ticking.” So he got all the animals and the fowl out of the barn and got them far away, and went back to the barn and got on his knees and he was real quiet. Pretty soon he could hear his heart beating. He continued listening and in the stillness there he heard, and he tracked it down, moved away some hay and he found the watch. Sometimes I think we miss what’s important in life because our lives are like the barnyard so full of hay and feed and seed and animals that we don’t hear God speaking in those golden moments. Sometimes we lose track of God in the flurry of the business of life. Life is passing us by and we’re not really able to capture what is precious, those golden moments, golden moments with God, golden moments with loved ones and we don’t recognize them. There is a time to just be still and to listen to that still, small voice. Amen?

Real gold is rare. You know another amazing fact. If you took all of the world’s holdings accumulated during all of the recorded history of man of gold and purified it, it would only be about a hundred and twenty thousand metric tons. You think, “Well, that’s a lot, Pastor Doug.” Well, you forget how much gold weighs. I checked this and I got different measurements, but they all ranged in the same category. That means that if you got all of the gold that man has collected in recorded history and could squish it all together into one piece it would make a block of gold eighty-two feet by eighty-two feet by eighty-two feet. Meaning look at how big the planet is and you think about all the gold reserves in Fort Knox and different places in the world, you could fit all of the gold the world has ever discovered in this church, in this sanctuary right now.

That’s pretty rare. Imagine how valuable our church would be if we had all of that gold in our church. The value of that block of gold, eighty-two feet by eighty-two feet by eighty-two feet, would be one point four trillion dollars. Now I read this and with the gold price going up and down I’m sure that fluctuates. Gold, real gold is rare. I’ll submit to you that Christians are a lot more common than real Christians. They tell me that there are about two billion people in the world that identify themselves as Christians. Do you believe all of them really know Christ? What do you think? Fifty percent are genuine total converted Christians? Of all the people who are registered on their official documents as Christians or when they take a census, or on their baptismal certificate it says that they’re a Christian, I wonder what percentage are real, Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, take-up-your-cross-and-follow-Christ-wherever-He-leads Christians. Might I suggest that real Christians are very precious and very rare? So much so that God up in heaven looks down and every now and then He points and He says, “Have you considered My servant, Job? Have you? I’ve got another one over here. Here is a real one here.” You know, I’ve got a lot of favorite scriptures. One of my favorite scriptures I’m using now to close my emails says, “The eyes of the Lord are running to and fro through the earth to show Himself mighty in behalf of him whose heart is loyal to Him.” And you think there’s all these people in the world that say, “I love Jesus, I believe in Jesus, I’m a Christian, I believe,” and yet there’s very few genuine Christians. I want to be one of them. I’m not satisfied with fool’s gold. I want to have the real article, don’t you?

I wonder what this church would be worth if everybody in this church was really converted. It would be pretty precious. It would be the most valuable spot on earth as far as God’s concerned. You know someday we’re going to live in the city of gold. I’m hoping to. Are you aware that much of the western hemisphere was developed not because they were looking for religious freedom, not because they were wanting to spread their political idealism; much of the western world was civilized because people looking for wealth were looking for a place called El Dorado. We’ve got a county right near here called El Dorado County. It’s another exhibit. They actually had Spanish Conquistador and the Portuguese, even the English, Sir Walter Raleigh, they had heard these fabled legends from the early Indians that talked about a city of gold. It was actually based on a king of gold who would dust himself with gold then he’d walk into these pure waters and wash it off and there was so much gold that they would do this every year. El Dorado, city of gold, you know they never did find it.

Some soldiers were lost in the desert marching around looking for the city of gold which disappeared from history. You and I can actually live in a real city of gold, but you’re not going to find it in this world. So many who looked for it in this world were dissatisfied. In heaven, Revelation 21:18, “And the construction of its wall was of jasper…” listen “and the city was pure gold…” Not just part of it, not just the streets, “…the city was pure gold, like clear glass.” God knows how to purify gold so He purifies the yellow right out of it. “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” In the Bible, in ancient Babylon, it was identified as the head of gold. Do you remember? Because there was probably as much gold in ancient Babylon as any city in the world.

Think about it. Nebuchadnezzar made a golden statue, it was probably plated, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, probably six cubits deep which means that it was six, six, six, right? This image of gold Nebuchadnezzar made and they were all to pray to this image of gold, and he was symbolized by the head of gold and it was gold all through his empire that he had accumulated. But did it bring him happiness? Later in his life he went berserk because he thought, “I’ve finally reached the pinnacle. I’m the king of the golden empire,” and he began to grovel around like an animal. It’s not Babylon. It’s the counterfeit gold of the world that does not satisfy. It was all destroyed. That city can’t be found anymore. Now we’ve got spiritual Babylon, right? And the spiritual imitation of gold. Hebrews 11:10 “For he” Abraham “waited for a city that had foundations whose builder and maker is God.” You know Egypt was very wealthy back in the days of Abraham but he didn’t stay in Egypt after he was down there. He left Egypt. He said, “I’m going to dwell in a tent because I’m looking for a different city. I’m looking for a real city of gold, more gold than Egypt has got.” Are you looking for that city? Jesus says, “Follow me, and you’ll have treasure in heaven.”

The only way you can get there is because of what they call a king’s ransom. You’ve heard the expression, “Man, go buy a tank of gas these days, it takes a king’s ransom to fill up my tank.” Can you say amen? I’m seeing more and more eastern cars on the freeway. Have you noticed there are more and more little mini cars? When you go to like Taiwan and Europe and some of these countries that have been paying these high prices for gas, you can fit three or four of their cars on the street where you and I only fit one or two of ours. We think Hummers. They think micro Cooper minis. I’m seeing more and more of those on the road. Is it just me or are you noticing that too? I hear that Hummer is having a hard time with sales. A king’s ransom. You know there’s a story in history where Francisco Pizarro back in 1533 he went into the Inca capital and he managed to worm his way into the capitol and among the king there. The King Atahuallpa was the king of the Incas, very handsome, powerful. There were probably two and a half to three million Incan Indians that were there.

They went in there and tried to share their version of Christianity. And he said, “Why should I follow your religion,” the Incan king said, “instead of our gods?” And they said, “Because our book tells us to.” And the priest had a Bible there. So the Incan king took it and held it to his ear. He says, “I’m not hearing anything!” and he threw it down on the ground disgusted. Well, they used that as an excuse, the soldiers then, they thought, “That’s sacrilegious!” They went and began to slaughter a bunch of the natives that were watching and they arrested the Inca king. Well, at that point they were going to kill him and he knew that the Spaniards were after gold, and he said, “Tell you what. I can see you’re after gold and silver. If you’ll release me, I can fill three rooms with gold.” They didn’t believe it, but Pizarro was so greedy, he thought, “Well, what have we got to lose?” So the king issued a decree, and he sent all of his messengers throughout the kingdom, they virtually ransacked all of the gold and silver in the kingdom and they did fill a room that was twelve by twelve feet, eight feet deep, one room with pure golden articles. Two other rooms were filled like that with silver. After all of that ransom was paid they still kept him for a year.

They were afraid that he would inspire a revolt so they strangled him. After a king’s ransom was paid to set him free, they still killed him. Well, Pizarro didn’t meet a very happy end; he was assassinated by his own people later in his life. Tried to build his treasure on earth. It made me think about what a waste to have a king’s ransom paid for someone’s life and to still lose it. There is Someone who has paid a king’s ransom for your life, much more than three rooms full of gold and silver because the One who has made all the gold in the world gave His life. What’s worth more? The gold or the One who can make gold? You’ve heard of King Midas? Everything is a fable. It’s not in the Bible. Don’t look it up. It’s not in the Book of Midas. The fable of King Midas, you’ve heard this story, the King Midas Touch. Everything he touched turned into gold.

He was so greedy. Some of you wish you had that goose that could lay a golden egg, right? And to kill the goose that lays the golden egg is to value the gold more than the goose who can lay the egg. Do you see where I’m going with this? To value earthly treasure more than the One who can make it is really foolish. That is fool’s gold. If you’ve got Christ you’ve got real riches. Matter of fact, you even look at Christ, He’s golden in the New Testament. His skin is burnished like gold and he’s girded with a golden breastplate. You can have Him. He gave his life; He paid a king’s ransom for you to live forever. Where is your treasure? What would you like to have more?

One closing story and it actually ties into our hymn, and I may as well tell you right now so you can look at it. Turn to 327 in your hymnals, 327. This hymn, there’s a story behind it. Written in part by George Beverly Shea and Rhea F. Miller, it’s got an interesting story. A young man in his twenties, very talented bass voice, raised by a pastor who was a father, wanted to work for the Lord. He had an offer to work as a secular singer in the radio stations and be paid very well to do it. He was praying about this working opportunity and deciding should I work for God or should I take this secular job and I’ll make lots of money and give it to the mission field? He was battling about what to do about this. He was sitting at the piano one night and he was getting ready to go and lead the song service at his church and a friend had a poem written, and the words of the poem are in this hymn “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and he thought, “That’s really more of a song than a hymn.” As he looked it over, he thought, “Alright, Lord, I know what You’re telling me to do.

I’m not going to work for the world; I’m going to use my gift of music for You.” The amazing thing is, George Beverly Shea, he’s ninety-eight years old today. You see a dash in the book? I looked it up. He’s still alive today. He decided to sing for God. He went around the world with Billy Graham and he sang for the Lord. How many times have you heard him sing “How Great Thou Art” or this song we’re about to sing? But he decided to sing for God and you know I bet if you asked him today after ninety-eight years of singing for the Lord, he has no regrets that he decided to put God first. Where is your gold? Where is your treasure? Someone has paid a king’s ransom for you. Are you willing to say, “Lord, I’m Yours. I want to be a real Christian. I want to be the genuine article. I don’t want to live a life of fool’s gold. I want to be pure gold.” Is that your prayer, friends? Is that your desire? Let’s stand. Let’s sing this hymn together.

I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I'd rather be His than have riches untold; I'd rather have Jesus than houses or land; I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hand: Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sin's dread sway! I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.

Before we sing the second verse, I would be amiss if I did not give you an opportunity to respond. I trust perhaps the Holy Spirit has been speaking to some hearts. You’ve maybe felt your experience is lukewarm and you’d like to accept that gold that Jesus is offering without money and without price, a new heart, a new character. Maybe you’d like to spend some more time mining in the word of God that it might be written upon your hearts and you could experience that new covenant. Perhaps you just realized that you haven’t had the purity, your gold has been mingled with other things and you would like that purity. If you have some special burden or prayer in your hearts you’d like to bring to the Lord, as we sing verse two, come to the front, we’ll pray together. Especially if you’ve not accepted Jesus as your Savior, come, come as we sing this verse together. Choose to follow Jesus and we’ll have prayer for you. Verse two.

I'd rather have Jesus than men's applause; I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause; I'd rather have Jesus than world-wide fame; I'd rather be true to His holy name: Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sin's dread sway! I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.

It might surprise you if I say my prayer for this church is that you might all have gold fever, but it’s for the right kind of gold I want you to have that fever. I’d like to have you yearning for that gold in your hearts and in your minds that represents love and faith in God. I’d like to have you determined to know the best claim you could have for gold is going to be in that kingdom, and do everything in your power to be there. Is that your desire, friends, to have that kind of gold fever? That’s appropriate that we should ask that here in Sacramento, right?

Let’s pray together as we close.

Father in heaven, Lord, our hearts have felt that yearning for that which is genuine, rare, precious. That gold that is purified in the fire, not the Babylonian gold, but the gold in the New Jerusalem, the gold in the temple, Lord, we want that in our hearts. Please, Lord, give it to us. You’ve promised to provide that along with the eye salve to open our eyes and the raiment to cover our unrighteousness. Give us that purity of heart that Jesus promises. Help us to recognize what is truly valuable. We thank you, Lord. Please be with each person here, many different needs. We ask that they might all find Jesus today. In His name we ask. Amen.

You may be seated. If there are some who are accepting Christ for the first time or you are returning or you’d like to visit with a pastor, then please see some of our pastors and elders that will be at the doors. If you have special needs for prayer, there will be some who will gather here in the sanctuary to have special prayer for a few moments after the service, and we pray that you’ll respect the sanctity of this place as they do so. God bless you.

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