The Tobacco Can and the Buried Treasure

I remember as a child being fascinated with the idea of buried treasure. Once as a young child I put some money into a Prince Albert Tobacco can and buried it in the yard.  Now first of all if you can remember this container then you have revealed your age.  Let’s just say you are not a millennial!

The Prince Albert Tobacco can was about 4 inches wide and maybe 6 inches long and about an inch thick.  It was red, made of metal and had a lid that was certainly not waterproof.  In my young childhood, in the days before the health risk was widely known, my father smoked.  He rolled his own cigarettes and thus bought his own tobacco.

So my buried treasure was put into a tobacco can and placed in the ground for some distance future time.  Not long afterwards, but unfortunately after the next rain, I dug up my treasure only to find it filled with water!

The Bible speaks of buried treasure in Matthew 13:44.  It also speaks of treasure buried within us!

2 Corinthians 4:7 reads “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of GOD and not of us.”

During Paul’s time this idea of ‘treasure in earthen vessels’ would have had a special meaning.  When countries were being invaded, kings would take all the gold and silver and melt it down.   They would pour this into clay or earthen pots and bury the treasure.  When the danger had past, they would dig up the pots, break them open and retrieve their treasures molding them back into whatever was desired.

So what was the treasure to which Paul was referring?  A reading of the previous verses makes clear that Paul is referring to the gospel and the preaching of such.  He is simply saying this great treasure, the gospel, has been placed in earthen vessels.  These earthen vessels are not clay pots but rather, us!

We see this illustrated many times in the Bible.  2 Timothy 2:2 reads, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

The passage describes how the truth is to be passed from generation to generation.  Note in this text there are 4 generations of earthen vessels listed beginning with Paul.  Paul, Timothy, faithful men, and others are the 4 generations. This gospel message is preserved and passed to future generations by use of faithful “earthen vessels.”

GOD has chosen to use faithful men to carry His message.  Consider the following interesting example.  In recounting Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus from Acts 22, it is noted that Jesus told Saul to ‘Arise and go into Damascus and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’  Did you ever wonder why Jesus did not just tell him what to do right there?  Why did He send Paul to someone else to receive instructions?  Jesus did not instruct him because that was not the way GOD had chosen to spread the gospel.  GOD chose to use men in that process and in this case it was Ananias who led Paul to be baptized, washing away his sins.  (Acts 22:16)

Consider the fact that if you are a faithful Christian, then you are an earthen vessel.  This treasure is placed within you and as such you are accountable for how you use it.  Will you use it or will you be like the one talent servant in Matthew 25:25 and bury your treasure?

Matthew 28:19 commands us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

So what if the treasure buried in the clay pots was just left in the pots?  What if the treasure was never dug up and used for good?  To remain in the pots, buried in the ground was not the intended purpose.  It was supposed to be retrieved and utilized.

What about the gospel message hidden within you?  Is it a buried treasure waiting to be utilized?  Your purpose as Ananias illustrated in Acts 22, is to proclaim that truth and lead others to Christ.  May we ever be about His business.

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