Heavenly Treasures, Little Earthly Good

This week, we step away from the Adult Bible Study Guide primary contributor’s personal opinions about loans and credit cards to look at five biblical character sketches on the theme of laying up treasure in heaven. Unfortunately, there’s not much in terms of fresh insight provided. For those who have grown up with the stories of Noah, Abram, Lot, Jacob, and Moses, you know the plots and the points.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12199

Excellent commentry on this week’ lesson. Unfortunately, it was posted too late for my Sabbath School class in Auckland, New Zealand.

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God on a search for “self-knowledge”? Are you kidding me? I don’t want a God that doesn’t know Himself.

I kind of agree though that the lesson could have made more practice or relevant observations and it didn’t hit the point of how to lay of treasures in heaven enough.

And it seems like the criticism of the lesson ends with the practical part about helping the poor…which ironically is the same verse that is the basis for next week’s lesson “unto the least of these” which from the title will be more the practical and “this world” centered aspect of giving. Not sure the author of this article was aware of that…

I also found the list of OT patriarchs an inexplicable choice for the lesson…and not only because they were all men. They were simply really lame choices, if the true meaning of ‘laying up treasures in heaven’ is about Stewardship. I am teaching today and chose to focus on Hagar, the little servant girl who was Naaman’s wife’s slave and Mary, the mother of Jesus. They all were faithful stewards, even though they lacked resources and status.

And the lesson author suggests that Moses could have stayed in Egypt…does he not realize that Moses had a murder rap hanging over his head? He HAD to leave town! And Jacob…the # 1 OT con-man! Good grief! I totally agree with Mr. Carpenter’s dry-witted assessment.


I had similar sentiments as the author when the same Bible characters were touted as examples of ‘stewards’ in the youth InVerse lessons that I facilitate. Squeezing square peg Bible characters into round hole principles will make the Bible even less relevant to this generation of young people.


It clearly takes a lot of effort to deconstruct and criticize in detail the lesson from each week. What if Alexander Carpenter flipped the script and took the equivalent energy to write his own weekly lessons?

Again, delightfully subversive as always.

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Yes, we have quite a different view of God than the bible writers did. Their God, be it Elohim or Yahweh, depending on the source of the various texts, was much like the other gods of the time.

He was a god who created a garden, much like the other gods, and put humans there to tend it for him, much like the other gods, and enjoyed walking in the garden in the evenings, much like the other gods. He was a god you could appeal to do change his mind, which he then did. He was a terrible warrior god, who wielded a bow and arrow and rode a chariot. He was a god who instigated a terrible flood, much like the other gods. For some, he was a warrior-sky god. He had a female consort, who later evolved into Sophia, Wisdom, the spirit of god, who for Christians became the Holy Spirit. He sat on a throne in the most holy place of the temple (like the other gods in their nearly-identical temples), and he rested his feet on a footstool (the ark), like the other gods.

For a wonderful view into the past, into the beliefs of the biblical writers about their god, read this book:

Some reviews:
“A detailed and scrupulously researched book . . . [Stavrakopoulou] proceeds, in 21 chapters packed with knowledge and insight, to ‘anatomize’ the divinity from head to toe, starting with the ‘standing stones’ that marked the footsteps of deities in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age and ending with images of God that enabled people to imagine that they were somehow communing with him ‘face to face.’”—Karen Armstrong, The New York Times

“In both Judaism and Christianity God is conceived as non-physical. In God: An Anatomy Francesca Stavrakopoulou shows that this was not yet so in the Bible, where God appears in a much more corporeal form. This provocative work will surprise and may shock, but it brings to light aspects of the biblical account of God that modern readers seldom appreciate.”—John Barton, author of A History of the Bible

“Well-researched . . . A refreshing look at ancient Scripture and the people behind it, reminding readers that the concept of ‘God’ in the 21st century is a world away from that of the earliest people of Israel. A challenging, engaging work of scholarship that sheds new light on ancient Hebrew conceptions of the divine.” —Kirkus Reviews

Here’s a silver coin from the 4th century BCE, depicting Yahweh sitting on his winged chariot-throne, with his powerful “outstretched arm”:


The letters YHW are incised just above the bird which the god holds in his outstretched left hand and behind the figure’s head.

That’s exactly what I used to do when teaching the adult class. It took a couple of hours - I never used the quarterly, or the teachers’ edition (especially the teachers’ edition).


Please, the idea of Moses having the choice between Egypt and Sinai is out of the book of Hebrews - -Heb 11 : 24. 25. !

And tte fact of him having killedd some Egytian ? - well, the adopted son of a princess , how many men could he kill - and not be the defendant in court ? - And his deed of revenge for “his people” - not being estima tedated at all by his brethehren ( Ex 2 : 14 !), but the neagtive event gossiped abroad (Ex 2 : 15 !) ??.

@sammathews, just experience the weekly struggles with - especially - this quarters SS lessons for the teachers - here in my little church , assumably also elsewhere around the world. . And this week leading to the conclusion ( Teachers Edition, page 69 and 75 ) : Pay all your tithe and all your offerings - see Matth 6 : 33 - timely to your churchs terasurer - yes , you are saved by faith - and - faithfulness in this matter ensures your salvation. Remember !!!

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The Sabbath School quarterlies would be so much better if they included more scripture and less Ellen White. How disappointing that this quarter’s Study Guide author repeated Ellen’s White’s ridiculous assertion (from Patriarchs and Prophets) that Moses stayed with his mother Jochebed for 12 years. Are Adventists gullible enough to believe that Moses made his appearance in the Egyptian courts on the threshold of puberty, and was unquestioningly accepted as a Prince of Egypt? That no one, including Pharoah, inquired of Pharoah’s daughter from whence came this youth?


From one Sabbath to the next Sabbath the teachers of SS in my church struggle with their concepts of presenting the study to their class. - - And we here have a number of recentlly converted members, who eagerly have studied their SS Quartertly ! - and they are quite helpless on the matters !

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We all are in different situations. “Different strokes for different folks.”

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