Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
Heaven and Refined Gold
by Dae-Woo Lee
We had lived in the Southern California area for over ten years and had the opportunity to drive the west coast highway and do some sightseeing. This highway is narrow, and sometimes it overlooks the beautiful ocean from a thousand feet above the ocean. I remember the beautiful panoramic ocean view that compelled us to pull over to the observation viewpoint. It was dusk. The clouds were kindled by the sunset and their flames were spreading beyond the distant landscape where the sky meets the end of the horizon.
I was astonished at the spectacular scenery of the sea at dusk. A desire to know about the ocean came to me. I admired the professionals who labored to study the life of the ocean. I imagined being an oceanographer, an admiral of the fleet, captain of a fishing vessel, a scuba diver, anyone who learns about the ocean in depth.
Whenever I study in depth what the Bible teaches, I recollect the gorgeous ocean view. I have come to realize the Bible as another piece of God’s beautiful creation, which is even greater than the ocean. Acknowledging the greatness of the Bible, I humbly bow before God that He might grant me some understanding of His teaching.
Today, I would like to study the subject of “Heaven and Refined Gold” in the Bible.
When we think of gold, we tend to imagine the good qualities of the substance or its characteristics. The golden age, a gold medal, golden threads, a golden saying, a golden wedding anniversary, etc are some examples. However, as gold is the universal monetary unit in the world today, it is measure of materialistic value. Gold in the Bible is used much the same way. To denote quality, gold was used to decorate the priest’s robes. Also, in Revelation chapter 21 we read about the golden temple and of the streets of the New Jerusalem. However, our Lord Jesus spoke many times of the parable of the talent that is an explanation of heaven, gold denoting the quantity and the greatness of heaven.
Being an engineer by training, I am interested in the study of numbers in the Bible.
When we meditate on God’s creation, we learn that the “numbers” are essential elements of creation. The numbers of flower petals and leaves identifies flowers. Let’s assume, a lady had a beautiful hand with four or six fingers, she might lose the image of elegance. It is certain that God used numbers in His creation to harmonize all things to be made perfect and beautiful. I would encourage everyone to study the Bible with the notion that the number in the Bible makes us understand God’s Word better and appreciate the beauty of God’s Word. When we read II Timothy 3:16, we ought to remember that II Timothy 3:16 applies to numbers mentioned in the Bible also.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
Word “GOLD” in Greek and HebrewWe read the word “GOLD” about 450 times in the Bible. 366 times in Hebrew “zahab”, 31 times in Greek “chrusos”. “Refined gold” or “pure gold” has its own word, which is used over 50 times in the Old Testament. The extensive use of the word “GOLD” implies that God wants to teach us many things through the word “GOLD”.
God of JobWhenever “GOLD” is the topic, I think of Job first. Probably, I want to compare my life to Job’s life. I don’t mean that I am as rich as Job, but I have had rich Christian experiences that are comparable to Job’s experiences through which he suffered without any wrongdoing. I can asuume that many Christians have suffered without causes. Job expressed his experience as follows,
“Behold, I go forward, he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:” (Job 23:8-9)
This is the testimony of Job’s life experiences that I might compare with him. It explained man’s heart very well, in that he diligently searched after God. It also expresses the limitation of human ability to understand God. However, my favorite verse in the Book of Job is the next verse, Job 23:10,
“But He knoweth the way I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
From the three verses above, we can read that Job was saying: “Oh! My life experiences are tangled with problems and those are complicated. Even though I do not understand problems myself, but surely I know one thing that I am under the process of being made into refined gold by my Lord. So I trust Him and throw myself into His mighty arms”. I know every Christian has the same kind of experience and testimony.
From these verses I learned that earthly life is vanity, and that we are sojourners on a pilgrimage. All men will return to dust unless God takes care of him. If God takes care of my life, I will come out as refined gold. Peter wrote “Your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth”. Wasn’t Peter saying that “gold will not melt away in the furnace, but when the last day comes, even gold will perish”? He was telling us that the world will be destroyed by fire at the end. At that time, all earthly things, even gold will perish.
Further more, Job expressed God’s providence using the word “gold”. We read that Job cursed his day. In Job 3:1-12, we read Job’s testimony that he believed God’s salvation plan had been completed before his conception, and he was saved from his mother’s womb. Reading 3:13-16, we can verify this,
“For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest, With kings and counselors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves; or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver: Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.”
These verses tell us that whoever dies in the mother’s womb or as infants, has the destination of hell (desolate places) or heaven (princes). Also from these verses we learn of God’s sovereignty over our life. We notice the expression of the “Princes that had gold”.
Throughout entire book of Job, wisdom was compared with gold. For instance in chapter 28:12 it says,
“But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.”
We can say the “depth” is the knowledge of man’s scholarship such as science and technology, and the sea is the knowledge of the world. These verses teach us that there can be no comparison between wisdom and GOLD. Wisdom cannot be measured with our knowledge. Therefore, it indicates that wisdom is Christ and wisdom is our salvation.
Moreover, after Job overcame his trial, the blessing of God flowed to him.
Then, we read the conclusion of the book of Job (Job 42:11) that concludes with the word “gold”.
“Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.”
“Bemoaned him, and comforted” is the same picture we see in chapter 7:17 of Revelation,
“For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living foundations of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes”
We found a commentary on “piece of money” in Mathew 17:27, the story of a piece of money that the disciples found. This symbolizes the redemption of Christ for our salvation.
The “an earring of gold” is the symbol of being selected as a bride as we read in Genesis 24, that Rebecca was offered a golden earring to become the bride of Isaac.
Before we leave the story of Job and gold, I would like to mention Wisdom again. As we read in Job 28:, the word wisdom was mentioned many times in the book. And it is certain that wisdom was typified Christ.
Literal and Spiritual InterpretationOften time we hear arguments about “how much we have to interpret the Bible spiritually”. But, I have been convinced lately that there are rules to interpreting the Bible spiritually. Jesus told us the Bible is a parable: (Mark 4:34), “But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.” This verse tells us not only that Jesus spoke in parables but also that the entire Bible is the teaching of Christ in the form of parable. We understand this when we understand this by comparing Scripture to Scripture. The Bible is the Word of God. The Bible conveys to us spiritual things for the salvation of our spiritual body. Many Bible verses are very hard to understand, but the almighty God wrote in the Book so that we can understand His salvation plan. No Bible verses are accidental or incidental.
Gold in the Garden of EdenI was surprised to read that there was gold in the Garden of Eden. We read in Genesis 2:12 “And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and onyx stone”. Garden of Eden must be the similar place where the entire city was built of gold, silver, and jewels; as described in Revelation chapter 21.
The Temple and MosesWithout any doubt, we learn the meaning of the salvation through the history of Israel in Egypt and in the wilderness. However, when we learn how Israel came to possess gold, and how they used their gold. It teaches us the meaning of salvation more clearly.
We read in Exodus 12:35-36
“And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required, And they spoiled the Egyptians.”
As we read in the verses above, Israel became rich instantly at the time of Exodus. As we continue to read down the chapters, we find that gold was used for women’s ornaments such as bracelets or earrings. They offered their gold for vessels of the temple (EX 25:) and for decorating priestly garments (Ex 28:) Then in Exodus 32:20 we read what happened to those who kept their gold for their own lust. They gathered gold to make golden calf that they worshiped as their god.
“And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.”
This historical parable teaches us to listen and faithful to the true leaders. However, we are to remember the primary purpose of the Bible is to teach us the Gospel, God’s salvation plan and its works. Gold was used to explain the details of God’s salvation plan. This historical parable is comparable to the parable of the talent in Matthew 25:, and it also exhibits the basic elements of salvation.
** Let us think of the value of one talent for the later study. The talent was the unit of weight, and the talent was also the monetary unit. One talent (gold) in the Bible was worth as much as $5.76 million. (Data from Thomas Nelson Publishers, A Regency Bible concordance)
We do not understand the reason why one man buried his one talent, which he was given to occupy (trade). However, when we realize the value of a talent ($5.75M) we understand the reason. It was too much for him to handle, he was a normal man (sinful) who did not have the ability to conduct business with that large sum of money (Gospel). He was afraid of losing his own vision. This story is comparable to the story of Israel keeping their gold for their own lust, from which they made their own god. In both cases, they perished, either wilderness or eternally. Any one who developed their own Bible doctrine and follows that doctrine is typified in those parables. Let’s remember that the gold kept by Israel making their golden calf was made into powder, and strewn in the water, then drank it and they perished in the wilderness. On the other hand, the gold used for the temple entered into the land of Canaan that symbolizes “the Kingdom of God”.
Forgive Seventy Times of Seven TimesWe have learned that our salvation is wholly by Grace and by a miracle. The miracle is supernatural happening that no man’s power can produce. Mathew 19:24 states that,
“And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of s needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”
This verse is very popular in sermons, and many Christians have been memorizing it. However, it may refer to financially rich people, but it points to people who are spiritually rich. Verse 26 explains as “With men this is impossible but with God all things are possible.” It means that all men are spiritually corrupted and there is no one who can enter into the kingdom by his own merit or effort. Also it implies that when a Christian becomes saved, he becomes spiritually pure. We can listen to numerous good sermons, which are well structured with knowledge, common sense, moral teaching, and with righteous concept. But, sermons without spiritual pureness cannot convey the Gospel. This truth was demonstrated by another parable. In Mathew18:21-22, we read,
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but Until seventy times seven.”
In the following verses 23-35, Jesus explained in a parable to his disciples the meaning of 70 times 7.
“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand (10,000) talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made, ---the lord of the servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. ---same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred (100) denariou: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. ---but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.”
Very seldom we meet a Christian who correctly interprets the meaning of 100 denarius. Most people interpret it as “very insignificant debt”. Then, I ponder. Why people do not look at the meaning of 100 denarios? Perhaps, people approaches the Bible stories as stories of other people, not as relating to their own grievous condition. But, we ought to know that every story in the Bible is a story for me to learn. Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, mankind has laid wrongdoing or ill happening to some one else’s problem. Even professing preachers and born again professing Christians retain it same subconscious mind that the unforgiving wicked servant had.
100 denariou are the wages of 100 days, which is defined in the next chapter (Mathew 20:2). When we count one year as 365 days, the number of available workdays is about 250 days. If we count Saturday and Sundays, and another 10 days of holidays, 100 days are equivalent to about 5 months of work. Assuming a person earns $3,000 per month, his wages for 5 months will be $15,000. For any ordinary person, like me, $15,000 is not an insignificant debt. Nevertheless, $15,000 is very insignificant compare with 10,000 talents, which would be calculated as $57,600,000 ($57.6B). The ratio is 3,840,000 to 1. Thus the number used in this parable, 10,000 and 100, have significant meanings. They depict God’s perfect salvation plan as 10,000 talents and all worldly affairs as the 100 denarious.
In order to understand this parable, we should remember that we all are sinners, and at the same time we are longing the kingdom of God. As a matter of the fact that even when we become a child of God we often walk in our own way, and many times we fail to forgive others.
From the parable of the talents I learn that,
1. The redemption price for my eternal salvation is so great that it would be impossible to pay back to God.
2. My salvation is possible only by the Grace of God, and that it is the nature of mankind never to seek salvation.
3. We can overcome all things in this world when we realize that the great price of our salvation has been paid.
The abundance of the KingdomLastly, we will look into a few Bible verses that express the abundance of the Kingdom of Heave.
After learning the price paid for my redemption was $57.6 billion, we can assume that the kingdom of God is of even greater values. Revelation chapter 21:15 we read, “And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, ---“. The city, he is measuring, is also gold as we read in verse 18, “and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass”. I am very certain that we will find blocks of gold in that city are Job, Peter, John, Davit, etc. I, as a Christian who is living in the last days, have desire to be a golden block in the golden city, the New Jerusalem.
King David spent his life preparing to build a temple as we read in I Chronicles 22:14,
“Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the Lord an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight; for it is in abundance: timber also and stone have I prepared; and thou mayest add thereto.”
This verse foretells the great temple to be built; the abundance of materials is listed, symbolizing the greatness of the God’s Kingdom. King David had been the king of Israel for 40 years, and during that period he prepared to build the temple, the house of God. The surprising number we read in this verse is 100,000 talents which is ten times of the 10,000 talents which was the debt a servant owed in Matthew 18. The 100,000 talents are valued $576 billion.
We can conclude from this study that,
1. Our savior Christ, who was typified by king David, is preparing the materials to build the New Jerusalem. Gold is a major material that is typified by His chosen people,
2. The temple which Christ is building is too precious to utter by any human knowledge and explanations,
3. King David spent 40 years (our trial times), preparing to build a temple. Then, soon after the temple was constructed. Our trial period (40 years) is about to pass; Christ will complete His city, the New Jerusalem using the “GOLD” which are His precious people.
“know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (I Cor 3:16)
Now, I understand the verses above more clearly.
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:7)
I pray that the work of the Holy Spirit will be with you all.
Spring of 1995