Pulpit Today Sermon
Robert D. Pace
(Harbinger) Some years ago, I found myself intrigued by Isaiah 45, where God says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and wealth stored in secret places.” This text is rich with meaning. In fact, it’s transformational! Even before reading our text, I want to mention two ideas that the Holy Spirit suggests from this verse. (1) When God says he will “give us the treasures of darkness and wealth stored in secret places,” it means God wants to open your eyes to things that would otherwise remain unseen, so you can claim what would otherwise remain unclaimed. (Repeat statement.)
You say, “That’s wonderful! God wants to enrich my life. But, (2) Where can I find these “treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places” (45:3)? Think about the answer: The “treasures of darkness” are stored in—of all places—darkness! And the “wealth of secret places” are hidden in—of all locations—“secret places.” That means these treasures surround us! And the Good News is this: God is not trying to hide treasures from us; He’s hiding them for us! Now, let us read our text:
Isaiah 45:1-7 (Read Text)
(Illustration) The Spaniard, Ponce de Leon is known for searching the Caribbean for the Fountain of Youth. People believed this magical spring could keep them healthy and eternally young. Ponce de Leon sailed hundreds of miles through the Caribbean searching for this bubbling spring; but he never discovered it. And the reason he never found it is simple. It did not exist! It didn’t matter how earnestly Ponce de Leon searched, he would never discover this mystical liquid treasure because it was a myth!
The world has a long list of fortune-seekers who have pursued the fleeting clouds of a get-rich-quick scheme or hoped to find the magic pill that could transform their life. And people have not only sought for physical and material enrichment, for centuries they have sought psychics, spiritists, and cults to appease their spiritual longings. Did you know there are over 1000 sacred sites worldwide that people visit by the millions? They are lured to these places with the hope of experiencing something transformational. Such “holy sites” claim they emanate with a mystical power that people can draw from. Other places promise miracles or the ability to alter circumstances. For example:
There are people that believe the Great Pyramid in Egypt amplifies an energy field that worshipers can absorb.
India boasts of hundreds of sacred groves where powerful gods live.
Stone Hinge lies just 60 miles south of London, and for many years seekers have gathered there to reconnect with their dead ancestors.
Strangely, some psychologists encourage people to seek such places. They urge people to consult psychics or fortunetellers in order to secure emotional and mental stability. And you have to admit something: Psychics can mutter enough truth to make their prognosticating seem valid. Fortunetellers and the ‘familiar spirits” can occasionally peer into the future and snap a picture of your life. But this is precisely what Solomon warned against in Proverbs 14:12 when he said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end is the way of death.”
Life contains things that look good, sound good, and even feel good—but they are toxic and even deadly! This is why the Bible strictly forbids God’s people consulting spiritists and mediums. But besides that, when people delve into the dark dominion of the unknown they will inevitably conjure demonic activity upon themselves. Saints of God, I want to warn you once more, in the strongest possible way, that violating this warning from God will imperil your welfare! Satan has brought hellish torment upon those that tampered with the forbidden powers of darkness.
(Transition) Conversely, the Bible tells Christians how they can enrich themselves without the least spiritual peril. That’s what I want to address in this message: how you can capture incredible blessings from God. And I will do this by investigating God’s dealings with King Cyrus.
Cyrus Pursues God’s Plan
Thousands of years ago, Isaiah directed the opening verses I read to the king of Persia (Iran). This is an incredible prophecy because Isaiah wrote it about 150—200 years before this Persian king was born! And what’s so astonishing about Isaiah’s prophecy is its specificity. Isaiah also predicted, two centuries in advance, that the coming king would be named Cyrus! He foresaw Cyrus invading Babylon—which is in present-day Iraq—and liberating the Jews from their 70-years of captivity, and then repatriating them to their homeland in Israel. And history reveals this unfolding exactly as Isaiah prophesied! (What a marvelous testimony this is to the divine inspiration of Scripture. No other book is capable of speaking with such unfaltering accuracy.)
Here’s how this story unfolded: the prophet Daniel was among the Jewish exiles that lived during the Babylonian Captivity. As a student of God’s Word Daniel studied the scroll of Jeremiah and realized that Israel’s 70-years of Babylonian Captivity were completed. During his study, Daniel also discovered that Isaiah had predicted the name of the King that would liberate the Israelites from Babylon. It would be a Persian king named Cyrus. And according to Biblical Prophecy, Cyrus eased into Babylon and toppled its mighty monarchy. Soon thereafter, Daniel took the scroll of Isaiah to Cyrus and showed him that God had recorded his name in Scripture about two centuries earlier. As Daniel unveiled the prophecy, it shocked Cyrus to the core of his being, and gave him the confidence liberate the Jews from their exile, return them to the land of Israel and announce the rebuilding of Solomon’s Temple. What an incredible story!
But there’s something more to notice: God would not let Cyrus liberate Israel without recompense. The Lord said: ‘Cyrus, when you free Israel and accomplish my purpose, I will give you the “treasures of darkness and wealth stored in secret places.’” And it’s amazing how this transpired, because it literally came to pass.
Records from Jewish history reveal that once Cyrus freed the Jews he also granted them permission to rebuild their Temple. In fact, Cyrus issued an edict (an official decree) for them to rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem. And on the exact day Cyrus issued this decree, his soldiers back in Babylon, unearthed vast amounts of silver and gold that the king of Babylon had hidden under the Euphrates River! God’s Word through Isaiah had been fulfilled to the letter when He said, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and wealth stored in secret places.”
Do you see how God wants us claiming His blessings? As Cyrus illustrates, they are claimed by acting in faith. No one will receive the “treasures of darkness” or “wealth stored in secret places” without acting in faith. You have to move toward the plan that God has ordained for your life. And everyone has something to pursue.
But we must also ask ourselves: Why does God want to give us the “treasures of darkness”? And this too is revealed in our text. The Lord said to Cyrus in Isaiah 45:3, “I’m doing all this so you will know it is I, the God of Israel that calls you by name.” You see, nothing God does is without purpose. And his purpose for recompensing Cyrus was to reveal himself as the true and living God. The Lord wanted this Persian king convinced that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the Sovereign Lord of Creation. Thus, God certifies his sovereignty by calling Cyrus by name two centuries before his birth and then predicting that Cyrus will somehow collect the “treasures of darkness.”
God has a similar message for you. The Bible says God foreknew you long before your birth—even from the foundation of the earth. And that means the Lord wants to reveal himself and reward you as you follow his divine plan.
(Transition) This leads me to the crux of today’s message. My question is, where are the “treasures of darkness and riches stored in secret places.” Are you ready for the answer?
Ask God for Disclosure & let Him Open Your Eyes
The “treasures of darkness” are stored in—of all places—darkness! The “wealth of secret places” are hidden in—of all locations—“secret places.” But that’s okay; because this means God’s treasures are surrounding us! And furthermore, it that means God is not trying to hide treasures from us; He’s hiding them for us!
(Prayer) For years I have prayed this prayer: “Lord, open my eyes to see things I cannot normally see so I can claim things that would otherwise be unclaimed.” You must always understand that God does not place His storehouse of treasures in open and obvious places. The Lord told us not to “cast our pearls before swine” and He operates by that same standard!
It’s normal for people to lock their treasures behind sealed doors. They place them in vaults and hidden chambers. God, too, has his vaults, hidden chambers, safes, and “secret places.” And the only way you can find and secure these treasures is by God’s sovereign disclosure. He has to sovereignly open your eyes to them. Jesus said in Luke 10:21 the Heavenly Father has “hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and has revealed them to infants.”
(Illustration) Many years ago my dad visited Cambodia. While there, he found a rundown building in a floodplain area. He bought the dilapidated building along with a parcel of real estate for $10,000. My dad, 70 years-old at that time, saw something no one else saw, because months later he launched a construction project to house widows and orphans. Today, there is a village that surrounds a beautiful orphanage compound that houses 200 children and numerous widows. The property around it has since quadrupled in price! Not far from the orphanage, he built a Community Center for teaching the Bible and business skills. It includes a coffee shop that generates revenue for the ministry. How did these facilities emerge? They emerged when the Lord opened my dad’s eyes to see the “treasures of darkness and wealth stored in secret places.” He envisioned things nobody else could see.
Folks, there are treasures all around you. They are just hidden! That’s why you must ask God to sharpen your vision and tune your hearing. Even now, the Lord may be trying to show you something that would otherwise be unseen, so you can claim what would otherwise be unclaimed.
God says He has placed His treasure in “earthen vessels”—jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). And I want the Holy Spirit to show me people that, to others, appear as lumps of coal, but deep within they will produce diamonds.
The treasure God may be trying to show you could be in an unsaved acquaintance.
Then again, your treasure might be found in a quest of faith God has for you—a new business or ministry venture.
For a young person, finding your treasure may require several more years of education.
(Illustration) There is an ancient legend of three horsemen traveling at midnight. As they crossed over a dry riverbed they heard a voice pierce the darkness. The voice said: “Dismount your horses and pick up the stones.” Without hesitation they jumped to the ground and scrambled for stones. Moments later the voice said: “Remount your horses and continue your journey. Tomorrow you will be both sorry and glad.” They did not understand is meaning: “Sorry, but glad”? For the remainder of night they anxiously waited for morning. When the sun arose, they reached into their pockets to examine their take and discovered what they had picked up was diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. And they immediately remembered the voice: “You will be both sorry and glad.” And they were. They were sorry they had not taken more, but they were glad they took what they did!
That story tells us there are treasures all around us. And although it’s fictional, we need to ask God to make us sensitive to His Holy Spirit, because He may be trying to show us something that would otherwise be unseen, so we can claim what would otherwise be unclaimed.
(Transition) You see, We must also be willing to search for God’s treasures by entering the dark and “secret place” where God dwells. Let me explain this concept:
Search for God in His Dark and Secret Place
We know God dwells in the “secret place” but to say He dwells in darkness seems to contradict Scriptures that associate Him with light. For example:
The Bible equates darkness with chaos (Genesis 1:2), distress (Isaiah 5:30), terror, and bondage (Ezekiel 34:12).
Demons are called “powers of darkness.” (Ephesians 6:11-12).
And ultimately, the wicked will be cast into “eternal darkness” as punishment for their sin (Matthew 8:12).
But then, the Bible describes another aspect of darkness:
2 Samuel 22:12 says God “made darkness canopies around Him.”
Exodus 20:21 says: “Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.”
And Psalm 18:11 says: “[God] made darkness his secret place.”
So how do we reconcile this metaphorical disparity that darkness presents? There is an answer!
(Answer) When the Bible describes God “enshrouded in darkness,” it is beckoning people to enter a deeper experience with Him. Some treasures of God’s Kingdom are discovered when Believers withdraw from public view and enter secret places with God. Some of God’s greatest treasures have been discovered in lonely, “secret” places:
Moses received the Ten Commandments atop Mount Sinai, which the Bible says was covered with a thick, dark cloud.
And then it was the “secret place” of Midian where Moses saw the burning bush and heard God’s call to deliver Israel from Egyptian Captivity.
Abraham, the Father of our Faith, cut an eternal Covenant with God at night, when Abraham laid out his sacrifice and God passed through with His fiery presence.
Elijah stood inside the dreary confines of a cave when God challenged him to continue his prophetic ministry.
When God called Gideon to marshal Israel’s troops against the Midianites, Gideon was hiding in a winepress—a hole in the ground!
David said in Psalm 17:3, “You visited me in the night.”
When the shepherds found Jesus they discovered Him tucked away in a manger—late at night.
And although Jesus performed most of His miracles in broad day, He found strength to bear the Cross as He prayed, alone, in the darkness of Gethsemane.
Acts 16 says Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown in a dungeon. But at the blackness of the midnight hour they prayed and sang praises to God. And when the jailer heard their voices, he understood they had a treasure he couldn’t live without. So he called on the name of the Lord and accepted Christ.
In the Apostle John’s closing years the Romans exiled him to the lonely crags of Patmos. But that’s where God dispatched an angel with a high-definition revelation of the Endtime.
Here’s my question: “What treasure have you discovered in dark and secret places”? God has a storehouse of reserves there that cannot be secured anywhere else.
It’s not normal for a Prime Minister to take the “Oath of Office” from a prison cell; but that’s about the place that Joseph took it.
It is not normal to secure the “peace that passes all understanding” when you’re surrounded by hungry lions; but that is where Daniel secured it.
It’s not normal for the ‘breath of heaven’ to swirl from the tempest of the fire; but that’s where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego felt it.
I know what some here have claimed from a “dark” and lonely experience. In the late-night darkness of your bedroom you have prayed a child or a parent or a loved-one to salvation in Christ Jesus. It might have been from a small, dark prayer closet that you finally found the grace to forgive someone that offended you. And when you forgave that person you unwittingly claimed Christ-like character and the “fruit of the spirit.”
God Forces us into Dark and Secret Places
In most cases God forces us to go into the dark. We are rarely willing to part with comfort and plunge into isolated places so we can find God’s blessings. God has to sovereignly draw the thick curtain of darkness around us where we can claim His treasures.
God took John Bunyan into prison for twelve years. I don’t know how I would have handled that. But John Bunyan sat in that lonely cell and wrote one of the greatest books of human history—Pilgrim’s Progress.
Fanny Crosby lost her eyesight. But even with darkened eyes she penned more than 8000 songs.
I recently read the story of George Young. He was a small town pastor who supplemented his income as a carpenter. At times he barely had enough money to provide for his family, but with sacrifice he built a modest house. Then a short time later, when he was away preaching, a group of bandits torched his house and it went up in flames. But from the ashes of sorrow he wrote these words:
“In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water‘s cool flow bathes the weary one‘s feet,
God leads His dear children along.
Some through the water, some thru the flood,
Some through the fire, but all thru the blood.
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song.
In the night season and all the day long.”
Perhaps you have looked for Christ’s treasures atop a mountain or in obvious places. But according to Isaiah, God’s treasures aren’t always so obvious. They are extracted from dark and secret places. Are you willing to go there?