The Rare Man

Matthew 13 is often called the parable chapter because it contains many of the parables that Jesus spoke. Some of them are explained and some are not.

Matthew 13:44 says: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

Those who heard then clearly understood. Since ancient times men have buried their treasure to protect it from marauding armies or thieves. Today we secure our treasure in investments or banks to be accessible when needed.

While on a Pathfinder camp in the 1950s in Colorado, an Adventist minister told the campers that in the 1800s gold was mined in Colorado. Fearing an attack by the Indians, one person took the gold and buried it being careful to write down the directions to find it again. The directions were complicated and the gold has never been found. In today’s market the value is estimated to be several millions. There has been much money spent trying to find it.

Burying gold and other valuables also often happened in ancient times. When the person who buried the gold or treasure died and was buried, nobody knew where the treasure had been hidden.

In this parable, a poor man was farming on rented land. While tilling the ground to get ready for planting his crop, his plow hit something. Digging around to see what it was, he found a metal box. When he opened it, he could not believe what he saw. It was a fortune. If he owned this he would be the wealthiest man in town. There was only one problem – the field was not his. The owner did not know that the valuables had been hidden there. So he closed up the box and covered it just the way it was before. He decided that he would not dare tell anyone about it, even his wife. If anyone found out what was there, the price of the land would go up so high he could never buy it.

He told his wife that they would have to sell their house, and the yoke of oxen, and his tools, because he had to raise enough money to buy that field. She thought he was crazy. Where would they live? How could they farm without tools? He even wanted to sell his wife’s dowry. He was adamant that everything must be sold. Everyone thought he was crazy until he got the title to the field. It cost all that he had to buy the field and it looked like he was going to be a pauper, worth nothing. But once he had the title to that field, he became the wealthiest man in the city.

Jesus said, the kingdom of heaven is like that. It is like treasure that is hidden and you have to find it. The treasure is the gospel. The field is the Bible and in the Bible the treasure is hidden for those that study and find it. The rarer something is, the more expensive it becomes, and since ancient times, gold has been one of the rarest metals. It has always been worth a large amount of money. The Bible talks a lot about silver and gold in both the Old and New Testaments.

Not very many years ago there was a shortage of a metal called palladium. Car builders need that metal to build catalytic convertors. Due to the shortage, the price went up to ten times what it had been before. When something is rare and the demand is greater than the supply, it becomes very expensive. It has been that way with gold since ancient times.

In Genesis 10 is recorded the nations that descended from Noah. Verse 22 lists the five children that were born to Shem. One was named Arphaxad, who had a son Salah, who had a son Eber, who had two sons. Verse 25 says, “To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided …”

Eber also had another son named Joktan. Now Joktan had thirteen sons who became the seventh generation from Noah, sixth generation from Shem. One of Joktan’s sons was named Ophir. We would like very much to know where Ophir settled down and lived. Bible scholars have wondered about this for many hundreds of years. It appears that Ophir lived in a place where there was an abundance of very good gold. The gold of Ophir was highly sought after because it was thought to be, just as the treasure hid in the field, high quality gold. The gold of Ophir represents the treasure, which represents the gospel. Throughout Old Testament times the gospel was hid in types and ceremonies. Paul says in Hebrews 4:2, “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”

“But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:14–16).

People often talk about the gospel but it is still hidden from most people who do not try to understand it. I want to try to explain in simple language what the gospel is, what the treasure is, and its rare elements and what the gold of Ophir represents.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Many professed Christians who go to church every week do not understand the power of the gospel and what it will do in your life if you receive and accept it. Their faces are veiled.

In ancient times most people did not understand what the types and ceremonies meant or what they pointed to.

Today, many are still looking through a veil, unable to see clearly. Notice what Paul says: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the gods of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).

Once the veil is removed and you see Jesus clearly, you will be changed into the same image. You will become Christ-like. If that is not your experience, then pray that the Holy Spirit will remove the veil and work a change in your character.

Isaiah shows what the Lord intends to do to people that keep looking at this glory with unveiled face. “I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold. A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir” (Isaiah 13:12).

The gold from Ophir was the highest quality and most precious gold available in the world. When, through the gospel, your character is transformed into the likeness of Christ’s character the Lord says you are more precious than that gold.

Would you like to be one of those people? The Lord is in the process of working miracles in people’s lives, taking people that are ruined by sin, and not only taking away their guilt, but changing their life.

The rare man is he or she who looks with unveiled face seeing the glory of the Lord, and as a result, his character is being changed into the image of his Saviour, his Redeemer.

The following are a few characteristics of the rare man:

 The rare man is meek and lowly. The word meek simply means to be gentle or humble.

“Jesus loves the young, and He longs to have them possess that peace which He alone can impart. He bids them learn of Him meekness and lowliness of heart. This precious grace is rarely seen in the youth of the present day, even in those who profess to be Christians. Their own ways seem right in their eyes. In accepting the name of Christ, they do not accept His character, … therefore they know nothing of the joy and peace to be found in His service.” Sons and Daughters of God, 82.

The rare man is filled with the Holy Spirit. “Just prior to His leaving His disciples for the heavenly courts, Jesus encouraged them with the promise of the Holy Spirit. This promise belongs as much to us as it did to them, and yet how rarely it is presented before the people. … Prophecies have been dwelt upon, doctrines have been expounded; but that which is essential to the church in order that they may grow in spiritual strength and efficiency, in order that the preaching may carry conviction with it, and souls be converted to God, has been largely left out of ministerial labor. This subject has been set aside, as if some time in the future would be given to its consideration. Other blessings and privileges have been presented before the people until a desire has been awakened in the church for the attainment of the blessing promised of God; but the impression concerning the Holy Spirit has been that this gift is not for the church now, but that at some time in the future it would be necessary for the church to receive it.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 174.

The Bible contains the life-record of a number of these rare men, which include the Apostle John, the prophet Daniel, and Moses. “Moses possessed a spirit which is rarely found at the present day. He had a sacred regard for the right, a morality unmingled with selfishness and policy.” The Review and Herald, September 14, 1886.

The rare man is thankful. “The Lord sends His blessing and manifests His love to the children of men. ‘He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust’ (Matthew 5:45), and yet how rarely is the Lord thanked, how seldom is His praise upon human lips! How few are found to testify to His loving-kindness, and to acknowledge His mercies to the children of men!” The Review and Herald, November 13, 1894.

Many do not know what to be thankful about. If you can see, be thankful. If you can hear, be thankful. If you can walk, be thankful. That’s just the beginning. Most people have so many things to be thankful for. Have you told the Lord you are thankful that He sent His Son into this world to save you and give you the opportunity to be adopted into His family, again, to be delivered from the slavery of the devil? Are you thankful for the mercies of God that we receive?

The rare man’s face is unveiled. He has looked at the glory of the Lord until he has been changed into the same image, and therefore he is godly. A godly person is a person who has a god-like character.

“A truly godly life is rarely seen.” The Review and Herald, August 10, 1905. A godly life is the same as a holy life.

The rare man always has Christian courtesy. Christian courtesy is so lacking in today’s society. Christian courtesy is to be kind and considerate to all, including my enemies. The rare man sees the glory of the Lord with unveiled face and has been changed so that he has become courteous to all people under all circumstances.

The rare man has been born again. “The new birth is a rare experience in this age of the world. This is the reason why there are so many perplexities in the churches. Many, so many, who assume the name of Christ are unsanctified and unholy. They have been baptized, but they were buried alive. Self did not die, and therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ.”  Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 51.

The rare man has both virtue and modesty. 

The rare man is heart to heart with Christ. When people get married, they are supposed to be heart to heart. This person’s heart is supposed to respond to the other person’s heart. In other words, if I am heart to heart with Christ, I am interested in what He is interested in.

By the way, when you are not heart to heart with each other anymore, it is sometimes hard to live together in the same house. You no longer walk together because your heart determines everything in your life. One person’s heart says, I want to go here, and the other, I want to go there. If one person’s heart is in the world and the other person’s heart is in the Lord, there will be no unity.

“The power of godliness has well-nigh departed from the churches. Heart union with Christ is a rare thing now.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 295. Rare!

The rare man has spirituality and devotion. He is devoted to the Lord. We are living in an evil time. Would you be a rare person?

“Spirituality and devotion are rare.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 469. But God says, I’m going to make some people more rare than fine gold, more precious than the golden wedge from Ophir.

The rare man is the man of faith. “The faith that takes God at His word, which works by love and purifies the heart, is very rare.” The Review and Herald, November 27, 1883.

The rare man is sober. Jesus’ first miracle is recorded in the gospel of John, chapter 2. When He made water into wine, He did not even touch those jars.

Some people have become confused about this and believe that Jesus made fermented wine because the Greek word could refer to either fresh grape juice or alcoholic drink. Ellen White wrote about this in The Bible Echo, September 4, 1899. “Christ never placed a glass of fermented liquor to His lips or to the lips of His disciples. Drunkenness was rare in Palestine, but Christ looked down the ages, and saw in every generation what the use of wine would do for the users, therefore at this feast He set a right example.” New wine, fresh grape juice was provided.

The rare man is obedient to what God says. Don’t worry because you are different from everybody else. When Noah and his family were inside the ark and the rain began to fall, they were happy to be one of the rare people.

The rare man has practical religion. His religion is not just a profession. He actually lives it out. “Practical religion as it was manifested in the life and character of Christ is a rare thing.” The Review and Herald, May 24, 1892.

The rare man has the spirit of self-denial. Jesus Christ had the spirit of self-denial. The whole story of His life reveals one denial after another. It would have been an almost infinite humiliation simply to become a human being, but after that, He walked down a path of humiliation and self-denial. He went lower, and lower, and lower. Paul says, “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8 KJV).

Jesus said, If anybody wants to follow Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. The disciples didn’t know what that meant because He had not yet been crucified. They did not expect that to ever happen and thought He spoke in symbolic language. Soon they found out it was not symbolic.

“The spirit of self-denial is becoming a rare thing.” The Review and Herald, March 27, 1900.

The rare man has genuine and true love. This love is not just for his brothers or his friends, but for those who are also his enemies. “Christ’s requirements are not met by His people today. A strange deception is upon the people of God. Selfishness prevents the union which should exist. True love for one another is rare in our churches. This lack of love reveals most certainly that the members do not love God as they suppose they do.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 411.

Isaiah 13:12 says, “I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, a man more than the golden wedge of Ophir.” May you be one of those rare people.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)