(as taught in the Adult Bible Study on 15 May 2021)

Text: Matthew 13:44-46

Our study of the parables leads us to the parables of the hidden treasure (v.44) and the pearl of
great price (v.45-46). The message of these two parables is one. It points to how genuine
disciples regard the kingdom of heaven as opposed to those who are false.
Firstly, observe how the assessments of the two men differ from the rest of the world. For the
first parable, the field would have looked like any ordinary field in the eyes of men. However,
the diligence of one man led him to the discovery of treasure that was hidden from the rest. Now
that he has found the treasure, the field was no longer an ordinary field. It meant everything to

For the second parable, we have a merchant who was accustomed to the practice of pearl
hunting. Unlike the modern practice of pearl farming, finding pearls in the wild from shelled
mollusks is not guaranteed. In order to find one of suitable value, the pearl have to be of certain
size, shape and iridescence. However, there are many factors that can disturb the formation of
pearls, causing them to be deformed and unsuitable for jewellery. Thus, one would probably need
to plow through hundreds of mollusks before they can find one of suitable value.

The merchant, being experienced in the trade, knew exactly how to evaluate the value of a pearl.
When he saw that the brilliant size, symmetry and iridescence of this pearl was far above
anything that he is likely to find in his lifetime, that pearl of great price meant everything to him.
How will you respond when you have found something that you value far above everything in
this world? You would do everything in your power to secure and protect it. For the man who
found the treasure, it meant buying the field with all that he had and burying the treasure so that
no prying eyes may see it. No one else must take the treasure away from him. Similarly, the
merchant also sold all that he had in order to purchase the pearl of great price. They spared no
effort to obtain what they regarded as precious to them.

Similarly, the true believer values the kingdom of heaven far above all things in this world. The
kingdom of heaven means nothing to the world. However, the kingdom of heaven means
everything to the genuine disciple. He will expend all his energies to ensure that he will enter the
pearly gates of heaven (see Luke 13:34). Once he has found the kingdom of heaven, he will lay
hold of it and not let go.

Practically speaking, a Christian who has found the kingdom of heaven will lay hold of Christ
and His Word, and not let it go. He will live in the light of Christ’s Word, and do his utmost to
promote the kingdom of God. He will let nothing shake his confession of Christ. He will be like
Polycarp who said at his martyrdom, “86 years have I served Him, and He has done me no
wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”

Therefore, the question posed to us by these parables is – how do you value the kingdom of
heaven? When put to the test, will you choose Christ above everything else in this world? Will
you surrender all to obtain Christ, just like the men did with the hidden treasure and the pearl of
great price? May Christ be our all in all.

(Summary of devotion preached at the Church Prayer Meeting, 18 May 2021)

Text: Job 1:20-21
The Greek term hupomone describes endurance and perseverance in the midst of adversity. One
saint which exemplified such godly patience was Job. Job 1:20-21 encapsulates the persevering
spirit of Job – “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the
ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I
return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the
LORD.” (Job 1:20-21) Job had lost all his children and almost all his possessions in one day.
Yet he had the spiritual fortitude to praise the Lord and not blame God despite the adverse

Job understood three things which allowed Him to persevere in His praise of God.
Firstly, Job understood how frail man is. Every man is naked when he is born into this world.
Not only does he have nothing on him, but he is utterly unable to clothe and feed himself. One
reason why it is better to be in the house of mourning than in the house of feasting (Eccl. 7:2),
is the reminder of this reality of life. Once we lie in the grave, we are naked just like how we
were in the beginning.

Secondly, Job understood the goodness of the Lord. Since we are born naked, everything that
we have today comes from the Lord’s gracious hand. Our strength, health and possessions are
given by God. Alas, how easy it is for us in our strength to forget that we owe our very being to
the Lord. Thus, in our pride we seek to praise our own name rather than Christ’s.
Thirdly, Job understood the sovereignty of God. Since all that we have cometh from the Lord,
surely He has the right to take it away from us. There ought to be no argument with this.
Moreover, for the Christian, we understand that even this taking away from us is for our own
good, for the will of God for us is always the best. Just like a parent who sometimes takes away
things from the child for his own good, so does the Lord at times for his children. Just as it is
for Job, it is for the strengthening of our faith.

Having understood these things, Job was able to praise the name of the Lord in the midst of
adversity. Today, Christians in Singapore faced a pestilence which they probably had not faced
before in their lifetime. How will we respond? Despite the problems and disruptions brought
about by the pestilence, will we be able to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord”?

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew

From Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion

“On the other hand, when pestilence begins to stalk abroad, or famine or war, or when any
other disaster seems to impend over a province and people (Esth. 4:16), then also it is the duty
of pastors to exhort the church to fasting, that she may suppliantly deprecate the Lord’s anger.
For when he makes danger appear, he declares that he is prepared and in a manner armed for
vengeance. In like manner, therefore as persons accused were anciently wont, in order to excite
the commiseration of the judge, to humble themselves suppliantly with long breard, dishevelled
hair, and coarse garments, so when we are charged before the divine tribunal, to deprecate his
severity in humble raiment is equally for his glory and the public edification, and useful and
salutary to ourselves.” (4.12.17)

“For it sometimes happens that God smites a nation with war or pestilence, or some kind of
calamity. In this common chastisement it behooves the whole people to plead guilty, and con-
fess their guilt.” (4.12.15)

Editor’s note: How should the church respond to the current pestilence in our land?