Colossians 1:5 says that our faith and love spring from, “the hope stored up in heaven.” It’s a phrase that brings to mind 2 Timothy 4:8, where Paul says that, “there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” It is marvelous to know that our hope is secure, as Hebrews 11:1 says. We can count on it. We have assurance that he who began a good work will complete it (Phil. 1:6).
In Hebrews 9:27-28, we see the same word, suggesting a similar idea of assurance. However, it’s an assurance for something very different: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” The word translated “appointed” is the same word that is translated “stored up” or “laid up” from Colossians 1:5. So, just as death is a certainty for all of us, the hope stored up in heaven carries the same, almost commonplace, expectation. It’s there, waiting, in retainer.
Jesus says it this way,
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19-21)
Let’s turn to a few outlying references that speak into this idea of treasure and storage.
How Joseph comes into Pharaoh’s favor is an adventure story. He finally lands something and continues to act on the faith that God is with him. We know what happens. Based on Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph becomes charge over storing up reserves of grain for the whole region. As a result, Israel survives and is brought into the auspices of the most powerful nation at the time (Gen. 41-42). Yes, it does make a temporal turn for the worse. Israel spends 400 years in bondage, but then Moses appears and ushers in Passover and to unveil the law.
A lesser known story might be about the envoy from Babylon, when Hezekiah shows the royal messengers all the storehouses of Judah (2 Kings 20:12-19; Isaiah 39). Isaiah speaks prophecy into this ludicrous moment, explaining to the old king that Judah will finally be defeated and carried off into exile. We know that showing off Judah’s wealth is only a piece of why Nebuchadnezzar eventually conquers them (Hezekiah’s son Manasseh contributes to it, for example). But this moment is recorded as seemingly one of conceit about mighty treasure and certain confidence. Despite Isaiah’s whisper of impending exile, we see the situation turning into a mighty thunderclap just after this story is told. Isaiah 40 says,
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God… A voice cries, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (1, 3-5).
Even though our security sometimes falls into the hands of false teaching – “I will be OK. Look at my status, my bank account, my portfolio, my assets” – God has a plan. Always. And, we know that God invites us into his plan, into his house, into his heaven. Malachi 3:10, says, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.” We also see from Job and Psalms that God’s storehouses keep more than our offerings and more than our hope. They hold the snow, water, lightning, rain, and wind.
It’s ours to choose, of course. Luke 12:13-21 tells the parable of the rich fool who takes his abundant harvests and makes larger and larger barns to hold his goods, his stuff, his security. He says to himself, “I have plenty of grain laid up for many years. I will take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” God replies differently. “You fool,” God exclaims. “This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” Jesus concludes the teaching with a punch: “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
We don’t need to be anxious about the doings and undoings of the world (Matthew 6:25-34) because as we move from Colossians 1:5, we are assured that by Jesus, “all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or authorities” (1:16). And the whole arch of the heavens and the earth bend into seeing what is now only being stored up, and that is judgment. 2 Peter 3:1-7 recounts God’s judgement with the flood and then says, “But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept [or watched over] until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly ” (2 Peter 3:7).
But that’s not all. Peter continues:
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)
Storage is something all of nature seems to partake in, whether its an added measure of nuts for the winter or a stash of family heirlooms that we just can’t let loose. Warehouse stores like Costco and BJs extol us to buy in bulk and save. Some people even store up whole rooms of rations just in case some apocalypse occurs. Though we might be inclined to circle around ourselves protection after protection, the Bible emphasizes reliance of God. The hope stored up for us in heaven is himself, crucified and raised from the dead, waiting to receive us. Everything we do, every decision small and large, should be informed by this Truth. As Paul reminds us in Romans, “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (12:2).
So, let’s get to it.
Written by a member of our church staff