You Can't Take it With You
John D. Telgren

In a recent issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Gabriel Barkay studied some ancient mounds that exist about five miles from the old city of Jerusalem. Earlier studies of the mounds concluded that these were ancient high places where pagan cultic activity took place. After further excavation, Barkay has come to a different conclusion.

The biblical text indicates that the cultic high places were on every hill and under every tree, yet these mounds exist only in a remote spot west of Jerusalem. Therefore, these are most likely not the cultic high places. The mounds contain fragments of royal items as well as remnants that indicate a giant bonfire. Pottery, clothing, even statues depicting the king appears in these mounds. Several references in the Hebrew Bible indicate that the kings of Judah were memorialized by a fire (2 Chr 16:14; 21:19; Jer 34:5). In addition, the number of mounds roughly corresponds to the number of Judean kings.

It appears that the bon fire was fueled with items from the deceased kings household, or at least items that represented the king. This practice stands in contrast to the practice of the Egyptians who not only built great monuments to their deceased kings, but also buried all of their worldly possessions with them, believing the kings would take these with them into the “next life.” It should also be noted that in Egyptian belief, only kings enjoyed an “afterlife.”

We know that we cannot take anything with us. When we die, we leave all our worldly good and pursuits behind. Job exclaimed, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21)." Solomon asked the rhetorical question, “For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun (Eccl 2:22)?”

Finally, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt 6:19-21).”

Do not get attached to the things of this world. Let your mind dwell on the things of God, and not on the things of this earth. As the Hebrews burned what was left behind by their deceased kings, God will burn everything left behind at the end of this age (2 Pet 3:10). That means we are not attached to this world or anything in it. When we die to sin, we also die to the things of this world. We are looking for a new Heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. We invest all we have not in wordily pursuits, but in the pursuit of God.