When I was in the fourth and fifth grade my family lived in Michigan. We didn't have much money back then but we usually found ways to entertain ourselves.
One of those ways was to visit the Rollways on the Manistee River. The Rollways get their name from back in the logging days when the loggers would cut down hug pine trees and send them "rolling" down this large hill into the river. SPLASH!!! The logs would then float downstream to the sawmill where they'd be cut up into lumber and shipped all over the country.
Over time, with thousands of logs rolling down the hill, the topsoil vanished and the gravel subsoil became exposed. That was the condition of things when my family came there to visit. One, big hill of sand and gravel . . . and treasure!
We used to hunt for petosky stones on the Rollways. My mom did most of the hunting. My sister and I would search a little but we usually got bored and went off to do something else. But every once in a while we'd hear mom yell, "Found one!" Then we'd all run to see it.
Petosky stones are kind of cool. They are only found in Michigan. Nowhere else in the world. These "stones" are really fossilized coral from back in the day. The stones are usually a little on the rough side. To see what these treasures REALLY look like, they need to be polished in a rock tumbler. Only then do they reveal their true beauty, looking much like the picture above.
My sister and I didn't have the treasure hunting patience of our mother. She was extremely deliberate. And her determination was often rewarded by the discovery of these rare Michigan "gems."
This past month I have been reading through the book of Leviticus. Boy, now THERE is some exciting reading. Not! At one point in the book, chapters 11, 12, 13 and 14 specifically, Leviticus is all about instructions from God to Moses. Instructions about unclean food, purification, what to do in case of a skin disease, and of course, everybody's favorites . . . mold and bodily discharge. Yup. I'm thinkin' you will never see verses from those chapters on an inspirational Christian calendar or as the "verse of the day."
All the instructions were hard to pick through, like that giant hill on the Manistee River. Then I came across chapter 16 - The Day of Atonement. I didn't know it at the time but I had just found a gem - a "petosky stone" hidden in an Old Testament book.
I heard a pastor once say that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. And the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. If you have a Bible handy, please check out chapter 16 in Leviticus. And think NEW Testament as you read it.
The text is STILL all instructions but they are very interesting instructions. In verse six Aaron is told to get two goats and one is to become . . . "the scapegoat." And what is the function of this scapegoat? The answer is in verse 21.
"And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness."
Verse 22 - "The goat will carry on itself all their sins."
So, who in the New Testament carried all of the sins of the people on himself? Jesus.
And the guy who took the goat into the wilderness . . . he was supposed to wash himself when he released the scapegoat. Fast forward to Jesus on trial. Pontius Pilate. What did The Roman prefect do when he released Jesus to be crucified. He washed his hands. Mhmm.
There are all kinds of New Testament gems hidden in the Old Testament. Read the story of Ruth and Boaz. You will read about Boaz being a "kinsman or guardian redeemer." I wonder who that could be in a New Testament setting. Who is our New Testament redeemer? Jesus? Right again.
The Book of Isaiah has got to be one of my favorite places to search for hidden treasure. It's filled with New Testament gems. Read Chapter 53 and try not to be moved by God's masterful and perfect plan - written 700 years before before Jesus began his ministry.
Finally, read the story of Abraham and Issac found in Genesis 22. Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his one and only son (with Sarah). He took him up on a mountain. Some say it was the very mountain upon which Jesus would later be crucified. Just before Abraham stuck the fatal blow, God provided a substitute - a ram caught by its head in a thicket. You know what you find in tickets? Thorns. The ram had thorns stuck in its head! Just like Jesus and the crown of thorns the Roman guards fashioned for him. And how would one place a crown of thorns on someones head? Usually, when someone puts a crown on someones head they use two hands . . . like the guy who placed the sins on the head of the scapegoat. It's all so incredibly perfect.
There are dozens of stories like this - the Old Testament foreshadowing what will eventually take place in the New Testament. The Old testament stories, those hidden gems, scriptural petosky stones hidden in the gravel, are waiting there for anyone to discover.
This past summer my wife and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. We did so in Michigan - Petosky, Michigan. We took a walk on a gravelly beach. Guess what I was looking for? And guess what happened . . .
Found one!! :)