Earthbound by Evelyn De Morgan
This is such a delightful painting. The contrast between the blue of the cloth that the angel holds and the orange robe of the king is magnificent. Also noteworthy is the fantasy landscape and the realistic hands and feet.
The king truly seems a pathetic figure. He casts his gaze downward at his money, ignoring the beautiful sky and the majestic angel before him. In contrast a spirit in the distance soars into the air.
Tragically, many are like that king; absorbed in their pursuit of earthly gain and ignorant of the glories of heaven and the wonders that God will bestow upon those who look to the Lord Jesus Christ.
24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
It is not that giving up riches is a condition of receiving eternal life. No, if it was it would be a salvation of works. Rather, riches blind people to their neediness. Earthly riches distract people from their spiritual darkness and poverty.
In Ezekiel 28 we see the pride of a wealthy king compared to the pride that lead to Satan's downfall. Wealth lifts people up, filling them with pride. They become self-satisfied. Yet through the work of the Holy Spirit, it is possible for the rich to come to know of their need for the Gospel.
What is the angel doing? I think perhaps the angel is using the cloth, with its celestial decoration to distract the man from his obsession with gold and to bring to the realisation of the wonders of heaven.
God is not far from any of us (Acts 17:27). The wonders of creation point us toward the creator. The light of the Gospel is being preached to all nations, though its course is sadly slow in some parts. There is a witness to all of the reality of God and the reality of His grace.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Tragically, many settle for much less than the whole world and yet lose their soul.
There is much misunderstanding about the meaning of this verse. Many confuse the loss of soul with going to hell. However, the actual word translated soul here, psyche, is translated in the previous verse as life.
The loss of the soul does not necessarilly mean the going to hell but means the loss of the kind of life that God wants us to live.
Through Jesus Christ, we can obtain not only eternal life, but life in abundance. We can experience a quality of existence that is beyond imagination. We can experience a union with God that is beyond anything we know now. We can receive heavenly rewards that are undreamed of and have the privilege of ruling over both earth and heaven.
Yet so many Christians get distracted by earthly conerns. They refuse to look beyond their immediate needs and their worldy desire for wealth and status. To follow that path will lead to the loss of heavenly inheritance; to fail to obtain the full glories of God's new race of heavenly humanity. Such Christians have found eternal life, they are justified and secure in Christ, yet they will miss out on so much that they might otherwise enjoy.
Let us not look downward at the vain toys of this world, but let us look upward to heaven. Let us set our affections on things above.