TREASURES OF THE DEEP, a Devotion for 17 August 2018 Anno Domini
St. Andrews Anglican Parish Church
“UNTO Almighty God we commend the soul of our brother departed, and we commit his body to the deep;
in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the sea shall give up her dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
Commital Prayer for Burial at Sea, 1928 American Book of Common Prayer
“ O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Psalm 42:6-11; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Many different estates are mentioned in the Holy Scriptures concerning the depository of treasures: 1) Treasures of the Snow and Hail, “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail.” (Job 38:22) ; 2) Treasures of the Deep, “O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness.” (Jeremiah 51:13); 3) Treasures of the Earth, “Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures.” (Isaiah 2:7); 4) Treasures of the Heart (both good and evil), “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” (Matthew 12:35); and 5) Treasures of Heaven, “ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21), plus many more examples from the Treasury of God’s Word.
All such treasure is worth meditating upon – both those which need to be cast away, such as worldly and deceitful treasures, as well as those of divine value such as those of faith and love which need to be harbored. But there is a depository of Treasure that we may seldom consider – the Treasures of the Deep.
Perhaps, you may wonder of what such treasure consists. The treasures of the Deep are many and varied. The deep wisdom and mystery presented to us in the Bible are deep and beyond understanding in some detail. There are deep mysteries which the Holy Spirit has revealed to the chosen of God through the understanding of His Word. Others remain too deep for mortals to grasp, but may be revealed to us by God at His own discretion of our need.
The hearts of the Elect of God possess a likeness to that of the Lord. They have no spiritual power except that imparted by the Heart of God. The Holy Spirit abides in the Temple of the Heart of believers. The treasures found there are gifts of the Holy Ghost to inform and strengthen in the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a heart sanctified to the Lord has understanding of mysteries that the lost can never know. Though God’s Word is simple enough for a child to understand, those mysteries escape the wicked. The Deep things of God call unto the deep treasures of the human heart to create a harmony of love and truth. “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.”
As the lonely soul looks down from the rocky cliff to the sea, there is a feeling of humble solitude. The sea is vast and seemingly endless. From the sole person on the shore, it is as good as endless and eternal. It possesses a loneliness that is majestic even if daunting. Many ships have weighed anchor and cast off for distant shores and were never heard of again. Their fate remains unknown.
Looking out to sea, one sees only the surface which may be calm or stormy, but the deep of the sea is not visible to the casual observer. The greater part of the sea, like many prophecies of God, remain unknown to those who do not descend into the depths of the waters to witness firsthand, many of those beauties, mysteries and dangers that lurk there. There are exotic fish of such beauty that one might believe he has found a garden at the bottom of the sea. Corals and other wonders may be found there, but not to those who never explore. The same is true of God’s Word. If we seek, we shall find. If we knock, it shall be opened unto us.
The great English poet, Thomas Gray, makes passing mention of some of those beauties there at the bottom of the sea:
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flow’r is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
There are treasures of the deep that we may never have considered. What of the millions and millions of souls who have owned the sea as their grave in which they will rest in repose until the Day of Judgment. I lost a great uncle, Chief Petty Officer Ernest Bennett, aboard the USS Indianapolis on 30 July 1945 having been sunk by a Japanese torpedo. The vessel was enroute from Tinian Air Base to the Philippines when it was sunk. It was found just one year ago at the bottom of the Philippine Sea at a depth of 18,000 ft. (more than three miles depth). There were hundreds of the crew who made their beds in the depth of the sea with that fateful sinking, including my great uncle.
There are many, many others who have perished at sea in naval battles, disease, storms, and simply sailing off course into the unknown. Men who die at sea have traditionally been buried at sea.
Consider this greatest of all graves. There are no flowers to grace that grave – no mourners to engrave a tombstone there. It is a crowded grave, but the loneliest of all. The bodies of the dead of the sea are eaten by sea life, or decompose naturally. The bones of most no longer exist in our way of understanding; however, not a single hair of the heads of those buried in the sea shall be lost. The Creator who gave conception to every man and woman born upon the earth also is the Maker of every element and its atomic structure. He has lost not a drop of water, or a single atom since Creation morning.
When the Trump of Heaven sounds, the dead shall arise from their earthen graves; but so will all of those who have slept in the sea from today to the distant centuries and millennia past.
The millions of souls kept in the bounds of the sea shall not be forgotten. They, too, shall arise. What a treasure the Deep possesses in souls. Nothing is more valuable than a soul, and the sea is full of them. At that day, the most important consideration that a soul has ever faced, or will ever face, is whether or not his name is recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the SEA GAVE UP THE DEAD which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelations 20:12-15)
Whether your borrowed tomb is on land or sea, each reader of this devotion needs to insure that his or her name is recorded in the Book of Life. The seal of God is in the forehead of all those who are sealed with the love of God. Your name is there if you love the Lord with all your might. Now is the time to make that answer sure:
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-11)