A Raiders of the Lost Ark Devotional: The Wrong Treasure

Britt MooneyBy Britt Mooney12 Minutes

Devotional #1: We Were Made to Be Treasure Seekers

Coming off of the success of Star Wars, George Lucas had the opportunity to make anything he wanted. He decided to start working on another dream – a cliff-hanger type adventure story called Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the movie became one of the biggest box office successes in history.

Indiana Jones is a great character. On the one hand, he is an educated, intelligent professor with a moral directive to bring value to an academic world. He accomplishes this by traipsing off to temples and tombs in foreign lands to find these treasures. At his heart, he is a man of action, never more alive than when he is chasing something of ancient value.

We love this movie because it’s not really about the lost Ark of the Covenant. That item plays its part, but we all identify with Indiana Jones because in our deepest longings, we are treasure seekers.

God created us and placed us on a planet, which through the wonder of science we find out is in a perfect position to observe and discover the rest of the galaxy. There aren’t any nebulas or other celestial bodies in our way.

At creation, Adam and Eve were given two directives. First, to go out from the garden and bring the remaining chaos of Earth into God’s creative order. Second, and inseparable from the first, Adam and Eve were to have children, because two people alone can’t cover the Earth (Genesis 1:28).

We were designed to be sent and discover. While we lost much in the fall to corruption and sin, that longing remains within us.

Jesus told parables, stories, to see who would dig further (Mark 4:34). Even simple and short stories are deep with meaning, so story is the perfect place to put eternal truth. The disciples may have been frustrated since they didn’t understand the meaning at first, but it was Jesus’ plan to satisfy that longing and give us a hidden treasure to dig for (Matthew 13:10, 13:44-46).

Teachers in school know this rule. Students learn more when they discover it themselves, far more than if they are simply lectured on information. When we discover truth, we own it.

Proverbs instructs us that we should do all we can to get wisdom since it is worth more than gold or any other material wealth (Proverbs 16:16). Solomon later tells us that people of understanding and wisdom search deep into the heart of people to know their value (Proverbs 20:5).

Just like the parables of Jesus, we will take this crazy story about an archeologist and dig a little deeper to find the truth of transformation within.

Father, thank you for creating me to be a treasure seeker. Help me to dream your dreams and seek your wisdom in how to live as a treasure seeker. Amen.

Devotional #2: The Wrong Treasure

There is a famous episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where the women in the show propose to the four nerds that Indiana Jones makes no difference in the basic plot of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Despite his chasing, fighting, death, and adventure, Indiana never gets the Ark. In fact, we could argue that he probably helped the Nazis find it.

We long to chase treasures. But what happens if it’s the wrong treasure?

The object we chase may be different for all of us. However, we will all chase something. Money, fame, power, security, a career, whatever it might be, we will pay whatever we possess to get it.

Our treasure-seeking nature has appropriate goals to chase. The Devil knows this, and the same liar from the garden now does all he can to get us to focus on the wrong goals, to take that God-design and get us to run headlong after something that will kill us.

We established that Indiana is a great character, but he also has two fatal flaws (and they are connected). The first flaw is that he’s chasing the wrong treasure.

What makes a treasure the wrong goal? When it is temporary. When it is something we can’t keep.

The first scene in Raiders is classic. We are shown the smart, savvy, manly Indiana Jones. He risks his life and almost dies in the pursuit of this little gold idol. It is no coincidence that it is an ancient idol, by the way.

He gets the idol and races in front of the big boulder, barely making it out with the treasure in hand.

Then it gets taken away by the antagonist, Dr. Rene Belloq, another treasure seeker.

Throughout the whole movie, when Indiana chases something of this world, as old or valuable as it may seem, he always loses it.

The scripture tells us where not to lay up our treasure – don’t spend our life building wealth on this Earth because we can’t keep it (Matthew 6:19-20). The rich fool was a fool because he built a bigger barn to hold his abundant harvest. But he died and never got to enjoy it. In that parable, God explains the foolishness because the man could have gained true wealth if he had chased the right treasure (Luke 12:13-21).

One way or another, the treasure you choose will cost your life (Matthew 6:21). We should make sure we choose the right one.

Father, thank you for guiding me to the right treasures. Help me to see the deception of the things that are temporary, won’t last, and will never satisfy us. Give me the grace to reject those as treasures worth my life. Amen.

Devotional #3: Love Warns Us

Indiana Jones is warned three times in the movie to leave the Ark alone.

For movie lovers like me, if a character is seriously warned once, I know there will be consequences if he or she doesn’t listen. Twice is super serious. Three times? Okay, okay, we get it.

First, Marcus warns Indiana before he leaves the university. Indiana blows him off. Then when Indiana gets to Egypt, his friend Sallah tells him, “Maybe it wasn’t meant to be disturbed,” and questions the wisdom of this endeavor, since this is a God thing, which Indiana ignores. Lastly, when Sallah finds an old man to interpret and decipher the ancient amulet that is the major clue to the Ark, the actual amulet has a message to leave the Ark alone!

Indiana Jones can’t even hear that last one; he’s so excited to find the Ark.

The warning is repeated in different ways to Indiana. This is a God thing. You want to make God angry?

Indiana’s treasure isn’t simply wrong, like “oops.” Seeking this treasure will kill him.

Since we are created to be treasure seekers, then what we choose to seek has eternal consequences. With that truth, it is love to warn us.

People are more and more uncomfortable with this idea of Hell, even ministers and spiritual leaders. I get it. It is way more fun to tell people God loves them than to describe this place called Hell where we could end up. Or to be clear, where we will end up if something radical doesn’t change.

Hell should make us uncomfortable. It is real. This isn’t a game or a social club we’re trying to get people to join. The Gospel has eternal consequences (Galatians 6:7-8), and while it is not our place to condemn, we can’t say we love people if we don’t warn them of the consequences of not following the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we saw a group of people running headlong off a cliff to their death, oblivious to the danger, would we be so concerned with offending them that we don’t interrupt their little party to warn them? Love would interrupt and warn, while also speaking of a better way.

Jesus spoke of Hell more than anyone else in the scripture (John 15:6). He loved people more than any other person in a human body ever has or will, yet He talked about eternal consequences. So must we. Not in a condemning way but in a message of hope and mercy (Ephesians 4:15-16).

We must recognize God’s love and compassion to warn us of the spiritual death that we are cursed with, all in the context of how He has provided a way to peace and life.

Father, thank you for being real and honest about the consequences of life without you. Thank you for your mercy and love to show me and invite me into your family and redemptive story. Amen.

Featured Image Credit: Mary Harrsch / Original Concept Art from Raiders of the Lost Ark / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0