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The World's Greatest Treasure

The Portland Vase ... courtesy of the British Museum


ears ago I recall hearing how the Duke of Norfolk once sent a priceless family treasure to the King of England as an expression of his love and esteem. It was the Portland Vase, a rare antique which had been handed down for generations. Wanting to share this treasure with the nation, the King had the vase placed in the British Museum.

Some time later came disaster. In the Duke's own realm his chief servant plotted to overthrow the Duke and take his place. He was subsequently caught and dismissed.

Eaten up with resentment, the servant vowed to get even with the Duke. Remembering the Duke's priceless gift to the King of England, he went to the British Museum in London to find it.

Through careful observation, he was able to select the most suitable day and time to carry out his devious plot. When visitors left the area, and the museum attendants were out of sight, he quickly climbed over the barrier and with both hands grasped this exquisite masterpiece of pottery. And then, raising the vase high above his head, with all his might he hurled it to the floor.

The crash quickly brought attendants to the scene. Too late! The priceless treasure was smashed seemingly beyond repair. Shocked and grieved, the attendants swept up the shattered remains.

"Save every piece," the King said when hearing of the tragedy. "This is my most treasured gift. We'll search for someone who can repair it, not matter what it costs."

Eventually, in the far north of Scotland, a man was found who could do the work. Apparently he was a distant relative of the original creator of the vase. Working for long months with painstaking skill, he sorted each broken fragment, and meticulously placed it back where it belonged.

How are you fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning.

Apparently the Portland Vase is still on display in the British Museum and its fine lines of restoration can be faintly seen. Though I cannot vouch for its authenticity, this story offers a graphic illustration of God's dealing with mankind.

Biblical accounts tell of an angel who lived in heaven. Second only to God, he was brilliant, beautiful, and majestic. His name was Lucifer, son of the morning.

Lucifer, too, had a problem with pride. Plotting to overthrow God, he said, "I will ascend into heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will set enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will make myself like the Most High."1

"I will raise my throne above the stars of God."

Commonly known as Satan, or the Devil, Lucifer was also caught and dismissed from his pinnacle of power. Apparently, this is when he changed to being filled with deception and evil.

Isaiah the prophet wrote, "How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cast down to the ground ... you shall be brought down to hell."2

Filled with hatred and revenge, Satan determined to get back at God, so he turned to God's must precious creation—mankind!

Because God had created man with a free will either to love or reject him, to obey or disobey him, to choose good or evil, Satan knew how to appeal to man.

"How would you like to be like God?" was the real apple that Satan dangled in front of man. "If you disobey God you won't die," he lied. "You will be able to distinguish good from evil—just like God." he continued.3 What he didn't say was that if man disobeyed God, he would be forever enslaved in a state of sin and alienated from the God who loved him, resulting in both spiritual and physical death.

Continued on Page Two

All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.