“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all the he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46
In Revelation 2, Jesus speaks to the church in Ephesus and calls them to account for the one thing they are really missing the mark on: abandoning the love they had at first for the gospel. “Tall Cedars” is the sound of that love – that JOY – that comes when the Lord saves you. Jesus here describes the kingdom of heaven as an item of such surpassing wealth and value that it is worth abandoning everything else for. Even if you are a merchant of pearls and make your living buying and selling jewelry, it is worth selling the rest of your stock to buy that pearl of infinite price. There is no other pearl that can even compare. There is no amount of pearls that can compare to this one pearl of great price.
In this song, we begin on the scene with the man who, as he digs, finds a great treasure hidden in a field. There is joy, but there is nervous restraint. What if someone else finds this? What can I do to ensure that I can lay hold of this prize? He covers it up, knowing he will return to retrieve it when he rightfully owns the field. From there it is a dead sprint across the field, through the tall cedars, plunging into streams. Haphazardly aiming only to retrieve that treasure. The man does not care how foolish he looks in the eyes of his fellows. They will consider it foolish anyhow (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-31). All is rubbish compared to this. All is loss compared to this.
The joy that is birthed at finding the treasure is akin to Paul’s exclamation in 2 Corinthians 5:13 as he talks about the joy of salvation: “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God”. When that prize is discovered, the allure of the world and its meagre possessions are easily abandoned. A few short chapters earlier, we found Jesus telling us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). In Matthew 13 Jesus is telling us where our treasure should be – on the only lasting things.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 13 and Revelation 2 challenge me to remember my first love – Christ Himself, who defeated sin on the cross and conquered death. Believer, there is no greater prize than the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus offers this to us. Go after it and take it!
“Tall Cedars” was a lot of fun to record. My good friend Aaron Cauble helped provide all of the rollicking percussive elements, which include: hand claps, foot stomps, kick drums, drum cases, drum heads, the rim of a snare drum, chains, and – my personal favorite – a lug wrench turning. Most songwriters can attest that songs tend to come in one of two ways. Either a long, slow tedious process that takes months from start to finish, or nearly instantly. “Tall Cedars” was definitely the latter, one of those days where the song didn’t exist in the morning and was completely finished and recorded by the end of the day. I love that the speed with which we wrote and recorded it fits the theme of the song itself… urgent, with no time to lose!