The Great Treasure Hunt

Purpose Weekly, June 29, 2008

Vol. 2, Issue 25

“‘But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children.’” (Ezekiel 36:8-12)

Steve Spillman at Zion's Ma'anit #1 well head in Northern Israel

Steve Spillman at Zion's Ma'anit #1 well head, Northern Israel

We just returned from Israel. Zion Oil & Gas held its second shareholders meeting as a public company and celebrated the dedication of its second oil well, to be drilled in September. I’m not in the oil business and I’m not a Zion Oil shareholder. I’m just an interested party.

Twenty seven years ago my father wrote a little book titled The Great Treasure Hunt. It explained his idea that Jacob (Israel) had left an inheritance to his sons that wouldn’t be available to them for a while. Not until, as Jacob put it, “in the last days.” (Genesis 49:1)

Jacob passed on an inheritance to his sons that God had promised him – the same one God had originally granted his grandfather Abraham.

“‘…Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.’” (Genesis 13:14-15)

In Jacob’s Blessing were passages that hinted at something more than the typical inheritance of those days. Crazy as it sounds, my father believed some of those passages referred to oil … not olive oil … petroleum.

Like I said – crazy.

There wasn’t any geological or historical proof when Dad made public that the Bible promises the children of Israel a great petroleum discovery for “the last days.” Only scripture and only the faith that God’s Word is true, regardless of the evidence.

But faith and scripture seems to be enough for some folks. It was enough for Dad. And it was enough for John Brown, who had just undergone a dramatic personal experience with God; a life changing, life giving metamorphosis, we refer to as being ‘born again’, when he ran into my dad.

By 1981 Dad had known about the Bible’s promise of an oil discovery in Israel for some time. Dad too, thought the idea was a little crazy … even though he believed God showed it to him … even though scripture promised it. It took him five or six years to get his head and his heart and his research around the idea enough to share it with the rest of the world.

Dad had just begun telling people that Jacob’s Blessing included a huge last days oil discovery in Israel, when he received a call inviting him to speak at a church in Clawson, Michigan.

It was winter and it was Michigan, and he had already scheduled the time for a sunny beach in Mexico. But he felt the tug he recognized as the Voice of his Employer. When God said, “Go here, and not there,” Dad generally complied. Shorts and sunglasses went back in the drawer and Dad went to Clawson.

Dad had been speaking to audiences for years. He could speak on a thousand topics at the drop of a hat. In Clawson he spoke about the promise of oil in Israel … the Voice again.

John Brown was in the audience that day. He was a newbie when it came to things Christian. He may have not been up to speed yet on just how things were done in the religion, but he figured out one thing pretty quick … the Voice. Like my dad, when John felt like God wanted him to do something he did it.

John listened to the story of Jacob’s Blessing and the promise of oil in Israel that day and he believed it. A few years later John traveled to Israel for the first time. While he was there he came upon a passage of scripture from Solomon’s prayer of dedication over the first Temple in Jerusalem.

“‘As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name – for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm – when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.’” (I Kings 8:41-43)

John saw himself as a “foreigner … come from a distant land because of [God’s] name.” He went to the Western Wall of the Temple, the Wailing Wall, and he prayed “toward” the temple. He asked that God would allow him to discover Israel’s oil.

From that day forward John Brown dedicated his life to finding the oil promised in Jacob’s Blessing. A lot of water, as they say, has gone under the bridge since then.

Knowing something is true doesn’t necessarily make it real to the rest of the world. Believing in something so much that you stake your life on it doesn’t mean anyone else will believe it. Discovering the existence of a buried treasure today doesn’t mean it will pop to the surface tomorrow.

Dad shared the story of Jacob’s Blessing with a lot of folks in a lot of places around the world. A lot of good folks put their money into finding Israel’s oil. Some good men tried and failed to find Jacob’s Blessing. Some bad men used the story, and the belief of others, to line their own pockets. But nobody found the oil.

John Brown spent a lot of years and a lot of money, most of it his, looking for Israel’s oil. Most people thought he was just another religious nut, come to the Holy Land to discover treasure promised in ancient scripture. But John persisted.

Dad and John didn’t meet until 1997; sixteen years after he had first shared this story with the world, fourteen years after John has made discovering Israel’s oil his vision quest. When they finally met they connected spiritually in the way that veterans of the same foreign war connect when they first meet. They understood each other’s scars.

Dad finished his time in this world without seeing the vision of oil in Israel become a reality. I wonder if he was disappointed. I wonder if he wondered why, after being allowed to ‘discover’ the treasure hidden inside of Jacob’s Blessing, he wasn’t allowed to see it come to pass. I wonder if he just took his role in this story by faith; not questioning why it didn’t come to fruition in his lifetime. I don’t know.

But John persisted. He asked geologists and oil professionals to take a look. They politely declined. But John persisted. They doubtfully agreed to ‘take a look’; warning him in advance that they probably wouldn’t find anything.

Their findings surprised them; there was definitely ‘something’ there. It didn’t surprise John though; he knew it was there – not because of their findings, because God’s Word said it was there.

That’s the thing about faith – you don’t need any corroborating evidence. Lack of evidence doesn’t necessarily make something untrue, any more that stacks of evidence necessarily make something true. If truth is really truth, then the evidence will eventually have to submit to it.

As of last week’s meeting in Israel the evidence is submitting nicely.


Twenty-five years ago I left California for South Carolina. I traded the west coast for the east and the life I had known for a new life. I never looked back. I built a life for myself and my family here.

Three thousand miles is a lot of distance. If you’re not estranged to begin with the miles will do the estranging for you. My parents and siblings became family we phoned on the holidays and visited occasionally; not family we lived with.

The Great Treasure Hunt and the story of oil in the land of Israel became family history for me. Just another one of the books Dad wrote ‘back then.’ Building a new life causes the old life to fade.

We did a pretty good job building too. Elaine and I worked hard and didn’t look up too often. I got a job in a factory … twenty years and a lot of effort passed and when we finally did look up our name was on the door of the factory.

We succeeded alright; it’s just that we thought it would feel different. It was nice, it just wasn’t enough; and we knew that even if it got bigger it wouldn’t necessarily get any better. We decided to quit, sell everything and do something else.

I had always wanted to publish books but survival pushed that dream to the back burner. Survival was no longer an issue. We didn’t know anything about publishing and had no books to publish but facts have never prevented us from launching into new adventures. That was Thursday May 13, 2004.

On Saturday of the same week Elaine came home and told me that she had heard some guy mention Dad’s name on the radio. The guy’s name was John Brown and he had an oil company in Dallas, Texas named Zion. He said that he had heard a man named Jim Spillman tell about Jacob’s Blessing and discovering oil in Israel and that he had been looking for it full time since 1983; ‘coincidently’ the same year we moved east to start our ‘new life’ in South Carolina.
‘Coincidently’ I had a business meeting in Dallas the next week and we stopped in to meet this John Brown of Zion Oil. ‘Coincidently,’ after twenty years of effort, Zion Oil was drilling its first oil well in Israel the following spring and John invited Elaine and I the opening ceremony.

‘Coincidently’, our first book, Breaking the Treasure Code: The Hunts For Israel’s Oil, came out that summer.

Funny how things work out.


If you’ve read this letter for any time, you know that I believe each of us has a unique purpose that was in God’s mind long before we ever came into existence.

All those individual purposes are woven, like threads in a great tapestry, into a Single Purpose … His Purpose. We being mortal, short of vision and short of time don’t always see how our thread is woven into the tapestry. It’s a unique experience to see how other threads are woven together with yours to form a part of the picture.

I’m humbled and thankful for being allowed a glimpse of it; but there’s a purpose for that too. He may have showed me a little bit of how the threads go together in my part of the picture so I can share with you that yours aren’t woven any differently. Whether you see your piece of the picture or not, it’s there and you’re a part of it.

I don’t believe Dad wonders about it anymore. I think he sees his part of the picture pretty clearly now. One day we’ll all be allowed to step back and view the finished product. That’ll be a glorious day.

Until then, allow yourself to become a part of His tapestry. He knows exactly where to weave you in.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (I Corinthians 13:12)

Until then.

Steve Spillman