I was pretty mad at God.
I am sure there are many who have suffered more financial difficulties and just as many who never have. However, my own family’s money problems were enough to leave a bitter taste in my mouth toward God. My mom and dad always wanted to have a nice house and financial freedom to compare with their friends and family. They bought an old farm house with the accompanying barn and 3 acres of grassy fields surrounding the property. My dad worked his tail off as a young husband and father to pay off the mortgage of his dream to provide for his new bride and their dream to provide for their two boys. But God was not pleased with some aspect of the dream and thwarted the success of my dad’s work. After years of struggle in his business my dad eventually chose to file for bankruptcy and my mother was forced to enter the work force. The financial stress through these years would have torn many couples completely apart, but somehow God kept my parents together. My parent’s dream was not to be... and I became pretty mad at God. Why couldn’t God bless the efforts of my dad? I know few who have worked harder! God seemed to freely bless others, but not our family, at least not with the blessings I had hoped.
Later, in college, God led me to discipleship through a respected Christian and his family. God graced this family with peace, Christian calling, financial security, and ... a cool house. I am sure their motives in reaching out to me were to sincerely show me the love of Christ. However, my attraction to them was not so sincere. I wish I could say I only wanted to learn of Christ from them to aide my sojourn with the Lord. However, God has since exposed my idolatry to me... and to them as well. In a nutshell I also became attracted to the prospect of providing a house and peace in this lifetime for my future family. My own childhood experiences left me with little hope that this was even possible. However, here was a family that appeared to be enjoying these successes. Perhaps I could learn the secret to good decision making, peace in this lifetime, and home ownership from my new friends. Slowly respect for my dad and family shifted to my new idol. But as with any idol, sooner or later, the weaknesses will be exposed as it crumbles to the ground.
With God’s grace I have been able to see that the problem was not my parents or my friend and his family. They are the Good Shepherd's sheep, the same as I, no more and no less. It was not my dad’s fault that he was powerless to provide beyond the measure that God permitted. It was also not my friend’s fault that I idolized the good things that God gave him. It was also not my friend’s fault for the imagined inequity of God’s grace to our families. Rather the problem was my idolatry of my friend’s things and my anger toward God for withholding these good things from my own family.
I do not imagine that I am the first to hope for a family blessed with peace or idolize an earthly house as a place of security and comfort in this age of painful trials. However, I may be in the contest for those who have lost the most through such idolatry. That said, with God’s help, I will take a moment to reflect briefly on a theology of houses hoping to guard future disciples from my errors.
The History of Houses
No doubt we are all familiar with the tragedy of man’s fall into sin at the world’s beginning. However, we may not have reflected deeply on the punishment that Adam and Eve received. “So he drove out the man; and he placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24 WEB). They were evicted from their wonderful garden home and barred from the tree of life. We also may wince at the thought that God still evicts sinners from certain blessings even today.
The rebellion of Adam and Eve did not stop with them, but continued with Cain and Abel and all their descendants, even to you and me. In the case of the first generation Cain murdered Abel and God sentenced him to be a fugitive and a wanderer with no place to call home. “You will be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth” (Genesis 4:12b WEB). Yet, we also see that though God does punish sinners severely he is also merciful. God still protected Cain, “Yahweh said to him, 'Therefore whoever slays Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.' Yahweh appointed a sign for Cain, so that anyone finding him would not strike him” (Genesis 4:15 WEB). Later we read that Cain, “built a city” (Genesis 4:17 WEB). So even though Cain found no permanent home in this world he built a city for himself and others to live in while they waited for the Lord. Though Cain’s grandson chose a nomadic life, “Jabal, who was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock” (Genesis 4:20b WEB).
Mankind continued to increase in population across the earth, but sin also increased and so God sadly determined to wipe mankind of the face of the earth through a global flood. God spared only Noah and his family and them only through grace. God instructed Noah to make a ship with rooms to live in while the remainder of mankind was drowned. “Make a ship of gopher wood. You shall make rooms in the ship, and shall seal it inside and outside with pitch” (Genesis 6:14 WEB). Imagine yourself in house boat of wood floating on the torrents of water that destroyed your wicked extended family and neighbors! One can safely say that neither Noah nor his wife enjoyed that wooden monstrosity as a permanent home. Would to God that it was never needed in the first place!
Noah’s family then repopulated the earth. One would think that lessons from the flood would have worked some godliness in his descendants. However, even severe punishments can be forgotten by our hard hearts. In this case we see the descendants of Noah saying, “They said, 'Come, let's build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top reaches to the sky, and let's make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad on the surface of the whole earth' " (Genesis 11:4 WEB). Mankind began the good work of building a giant city as a home for protection. Yet because their purpose was to bring glory to man’s name God stopped the effort and confused their language scattering them across the earth.
The stage was now set for God’s work in his chosen nation, Israel, begun through the calling of Abraham. God said to Abraham, “Now Yahweh said to Abram, 'Leave your country, and your relatives, and your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you' ” (Genesis 12:1 WEB). Abraham becomes a prototype of Christian missionaries, willing to leave his home to follow God’s calling. In fact Abraham gave up the wealth of his homeland to live in a “tent” (Genesis 12:8 WEB). Abraham’s nephew, Lot, also traveled with him, but over time quarrels developed between their households. Abraham then said to Lot, "Isn't the whole land before you? Please separate yourself from me. If you go to the left hand, then I will go to the right. Or if you go to the right hand, then I will go to the left" (Genesis 13:9 WEB). Abraham felt no attachment to an earthly home. We then read that, “Abram lived in the land of Canaan, and Lot lived in the cities of the plain, and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinners against Yahweh” (Genesis 13:12-13 WEB). Later, Lot moved from his tent in the suburbs of Sodom into a “house” in the city of Sodom, (Genesis 19:3 WEB). Lot moved his tent toward the city of wickedness and in short time had a house in the city of wickedness. Where is your tent now and were will your house be tomorrow? Lot suffered greatly for his unwise choices. The good news in Abraham’s story, however, is the faith he passed on to his son Isaac and grandson Jacob. “Jacob lived in the land of his father's travels, in the land of Canaan” (Genesis 37:1 WEB). We read that Jacob received promises and visions from the Lord and set up a pillar for “God’s house” (Genesis 28:22 WEB). Abraham’s obedience to God prepared his grandson Jacob to think not of his own house, but God’s house. What legacy of faith are you building for your children and grandchildren, fine houses or tents of waiting on the Lord?
And Jacob’s conviction was again passed to his son Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by his own brothers and he eventually found himself head servant in the house of Potiphar. Yet even an Egyptian house offered no safety for Joseph. “About this time, he went into the house to do his work, and there were none of the men of the house inside. She caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me!’ " (Genesis 39:11-12 WEB). Joseph escaped the seductress and thus challenges us all to find safety within the house of God for there is no safety in the houses of Egypt. Consider Joseph’s final message to his family, “Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here’ " (Genesis 50:25 WEB). Joseph’s home was not Egypt and he prophesied that his bones would find rest with the bones of his fathers.
Yet Joseph’s bones did not move for 400 more years while Egypt enslaved the son’s of Israel. God then raised up Moses to redeem Israel from the wicked Egyptians. God assured Moses thus, “I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their travels, in which they lived as aliens” (Exodus 6:4 WEB). Consider the incredible patience of God in waiting 400 years while his people suffered in slavery as he works his will to return them to the land he promised. How much more should we Christians wait patiently as God brings us to the new heavens and earth! What is a few thousand years compared to the eternal glory that awaits us? Finally God did used Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt and further to unite them as the people of God at Mount Sinai. God then spoke the Ten Commandments and I note that the tenth command reads, “You shall not covet your neighbor's house" (Exodus 20:17 WEB).
You no doubt noted my confession of idolizing my friend’s house and household. We should all note that the command to not covet is explicitly applied to our neighbor’s house among other things. The Lord sure does know my heart, how about yours? Thankfully he is a good God with designs to protect us from the foolishness of the American Dream. Moses also taught, “Therefore you shall lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul. You shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them, when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall write them on the door posts of your house, and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 11:18-20 WEB). The Bible says little about houses as a place of security, but instead they are a place to teach our children about God and a place with walls and gates to advertise his word.
As Israel moved toward Canaan God also promised to give the houses of the wicked Canaanites to Israel, “When Yahweh your God shall cut off the nations, whose land Yahweh your God gives you, and you succeed them, and dwell in their cities, and in their houses” (Deuteronomy 19:1 WEB). Yet despite these promises and God’s previous display of power, the Israelites whined that they wanted to go back to their homes of slavery in Egypt. The Lord anger burned against Israel saying, “Yahweh said, I have pardoned according to your word: but in very deed, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Yahweh; because all those men who have seen my glory, and my signs, which I worked in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have tempted me these ten times, and have not listened to my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I swore to their fathers, neither shall any of those who despised me see it” (Numbers 14:20-23 WEB). And so while on the threshold of finally receiving the Promised Land as a home, Israel broke the last straw with God and was sentenced to wait one more generation before entering the land.
Moses himself was a wonderful leader over the household of Israel through these years, yet he also sinned openly against the Lord and was not permitted to enter the promised land of Canaan with the next generation, “Yahweh said to him, This is the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, I will give it to your seed: I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there” (Deuteronomy 34:4 WEB). Perhaps this reminded the children of Israel and could also serve to remind us that there is a small regret that Moses missed the promised temporal land of Canaan, but there will be no regrets in fellowship with Christ and his servant Moses in eternal glory. Since we all are punished by the Lord from time to time better to keep our hopes on eternal glory rather than the temporal!
Israel then entered the land. We read, “Joshua the son of Nun secretly sent two men out of Shittim as spies, saying, ‘Go, view the land, and Jericho.’ They went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and slept there” (Joshua 2:1 WEB). Even the prostitute Rahab is commended for opening her house in hospitality. Though her house was destroyed, she and her family were spared. Use your house today to serve Christ, because you may not have it tomorrow! And Joshua led Israel to victory over the land of Canaan with the same faith as Moses, Joseph, Jacob, and Abraham. And he challenged his relatives thus, “If it seems evil to you to serve Yahweh, choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh” (Joshua 24:15 WEB). Who is God in your house?
Israel now made a home in the land of Canaan, but sadly after the death of Joshua they turned away from the Lord to serve foreign gods. Israel continually strayed while God sent judges to save them from the Philistines and turn them back to righteousness. One shining moment near the end of these bleak years is the faithfulness of Ruth the Moabitess to her Jewish mother-in-law. “Ruth said, ‘Don't entreat me to leave you, and to return from following after you, for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; where you die, will I die, and there will I be buried: Yahweh do so to me, and more also, if anything but death part you and me' " (Ruth 1:16-17 WEB). Consider Ruth’s unforgettable faithfulness. Her home was not a particular land, but the land of God’s people.
Also before the kings of Israel we read about Hannah whose prayers for a child were answered. And Hannah returned honor back to God by dedicating her son Samuel to the Lord’s service in God’s house, “When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, and one ephah of meal, and a bottle of wine, and brought him to the house of Yahweh in Shiloh: and the child was young” (I Samuel 1:24 WEB). Hannah willingly sent her first born son from her own home to serve in the house of the Lord.
Israel then called on Samuel for a King and God reluctantly called Saul to be King of Israel. God’s heart toward King Saul, and subsequent Kings David and Solomon, Israel’s first three kings is communicated through the prophet Nathan in II Samuel 7 (WEB), “David...are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? ...the Lord himself will establish a house for you ... I will raise up your offspring ... who will build a house for me ... But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul.” Praise God for hearts like that of King David who thought nothing of building a house for himself, but only of building the Lord’s house and so received a blessed promise that the Lord himself would build a godly household for David.
Lord, give us David’s heart and if it is possible his legacy! David also sang “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters” (Psalm 23:2 WEB). Will you trust that God’s choice of pastures for us is better than the pastures we choose for ourselves? Solomon also challenges us, “The house of the wicked will be overthrown, but the tent of the upright will flourish” (Proverbs 14:11 WEB). So even if you live in a strong house it will be over thrown if you are wicked. However, the floppy tent of the righteous will stand firm.
Sadly the strong house of David’s grandson, Rehoboam, was overthrown because of his wickedness for he had neither David’s nor Solomon’s heart. In fact, his tyrannical rule divided the kingdom of Israel, “So Israel rebelled against the house of David to this day” (I Kings 12:19 WEB). Israel’s home in the Promised Land had matured to a kingdom, but now was broken in two through Rehoboam. Through the division of the house of Israel, God has taught us a painful lesson about our sin, his grace, and our temporal homes so that our eyes would be lifted to him and his eternal home.
We also read that Israel’s prophets suffered rejection for their ministry to God’s people. Where could they safely live? Elisha lived on “Mount Carmel” (II Kings 4:25 WEB). Yet God led a Shunammite woman and her husband to bless Elisha with a “small room” of his own when he traveled that way, (II Kings 4:10 WEB). Elisha was then moved with compassion to pray for the blessing of this woman and she received her greatest desire, a son. Later her son died and she pled for help from Elisha who raised her son to life again. Much can be learned from the Shunammite woman’s hospitality with her house.
Yet the prophet Isaiah also said, “Woe to those who join house to house, who lay field to field, until there is no room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land!” (Isaiah 5:8 WEB). God’s people made every effort to expand their own houses, but neglected to expand the house of God. Though Isaiah hammered stubborn Israel with the word of the Lord for a lifetime he also concluded with hope saying, “They shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them” (Isaiah 65:21 WEB).
Jeremiah likewise spoke rebuke to Israel for a lifetime, yet encourages Israel in the midst of their banishment to Babylon, “Build you houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them” (Jeremiah 29:5 WEB). Yet Jeremiah also praises the descendants of Recab for obeying their father’s command to never “build a house” (Jeremiah 35:7 WEB) so that they may live many days in the land of their sojourn. There is a lesson to learn from these people to remember our sojourn and our true homeland.
Haggai also asks us a hard question, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies waste?” (Haggai 1:4 WEB). The point is that we are often tempted to build our own houses at the neglect of God’s house.
The prophet Malachi, however, challenges us with a wonderful promise, " 'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this,' says Yahweh of Armies, 'if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough for' " (Malachi 3:10 WEB).
Yet the prophets could not restrain Israel’s sin and so God sent the nations of Assyria and Babylon to punish his people. We read that Babylon, “burnt the house of Yahweh, and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great house, burnt he with fire” (II Kings 25:9 WEB). So millennia after eviction from the garden, God’s people are once again evicted, this time from the Promised Land. Yet even so seventy years later God raised up godly men such as Daniel, Ezra, Zerubbabel, and Nehemiah who thought not of their own house, but of rebuilding “the house of the Lord” (Ezra 1:5 WEB). Daniel cried out in prayer, Ezra purified the people, Zerubbabel rebuilt the temple, and Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem’s wall. What part are you playing in building God’s house?
If we interlude to reflect on our observations thus far it would seem that mankind has made absolutely no progress in the fight against sin. As we consider our theme of houses we see our ancestors suffering the punishment of eviction from the houses of this earth again and again. Sure there are victories, but where are the victories sustained through the generations? Consider the wisdom of Job through his sufferings, “Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker? Behold, he puts no trust in his servants. He charges his angels with error. How much more, those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before the moth!” (Job 4:17-19 WEB). Can we conclude more than Job, that God is righteous while we who dwell in houses of clay are not? Though Job despaired even to say that the only “home” (Job 17:13 WEB) he hoped for was the grave, he also said “I know that my Redeemer lives. In the end, he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25 WEB). And in that hope we will continue our study.
The ministry of Jesus and the establishment of his new covenant with the people of God is fulfillment of that hope. Job knew that his redeemer lived and would stand upon the earth, and now we see Jesus. Regarding houses Jesus said, "Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock” (Matthew 7:24 WEB). Do you want to have your house on a solid foundation? Well then build upon Jesus Christ. Jesus also taught, "Therefore don't be anxious, saying, 'What will we eat?', 'What will we drink?' or, 'With what will we be clothed?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first God's Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore don't be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day's own evil is sufficient” (Matthew 6:31-34 WEB).
If you need a house God will provide it if you seek God first! However, do not boast about your plans to serve Christ. “A scribe came, and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’ " (Matthew 8:19-20 WEB). The cost of following Christ is high. If you follow him you will never find complete rest in an earthly house again, but you will find true rest in Christ and in the hope of permanent rest in eternity.
Jesus said again, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25 WEB). When accused of serving Beelzebub, Jesus pointed out that he could not be of Satan’s house because he opposes Satan. Satan’s house is not divided between good and evil, but is fully evil. Yet today we would be better to ask, ‘how is the house of Christ divided by denominations?’ Is Satan in our house? Jesus got pretty mad at the prospect of corruption in his house as demonstrated by his cleansing of the temple. “He taught, saying to them, ‘Isn't it written, 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations?' But you have made it a den of robbers!’ " (Mark 11:17 WEB).
Consider a few additional observations about the ministry of Jesus. Some people were so eager to see Jesus for healing they ripped a hole in a house roof to get to him. “Not finding a way to bring him in because of the multitude, they went up to the housetop, and let him down through the tiles with his cot into the midst before Jesus” (Luke 5:19 WEB). On another occasion Jesus feet were washed by the tears and hair of a woman that he forgave. “Turning to the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered into your house, and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head’ ” (Luke 7:44 WEB). Acceptable hospitality is more than having someone into your house, but instead sincere desire to serve others from a heart of gratitude for Jesus mercy.
We also note that Peter and his family lived in a “house” (Matthew 8:14 WEB). Matthew lived in a “house” (Matthew 9:10 WEB). Capernaum was Jesus earthly home, (Mark 2:1 WEB). Jesus commanded his disciples to stay in the homes of others when traveling for ministry. “Into whatever city or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy; and stay there until you go on” (Matthew 10:11 WEB). Jesus ministered in the houses of others, (Matthew 13:36 WEB).
Jesus also equates his final return with breaking into our house. “But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don't expect, the Son of Man will come” (Matthew 24:43-44 WEB). We may keep good and bad treasures hidden in our life, but Jesus will break down our facades of self-righteousness.
After Jesus ascended to Heaven his disciples began to build the fellowship that Christ started. The book of Acts mentions homes and houses a number of times. First we see that a significant part of this ministry took place in the homes of the disciples. “Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. The Lord added to the assembly day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47 WEB).
But houses were not central to their ministry, Jesus was. In fact some disciples even sold their houses to further God’s kingdom. “For neither was there among them any who lacked, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet, and distribution was made to each, according as anyone had need” (Acts 4:34-35 WEB). Stephen, in his rebuke to the Sanhedrin, concludes by pointing out that houses are not needed for God. “But Solomon built him a house. However, the Most High doesn't dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says, 'heaven is my throne, and the earth a footstool for my feet. What kind of house will you build me?' says the Lord; 'or what is the place of my rest? Didn't my hand make all these things?' ‘You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit! As your fathers did, so you do” (Acts 7:47-51 WEB). Perhaps Stephen’s final words offended their temple building campaign for at that point they picked up stones to stone Stephen.
Later even the Christian hater, Saul, is converted to Christ. Ananias met Saul in Judah’s house, laid hands on him and baptized him right there in the house. “Ananias departed, and entered into the house. Laying his hands on him, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord, who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me, that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he received his sight. He arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:17-18 WEB). So the first disciples not only taught and fellowshipped in people’s houses, but they also baptized new converts in houses. Peter even stretched the bar further by entering the houses of gentiles and eating with them. Peter, a Jew, was accused of wrong doing by associating with gentiles, "You went in to uncircumcised men, and ate with them!" (Acts 11:3 WEB). This was something a good Jew would never do, but Peter explained to his accusers that he was a now a follower of Jesus who is the God of gentiles also.
Again the early disciples found some utility in houses for serving Christ. We read, “They went out of the prison, and entered into Lydia's house. When they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them, and departed” (Acts 16:40 WEB). The door of Lydia’s house was open! Paul, however, owned no house, but humbly served Christ as a guest in the houses of others. He says, “I didn't shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, teaching you publicly and from house to house” (Acts 20:20 WEB). Yet other prominent disciples did own houses. We read of Philip, “On the next day, we, who were Paul's companions, departed, and came to Caesarea. We entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him” (Acts 21:8 WEB). We see that Philip is not known as “The Home Owner,” but as “The Evangelist!” And we read in the last verses of Acts, “Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who were coming to him, preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, without hindrance” (Acts 28:30-31 WEB). God felt it important to note that Paul rented his house. The point being that if you intend to follow the example of Paul in any literal sense home ownership is unlikely.
We can also learn more about houses from the New Testament epistles. We read, “Greet the assembly that is in their house” (Romans 16:5 WEB). Christian meetings were held in some homes. Other Christian meetings were not at home and so women were instructed to be silent in public meetings, but discuss questions with their husband in their own homes. “Let your wives keep silent in the assemblies, for it has not been permitted for them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as the law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to chatter in the assembly” (I Corinthians 14:34-35 WEB).
We also read, “For we know that if the earthly house of our tent is dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. For most certainly in this we groan, longing to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven; if so be that being clothed we will not be found naked. For indeed we who are in this tent do groan, being burdened; not that we desire to be unclothed, but that we desire to be clothed, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now he who made us for this very thing is God, who also gave to us the down payment of the Spirit. Therefore, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; for we walk by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:1-7 WEB). Our earthly body is called a tent or a temporary house for our spirit and so we long for the permanent residence of our soul, our new body in heaven.
Another Christian meeting was also held in the home of “Nymphas” (Colossians 4:15 WEB). Paul also compared our ministry repertoire to a large house encouraging us to fill it with good things and to remove the bad things. “Now in a large house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of clay. Some are for honor, and some for dishonor” (II Timothy 2:20 WEB). Paul also says that women are to be “workers at home” (Titus 2:5 WEB). Another Christian meeting was held in the house of “Archippus” (Philemon 1:2 WEB). The Hebrew writer also reminds us, “For every house is built by someone; but he who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4 WEB).
Maybe we have built a house for our family or even served in building the household of God, but God is the builder of all and we have merely served him. In fact we ourselves are the very stones that God is setting into place to build his masterpiece, “You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:5 WEB). And Peter further reminds us of the dwelling that should be foremost on our minds, “But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (II Peter 3:13 WEB). That is the hope of believers. Yet we are warned that our world is filled with vicious unbelievers. Apostle John says, “Watch yourselves, that we don't lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and doesn't remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn't have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you, and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house, and don't welcome him, for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works” (II John 1:8-11 WEB). Do not allow false teachers in your home.
In grand conclusion we read,
I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more. I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, ‘Behold, God's dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away’....He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.Revelation 21:1-22:2 (WEB)
What a wonderful day is planned when God makes his dwelling with man. Though mankind was evicted from the garden, the work of Christ has won for us a permanent dwelling in the coming city of God for all eternity. So we see the history of mankind beginning with two people in a perfect but humble garden and consummating with a great multitude in a glorious city of gold! Oh glad day! What a God we have!
Friend, which dream would you rather give your life to, the American Dream or God’s Dream?
You can give into the temptation of coveting the temporal houses of this world and in the end waste your entire life over a couple of 2x4s and a few asphalt shingles. Or you can believe that the promise of Christ is trustworthy when he says, “But seek first God's Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 WEB). And again, “In my Father's house are many homes. If it weren't so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also” (John 14:2-3 WEB).
In the end it is difficult to remain mad at God, who intends to bless us quite beyond the American Dream.