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Thursday, February 18, 2016

In My Father's House Are Many Rooms

You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with;[e] but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give,
 but [ it is for those ] for whom it is prepared by My Father.
Matthew 20:23

 Jesus told his disciples ( John 14:3 ), 'And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, [ there ] you may be also'. This statement seems to be pretty clearly saying that Jesus was going to be returning to those selfsame disciples one day & taking them back with Him ( to 'Heaven' ). It is pretty clear, from a very literalistic reading of these words, that Jesus had gone back to 'Heaven' & that one day, we would live there with Him ( forever ). One important truth that we must understand though is that these words were spoken a long time okay by a Hebrew, to a mixed Hebrew & Greek ( Syrian? ) audience; when we try to understand these words outside of that context, the context of the Ancient Near East, with their unique style of literature, we do ourselves & Scripture a disservice!

Another area in which we often err is when we 'proof-text'; this is when we tend to rip verses out of their context, especially surrounding ( textual )! Jesus clearly said, 'I go and prepare a place for you', but at the end of His statement, He said, 'that where I am, [ there ] you may be also'. At this point, the question should be asked, 'where IS He?' The obvious Scriptural answer, of course, is 'Heaven'; the Hebrew Scriptures, what is most often called the Old Testament ( especially the Psalms ) are full of statements attesting to this fact; 'Heaven' is where the Creator God dwells & so it follows from a cursory reading of the earlier part of John 14 that we will too!

However, when we read this passage in the context of verse 23 ( 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him' ), as well as the last statement of I Thessalonians 4:17, where the apostle Paul promises those first-century disciples, 'And thus we shall always be with the Lord', we should understand that it's not as simple as Him preparing a place' FOR us, but more to the effect of preparing US as that 'place! The latter reference is most often understood, from our Western view-point, as stating that Jesus will return one fine day ( soon ) & wisk us away to our mansion in 'Heaven', but it has been made fairly clear, with further textual investigation that this passage is not referring to what we know as 'the Rapture', although I'm sure it WAS pretty 'rapturous' to those in the first century who witnessed the events in view!

Okay, so the Creator God has made His Home with those who keep His Word; that's easily explainable just by the Glorious Fact of the indwelling Holy Spirit, right? Well yes, that IS what Jesus meant by those Words, but they hold so much more & deeper meaning! Jesus said 'We will come to him and make Our home with him'. If we can take Him at His Word, does this not mean that HE ( personally? ) has also made HIS Home with us, along with the Father Himself ( the Creator ); does not the entirety of what we know as the Godhead now dwell with ( in ) us? If THEY have made THEIR Home with us, does the Creator God still dwell in 'Heaven', like the Psalms say? Are we merely His 'summer' home?

Ancient Near Eastern literature ( of which the Scriptures are but one example ) is quite different from our Western mindset; it is full of hyperbole & idioms which we are only beginning to understand! When the apostle said, in I Thessalonians 4;16 that 'the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout', because these Words of Promise were to His first-century disciples, we should understand that He was simply talking about the Roman armies descending on Jerusalem. We should also keep in mind passages from the Hebrew Scriptures that speak of the Creator God coming down from 'heaven' to visit His judgment & justice on the nations. Remember too, when Jesus infuriated the high priest when He simply stated, 'Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven' ( Matthew 26:64 ) Only the Creator God Himself rode 'the clouds of heaven'. 

In conclusion & most importantly, we must understand that, as the New Temple of the Creator God, that 'dwelling' which He promised to inhabit in John 14:23, we ( corporately ) ARE the House that Jesus spoke of earlier in John 14. In fact, to go into more detail, the 'house' that Jesus spoke of ( His Father's ) is the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21! Again, this is us, the ( corporate ) Body of Christ; as we saw earlier, it was the Church that He was preparing AS a Dwelling-place For Himself, His New Temple. Now, we ( individually ) are 'the temple of the Holy Spirit', but as Jesus said, 'in My Father’s house are many mansions;[a]'. Speaking of the New Jerusalem, WE ( individually ) are the 'rooms' or 'places' to which He referred!

Charles Haddon Shank

 


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