Tuesday, December 4, 2012

WHERE IS HOME FOR YOU?

For the Christian, where is home?  I have heard it said, "Home is where the heart is" or "Home is where you hang your hat".  I have done a number of word searches in my study of this question that must be considered first before we get "home".

My word search in the Bible for the term "pilgrim" found no result, yet Christians sing of themselves in hymns as just that - pilgrims just passing through this ole world of woe in route to their true home of heaven, paradise, streets of gold, the golden city, and the like.

The word "alien" is used quite often in Scripture, but usually refers to people from a different place than Israel or wherever the Hebrew people happen to be at that time instead of the Believer's relationship with this planet as his/her home.  But is the heaven scenario really home, the final destination for the Christian?

The first real connection I found with a verse that might speak to earth NOT being the believer's final destination was in Psalm 119:19 - "I am a stranger on earth;".  I looked up the original Hebrew word for "stranger" (ger/geyr/gare) in this verse and it means - properly a guest, by implication a foreigner.  Why would David feel like he is a foreigner on this planet?  Read the rest of the verse for the answer - "hide not thy commandments from me."  As David operated under God's Commandments he became a "stranger" or "foreigner" to the world's requirements.  That is how David or anyone else feels when we follow the rules and regulations of another source or governing body over our lives while living in a different place that has it's own system(s) of government.  Jesus had the same kind of reaction.  Notice what Jesus says about "the world".

Word Study on "the world"
  • John 15:19 - If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
  • John 17:14, 15, 16 [Praying to Father God, Jesus says/prays the following] - I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
  • John 18:36 - Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
The Original Greek word for "world" is kosmos.  It means the literal or figurative moral and orderly arrangement of things and people in a wide and/or narrow sense.  So, the usage of the word "world" in the verses above should Not be taken as "planet" or "earth", but as government or culture of a society or race.  It would Not make sense to translate John 15:19 as...."If you belonged to the planet/earth, it would love you as its own."  A planet or dirt does not "love", so the word "world" in the original verse must mean something different and it does.  Said another way..."If you belonged to humanity's systems, perspectives, and agendas then humanity's systems, perspectives, and agendas would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to humanity's systems, perspectives, and agendas, but I have chosen you out of these things.  That is why humanity hates you." [Chad's Paraphrase]  

Now let us observe that second reference, John 17:14-16.  In the beginning there was The Word who was with God, in God's Kingdom.  Later, The Word became flesh, Jesus, and dwelt among humans.  He, The Word of God or Jesus, shared Father God's mind with the populace but especially His disciples.  The more the disciples or anyone accepted God's Word the more the "world" order or human system(s) rejected them.  Yet Jesus prayed this - "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."  There was Good News to be spread and the disciples were going to be the spreaders.  What good news is there to spread?  There is a far better Kingdom that can rule humanity's heart and mind right now through faith in God's Son and His sacrifice for your redemption.  And there is a far better Kingdom that is coming to rule over the earth someday with Jesus as it's Master and King.  So, again "world" here is not the third rock from the sun that Jesus desires for Father God NOT to take us out or away from, but the fallen, imperfect ways of humanity.

That leaves us with the third verse from above - John 18:36.  Jesus, speaking to Pilate, allows Pilate in on some Truth - "My kingdom [my government] is not of this world [figurative or literal; human government or earthly].  Then Jesus admits that if His kingdom were of this world, His servants/disciples which have abandoned Him at this point, would fight for Him, just as any potential king with followers would have at His disposal.  "If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews."  However, the Kingdom of Jesus is different and so are His servants - angels.  "In speaking of the angels he says, 'He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.'" Hebrews 1:7  I think it interesting to note that the angels must have known the plan of salvation too.  Observe how Jesus phrases His statement to Pilate - "My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants [who are really angels] would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews [But they are not going to fight! Why?  Because they know The Plan!].  But now my kingdom is from another place."

With the word "alien" the piece of the puzzle does not fit.  "Alien" deals with the relationship between foreigners and Israel NOT people and the earth.  With "stranger" notice that David said he was "a stranger on earth" NOT to earth.  This would still claim earth as David's home but "stranger" to the "world" or human systems.  Now let us turn our attention to "home".  A Biblical word search on "home" produced many verses that one would typically expect concerning someone's physical establishment.  Then there were verses like these.....
  • Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. - John 14:23
  • Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 5:6
  • We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 5:8
  • So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. - 2 Corinthians 5:9
  • But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. - 2 Peter 3:13
At first glance, justifying John's verse and all of Paul's verses to the church in Corinth can be confusing.  How can John say in 14:23 Father God will come to us and make a home with us (those that love and obey Christ) and then Paul turns around and says in 2 Cor. 5:6 while we are in the body we are away from the Lord?

Verses, like John 14:23 are speaking about the Holy Spirit coming and residing within the Believer to lead, guide, and direct them in their lives today.  The other three Pauline verses are referring to being in the immediate, physical presence of Jesus someday future.

So, in light of the study at hand, verses, like the first four verses mentioned here, refer to the physical body on this physical planet as our residence for our mind, spirit, and soul, plus the home of the Holy Spirit.  Concerning the home as a location for our bodies and considering the last referenced Scripture, 2 Peter 3:13, I would venture to say that Christians have had one home, are living in one now, and have two more to come.  There was earth before The Fall.  There has been earth since The Fall.  There will be a Millennial Earth.  Finally, there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Before sin entered into humanity's nature and corrupted creation itself - God walked with Adam in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden.  He put him steward over the creatures of the earth and in charge of the Garden.  The creation was as it was supposed to be for some time even after Eve was created.  Our first home through the eyes and lives of Adam and Eve was perfect until The Fall (Genesis 1 - 2, especially 2:9, 25).  After The Fall, humanity and earthly creation has been living in the home we are living in today (Genesis 3:17-19)  Next, there will come the Millennial Reign of Christ from Jerusalem.  During this reign, topographical changes will be observed and national boundaries reassigned (Revelation 19 - 20:6).  After the thousand years of Christ's rule a new heaven and a new earth will be issued and this old one that has fulfilled all prophecy will be burned away (Revelation 20:7 - 21).

Notice how all these earths are locations for the believer's body to exist.  It seems God has always had in mind an earthen planet for humanity.  The things that have changed are the status of our relationship with God and the subsequent set-up of our rebellious, human kingdom.  Believers in Christ are special.  We receive God's Kingdom or government, with a new city - New Jerusalem - that is even now being prepared for us, the new heavens, and the new earth.  But first we will live here now, taking up our cross daily, then later we will rule and reign with Him during His Earthly Millennial Reign from old, but refurbished Jerusalem.  Then the new heavens and new earth and eternity with our Savior.  That is how I see Home for the Christian.