Volume 21, Issue 7 (February 17, 2019)
Our Everlasting Home
By Kyle Pope
The growth of a purely naturalistic and materialistic understanding of human nature has a profound influence on how people respond to the gospel. Paul expressed this problem in his time, writing, “If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’” (1 Cor. 15:32, NKJV). If we are nothing more than the molecules and chemicals that make up our bodies, when we die that ends our existence. But, the Bible teaches something much different.
The Parable of the Unjust Steward
Consider what is said in the very challenging and unusual parable of the Unjust Steward. Jesus tells us about a steward who is about to be released because of accusations that he had been wasting his master’s goods. To ensure that he would have prospective employers when he is released, he quickly negotiates with his master’s debtors to lower their bills (Luke 16:1-7). Jesus ends the parable with the master’s reaction and a practical application:
So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home (Luke 16:8-9).
Jesus is not teaching dishonesty. He is not teaching the mishandling of things entrusted to us. He is talking about preparation. Just as the steward recognized that he had to do something to prepare for his future, Jesus wants to teach His disciples to make the same application in their own lives. The Christian must interact with and use the things of this world—i.e. “unrighteous mammon,” in ways that will take into account the limits of their benefit to us. In other words, we must live now in ways that will prepare the way for us unto an “everlasting home” that will be desirable. One point is clear—life in the age to come, whether in condemnation or heaven will be our “everlasting home.”
The Ending of Ecclesiastes
We find this same idea in the Old Testament. As the Preacher of Ecclesiastes, who was likely Solomon (Eccl. 1:1), brings the book to an end, he writes:
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”: while the sun and the light, the moon and the stars, are not darkened, and the clouds do not return after the rain; in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow down; when the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look through the windows grow dim; when the doors are shut in the streets, and the sound of grinding is low; when one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of music are brought low; also they are afraid of height, and of terrors in the way; when the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper is a burden, and desire fails. For man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets (Eccl. 12:1-5).
Annihilationists have often claimed that the Old Testament says nothing about life after death, or heaven and hell. If that was true, how could the Preacher of Ecclesiastes speak of man going “to his eternal home”? If death is the end, he might speak of it as an “eternal resting place,” or even an “eternal end,” but why speak of it as a “home” (or literally a “house”) if it is an extinction? Clearly, we are going somewhere and will live there eternally.
Hope to Live in “the House of the Lord”
There is a similar concept expressed in the Old Testament that further reveals this hope on the part of God’s faithful people for a home with God after this life. We see it in two psalms. The first, is identified in the Hebrew text as “A Psalm of David” (Psa. 27:1a). David praises the Lord as the “strength” of his life (Psa. 27:1c) and praises Him for the deliverance He has granted him from his enemies (Psa. 27:2-3). He then states:
One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD (Psa. 27:4-6).
What is David talking about? Remember, David was not a priest or a Levite, so some access to the physical sanctuary of God was not even available to him. Further, the “temple” had not yet been constructed, so to what “house” or “temple” is he even referring? He speaks of this as something he wants “all the days of his life,” but remember how he put it in Psalm 23:6—“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” David equates “all the days” of his life with something that involves dwelling with the Lord “forever.” He is talking about a home with God beyond this life.
The same is seen in a psalm attributed in the Hebrew text to the “sons of Korah” (Psa. 84:1a). It reads:
How lovely is Your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young—even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You. Selah (Psa. 84:1b-4).
Like David, this psalm looks beyond the earthly tabernacle, and reflects a recognition that it was only a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5). This psalm, to be sung among the people, aspires to a time when God’s faithful can dwell in His house—not on the earth, but in an eternal home with God. As Christians, that home with God should be our aspiration as well. A time and place when, “the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). Where will your “everlasting home” be?