Hebrews: Home

My husband, son, and I lived in Florida for almost twenty years. We had jobs, bought a house, became involved in a church, made very dear friends, and my son’s entire school life was in Florida. But – no offense to Floridians in the least – we never felt like we were home. I’m an Alabama girl. Red clay runs through my veins and cotton is my favorite flower. Home is where your heart is, and my heart is in Alabama. To quote that great bespectacled poet, John Denver, “Hey, it’s good to be back home again.”

The writer of Hebrews would understand. He said, “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Heb 13:14). We’re looking for a home that will last. We won’t find it here in this world. Not even in Alabama. But that’s by God’s design because we weren’t made for this world. “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20). “Gentleman” Jim Reeves sang, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” We are pilgrims here on our way to our heavenly home.

Jesus is at work today, preparing a home for all who will believe and trust in Him.  He made this promise in John 14:2-3: “In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you, [and] I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  Jesus is fixing up your room in His Father’s house.  With just the right colors and furnishings, everything will be perfect for you when you arrive.  I hope he hangs His portrait on the wall.  But then again, we won’t need pictures, we will see Him face to face, in all of His glory.  Imagine, all of the great men and women of the Bible, the martyrs, missionaries, servants, those who preached to great audiences of people, and those who lovingly wiped feverish brows in the name of Jesus all together in the great halls of God’s house.  And oh, what wonderful reunions with those who made it home before us!  My mom, dad, and big brother will be there, and dear and precious friends that I miss so much.  We will all share in the joy of God’s house, for Jesus has been working all this time to make everything ready.  No wonder He “apprenticed” as a carpenter for thirty years here on earth. Is this your forever home? Do you know the Carpenter from Nazareth? What do you imagine your place will look like in heaven? Beloved, keep moving toward heaven. When you get Home you can take your boots off and rest. Forever.

Hebrews: Don’t Turn Back

“I wanna go home!” Joy wailed in my arms.  It was the last day of VBS and everyone was in the “big church” for the grand finale. She wanted no part of it.  I coaxed her into sitting on my lap, but it didn’t last long.  She was trembling when her mommy took her out after just a couple of minutes. It’s not unusual when facing challenges to want to run back to what we know is safe. Even if safe is not God’s will for us.

Hebrews says the heroes of the Bible considered themselves “aliens and strangers” not just in the new lands they settled, but “on earth” because they were “looking for a country of their own” (Heb 11:13b-14). The place of promise. Abraham was given that very promise and he did settle in the land of Canaan, though it was not his possession. The writer added, “If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return” (v. 15). They could have gone back home at any time. Case in point:

Abraham realized that he needed a wife for his son, Isaac, but not from the local, pagan women.  He tasked his servant with going back to his hometown to bring back a woman from his own people for his son. The servant asked, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back . . . shall I take your son back to the country you came from? (Gen 24:5). Abraham answered an emphatic “No.” “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” (v. 6). Why? Because the promise of God was tied to the land of Canaan. If he went back the promise would be lost. Abraham was protecting the promise by his obedience (Gen 24: 6-8).

The writer of Hebrews was addressing Jewish believers whose conversion had caused heartache and struggle. Many abandoned their faith in Christ and returned to the laws and life of Judaism. They returned to a dead end. This world is the domain of the evil one; it will never be home for those who love and follow Christ. But our promised land is coming (more on that later). It’s tempting to take the easy way and return to the world. But the easy way is not the eternal way. “A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”1. Beloved, you were made for eternity.

  1. John A. Shedd, 1928

The Hope of Home

“In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you…that you may be where I am.” (John 14:2,3)

There’s something special about home, especially at Christmas.  In WWII, teary-eyed soldiers in Europe sang, “I’ll be home for Christmas”[1] as they sat in muddy foxholes.  College dorm buildings become ghost towns as students head for home and family for the holidays.  At Christmas, we long to be with those we love the most.  We long for home.   And for Christians, that longing for home extends beyond this earth to our heavenly home.

I am so grateful for God’s faithfulness to keep His promises, especially the promise of an eternal home.  There was a season in my life when, through a series of set-backs, our family lost our home.  The kindness of a friend kept a roof over our heads, but it was the hope I have in God’s promise that kept me going as I continually reminded myself: “This world is not my home. Jesus is building a mansion for me in heaven.”  Jesus’ words in John 14:2-3 were my hope:  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  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 home exceeds anything the greatest architect could ever design.  It is grander than the finest castles and mansions in the world.  Hebrews 11:10 tells us that its “architect and builder is God.”  Our minds cannot imagine the beauty and immensity and wonder of this eternal, heavenly home.   Listen to these descriptions from Revelation 21 – “It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, it had a great, high wall, with twelve gates…each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.  The glory of God give it light and the Lamb is its lamp” (vs. 11, 12, 21, 23) And this precious promise: “Nothing impure will ever enter it” (v. 27).  Loved ones will be there, waiting to welcome us and show us all that God had prepared for us.  I will see my mom again.  The “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounded us and cheered us on will be there – Moses, Abraham, Paul, Mary, David, and a lady I really want to meet, Dorcas.  We will see flowers unknown on earth, we will enjoy the fruit from the tree of life, and drink from the river of life that flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Rev. 22:1-2) And don’t forget this precious promise “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4)

But the best part of our heavenly home is that we will forever live with our Heavenly Father and blessed Savior.  Listen to the words of the angel: “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servant will serve Him.  They will see His face…” (Rev. 22:3-4a-emphasis added).  That is hope for Christmas and every day.

Holy Father, This world is not my home.  My heart longs to be at home with You, with Jesus, and with the saints of all the ages.  Fill me with the hope that You have a place for me and I will never, ever be away from home again.  Amen.

 


 

[1]  “I’ll be Home for Christmas” Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram