In My Father’s House
“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84:10 ESV
“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.” John 14:2 KJV
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’” Revelation 21:3 ESV
Dear Church Family,
William Tyndale (d. 1536) was the first person to work directly with Hebrew and Greek manuscripts in translating the Bible into English. For John 14:2, however, his use of “mansion” (used later in the King James Version), was obviously influenced by the Latin word, mansiones. I remember growing up singing the old lyrics, “I’ve got a mansion, just over the hilltop, in that bright land where we’ll never grow old.” It’s a song of hope, but how well does it represent the hope that the Bible really teaches? The song expresses the view that the singer will not be satisfied unless their “mansion” in the hereafter is gold, and silver-lined!
I know I’m on thin ice already, questioning a song that some of you may dearly love. Still, I want to suggest that God’s people should not focus on the “stuff” we’ll have in eternity so much as the presence we will experience forever. Throughout the Bible, it is the presence of God for which his people long. I know that the description of our eternal inheritance includes things like “streets of gold,” and “pearly gates.” Nevertheless, the point of these images is to emphasize the blessedness of our eternal home with God.
Consider the passages I have quoted above. Psalm 84:10 is clear: what good would it be to dwell for a thousand days surrounded by lavish riches if the presence of Yahweh was missing? Likewise, Jesus comforted his disciples in John 14 by saying that his leaving was precisely to prepare a place for them, after which he “will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).
I have no doubt that our surroundings in eternity will be wonderful, but no amount of gold, silver, jewels or furry over-stuffed couches will be more valuable than the enduring presence of God. That’s the real message of the Book of Revelation. After all of the descriptions of precious metals and jewels—of gates, walls, and streets—Revelation 21 gives the climactic description of the new heaven and earth. After the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven, v. 3 states, “the dwelling place of God is with man.” What makes eternity blessed is just this—the presence of God. I’m also reminded of something David said one time: “And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6b ESV).