Better Housing (2 Cor 5:1-3)

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1, ESV)

During the Cold War era, I was assigned as a second Lieutenant in the United States Army Europe. While there, we did a few training exercises in the German countryside to prepare us in the event that the cold war went hot. On one occasion, I took my platoon out for a couple nights in the field. While there, we had to pitch our tents. Each soldier was issued a shelter-half and with another soldier could erect a two-person pup-tent. As an officer, I was issued two shelter-halves and privileged to have a pup-tent all to myself. We were on the side of a hill. I found a nice flat spot and put up my tent.

After a briefing with the Company Commander regarding the exercises we would do the following day, I went into my tent and got into the sleeping-bag. Thinking that I would get a good night’s sleep, I relaxed and went to sleep. That is when the sky opened and we had a downpour that lasted all night long. Well, the water began running down the side of the hill. It created something like a river flowing right through my comfy little tent. It did not take long to become soaking wet in an inch or two of standing water. The picture of me in that tent would have been highlighted in the dictionary under the word, “miserable.”

All night, I probably got an hour of sleep max. I just kept longing to get back to base and in my heated and dry housing unit. I discovered that the Army pup-tent system was minimally satisfactory under certain conditions. However, it was far from perfect.

The Apostle Paul was a tentmaker and he introduced the analogy of a tent to describe the body of a person. In chapter four of his letter to the church at Corinth, verses 7-18, he wrote to the church about the afflictions of those who would minister the gospel message. These were afflictions that would involve the bodies of the minister. He used phrases such as, “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16, ESV).

Here in chapter five, he continued in writing about the frailty to which the human body is subjected by using the metaphor of the tent. The earthly body is like a tent in which the soul dwells. Because it is a human earthly body, it is weak and subject to destruction. Paul undoubtedly felt the affects of the various afflictions on his earthly body. Thus, he longed for a better dwelling, one that would be indestructible. He was assured that if his earthly body would be destroyed, he would find himself in a better indestructible body.

This new dwelling place for the soul would be infinitely better than the present tent. The reason is that it would be a heavenly dwelling place, “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Paul was encouraged in that the afflictions that had taken a toll on his body achieved “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17, KJV) for him. Moreover, he knew that while the earthly body could be destroyed, he would be given a heavenly body suited for heaven that could never be destroyed.

As we go through this life, we will ultimately see the frailty of our human bodies. Some will wear down faster than others. Some will have physical disabilities and other limitations. Yet for the believer, there is a glorious future. When we have finished our service for the Lord here, He will cloth us with a new house, a body perfect and imperishable, fit for heaven.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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