Change of Address

Their inner thought is that their houses are forever and their dwelling places to all generations; they have named their lands after their own names.  Psalm 49:11  NASB

Houses/ dwelling places – Okay, so we know that all the habitations here on earth aren’t permanent.  Just like everything else, they will pass away.  The Roman Colosseum was meant to last forever.  It won’t.  Oh, it’s still here (in pieces) after a long time, but left to itself, it would have disappeared long ago, like the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus that used to stand as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  Now it’s a sheep pasture.

But you really don’t care, right?  You’re waiting for your mansion in heaven, you know, the one Yeshua talked about in John 14:2, the one that will last forever where you can enjoy all the benefits without the maintenance.

Well, maybe.

We should notice that there are two Hebrew words here. The first is בָּתֵּימוֹ bot-temo (their houses), the plural possessive from the word bayit.  It is basically a description of a dwelling place.  The word can also mean “family,” as in “household.”  That’s important.

The second word is a bit different.  It’s מִשְׁכָן (miškān), the word for “tabernacle.”  Literally, it is “dwelling,” from the verb, “to dwell.”  What’s interesting about this word is that it is used of the Tabernacle in Exodus and of Yeshua in John 1:14 (“The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us”).  Yeshua didn’t just inhabit.  He tabernacled—a deliberate connection to God’s dwelling among His people.  While both of these Hebrew words could be read as descriptions of real estate, I suspect they are better understood as descriptions of unchanging relationship.  The sons of Korah point out that believing in the permanence of real estate is a mistake.  Why?  Because the only real permanence isn’t geographical.  It’s relational.  That’s why we need to read Yeshua’s remark about “mansions” in the sense of relationship connection, not deeds to property.  The point is that having property isn’t a guarantee of anything permanent.  Being with the King is.  Perhaps that’s why the Greek equivalent of miškān is so rare.  monḗ  is a place to stay. 

In the NT the word occurs only twice in John. In 14:2 it denotes the abiding dwelling (in contrast to our transitory earthly state) that Christ prepares for his people in his Father’s house. In 14:23, however, the abode is on earth, for Christ and the Father will come to believers and make their home with them. God’s dwelling with his people finds cultic expression in the OT (Ex. 25:8).[1]

The idea of a heavenly dwelling for the righteous is found in Iran and then in Talmudic and Mandaean writings. Plato, too, speaks of heavenly dwellings to which the soul returns. The NT reflects the concept in Lk. 16:22; 23:43.[2]

The sons of Korah got it right.  Titles and deeds are ephemeral.  Oh, they’re good now when we need them, but in the end, the place to stay is in the family of God, His bayit not made with human hands.

Topical Index: bayit, house, miškān, dwelling, Tabernacle, monḗ, dwelling place, Psalm 49:11

[1] Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 582). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

[2] Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 582). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

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Richard Bridgan

“Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.” (Proverbs 31:23)

“Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will enter into them, I will give thanks unto the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter into it. I will give thanks unto Thee, for Thou hast answered me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected is become the chief corner-stone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:19-23)

“But with righteousness shall he judge the lowly, and decide with equity for the meek of the land; and he shall smite the land with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” (Isaiah 11:4)

“… Yahweh will build for you a household. And it shall be that when your days are fulfilled to go and sleep with your ancestors, then I will raise up your seed after you, who will be one of your sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He himself will build for me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I myself will be a father to him, and he himself will be a son to me. And I will not remove my steadfast love from him as I took it away from whoever was before you. And I will establish him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne will be established forever.” (1 Chronicles 17:10-14)