For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven… (2 Cor 5:1-2 NKJV)
The Apostle Paul refers to our human bodies as ‘earthly houses’ or ‘tents’ and contrasts this with the ‘heavenly clothing’ we will receive from heaven. Question is …When do we receive the ‘heavenly tent’? Is this our reward in heaven? Personally, I don’t think so. Jesus is the only one so far to have been clothed in his immortal, heavenly body. He is the:
“firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor 15:20).
While those followers of Christ who have gone before us absent from their physical bodies but are, nonetheless, enjoying the presence of the Lord (2 Cor 5:8). The idea of an eternal non-physical existence has its roots in paganism and not the Scriptures. That’s why some of the men in Athens mocked Paul when he talked about the resurrection of the dead (Acts 17:32). Hellenistic thought infiltrated the Church fairly early in its history and emphasised the goal of ‘going to heaven when you die.’
Going to heaven when we die is not our ultimate goal. It is a wonderful intermediate fringe benefit we can delight in, as we await our glorified immortal resurrected bodies. These will be like Christ’s glorious body and we will be clothed with them at his return (1 John 3:2).
If you don’t believe me… dig up a departed Christian’s grave. His or her bones will still be there.
But Jesus’ tomb was empty.
How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. (1 Corinthians 14:26 NKJV)
The above passage is regularly used to justify every church member being involved in a speaking ministry of some kind. For the text explicitly states each of you. But context is always king in scriptural interpretation. The apostle has been rebuking the Corinthian assembly for their lack of order and abuse of the gift of tongues in their meetings. The question that begins verse 26 – How is it brethren? – is, in my opinion, meant to introduce another criticism as in, “What on earth are you doing?” He then goes on to describe their practice of everybody is getting involved – each of you. In contrast, teaches Paul in the second half of the verse, all things are to be done for edification. Let two or three speak in tongues at the most (verse 27); let two or three prophesy, and let the first be silent if another gets a revelation (verses 29-30).
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are wonderful things but are to be used decently and in order (verse 40). Only those who are appropriately gifted should sing, teach and edify the saints through interpreted tongues and prophecy.
The rest will utilise the non-verbal spiritual gifts that our great and gracious God has bestowed upon them.
Contained within the Ark of the Covenant were the pot of manna, Aaron’s Rod and the Tablets of the Covenant (Heb 9:4). The Ark was made of shittim wood and covered with gold. The gold lid was the kapporet, which English translations tend to render as the ‘Mercy Seat’. The Greek term used to translate kapporet in the Septuagint (LXX) is hilasterion – the same word we find in Chapter 3 of Paul’s Letter to the Romans:
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation [hilasterion] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness . . .
(Rom 3:23-25 NKJV)
The Ark, like so many other things in the Tanakh (aka the ‘Old Testament’), is a picture of the Messiah. It is he who is the sacrifice whose bleood was sprinkled on the mercy seat, his cross. The gold covering of the Ark speaks of his immortality and the wood pictures his humanity. Messiah is the d’var elohim – the Word of God – made flesh. The manna was in the Ark because Messiah is the bread from heaven. Aaron’s rod that budded was in the Ark because Messiah is the resurrection and the life. The tablets were in the Ark because Messiah is the Torah incarnate.
The Ark went two thousand cubits ahead of the people across the Jordan (Josh 3:3-4). Messiah preceded his people into the olam haba – the Age to Come – by about two thousand years.
In John 20:22 the risen Messiah breathed on his disciples saying, Receive the Holy Spirit. Did you ever wonder why he breathed on them?
The answer is to be found in the creation narrative. God made man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being (Gen 2:7). Man, as you know, was created in the image of God (Gen 1:26) but, through the fall, that image has become tarnished by sin.
Jesus replayed the creation with his disciples who had become new creations in him (2 Cor 5:17). They, through the new birth were being [re]conformed to the image of God in Christ (Rom 8:29).
When you and I put our faith in Christ, he breathed his Spirit into us. The penalty for sin was removed and the power of sin in our lives is being overcome by the Spirit. We are being conformed to the image of Christ, a process that will be completed at his return or when we go to glory.