For others the word “Home” is not so happy. For them, home was more of a place of bitter words, arguments, tears, pain and sadness. These places were more a battleground than a place of security. How many people, when they were young, visited friends and observed a home of love and happiness? How many felt the pang of loss over what could have been but wasn’t in their own lives? Yes, everyone wants – needs – a place that can be identified as “home”.
Of course, the Jews of the Old Testament had the places where they lived and raised their children. They had their physical homes, but they also looked to a place that was their spiritual home – the Temple in Jerusalem. The Psalmist, in Psalm 84, wrote in the first two verses, “How lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.”
It may be that the psalmist had been gone from Jerusalem for some time or lived in a distant city. Whatever the reason, the writer missed being in the Temple and courts of God. He missed the opportunity to worship God – to show Him his love. He missed being there so much that he envied the people that lived in, or near the Temple. In verse 4, the Psalmist wrote, “How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You.”
One might wonder if the people that dwelled within the Temple and served in the Temple shared the Psalmist’s faith and love? Did they still retain that same sense of wonder and love? Had day to day routine slowly leached out the joy and wonder to the point that everything was taken for granted? Did the priests, attendants and people still look beyond the fine trappings of the Temple and see the true and living God? How easy for daily activities to become common place, or blessings to become rights.
Today, Christians have a much clearer picture of God’s Plan. The “mystery of the ages” was revealed in the Good News of Jesus Christ. The physical Temple was replaced with a Spiritual Temple. In Christ the key issue of sin was resolved through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every Christian could now approach God in prayer and worship crying out Abba! Father! No Christian should have to feel the physical separation that the Psalmist felt in Psalm 84.
Yet… how many Christians have allowed this to become routine? How many are forgetting the blessed specialness, the unique relationship with God that comes from being a Christian? How many are allowing life to slowly erode away faith due to inattention? What a tragedy!
In Christ, every man and woman has a Home that will not wear out, burn down, be flooded, or sold. Every Christian man and woman knows that there is a place prepared that is the very essence of love, warmth, joy, and welcome. The Psalmist wrote, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You!” (11-12)
God has laid out His Plan in His Word. He has given clear instructions on how a person can find a home with Him for eternity. All a person has to do is follow those instructions and then GROW in knowledge, faith, and love. GROW with the certain knowledge that the greatest Homecoming is still ahead. And when that time finally occurs, all the struggle, pain, prayers, burdens, and everything else in this life will have been worth it.
Paul wrote, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 16-18)
Keep the joy, build the faith, look forward with hope, learn and apply the Lord’s Word; because there WILL be a Homecoming for all of His children. Amen, even so come Lord Jesus! <Jim Shelburn>