In 2 Corinthians 5:1, Paul takes the eternal view of things. He says: “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
The old Englishman, Isaac Watts, captured Paul’s comparison of our earthly tent and our eternal house in heaven in one of his hymns:
“While time on earth is spent, absent from Him I roam, yet nightly pitch my moving tent a day’s march nearer home.”
Our life here is a tent-like existence, temporary. We’re just passing through. We’re just camping out. Our life to come is a building from God, a lasting house, eternal in heaven. It is the home to which we are headed. It is the promised land up ahead.
Think of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What does the New Testament say about these patriarchs of the Old Testament? It says: “They were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.”
They looked for the promised land – and for the promised Savior – by faith. They saw these promises from afar. They greeted them from a distance.
The Holy Spirit Himself tells us on the pages of the New Testament that the faith of Abraham and the patriarchs moved on a far higher plane that many Bible critics are willing to believe. Abraham and his offspring saw beyond Canaan itself to the heavenly city which God has prepared for those who love Him. They were like pilgrims who see the lofty towers and glistening spires on the horizon, who excitedly point to the grand vision and shout: “Look! There it is! Do you see it? Keep moving!” They admitted they were aliens and strangers on earth, pilgrims on a journey.
Our hymns borrow this way of talking, don’t they? “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land…Let the fiery, cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through…When I tread the verge of Jordan…Land me safe on Canaan’s side,” and “I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home.”
In your heart and mine God has placed a homing signal for heaven. By faith we long for a better country, a heavenly one, where the tent pegs do not get pulled up every night, where you don’t live out of a suitcase, where the walls of your house or city never crumble into dust. Christ Jesus has paid the mortgage on this eternal home with His own blood. He has guaranteed our right to live there by His glorious resurrection. You have His word on this: “In My Father’s house are many mansions…”