By Doug Bell
2 Corinthians 5:
1 “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 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,
3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.
4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”
It’s clear that these verses are a continuation of some verses from our last chapter:
7 ¶ “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us…”
16 ¶ “…So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
From the context it is certain that the Apostle Paul was writing about a Christian’s body! In chapter 4, the metaphor for the body was; jars of clay and the outer self. And here in chapter 5, he uses the term the tent. It’s a shame some Christians think that our bodies are unimportant to God. The Bible clearly tells us that our ‘earthly bodies’ are now the Temple of The Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Also these very bodies will one day be resurrected from the dead and will be changed from mortal to immortal. And from perishable to imperishable (1 Corinthians 15).
Paul’s purpose here, is to make us not put so much emphasis on the “here and now,” and that we should look heavenward! We are continually faced with the old proverb, “We can’t see the forest for the trees.” There are always urgent matters that will demand our attention. These are the things that keep us from seeing “the Long View.” Satan wants us to be so focused with the trivial things of life, that it keeps us from lifting our eyes to see: “2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalms 121).
It isn’t easy to look past the earthly and see the heavenly. In fact, it takes a maturity in God’s Word to have this perspective. That’s why Paul tells us in chapter 4:18 “as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Everything in our fallen bodies looks around at this world and says, ‘This is the real life! The people and things we love are here. We are intoxicated by what is at our fingertips. But, says the Apostle “These things are temporary!” One day everything you see will be burnt up!
The ‘Real’ life is what you cannot see It is kept
beyond the stars, safe and secure for us, Compare:
19 ¶ “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
2 “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
Notice the next verse!
3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Yes, it’s true that now 4: “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”
15 ¶ Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of lifefn—is not from the Father but is from the world.
17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2)
There will always be things that demand our attention, and we will have to take care of them. But at the same time, we need to keep our ‘spiritual eyes’ open, looking past the temporary so that we may see eternal.
20 ¶ He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!