Home Is Where the Heart Is

Wisdom's Friend

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Jesus taught the disciples to understand the secrets of the unseen spiritual world by often using this key concept: Everything in the physical world reflects some aspect of the spiritual world.

One way he did this was by using parables that use familiar aspects of everyday life in this world that show similar aspects of the less familiar spiritual realm.

“Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world'” (Mt. 13:34-35 NIV).

To help explain why evil exists in the world, for instance, he used the parable of the sower sowing seed, while the enemy sowed weeds (Mt. 13:24-30). To show that God is just in having a final judgment of all human beings, Jesus compared it to the familiar and common-sense act of sorting good and bad fish (Mt. 13:47-50).

Many more examples could be given that show how Jesus used parables which connect things of this temporary world with the eternal things of the eternal spiritual world. But all those examples illustrate one central theme, that God has created this world to reflect the spiritual world, so that by enlightened looking, we can see and learn much of that world by observing this one.

The book of Hebrews mentions this principle explicitly when it explains why the ancient tabernacle of the Hebrews had to be constructed a certain way. It says that that sanctuary “is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain'” (Heb. 8:5 NIV).

Elsewhere, this same book explains why God has given humankind the law to govern relationships in this world: “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves” (Heb. 10:1 NIV).

“These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col. 2:16-17 NIV).

Jesus is the Christ, the reality; however, he used parables which are illustrations of deeper reality as a teaching tool that served a temporary usefulness. He was preparing all who would listen for the coming time when there will be no more teaching in parables (1 Cor. 13:8-10) but only a sober realizing of the truth of those parables in reality; a time when people will no longer be able to appropriate the teaching of those parables into their being, but will be confronted with the reality of the formerly unseen spiritual world. In other words, they will die–and then have no more opportunity to accept or deny the truths contained in those parables. Reality and truth will overtake whatever one believes, for reality and truth are stronger than whatever man can do (Is. 28:18) or think (1 Cor. 2:9) or even imagine (Is. 65:2, Is. 66:18).

In a dramatic illustration of this awful finality, it is interesting to note that after explaining much about the spiritual world in this manner, using parables, that section of Matthew’s gospel ends with these seemingly benign words:

“When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed” (Mt. 13:53-54 NIV).

This simple act of Jesus, leaving where he had taught in parables to go to his hometown, has a significance that goes far beyond that simple act. In doing this, Jesus illustrated exactly what he had been saying through the parables: He acted out before their very eyes one of the deepest truths about the coming judgment of all mankind: by going home.

Scripture is full of references to this aspect of the judgment of all mankind, that of each race and people returning to its place of origin, going home. In this regard, it is no accident that the last book of the Bible contains so many references to topics mentioned in the first book of the Bible. Revelation, the book of last things, often returns to Genesis, the book of beginnings. So it will be in the final days leading to judgment (Ezekiel 21:30). We all must prepare to “go home”. Just where exactly that home for eternity will be is the telling parable of our own lives (2 Cor. 3:2-3).

Jesus knew where he had come from and where he was going (Jn. 8:14). Not everyone in this world has that same knowledge. That is one reason Jesus came to this world, so that every human being who hears his voice can know where he or she came from and where he or she is going. For every human being must leave this earth and finally go home to his or her eternal abode, either heaven or hell.

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (Jn. 5:28-29 NIV).

Or as the prophet Daniel was shown:

“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2 NIV).

But before that momentous day, God will pour out his wrath upon the earth for its great wickedness. He will have given the world time to repent of its wickedness, but it would not (Rev. 9:20), despite the awful nature of his outpoured wrath. Therefore, yet more plagues will follow. The world and its system, often referred to in Scripture as Babylon, will long since have gone beyond the point of being reconciled to God.

“We would have healed Babylon, but she cannot be healed; let us leave her and each go to his own land, for her judgment reaches to the skies, it rises as high as the clouds” (Jer. 51:9 NIV).

“Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues'” (Rev. 18:4 NIV).

God’s people are to come out of the wicked world system, Babylon, that is opposed to God. But where shall they go? to what land? They are to return to the One who gave them birth and to the land of their birth.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth” (Is. 51:1-2 NIV).

Abraham is called the father of all who believe (Rom. 4:16). When the wrath of God begins to fall upon this earth in its final days, those who are children of Abraham–those who have a faith like father Abraham (Rom. 4:16) in the God who saves (Ps. 68:20)–will go, as did Abraham (Dt. 9:5), to the land apportioned for them, that is, heaven, the beautiful land. For Scripture says that Abraham died and went to be with the One in whom he trusted to save him from death (spiritual, Jn. 11:25-26) after death (physical), the second death (Rev. 21:8).

Before this final journey of Abraham, there were other times when he left the land where he lived to go elsewhere. How did he know that he was to do this, that it was God’s will? Very simple: God told him; he heard the voice of God directing him.

“The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you'” (Gen. 12:1 NIV).

As was pointed out previously, we who believe in Jesus are Abraham’s children, because we have a faith like Abraham’s. What was true for him is true for us as well. For we too have heard the voice of God (Jn. 10:3-4, Jn. 10:27) telling us to leave our country and go to the land that the Lord will show us (Rev. 18:4).

In this regard, it is more than a little interesting to hear the words which Scripture records concerning the Lord’s visit to Abraham before he brought down his wrath upon Sodom. After speaking with Abraham, it says, “When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home” (Gen. 18:33 NIV).

Suddenly we are struck by the similarity between Jesus speaking to the crowds through parables and the Lord speaking to Abraham. In both cases, the meeting between God and man ends with the same words; in both cases, one person went home: Jesus in the one account, Abraham in the other. And in both cases, the reason for returning home is the same: All has been said; now it is time to act. Nor do the similarities end there. For in both cases also, the subject matter of the conversation was the judgment of God on a wicked world (Mt. 13:47-50), which was shortly thereafter carried out upon Sodom after the Lord left and Abraham went home (Gen. 19:24).

The judgment of God upon our present world has begun to fall as well, but has not yet reached its climax; the increasing catastrophes we are presently seeing in our world are only the beginning of woes (Mt. 24:8, Mt. 24:21). Nevertheless, they are signs to get ready to leave, to prepare ourselves to go to the land prepared for those who believe in the promise of God that he has prepared a place, a land, for us.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going” (Jn. 14:1-4 NIV).

Jesus is the way to that pleasant land which God has promised to all who trust in his Son and his words. As the end approaches, it is more important than ever to listen to the words of Jesus, and not only to listen but to persevere to the end and obey those words.

“We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’ Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief” (Heb. 3:14-19 NIV).

“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience” (Heb. 4:10 NIV).

Those who experienced the first exodus from slavery in Egypt were not able to go into the promised land because they did not believe in the promise of God. We are warned and encouraged here not to follow their example. For we too have been called out of slavery (to sin) in a land that does not acknowledge God (Ex. 5:2).

Like the Israelites of old, we too are on a journey, from the land of our birth to the land of our final resting place. Those who choose to live wickedly in the land in which they were born will die the second death in a land reserved for all such evildoers.

“Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies” (Ps. 58:3 NIV).

But those who choose to do good through their union with Jesus Christ, through faith in him, will likewise go to a land that reflects their land of birth.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph. 1:4 NIV).

“To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Rom. 2:7-8 NIV).

Thus there are these two fates for people and the land: Those who belong to God and are faithful to him will inherit the earth (Mt. 5:5), while those who refuse to acknowledge God as their King will be removed from the land for ever.

“The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land” (Prov 10:30 NIV).

“But the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it” (Prov 2:22 NIV).

“For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land” (Ps 37:9 NIV).

“The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever” (Ps 37:29 NIV).

“Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it” (Ps 37:34 NIV).

There is coming a second and final exodus, the rapture, from a sinful land, when the Lord returns to take us to our final home. The question that each needs to ask, therefore, is, “Am I ready to leave this land and return to my real home in heaven? Am I in love with this world and reluctant to leave it, or do I love the kingdom of God? Where is my heart?” The answer to all these questions is, “Home is where the heart is.”

For many, their heart is in this world (2 Timothy 4:10) and therefore that is their home. That world and home is to be destroyed (2 Peter 3:7). But for those whose heart is joined by love to the heart of Jesus, they will dwell safely with him in the kingdom of God for ever (Is. 32:1-2, Col. 1:13).

Again, the pertinent question for each person to ask himself or herself is, “Where is my heart? Where is it I want to live?”, and then to reflect upon the words of Jesus:

“Remember Lot’s wife!” (Lk. 17:32).

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