Summary: When death occurs, Christians should have more cause to thank God and not despair as Our bodies are erthly tents which if destroyed, we, however, have a buiding from God, eternal, in the heavens.
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” 2 Cor 5:1
The second epistle of Paul to the Corinthians Chapter 5, verse 1, is contained in a letter written to comfort Christians in situations of bereavement, and to strengthened them in the knowledge that should death occur, we have even more cause for glory.
Two bodies are mentioned. One we have now; another we will have later. One is earthly, the other is “eternal in the heavens.” The present body is called a “tent,” while the future body is called a “building.” A tent is a temporary habitation of a traveler. A building is the permanent habitation of a resident. The tent is the body we now occupy; the building is the glorious body we are destined to occupy, so long as we walk by faith (see Phil. 3:20,21). For now, we are “tent-bound.”
The Apostle Paul was a professional tentmaker and he spoke with first-hand knowledge (Acts 18:3). It is quite probable that Paul learned his craft as a lad from his father, just as Jesus learned carpentry from Joseph. Tentmaking in the Apostle’s day was hard work and it was smelly work. Tents were originally made from skins; only later were the skins replaced with goat’s hair. The smell of the work was so bad that the tentmaker had to work outside of town.
If you went camping, you may need to live in a tent for a few days, you can even make the tent very comfortable, you can bring with you settee, chairs and tables, cookery, utencils and a mobile air condition unit to cool down in a baking hot summer day, but you know where you are is still a tent, and you would soon need to pack up and go home after camping because a tent is a temporary abode.
One author observes, “A tent is a temporary place to dwell. It’s fun to camp in a tent, but let’s face it, it’s not home. There is no fireplace, no cossy chair, no soft bed. It’s cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and leaky when it rains. And the older it gets, the more it sags. Eventually it frays and tears and finally rots.
In his book Do Not Lose Heart, Dave Dravecky shares a powerful example that illustrates our bodies as temporary tents. The piece reminds us that our focus must be on the building to come which we have with God, not the “tent” we have now. The title of the piece, “O Mr. Tentmaker.”
Writing to the Tentmaker The Tent-Dweller writes:
O Mr. Tentmaker
It was nice living in this tent when it was strong and secure and the sun was shining and the air warm. But Mr. Tentmaker, it’s scary now. You see, my tent is acting like it is not going to hold together; the poles seem weak and they shift with the wind. A couple of stakes have wiggled loose from the sand; and worst of all, the canvas has a rip. It no longer protects me from beating rain or stinging fly. It’s scary in here, Mr. Tentmaker.
Last week I went to the repair shop and some repairman tried to patch the rip in my canvas. It didn’t help much, though, because the patch pulled away from the edges and now the tear is worse. What troubled me most, Mr. Tentmaker, is that the repairman didn’t seem to notice I was still in the tent; he just worked on the canvas while I shivered inside. I cried out once, but no one heard me. I guess my first real question is: Why did you give me such a flimsy tent? I can see by looking around the campground that some of the tents are much stronger and more stable than mine. Why, Mr. Tentmaker, did you pick a tent of such poor quality for me? And even more important, what do you intend to do about it?
In his reply, the Tentmaker writes:
O little tent dweller, as the Creator and Provider of tents, I know all about you and your tent, and I love you both. I made a tent for Myself once, and lived in it in your campground. My tent was vulnerable, too, and some vicious attackers ripped it to pieces while I was still in it…on a cross. It was a terrible experience, but you will be glad to know they couldn’t hurt me. In fact, the whole experience was a tremendous advantage because it is this very victory over my enemy that frees me to be a present help to you.
O little tent dweller, I am now prepared to come and live in your tent with you, if you’ll invite me. You’ll learn as we dwell together that real security comes from My being in your tent with you. When the storms come, you can huddle in my arms and I’ll hold you. When the canvas rips, we’ll go to the repair shop together.