Summary: Paul was not putting his body down by calling it a tent. He was just emphasizing that by comparison his earthy body was no big deal in light of the body God had made for him in heaven.
Carl Sagen is one of the leading minds in our world in the realm of
astronomy. He has played a major role in the space expeditions to the planets.
He is responsible for a record which was on board the Voyager's one and two.
It is now wondering between the stars, and it will tell any aliens who intercept
the space craft about earth. I was impressed in reading his book Broca's Brain
to find him in a very subtle way giving thanks to God for the kind of universe
He has given us. He writes, "For myself, I like a universe that includes much
that is unknown, and at the same time much that is knowable. A universe in
which everything is known would be static and dull--a universe that is
unknowable is no fit place for a thinking being. The ideal universe for us is
very much like the universe we inhabit. And I would guess that this is not
really much of a coincidence."
He is saying, God gives us plenty, but keeps plenty hidden also, so we have
the joy of endless discovery. This is true also for the unseen realm called the
intermediate state. What happens to us between the death of our body and the
resurrection of our body? This period is called the intermediate state. God has
revealed some fascinating facts about it, but has also concealed so much that it
is a mystery that makes men curious, and sends them searching the Bible for
every hint that opens up some light on the subject.
Here in II Cor. 5 Paul tells us some very interesting things about the
intermediate state. It seems strange that Paul wrote more about heaven to the
earthy and sensual materialists of Corinth than to anyone else. Paul knew that
the only way to get people to overcome their earthiness was to get them to set
their affections on things above. Heavenly minded people do more to change
the earth for the better than those who affections are only earth centered.
John Wesley proved this in eighteenth century England. You think we live
in a decaying society now, but the books and plays of that day were so immoral,
and language so foul, they would be considered offensive even in our day of
declining morality. Prostitution was sky high, and the way they had of
disposing of the fruit of their sin was even worse than the abortion scandal of
our time. They just gave birth to their babies and then let them die. 74.5% of
the babies in 18th century England died before the age of five. The rich
brought their way out of every sin and crime, and the poor were hung at a rate
of 10 to 15 a day for 160 different offenses. The church did nothing for it too
Then came Wesley, a man with heaven on his mind. He preached it and
taught it, and people began to change their ways. Justice and morality were
restored. Babies started to live again, and the death rate fell from 74.5 to
31.8%. People's health began to improve, more flowers were planted, and the
whole earthly scene was changed, because people were challenged to become
heavenly minded. The prayer, Thy will be done as it is in heaven, can only be
answered when people know more about heaven. It is not possible to be so
heavenly minded you are no earthly good, for if you really are heavenly minded
you will do earth a lot of good.
It is important that we know all we can about heaven, for it becomes a key
factor in what we do on earth. This was certainly the case with Paul. Note,
first of all--
I. PAUL'S ASSURANCE.
Paul begins this chapter, "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is
destroyed, we have a building from God, and eternal house in heaven, not built
by human hands." Paul was fully assured that the death of his body was a loss
of a tent and a gain of a building. It is not much of a threat to tell the
homeless, I will destroy your tent, if by so doing you made them eligible to live
in a mansion. No wonder Paul was not afraid to die, for he said it was far
better to die and be with the Lord. Paul knew he had a better body awaiting
This body of time is but our temporary dwelling, and Paul calls it a tent. It
is as if this life was but a nomad journey, but our body, after we die, is a
permanent residence, where we settle down for good. Paul was a great pioneer.
He lived in tents often as he traveled the world, but no man wants to do this