What does it actually mean to dwell in the house of the Lord forever?
That’s what this week’s podcast episode is all about: the fact that you and I dwell in the house of the Lord right now.
But first, I have a question.
Have you ever had one of those projects around the house, your apartment, or maybe at work that needs to be done, but for some reason you keep putting it off? Days and weeks turn into months and even years sometimes. And then, something inspires you, your spouse or your kids nudge you, or an emergency demands that you take care of the situation.
This has happened to me more times than I would like to admit. But I’ll share a recent example of where I had been putting something off for years and it finally got taken care of in a very unexpected way and very quickly.
What I learned about the Lord’s house from fixing my faucet
Now you may be wondering: Hey James, what does all this have to do with dwelling in the house of the Lord? Okay, please be patient and I promise I will show the connection in just a few minutes.
Probably ten years ago, or more, I “fixed” the kitchen faucet by replacing a little part that went down inside. The plumbing supply store assured me I could do it. I followed the directions and voilà! The faucet worked again, well, almost. It was hard to shut off. You had to gently maneuver the handle in just the right way, or it would drip.
But since I had just “fixed” it, I decided that must be the way it was going to be and I had to explain how it worked to the rest of the family and anyone else who used the faucet. Over the years, it got worse.
I basically had a mindset problem: “accept it, put up with it, and deal with it.” It didn’t seem like a big enough problem to call a plumber.
And so for years, we had to coerce this kitchen faucet to shut off properly.
Taking an honest look at myself
But over the last two or three years, my wife and I have been taking an honest look at some the limiting beliefs we had accepted about ourselves.
For years we had put off certain projects, like painting the house, because the budget just couldn’t handle it. But it was a right idea to get the house painted and as we prayed about doing what was right and not accepting any limitations, our friend Lori recommended a painter. And we had the idea just to paint one side of the house each year until it was all done.
And that’s exactly what we did. And I’m happy to report, the painter finished just this past week. It really feels good to get something done that has been so long in coming.
So, in the spirit of trusting God to help us take care of our home in big ways, as well as small ones, we realized it was time to call a plumber and get that silly faucet fixed.
However, a few days later, we hosted our monthly book group in our home, and it came up in the discussion how people sometimes avoid doing things they should do, how to get at the root of that belief system, and take care of what needs to be done.
My wife jokingly mentioned how we had put off fixing the faucet. Everybody laughed, but then my neighbor Robb, said, “Oh, it’s easy to replace a faucet. I can help you do it. I need to replace mine too. And you can help me.”
It happened so fast
A week and a half later, I went to the hardware store, picked out a faucet. Robb came over. We turned off the water, replaced the faucet, turned the water back on and that was it.
The thing I had been avoiding and putting up with 10 years was suddenly repaired and working perfectly. Then I went across the street to help Robb replace his kitchen faucet.
There was immense satisfaction that this was taken care of so effortlessly.
So, what does me replacing the kitchen faucet have to do with dwelling in the house of the Lord?
The house of the Lord
In the Bible, the phrase “the house of the Lord” is used 234 times. Other translations sometimes use the word tabernacle or temple depending on the context, but the actual words are house of the Lord.
My favorite Bible verse with this phrase is Psalm 23
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Psalm 23:6 KJV
Think for just a minute of what it can mean to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I have always found great comfort in this verse. Whenever I read it, it sort of melts away the worries and concerns I’m struggling with.
Dwelling in the house of the Lord is not just way off in eternity
But I almost always have tended to think of dwelling in the house of the Lord as something way off in the future, in eternity. And of course, that is very comforting.
But more recently I’ve realized there’s a nowness to dwelling in the house of the Lord. Forever isn’t just in the future. It’s here and now as well.
So I’ve asked myself, if I were actually conscious of dwelling, or living, in the house of the Lord, would I put up with things that didn’t work properly? What about ideas and limited thinking that didn’t serve me well?
Well, I realized I had been doing just that in lots of areas in my life.
The Lord’s house isn’t a place
Here’s what I’ve been realizing. Dwelling in the house of the Lord forever, includes right now, as I just mentioned. And the house of the Lord is not a place. It’s an awareness of dwelling in God’s presence, being a part of God’s household, so to speak, a member of God’s family.
In that sense, we are always dwelling in the house of the Lord, wherever we are, wherever we live, today, tomorrow, and forever.
And even if you make a mistake, big or little, God’s not going to kick you out. You are still dwelling in the God’s presence.
When I was thinking of dwelling in the house of the Lord in terms of way off in the future, as some final arrival point, I tended to put things off that needed to be done. I was always thinking I’d do them later.
Now you could just call this procrastination, but I have realized, as I was putting together this podcast episode, the mindset that dwelling in the house of the Lord would come in the future, carried over into the way I was living in my own house. I was always thinking I would do something in the future.
Being aware that you dwell in the house of the Lord
The more my wife and I have acknowledged and accepted the fact that we live in the house of the Lord right now, the more this has empowered us to act on and take care of things in a timely way.
And there’s an expectation and trust that God will provide the resources we need, whether it turns out to be a neighbor to help change a faucet, finding the right painter, or having room in the budget to do what needs to be done.
It really comes down to being aware that we dwell in the house of God. Which is kind of cool because we live in a town called Bethel, which in Hebrew, beth-el means, house of God.
So what does it really mean to dwell in the house of the Lord?
There are so many facets mentioned in the Bible. We’ll look at just a few of them.
The word “dwell” has a wide variety of meanings in the Bible. The Hebrew word is yāšaḇ. It means to sit, sit down, to be set, to remain, stay, to dwell, have one’s abode, to inhabit.
By the way, when I mention a Hebrew or Greek word and try to pronounce it correctly, it’s not because I’m some great Bible scholar. Whenever I do this in an episode, it means I’ll have the link to this word in the show notes on my website so you can check out the reference for yourself. And I encourage you to do this so you can see all the nuances of these words. And I’m linking to a website called blueletterbible.org.
And here’s what house is in Hebrew: bayiṯ. It means house, dwelling habitation, a place, family household, household affairs,
So, one way to describe what it means to dwell in the house of God is to have your abode and remain in, be part of, God’s family, God’s household.
It means so much more than just being somewhere. It means belonging somewhere.
The house of the Lord as a metaphor
When Moses directed the Children of Israel to build the Tabernacle, as a place to worship God and make sacrifices, this Tabernacle came to be called the house of the Lord.
Later, when Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, it too, was often called the house of the Lord. The Tabernacle, and then the Temple, represented God’s presence in the lives of the Israelites. They were a reminder, a very powerful symbol, that God was with them.
But the phrase, dwelling in the house of the Lord, even in the Old Testament, also takes on a metaphorical sense at times.
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. Psalm 84:10 NIV
Of course, there’s a literal meaning here, to be a doorkeeper in the Tabernacle. The desire expressed here is not to be in an important position with priestly duties, but simple to serve God humbly. And that’s better than being in a successful but wicked endeavor.
This verse becomes a metaphor that it’s better to be of humble service to God, in whatever you do, wherever you are, than be prosperous in ways that aren’t pleasing to God.
And I love this verse from (which is attributed to Moses)
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Psalm 90:1 NIV
This really gets to the heart of where we really live, where we dwell, where we belong.
It reminds me of that verse in Acts where Paul says, referring to God,
For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28 NIV
God Himself is really our dwelling place, where we live, and where we belong.
Dwelling in God’s house is about how you live
To dwell in the house of the Lord doesn’t mean you live in the church building or any building. It’s not a physical place. It means how you live.
It’s about being conscious that you live in God’s presence. It means we are conscious of being with God and God being with us and experiencing God’s love and grace.
This is where you live right now. It’s not just way off in the future.
Paul puts it this way,
For 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. 2 Corinthians 5:1 NIV
In this verse, the word tent is another word for tabernacle. It represents where we dwell. In this verse Paul is actually using it as a metaphor for the human body or the human experience.
He’s saying that, even though we may think of the body, this human existence, as where we dwell, what we inhabit, here on earth, there is a much more glorious sense of our home or dwelling place, the place we live, in heaven. It is not built with human hands. It is spiritual.
Our “eternal house in heaven” is now
And again, I must admit, I used to think of this “eternal house in heaven” as way off in the future after we die.
But Paul says “we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven.” We have is present tense. He doesn’t say, “We will have a spiritual house or dwelling place in heaven.” He says we have it right now.
This goes right along with what Jesus says, and which I quote all the time on The Bible Speaks to You Podcast, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
Your true home, right now, your true dwelling place, is in heaven. You are a member of God’s household, God’s family.
You are always there. You always will be. When you focus on all the trouble and turmoil here on earth, it’s going to be pretty hard to experience your heavenly home, dwelling in God’s presence.
I have found it really helpful, when I’m struggling with a challenge, to pray along these lines: Right this moment, I dwell in the house of the Lord. This is my home. It’s not way off in the future, but I live there today and every day.
Thinking back to the way my faucet finally got replaced so easily, I’ve realized that the way I live in and take care of my house is symbolic of how much I am aware of living in God’s house.
The more I am aware of living in God’s house, dwelling and abiding in God’s presence, the more I want my home to reflect the order and harmony of heaven. It makes me want to clean out a drawer or a cabinet and get rid of the things we don’t use or need any more.
Hey, sometimes I’ve started some kind of project like that just to get it done, but when I get a clear glimpse that my true home is spiritual, in heaven, right now, there’s a deep spiritual joy and satisfaction to bring my home into better alignment with the order and harmony of heaven.
There’s nothing broken, worn out, or useless in heaven. I’m trying to bring that state of affairs to my earthly home.
Worship in the house of the Lord and your house
The way you live in your home is actually a form of worship. The way you live in your home and take care of it, indicates to some degree, how much you are aware that your real home is in heaven.
As I mentioned earlier, in the Bible, the Tabernacle and the Temple are often referred to as the house of the Lord. They were places of worship.
But Jesus told the Samaritan woman
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:21, 23 NIV
Jesus wants us to get over a limited form of worship constricted by a location, a building, or thinking your church is the only one that can worship God correctly.
You can worship God wherever you are, because you are always in the house of the Lord. You are always in God’s presence, dwelling with and in Him. This is true for everyone.
The house of the Lord is where you live, right now.
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Psalm 23:6 KJV
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Psalm 84:10 NIV
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Psalm 90:1 NIV
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
Acts 17:28 NIV
28 For in him we live and move and have our being.
2 Corinthians 5:1 NIV
For 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.
Matthew 4:17 NKJV
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
John 4:21, 23 NIV
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.