TENT DWELLERS


It's hard for me not to be scared right now, because this is some scary stuff we are facing. The Bible uses terms like perilous, beginning of sorrows and days of lawlessness to describe the last days before Christ returns. I believe we are in those last days now. So what do we do? How do we approach this? Of course, the Bible has the answers.

Paul was forever exhorting and teaching not only how to live, but to endure, to be patient, to persevere to the end and to finish well. He was constantly using the term "in vain," exhorting us to remain faithful and persevere lest we believe in vain, or labor in vain, or receive the grace of God in vain. It has to be possible to believe in vain, and all those other things he lists, or else Paul would not have warned us about this. So now, in these most difficult times, it’s imperative that we set our resolve to persevere, endure and finish well. We need a plan of action. We need to know what it really means, what it looks like to endure, to persevere, to abide.

One of my favorite passages on this is Hebrews 10: 35-39: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: ‘For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.”

I will be using the Blueletterbible.org Outline for Biblical Use and Strong's Concordance, the New King James Version and Amplified Bible for this study.

As always, a good way to start is to look at the original words in the Greek and Hebrew. The first word to look at here is the Greek word for confidence. It is the word parresia and is defined as: freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech, openly, frankly, i.e without concealment; without ambiguity or circumlocution; without the use of figures and comparisons; free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance; the deportment by which one becomes conspicuous or secures publicity.

Very interesting. I don’t know about you, but I have felt a bit of intimidation in being bold and speaking freely, lately. This tells me, we should still speak in freedom, confidently, boldly. We should be confident in talking about our faith, our Lord.

The next word is reward, misthapodosia: payment of wages due, recompence. We must always remember the Lord is a Rewarder. We see that all through His Word. Jesus said He is coming back and His reward is with Him. The Bible emphasizes that there are rewards that are ours, if we meet the criteria.

The Greek word for endurance is hypomone and means: steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings,  patiently, and steadfastly; a patient, steadfast waiting for;  a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance.

This Hebrews 10: 35-39 is a great passage to memorize and to remind ourselves to keep speaking in fearless and free confidence and not to throw that away, because it carries great reward, and to keep on in patient steadfastness and endurance.

Let’s look at some verses where this word endurance hypomone is used:
  • Luke 8:15 “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience”
  • Romans 2:7 “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;"
  • Romans 5:3 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;”
  • Romans 5:4 “and perseverance, character; and character, hope”
  • Romans 8:25 “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:6 “Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”
  • Colossians 1:11 “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;”
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:5 “Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.”
  • Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
  • James 1:3 “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”
  • James 1:4 “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
The Amplified Bible gives great insight into these last verses in James: “Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be (people) perfectly and fully developed (with no defects), lacking in nothing.”

Though it is so hard to do, we do need to count this trial that we are all in right now as joy, because it is testing our faith to produce this endurance that we need to make it to the finish line. One thing that strikes me, is that when things are good, we don’t have to endure, but rather the opposite is true. We enjoy good experiences and don’t want them to end. It’s just in trials and hardships that we have to endure. How do we do this? In order to really understand these terms of endurance, perseverance, patience, and running the race, we need to start at the beginning. Jesus made it clear to us, that if we are His, then we must die to ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. Matthew 16: 24-25: "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.'”

This is the key to endurance and perseverance. The cross is an implement of death. It was for Jesus and it is for those of us who follow Him. So first, we must experience our own death to self, and pick up our cross and then the only way we can follow Him is to keep our eyes on Him, to abide with Him and in Him. Hebrews 12: 1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Emphasis mine.)

So with this starting point, let’s look at some of these words in the Old Testament to begin to get a beautiful image of what it looks like to abide in Christ.

Most of us are all certainly familiar with Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” The Hebrew word for endure here is luwn. Strong’s defines as a primitive root; to stop (usually over night); by implication, to stay permanently; hence (in a bad sense) to be obstinate (especially in words, to complain):—abide (all night), continue, dwell, endure, grudge, be left, lie all night, (cause to) lodge (all night, in, -ing, this night), (make to) murmur, remain, tarry (all night, that night).

Psalm 107:1 "O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His mercy endures forever." The Hebrew word for this endures is owlam: long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world, ancient time, long time (of past), (of future) forever, always, continuous existence, perpetual, everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity.

A search for the word abide in the Old Testament leads to the Hebrew word yashab: to dwell, remain, sit, abide. We discover the first mention of this word is found in Genesis 4:16: “Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.” The next use of the word dwell yashab is used just 4 verses later in Genesis 4:20 “And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.” When we look at the meaning of these names Adah and Jabal and these two verses together, we begin to get our picture. Adah means “ornament” and Jabal Yabal means “stream of water.”  So in verse 16 we can contrast Cain going out from the presence of the LORD and dwelling in the land of Nod which means “wandering" with verse 20, where we have a word picture of a thing of beauty, an ornament dwelling by a stream of water in an ohel, or tent...which is also the first mention of a tent. A tent is not a permanent dwelling, but it is a place to stay, to abide, to linger. We are beginning to see something here. I will suggest to you, that we are going to see a beautiful picture laid out all through the Old Testament and then into the New Testament of what we should already know....that we are just pilgrims passing through this world. Our residency here is just temporary, thus the imagery of tents being where we dwell and where we pitch our tents being how we abide and endure, and of the Tabernacle, the tent or dwelling place where God dwelt with His people. We will also see the significance of the tent pegs that hold the tents in place.

Let’s continue. Notice in this verse that it also says that they have livestock. Which brings us to the next passage to look at, Genesis 13:6 “Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.” This is referring to the time when Abraham and Lot had so many herds, flocks and livestock that the land could not support them both, so they had to split up. The phrase that says “their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together,” the word for they could not is yakol and means: to prevail, overcome, endure, have power, be able, to be able, be able to gain or accomplish, be able to endure, be able to reach, to prevail, prevail over or against, overcome, be victor, to have ability, have strength. Abraham and Lot had so many possessions that they could not prevail in the same place.  The land could not support them both. We know the more possessions we have here, the more time is spent managing those possessions. They weigh us down and keep us from focusing on the Kingdom.

This word yakol is also seen in Genesis 32:25 “Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.” I would suggest to you, this yakol, this ability to prevail, to persist often comes with a wrestling we must do with the Lord. A strong faith will face many difficulties in order to develop. Oftentimes, we find ourselves in deep wrestlings with the Lord. And like Jacob, it leaves its mark on us. Jacob’s name was changed at this point to Israel, and is a picture of his flesh being disabled and his spirit prevailing. This is what happens to us in our wrestling with the Lord. Our flesh is disabled and we learn to walk in the Spirit. Genesis 32:30 says, “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”  The word Penuel or Peniel = "facing God." Interestingly, the word preserved natsal means to snatch away, deliver, rescue, save, strip, plunder.

As a side note, I see a good study here on the Rapture, but that’s a study for another time.

This verse where Jacob sees God face to face, or he faces God, and his life is preserved is what is meant in the passage where Jesus says “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. If we try to hang on to our fleshly ways, we end up losing. It’s only in dying to ourselves that we find our true life in Him.

Before we put all this together, let’s look back at the two names, Adah and Jabal in Genesis 4: 20. The word Jabal or yabal is from the same root that is found in Isaiah 44: 4 “And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.” And the root word adah means to pass on, advance, go on, pass by, remove. This root adah is seen in the word adorn in Job 40:4 “Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor, and array yourself with glory and beauty.”

This reminds me of the Pearl of Great Price, which is a beautiful picture of the Church. A pearl is a jewel, a thing of beauty that begins from a source of irritation, and grows by accretion, and then is removed from its place of origin to become a thing of adornment.

The first mention of dwell in the New Testament is found in Matthew 2:23 “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.”’ The Greek word for dwell is katoikeo and means to dwell, to inhabit, to settle. Interestingly Nazareth means “the guarded one.”

Another word translated dwell is found in one of my favorite verses, John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” This word for dwelt is skenoo and means to fix one's tabernacle, have one's tabernacle, abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent), tabernacle, to dwell. This verse takes us back to the Tabernacle of the Old Testament in Exodus 25: 8-9 “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it." This sanctuary was a sacred place, a holy place, a place of consecration, so God could dwell shakan to settle down, abide, dwell, tabernacle, reside. And then Jesus comes to dwell with us as Immanuel.

Jesus tells us to abide in Him in John 15: 4-8: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” This word abide is meno in Greek and means to remain, abide, in reference to place, to sojourn, tarry, not to depart, to continue to be present, to be held, kept, continually, to wait for.

Let’s pull all this together for a beautiful image of what our lives are to look like when we are His and abide in Him. All the words for abiding indicate a lingering, a waiting,  a remaining and abiding.  Because we know we are just here for a little while, when we abide in Him, we pitch our tent with Him, by streams of the Living Water and feast on His Word. Where He is is where we want to be. It's a thing of beauty.

Two more things about tents. It's always interesting the little details that give our Bible an added layer of richness. An example is Paul was a tent maker by trade. How appropriate! As a tent maker, he truly understood the temporary nature of this life. And then, as I mentioned earlier, another interesting thing is the pegs that hold the tent down. Pegs are mentioned several times in the Bible.  Ezra 9:8 says, “And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage." Notice, tent pegs are strong and are used to hold the tent down in strong winds and storms. They can also be used as weapons. I’m thinking of the story of Jael and our study called Jael the Mountain Goat. Jael was a tent dweller who was very observant of the times she lived in, and knew the enemy when she came face to face with him. She drove a tent peg right into the temple of the enemy and killed him. When we dwell with Jesus, we have the tools we need to defeat our enemy, because, in fact, he has already been defeated by the One in Whom we abide.

Comments

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