Thursday, 1 May 2014

Two Mountains

Search through the Bible. Hunt into every last corner, every nook, every cranny. You might, perhaps, stumble across Obadiah.

Obadiah is a small book- a minor prophet- only 21 verses long.

If required to expound upon the main points of Obadiah, what would you say? What illustrations might you use? What would be your findings?

At our Church’s Bible Class, we have been teaching through the minor prophets. Each Sunday we look at a different prophet and see who they were, what they taught and how it applies to us. It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride: Gomer ran away from her husband, Jonah ran away from God, Amos measured Israel with a plumb line, Nahum prophesied Ninevah’s flooding, Joel promised the Holy Spirit and Micah vowed to trust God even while  starving.

Last Sunday, it was Obadiah’s turn.

Anyone know anything about the man himself? Who was Obadiah?

There isn’t actually much to know. His name means ‘Servant of Yahweh’ (Yahweh is the Hebrew name for the Lord God, or Jehovah as translated in English). Apart from that, the history books are surprisingly empty about Obadiah (suggesting that he was a good servant indeed!).

Obadiah was prophesying to the Edomites (the descendants of Esau, and thus distant relatives of Israel who descended from Esau’s younger brother-  Jacob).

“The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rock,
in your lofty dwelling,
who say in your heart,

“Who will bring me down to the ground?”

Though you soar aloft like the eagle,
though your nest is set among the stars,
from there I will bring you down,
declares the Lord.”

Obadiah verses 3 and 4


Why does the prophet describe the Edomites as living in clefts of the rock? Why are they in lofty dwellings? How do they soar aloft like the eagle?

Petra TreasuryEdom was a mountainous nation. Have you ever visited the ruins of Petra? I would dearly like to (my secret honeymoon is soon approaching…!).

Petra is a city truly built into the ‘cleft of a rock’. Archaeologists think that is was constructed around 400BC and have suggested that they have only uncovered 15% of the total city, the remainder still being hidden deep underground.

Although Petra wouldn’t have been the capital city of Edom when Obadiah was writing, it still shows just how mountainous and rocky a civilisation Edom really was.

Petra House


It is no wonder then that Obadiah calls the Edomites a lofty people: they literally lived really really high up!
In fact, the prophet describes the nation as ‘Mount Esau.’

As we read through the book, we quickly discover that the Edomites had betrayed their brothers and sisters in Israel and Judah. The Babylonians had invaded Palestine and captured the Israelites, taking them into exile across the far reaches of their new empire.

As their relatives were being murdered and captured, the Edomites stayed up in their mountains sarcastically boasting ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’

In fact, once the Babylonian army had left, they came down from their mountains and plundered the remains of Israel, hunting down any survivors and selling them into captivity. They even gloated over the wreck of Israel.

The Lord, quite rightly and justly, tells the Edomites (through Obadiah) that judgment will be made on them for their crimes. He condemns ‘Mount Esau’ to invasion and destruction.

Interestingly the prophet goes on to mention another Mount- this time it is Mount Zion.


“But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape, and it shall be holy…”

“Saviours shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau,
and the kingdom shall be the Lord's.”

Obadiah verses 17a and 21


Where is Mount Zion and why is it so special?

Zion is the special name given to describe Jerusalem (capital of Israel) in the Old Testament. But Zion doesn’t speak purely about bricks and mortar- the name Zion refers specifically to the place where the Lord God dwells with His people. Psalm 48 says,


“Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.
Within her citadels God has made himself known as a fortress.”

Psalm 48 verses 1, 2 and 3


The great King is God himself. If Jerusalem is His palace, then the Temple is His throne room, where he meets and talks with His subjects. Zion refers to the City and Temple where God dwells.

But Jerusalem and the Temple were both destroyed in the first century AD. Where does God dwell now?

Shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus claimed to be the new temple (place where God lives and communicates with us from). Now that Jesus had come, the old bricks of the Temple building were no longer required.

We find out in the New Testament- in the book of Hebrews- that the final ‘Mount Zion’ will be Heaven- that is where God will live with mankind,


“…you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…”

Hebrews 12 v 22 (pt)


Having explained what and where Zion is, lets come back to Obadiah. How does Obadiah compare these two mountains- Esau and Zion?

Mount Esau is the place where men and women trust in their own strength and power for safety. Mount Zion is where men and women trust in the Lord God for their safety.

The Israelites may have lost their homes and possessions to the Babylonians, but their eternal souls and their new bodies (God promises all believers transformed perfect bodies) were safe. The Edomites thought their bodies were safe (although they would soon be found wrong), however their eternal souls were not. 

Did you notice verse 21 which I quoted earlier? “Saviours shall go up to Mount Zion…” That verse is talking about Jesus Christ who died on the side of the Mount of Zion- besides the city of Jerusalem. It was because Jesus died to pay the penalty for my sins that I can now live and communicate with God. I am one of those people who ‘escaped’ judgment for my wrongdoings, because Jesus was punished on my behalf.

The wonderful thing is that Obadiah’s prophesy still stands- Jesus’s offer of free forgiveness and a home in the Heavenly Mount Zion still stands.

Which Mountain do you choose?

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A Poor Man Cries


  I’ve recently been reading through the Psalms each morning. The Psalms in the Bible are basically the inward songs of a man’s heart. They are the longings and cries which are tough to verbalise and explain.

  This morning Psalm 34 particularly stuck a chord with me, and I wanted to share it with you.  


“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.”  


   Thus speaks David the shepherd (the man who would one day become arguably the greatest King Israel ever enjoyed) while on the run, caught between a jealous master and an enemy King eager to crush him once and for all.

   Psalm 34 gives us the amazing testimony of a man who has experienced God’s rescue.

   Why does David refer to himself as poor?

   It probably is fair to say that he was in a bad situation: having driven King Saul to a jealous rage he was forced to flee the Royal Court at night while guards came to arrest him, he lost his wife (the King’s daughter) and he was named the Number One Enemy-of-the-State. Having taken refuge inside the Philistine city of Gath, he was spotted by the Abimelech (Philistine King) who couldn’t believe his luck (David was after all his chief enemy). Our poor fugitive was thus forced to act crazy- the Bible describes the spittle running down his chin- in order to make good his escape.

  Left without home or income, David was indeed poor. Perhaps it’s a good job then that the Lord delights in helping the poor and weak and lame. Psalm 34 goes on to say,

“The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

  The Bible never hides the truth. We all face afflictions. I have no idea of what you might be facing, but I do know that everyone faces their own battles; whether it be financial, health related, in relationships or even spiritual. David faced some major afflictions and yet he did the right thing,

“I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”  

    David actively was seeking God even in the midst of his poverty and woe. In Psalm 34, he encourages us to do exactly the same thing,

“Oh taste and see the the Lord is good!”

“Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together!”

“Oh fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!”

    How can we truly seek God? Surely that is a question being asked across this planet and the answers come back thick and fast and almost always totally contradictory. Yet David has a series of answers ready- God has answered his own cry and therefore he is well placed to help us out.

“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?”

   You might be a future King but surely that is a stupid question David?! Obviously we all want life and many days to see good things!

  Right, says David, and now I’ll tell you how to get them…

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth…
Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.”

     As our friends the Meerkats say ‘Simples’:

    Just be good. Don’t do evil. Don’t lie. Don’t deceive. Speak nice things. Don’t hate others.  

   If you are anything like me, you will have picked up a problem there- sure, we can be good, sure we don’t do anything evil (after all, we aren’t Moriatti or Lex Luther!) but what about don’t Lie? I’ve done that more than once or twice. And don’t hate others?! Is that even possible? My heart is full of hate and distrust and suspicion and jealousy.

  Eh oh. Double Eh oh.

   By David’s standards in Psalm 34, I deserve to be slain by affliction, or to put it another way I deserve to have broken relationships, empty bank accounts, problems with the authorities and ultimately… death.

   Thankfully Psalm 34 doesn’t leave it there. David ends with these words,

“The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”

    No condemnation. If we have been redeemed by the Lord then we are innocent and righteous. No longer does the threat of affliction and death loom over us.

   Only two weeks ago my granddad passed away after several years of degrading Alzheimer's – as a Christian he wasn’t free from disease or death but he was never afraid of the grave because he knew that he didn’t have a guilty soul. He had taken refuge in the Lord decades ago and knew that his saviour had heard his cry. He knew that the only thing he faced after death was an eternity with the most wonderful and loving God.

   What does David mean when he mentions the Lord redeems the life of his servants? What does a redeemer do? They pay the price to buy something back (much like a ransom). We come with a vast and heavy ransom- who can afford to pay off the price for all the stupid lies I’ve told? For all the hatred and malice in my heart? Who could possibly afford to buy back my soul? There can only be one answer- Jesus Christ- God gave himself up on a cross, the worst form of execution known to mankind, to pay off the ransom demanded by my sins.

  It is that same saviour which David is so keen so rejoice about! That is why he starts off the Psalm by saying:


“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.

Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!”

Monday, 14 January 2013

Crimes ‘gainst the King


A beautiful garden, a tranquil delight,
a haven, a house and a home.
Rocks dripping honey and rivers of milk,
fountains of fruit flowing forth.

Twas here that a King walked and talked
with his friends- his people, his citizens and folk.
Down the sweet lanes and beside the green meadows
a Monarch and his nation did dwell.

But, swollen with pleasure, each ego did grow
and tempted with empire of own,
the devious sower a seed of dissent
placed in heart and in mind and in eye.

Forgetting their liege and his grace and his favour,
and the law of treason and crimes ‘gainst the King,
the people bore arms and fought for the victory,
seeking freedom from deemed tyranny.

Their hope was ill founded and their cause a delusion:
they strove without knowledge or brains.
For the sower was twisted and led to disaster
his blind flock with the vilest glee.

They looked in their mirth at the land they had stole,
and with joy cried ‘Safety’ and ‘Peace’.
‘This civilisation,’ they proclaim, ‘is firm and safe, to be true.’
A great mistake, these fools are deluded:

One Kingdom only shall remain,
and it is unlike any other earthly domain.
Its King is eternal and glorious above,
and first in His Court: a great message of love.

For this King sent his son- His Prince and delight-
to pay the great penalty his enemies did owe.
Their treachery is forgiven and their debt He repaid
at the cost of his firstborn their sin was assuaged.

Yet still some choose to fight,
and a bitter war they do rage.
Until, beaten and guilty, they find the gates slammed firm shut,
and lament their decisions and fear the dark grave.

Monday, 24 December 2012

An Amen to Christmas

   If you are reading this post, then, like me, you are a lucky survivor of The End of the World 2012. Having lived through the Mayan’s end-times, it is easy to become arrogant and cannibalistic- after all, we still have our physical bodies and aren’t floating around in an ethereal ‘higher plane of existence’ (nice though that might have been).

  The Mayan Civilisation may have discovered an awful lot of things by looking to the stars, but the final trumpet call of this world was not one of them. The Bible, on the other hand, tells us that no man can know the when or how of the end-world scenario. Unlike atheists or many scientists, who view the end of the world as a cosmic disaster -the failure of human endeavour- Christians eagerly await the day when their Saviour and Lord will return, bodily, to this world. Culture may preach an apocalyptic finale when all good and kindness and ingenuity is wiped out to give way to a desolate wasteland. God, however, promises a new creation- physical, with all the senses: touching, hearing, smelling, tasting, seeing and thinking. And rather than all good being destroyed, all evil shall be utterly destroyed. Suffering will end, injustice will end, hatred will end.

  The book of Revelation (the final book of the Bible) gives us many clues or hints about the end of this world and the start of the next. The grand plan, however, God has rightfully kept to himself.

Why hasn’t he come already? Because he is a God of compassion- he allows us each time to turn to him for forgiveness.

Why do we need forgiveness? Because if God is making a new creation which has no injustice or wrongdoing, then we don’t have a place in it. We each have failed God’s perfect standard, and without his forgiveness and remedy, we cannot expect to join him in Heaven.

  How can we be forgiven? Only through the sacrifice God made on our behalf. Jesus Christ- the son of God and also God himself- freely came to earth, humbling himself by becoming a baby boy in a manger. He grew up with the singular purpose of dying in a wicked and horrific manner to pay the penalty we deserve for our sins against the King.

  As a Christian, I celebrate Christmas because it is a reminder of my God sacrificing the splendours of Heaven to come down to the grit and dirt of earth to be born, live and die on my behalf.

1. Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love's sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love's sake becomes poor.

2. Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love's sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love's sake becamest man.

3. Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.

But, praise God, my Saviour is no longer dead- oh no.

How can death contain the very creator of Life itself?

Answer: it cannot. Jesus broke the shackles of the grave and rose from the dead.

What an amazing thing to be able to write! Our Saviour lives! He doesn’t rot in a tomb in Israel, he lives and reigns by his Father’s side. Not only that, but we are promised that he will return to us.

   In Revelation, Jesus Christ is described as The Amen. Amen roughly means let it be so. Why- you ask- should Jesus be called ‘The Amen’? Here is your answer…

Because of Jesus’ death our sins have been defeated once and for all- Amen! Let it be so!  

Because of Jesus’ resurrection we can also be promised a resurrection from death and an eternal home with him - Amen! Let it be so!

Because of Jesus’ promised return we can live knowing that nothing can destroy us or separate us from his love for us- Amen! Let it be so!


  I hope you have a fantastic Christmas and that you can join me in saying a loud “Amen!” to the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord!

Monday, 10 December 2012

FaTo: Finding a Home III

  Forming a Theology around the purchase of a house.
  The Series thus far:

1. Should a Christian buy a house?

2. Buying or Renting- which is biblically correct? 

2. (Appendix) OT law regarding property sales

  Today’s post looks at the important issue of location- where should we live? This question is tied up with another crucial consideration- how should a Christian use their home? In order to  better understand the first, I have started with the later query.

3. How should a Christian use their home?

“An Englishman’s home is his castle.” Anon.

  “A Christian’s home is a drop-in centre.” Me.


a. Shelter. We should never ignore the obvious, after all, it is obvious for a reason. What is the definition of a house?

House, n., /Hous/
a  place for human habitation.

Of course, the primary purpose of a house is for shelter and protection from the harsh environment outside. I don’t think anyone will contend that statement- in case you were thinking of doing so however I shall remind you of one of the Lord Jesus’ parables:

    “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
(Matthew 7:24-27 ESV)

Jesus obviously thought that a house was to be used as protection against the winds and floods and rains we experience in our localised climates. Enough said on that topic, I think.

b. Church. A home is a precious resource, which can be harnessed for supporting your church fellowship. In Acts chapter 12 and verse 12 we find Mary holding prayer meetings in her home (Through the prayers of those saints, the Lord freed Peter from prison). Aquila and Priscilla are great examples of NT believers who regularly opened their home up for church meetings. Perhaps youth meetings or particular bible studies are in need of a venue? Perhaps something needs storing? I’m sure your church could use your home somehow! 

c. Support workers. Homes are also places to provide rest and support for traveling evangelists, speakers and missionaries. Martha opened up her home to the Lord Jesus. In Acts 21, Philip (himself an evangelist) provided a pit-stop for Paul and his companions. In 3 John, the apostle writes to Gaius, who, it seems, allowed many preachers to stop off and recuperate in his home.

d. Hospitality. Connected with point c., hospitality is a major theme in the life of NT Christians. In fact, we are told that Christians will be particularly noticed by their love one for another. From personal experience, I know what a blessing it is to be invited out to a fellow believers home for a spot of Sunday lunch or dinner. It is especially beneficial to spend time in the homes of believers who have different family situations than yourself. As a young unmarried Christian, I find it a great joy to spend time with Christian parents and their families, or elder more experienced brothers and sisters. Romans chapter 12 verse 13 says “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Other examples can be found in Matthew 25 verse 35, Hebrews 13 verse 2, 1 Peter 4 verses 9 to 10, 1 Timothy 3 verse 2 and Titus 1 verse 8.

e. Family. A home should be a godly environment for the upbringing of children. Paul gives some advice to Timothy regarding the selection of elders and deacons, he says that both must have households honouring to God, where the children respect their parents. A child’s home is the place where he or she should learn about the Lord Jesus- both through scriptural teaching and worship, but also through the example of his earthly Father.

f. God’s Glory. Ultimately of course, every house must be used for the glory of the Lord God- as appose to the men at Babel, who built a great tower for their own praise and renown.  A home is a wonderful gift and must be treated with thanksgiving and praise to the gift-giver. I hope that points a through e all have Jesus’ glory at their heart.

4. Location, Location, Location: Biblical Principles for locating your home.

“Home is where the heart is.”

a. Get your priorities right. Wherever we finally settle down, we must remember that this is not our ultimate home. If home is where the heart is, then our hearts must be firmly fixed in Heaven! As we mentioned in an earlier post, we are merely ‘wanderers’ awaiting our home in heaven.  C.S. Lewis famously said:

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Likewise, no home here on earth will bring us ultimate satisfaction. Whether in the run-down housing estate, or in a luxurious mansion, nowhere can bring satisfaction without Jesus Christ. 

b. Be prepared to move. It may be that God has other plans for you that involve upping sticks and heading into the unknown. Of course, as the next point suggests, perhaps you can best serve God exactly where you are. But don’t get too attached, okay? Examples of people who stuck around for some time, but then moved on, include Priscilla and Aquila, Timothy and Titus and even Paul (who stayed a  number of years in Antioch and Ephesus).

c. Serve a local Church. Church is where believers gather and encourage one another. If you live many miles away from your church then you cannot, in truth, support the work and people there. Remember our earlier suggestions regarding hospitality (specifically amongst your church) and using your home for church events.

d. Witness to unbelievers. God uses the lives and words of believers to touch the hearts of others. Moving to a new home is a great opportunity to get involved with your neighbours- throw barbeques and meals, share gardening tips, support local initiatives and fetes. These ideas are not stand-alone evangelistic things, rather they should be used to develop friendships and to show the love of Jesus Christ and thus providing opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ. If- like me- you are not the social type, then make neighbourhood friendships a real point for prayer! The passion and zeal shown by a family at my church has really challenged me- they were one of the first buyers in a large new development, and have shared their love of Jesus Christ with many of the new households springing up there. Now they are even now running one-to-one bible studies in their home. But none of this is possible if we live in a deserted area miles from other humans!

e. Fulfil other Commitments.  If the location of your new home causes you to be late to work, or to lose contact with family and friends who rely on you, then I suggest that you may have a problem. Colossians 3 tells us that ‘whatever [we] do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.’  It brings no glory to God if we are repeatedly late for work. It sounds obvious, but we must locate our house in a place which is thoroughly practical and doesn’t cause us to fail in our numerous commitments  towards others.


I hope that wherever you prayerfully decide to live, you will be able to serve the Lord wholeheartedly, remembering that the Lord Jesus Christ has granted you a joint inheritance with himself in Heaven.

Talking about Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham, Hebews 11 says this…

   “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

(Hebrews 11:13-16 ESV)

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

FaTo: Finding a Home II (Appendix)

  In my earlier post FaTo: Finding a Home II, I spoke about how we should always be wise in our use of the money which the Lord has lent to us. I decided to enclose the below thoughts separately as they are not central to the issue which was at hand. 

  The Old Testament offers a quite interesting development on our discussion about renting property. The civic laws given to the nation of Israel in the book of Leviticus are not entirely quiet on the subject:

  Simply put, the law said that land could not (for all intents and purposes) be sold- only rented- and every 50 years (on the year of Jubilee) it would return to its original owner.

   This law would have meant that, although one generation might come into some financial trouble, no family could be sent spiralling into poverty. Even if money and flocks and possessions had been bartered away, after 50 years the family would receive their land back and thus could continue to make a living. Unfortunately, the Israelites failed to keep the Jubilee year and, in the whole history of Ancient Israel, it only took place once. 

  I hasten to point out that this law only applied to land outside of city walls, i.e. agricultural land. Houses and buildings inside of a city would not provide the means to sustain a poor family, therefore there was no need for the law to protect the sale of it. Likewise, in the 21st century few people make a living ‘off of the land’ and therefore there is not need for such a law to stop the sale of land. It is also worth pointing out that the land owners in Biblical Israel would probably only have ‘leased’ their land away when they were in desperate need of cash (and this law stopped them from fully selling the land, thus protecting future generations from losing their inheritance) whereas modern day landlords are overwhelmingly better off than most of their tenants and are not in the midst of financial woe.

  I take the following principle away from this particular levitical law (although I don’t claim to have the definitive answer):

   In all activities surrounding the sale of property, efforts must be undertaken to ensure that no family or individual will make a dramatic loss which may lead to significant long-term financial difficulty.

  In practical terms, the above principle actually has quite a big effect. I know of one Christian family who decided to sell their property to someone whose life was in some turmoil out of the desire to offer some help, even when another offer looked like it might be completed quicker and easier. Perhaps if we do need to rent or buy a property, we should be looking for a vendor who could really do with the benefit, rather than rushing to buy from a property developer or big-shot? Again, this requires prayer. I also think that this principle resonates amongst the many people stuck with negative-equity at that moment. How can we ease their burden when looking for a house?

Whatever our individual circumstances, we should try to alleviate the financial burdens and worry of our landlords or vendors and act with the love that Christ shows us. 

FaTo: Finding a Home II

  In our earlier post, we discussed the biblical precedent and principles surrounding the question ‘Should a Christian buy a house?’. This time I would like to further examine the subject of buying versus renting.  I realise that this is a highly topical issue and perhaps not suited for everyone, however I think that many of the biblical ideas can be extrapolated for use in other situations.

2. Buying or Renting: which is biblically correct?

    It isn’t immediately obvious where in the bible we can find argument for or against buying/renting a property. However one theme which is no short supply, especially in the gospels, is the issue of money. Many evangelicals like to talk about Good Stewardship. For a long time I have accepted the idea that Christians should take care of the money in their possession, and try to avoid unnecessary waste, however this study has enabled me to actually examine the biblical call for such stewardship.

   Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 ESV)

  Seeing the reference above - and similar ones to be found in Job 1 verse 21 and Ecclesiastes 5 verse 19 - we understand that our cash flow comes directly from the hand of God. Any money we posses is only ours through the generosity of God. 1 Timothy 6 verses 17 to 19 explains how a person’s wealth should be used:

    As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share…

  Jesus himself talked about being ‘good stewards’ of our finances as an illustration to picture the bigger truth that we need to be ‘good stewards’ of the gospel message (see Matthew 25).

  But you might be asking the question , ‘What relevance does ‘good stewardship’ have to do with buying or renting a house?’. I’m glad you asked. Good question. We must each decide, in our own situations, what good stewardship looks like. Here are two examples:

  a. Perhaps I am a potential student, wanting to go to a distant university. It probably isn’t going to help my already stretched finances to purchase a house near the uni, only to sell it for less money 3 years later when I leave. Temporarily renting a property is the obvious solution.

b. I might  be a someone employed full-time in Coventry, as well as being a member of a church there, and yet living with parents 50 miles away. If I had spent time in prayer and am convinced that Coventry is where I can best serve the Lord then it would make sense to purchase a house in the vicinity- not only would I save on travelling expenses, but it is likely that over the long-term my financial situation would be greatly enhanced by spending on a mortgage as oppose to paying rent.   

   Of course, in practice this principle of ‘Good Stewardship’ is applied by the world at large. After all, who doesn’t want to preserve their monetary resources?! However, as Christians with an eternal perspective, we mustn’t base our decisions on the desire to grasp at material gain. 1 Timothy 6 reminds us that ‘we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.’ Therefore it cannot be prudent to place a Messianic expectation on money (as do lottery players). The pursuit of money, by definition, cannot be the aim of our lives because, at the end of our lives, we will lose it all anyway.

  Although the New Testament places some emphasis on being wise stewards of the money God has given us, it places much much greater emphasis on the hazard or misuse of money. In fact, Jesus goes as far as to say that money is the root of all evils. We must ensure therefore that our decision making is in line with what God wants for us. We must be prayerful about the issue of buying or renting a property because the best financial decision might not always be the best decision for our spiritual lives and relationship with the Lord.

In conclusion, I haven’t really answer the question! Ultimately, the bible offers no concrete answer to buying or renting a house. However, we should prayerfully examine our own situations to discover which option offers the wisest use of our money, without exposing us to temptation or a love of cash.

Please see FaTo: Finding a Home Appendix A (to follow) for a further discussion on the OT laws regarding land, and good principles for dealing with vendors/agents.