As Christians we love what the Lord tells us in John 14. “Let not your heart be troubled (you disciples): ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” After Thomas expresses his confusion, our Lord declares: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Our King James Bibles uses the word “mansions” in verse 2: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” The ESV and RSV render the Greek word as “rooms;” “in my Father’s house are many rooms.” The ASV in the body of its text says, “mansions,” but in a footnote says, “in my Father’s house are many abiding places.” The other Bible versions I have all say something similar to these: “rooms,” “mansions” and “dwelling places.”
In some people’s loyal defense of their Bibles, they forget that the real controversy is not so much about translations as much as it is the text from which those translations come. The majority of new versions are modern translations from a few third century manuscripts; documents which are unsound and often heretical in places. Not only those ancient manuscripts, but the more recent editors of those manuscripts, Misters Westcott and Hort refused to declare or believe some of the fundamental doctrines of our faith. The Authorized or King James Version is a translation from of the vast majority of ancient copies called the “Textus Receptus,” and those manuscripts do teach what we believe. There is no logical or Biblical reason to read or study any other English Bible but the KJV.
But in the case of John 14, the original copies of both the Received and the Westcott and Hort text have the same Greek word. “Rooms,” “mansions,” and “abiding places” are just different ways in which the original word can be translated. And that Greek word is used only twice in the Bible: here and later in this same chapter, where “Jesus answered and said unto (another disciple), If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our ABODE with him. So the Greek word can legitimately be translated “mansions, “rooms,” “dwelling places” and “abodes.”
Now, what comes to your mind when you hear the word “mansion?” To me it is some palatial, impressive, excessively large, single family home in the rich part of town. The word “palatial” is the adjective form of “palace.” Many people picture a “mansion” as a private palace. But the English word “mansion” is derived from the French word, not for “palace,” but for “dwelling place.” Only over time has it come to mean a thirty-room villa or castle on a hundred acres of rolling hills and woods.
Before returning to our text, consider a couple more related subjects. Many scholars think that God’s saints will spend eternity in the “New Jerusalem.” Revelation 21 tells us that the New Jerusalem will come down out of Heaven, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” In that chapter that city is described as being 12,000 furlongs, or about 1,500 miles cubed. Have you ever tried to imagine thousands, or perhaps millions of individual castles for all the saints within a three-dimensional city, extending from Seattle to Denver and from Calgary to Phoenix, as high as the average GPS satellite? I’m sure the Lord could make such a thing happen.
But to me the word “rooms,” or “dwelling places” seem more appropriate than our modern day vision of “mansions.” Why would any of us need a castle in Heaven? Whether large or small those personal dwelling places will be every bit as sumptuous and spectacular as the greatest mansion or palace the world has ever seen.
After going down that road, which perhaps you didn’t really want to travel, let’s go down one more. How do you picture what takes place in Isaiah 6 when Isaiah is brought into God’s throne room? “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.” I confess to picturing a room almost blinding in its glorious whiteness and perfection. I visualize an alabaster, or ivory, throne with the Son of God dressed in white seated there, surrounded by seraphim in dazzling snowiness. I picture simplicity; austerity. And then into that room filled with the shekinah glory of God is brought the prophet of the Lord who is forced by the circumstances to cry out, “Woe is me! for I am undone. For mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
By now you are wondering what any of this has to do with our scripture from Malachi. The answer is: very little, if anything. But I needed an introduction to what the Lord does have for us here. I am calling this message “Accoutrements in the House of God.” An “accoutrements” is something accompanies and decorates a person or a place, like a house. And I can see two of those Heavenly accoutrements in this text which interrupt my former picture of heaven
In my opinion, every mansion ought to have a LIBRARY.
I use that thought to bring you back to what is said in verse 16: “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
The Hebrew word which is translated “book” in this verse is usually translated as it is here. But it is also rendered “letter,” “evidence,” “register,” “scroll” and in a couple other ways. Literally, it speaks of some sort of writing. Genesis 5:1: ”This is the BOOK of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him.” Nehemiah “ found a REGISTER of the genealogy of them which came up at the first.” Job said, “Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a BOOK. And Hezekiah received a threat from the King of Syria in the form of a letter, using the same word.
Now, let me ask, in what year was the first book made? A book with a cover and leaves or pages? When was the first book, as you know books, ever made? It wasn’t until after the birth of our Saviour. The books of the Old Testament were primarily scrolls: pieces of material rolled up on sticks or rods with writing of some sort on that material. Using my imagination, I am now picturing a vast room in the house of God where are stored the books which have the records of the lives of all the children of Adam. I picture a wall with slots, into which are placed millions of scrolls recording the lives of God’s saints. Along the other three walls are records of the lives of the wicked. And then between them on innumerable rows of shelves are scrolls containing all that the mighty God has done down through the centuries. One of the accoutrements in the Lord’s eternal home might be a vast and beautiful library in mahogany.
There is an interesting turn of phrase in verse 16 which may, or may not, be significant: “A book of remembrance was written before him FOR THEM that feared the LORD.” This could mean nothing more than that there is a record about each of those people who “fear the Lord.” It could also mean that the record was for them, FOR their benefit, or on their behalf. But it might also mean those books are for the use of those whose names are on the outside of that scroll.
Several times the Bible describes God’s judgment throne, and the word “books” come up. For example, there is Daniel 7, which the context clearly reveals speaks about the Tribulation. Verse 9: “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Then there are the famous words of Revelation 20: “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
For the saints, God’s word implies the availability of records, if they are actually needed. II Corinthians 5:10: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Of course, in God’s omniscience there is nothing unknown; there is nothing which is not “recorded.” This is most likely anthropomorphic, giving us human words to help us understand the extent of God’s knowledge, but let’s run with it nevertheless.
The Bible tells us that the Lord has collected every tear; the reason for its existence and the cause which provoked it. When Paul says, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” doesn’t that imply a balancing of one known quantity against another? Christian, have you been tormented by someone for your faith in Christ? The Lord knows all about it, and God’s blessings in response will outweigh what you have endured. Have you willingly sacrificed your time, your goods, and your love so that someone else might be blessed? The righteous judge has a record of that and there will be rewards for your service. Have you, like Job, been attacked by Satan in the devil’s attempt to dethrone Jehovah. Remember, that “the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.” Such a statement demands some sort of Heavenly book-keeping. And the same will be rendered to you.
Will there actually be a library in the eternal house of God? Perhaps not. But this I do know, the omniscient God knows all things, all the events, all the sacrifices and all the sorrows of His saints. Each and every event from the beginning of time is recorded in the heart of Jehovah. And in another context we read: “I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.” It is probably a stretch, but we might picture a huge library in God’s eternal home will all His books. It might be rich in dark woods, with accountrements including thick rugs and comfortable chairs.
And a second accoutrement in God’s home might include a TREASURY.
“And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” I have not been able to give my wife all the personal accoutrements she deserves. She has a few rings, some inexpensive necklaces and broaches, a few ear rings and a several watches. She also has a couple jewelry boxes and special places in which to keep her precious ornaments.
My wife is not as rich as the Queen of England. I understand that Queen Elizabeth II has quite a jewelry collection, even bigger than her stamp collection. Elizabeth opened her new Jewel House in 1994. It occupies, not a room, but you could say “a large apartment,” and it is designed to allow up to 20,000 visitors a day. It contains more than a hundred priceless, individually mounted objects including 23,578 diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. But it doesn’t include all the jewelry the Queen actually wears. A few years ago, a small fortune was spent improving the special place where those jewels are kept and displayed.
Our Saviour has far more than 23,000 diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. They aren’t made of earthly materials and minerals; they are the souls of those He has loved and saved. The Hebrew word translated “jewels” is more often rendered “peculiar treasure.” The Lord has said of Israel on several occasions: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a PECULIAR TREASURE unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.” For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a SPECIAL people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” And here in Malachi, the Lord says that He will make up His jewels and spare them. In sparing them, He will call them and separate them from those things which are not precious to Him.
It may have been a year ago by now, but perhaps you can remember a message or two from II Peter 2:9? “Ye are a chosen generation a royal priests, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” Peter was not writing to Israel in that epistle. He was not speaking to same people as Malachi. According to his own words, he was addressing those who were “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father;” people who had been “sanctified by the Spirit unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of the Jesus Christ.” In other words, Peter was writing to people of his day and ours; people who have been born again by the grace of God. And he describes us with language he knew well from the Old Testament – “peculiar people,” “peculiar treasures,” the “jewelry of God.”
What a blessing there is for us in this thought. If we are as precious to the Lord as these scriptures seem to say, then we can be sure He will keep us safe from harm or theft. The Lord hasn’t spent a mere 2.5 million pounds in our protection. Christ has given His own life that we might be His special treasure for all eternity. Going on in II Peter 2, “in time past (we) were not a people, but (we) are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
Again, I know there are no scriptures which make such a statement, but sanctified logic tells us that the Lord will put His precious jewels into a very special treasury. There are an abundance of “mansions” – “treasuries” in the house of God. Not every descendant of Adam is precious in the sight of God; not every human being is particularly loved. Not every human being has a mansion in God’s house. Christ has gone to prepare a place for us; His chosen and saved people; His treasures. And those whom the Lord has loved and given His life to save, “are kept by the power of God unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last day.” One day the treasury in the house of God will be opened for all to see. Following the Saviour into that very special rooms, God’s angels will see thousands and thousands of former sinners, saved by grace and made beautiful in the righteousness of Christ.
But that is not how any of us came into this world. We were more like coal than diamonds, rubies and emeralds. We were born sinners, and we have lived out our sinful nature in transgressing the will of our Creator. But if I understand the science, God can, and does, change lumps of coal into diamonds by His grace and power.
You may still be filthy, ugly lump of sin, but God can make you into one of his precious jewels. Are you willing to be transformed? Has God placed in your heart a desire to be beautiful in His sight? Do you have any urge to dwell in the treasure house of God, placed there by the Spirit of the Lord? Then I implore you to repent of your sin before the omniscient God and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. God has already changed millions of pieces of spiritual coal into His special jewels, and He can you as well. May the record show that you have humbled yourself before the Lord and trusted His grace for redemption.