2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands…
Is there anything "not made with hands"? Then there is something apart from manufactures. Some of you live in what you call the manufacturing districts. Now what do your manufactures amount to? But we have been proud of our hand-making. Within given limits that is perfectly proper. The prosperity of the world is due in no small measure to the work of the hands. And yet we are now face to face with something — is it home, church, mankind, temple, heaven? — something that hands have never touched. I must therefore get you to live elsewhere as well as in the manufacturing districts. Why, you do that in part already. I would press your logic to further issues. You do not live in the factory. Oh, you say, we live a mile or two out. Why? That we may have some little whiff of nature, some fresh air, some tolerable breathing space. Now that is not all. I want you to get a little further out under larger skies, to breathe fresher air, to see fairer downs. After all, what have the hands made? They have made nothing worth speaking about. Did the hands build the temple? No, except in a very narrow and literal sense of the term. Who built the temple? The man who thought it, the man who drew it, the man who saw it in aerial lines before he put pen or pencil to paper. He made the temple. The hands, they were mere hired servants. They would have pulled the temple down quite as easily and quite as readily. There is another very remarkable expression in Mark 9:3: "As no fuller on earth can white them." Then there is something above art as certainly as there is something above manufactures? Now ask the fuller to look at his work, and at this work on Tabor. Fuller, didst thou wash this robe on Tabor? No, no. Why not? Why, it was washed with lightning, it was cleansed in heaven, it was dipped in the fountains of eternity. No fuller on earth can white like that. So be it. "Not made with hands." Manufactures? No. "No fuller on earth can white them." The arts? No. What is left then? Nature. Is that so? Be careful. Admissions will be turned against us presently. So this brings us to a third remarkable expression (Acts 26:13), "Above the brightness of the sun." Then nature goes. What radiance is this? We thought the sun was bright. We used to say of that old glory, "He puts the fire out." He blinds our little lamps.
1. Now this is exactly so with regard, for example, to character, saintly, holy, beauteous, inspired character. It is of a whiteness such as no fuller on earth can make it. Why, there be many fullers who are trying to whiten the world; rare fullers, costly fullers, energetic, fussy, busy fullers, but they get no further on. They are moralists, they lecture upon moral philosophy. There be many whitening fullers, persons who say that on such and such conditions they will renovate you. They will make new men of you if you will sign a vow, undergo a discipline, subject yourselves to certain scheduled operations, each coming in its own proper time, then at the end all will be well. Oh, poor fuller! What doth this great Christ do? He washes us in blood, and when we stand up from that catharism, the Fuller says, "No fuller on earth can white it like that." If you despise a saint, you have never seen one. A saint is holy. Why, He would not have any fuller on earth touch our souls. He only who made the soul can touch it, redeem it and work that wondrous miracle of washing white by cleansing with blood. Your character is not what it is on the outside. Your character is the quality of your soul, your motive, your purpose, your innermost self, and no fuller on earth can put that through any process of cleansing. "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."
2. It is the same with inspiration. It is not made with hands. What have I seen you do again and again? Have I not seen you searching for inspiration as if it were in black ink and in printer's letters? Yes, I have. We must get away if we can from these people to whom everything is valuable in proportion as it is handmade. Why, the literalist never read the Bible. It was only when he left his literalism and began to touch the higherisms that want names, found in heaven, rightly to express their intent, that he came upon revelation. He said, "This book told me all that ever I did, then it must be inspired." It is not made with hands.
3. And so with Divine hope. It is a light above the brightness of the sun. It is Christ's hope. He did not stop at the Cross. He endured the Cross, despising the shame. Why? Because onward, far away on the horizon line there lay a light that meant immortality and glory inevitable. And what is the practical application of this? It needs but few words to express it. We must go from the things made with hands to the things hands cannot touch. Here are the lilies, Christ says. "We have seen the lilies, we have touched the lilies." "Have you?" "Yes." Then consider them. "Why?" Because your Father in heaven clothed them and made Solomon ashamed of himself in all his pomp, and if He clothed the lilies He will not leave you naked. And we must live the supernatural life. That is the hard part of it. "Not made with hands." "No fuller on earth can white like this." Sun, there is a light above thee. Until we get to these conceptions and exactions we shall be living a very poor life. I am tired of houses made with hands. I have seen it all. Yes, I am tired of this fuller's work. It becomes dingy and poor in my eyes, And I get tired of nature. There is no monotony like the monotony of sunshine.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.