“The Bible says God is from heaven,” I said.
“No. I mean where did God come from?”
“Oh! The Bible says God has no beginning and has no end,” I replied.
“That’s not what I’m asking,” the man said. “I want to know if you know where God is frommm.”
“What do you mean, like a street address?” I asked.
He smiled and nodded his head, whispering, “Now we’re talking!”
“All I’ve ever read was that the heavens are God’s throne,” I said.
“Read Habakkuk 3:3,” he said.
It reads: “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of his praise.”
The man closed his Bible and declared, “God is from a place called Teman! That’s where He lives. That’s where He came from.”
At that moment I didn’t know what to say, although I seriously doubted the way this man reasoned on Habakkuk 3:3 was correct. So I listened respectfully to his views and after returning home that day, I did some research. A few days later I returned to share my findings.
I wanted the man to consider what I was about to say and not become combative, defensive or feel belittled in any way.
So I commended him first for his study of the Scriptures and confessed that I don’t recall a more thought-provoking question asked in my life. He seemed pleased.
“In fact, I went home and did some research and I wanted to share with you a few points I found on the subject, if I may?” I asked.
“Sure! What did you find?” he replied.
I directed his attention to a very similar Scripture at Deuteronomy 33:2 which states in part: “The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints.”
I tactfully pointed out that while Habakkuk 3:3 speaks of God coming from Teman, Moses wrote that God came from Sinai. Both prophets mentions Mount Paran. I then explained that back in Moses’ day, Teman and Paran were on Israel’s route through the wilderness toward the Promised Land.
As the Israelites proceeded on their trek, God’s splendor may have reflected from the mountains as He brought His people past Edom en route to the Promised Land or His glory was made manifest in some special way to His people — Whatever happened, the setting does not indicate that God was referring to His own home address in heaven. The man didn’t say a word.
“Actually, Teman was the name of one of Esau’s descendants, according to Genesis 36:10-11,” I said.
I also pointed out that the place where Teman’s descendants resided came to be called “Teman” or “the land of the Temanites” according to Genesis 36:34 — New King James Version.
Because these descendants took pleasure in the defeat of Israel, God promised to punish them. At Obadiah 1:9, God said, “And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.”
Not only did the people of Teman rejoice at the Israelite's defeat, but Esau’s descendants — also called Edomites — actually joined in the Jews’ downfall, for which God promised retribution upon Teman.
Amos 1:11-12 reads: “Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever: But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.”
Clearly, God’s reference to Teman was not referring to His own homeland in heaven.
What I remember most about sharing this information was how quiet the man was. I recall how little he had to say afterwards. He changed the subject and that was OK. There wasn’t much else to say.
Before he raised his question, I had never paid attention to the word “Teman” in the Bible. Thanks to his question we both learned something. That experience made me wonder if more people would benefit from visiting with their neighbors and sharing a Scriptural thought.
It reminded me of Paul’s words at Romans 1:11-12: “For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” — New Living Translation.
The way we are taught by God is not always by reading or studying alone. Sometimes truth comes knocking at your door. My conclusion? Learning from others, especially about God, is truly a "spiritual gift."
*For a copy of The Little White Book of Light featuring more Wright Way columns, visit barnesandnoble.com, booksamillion.com and amazon.com.