The upper room…
Throughout the Bible we read in both the Old and the New Testaments about an ‘upper room’. What exactly is that? Are there other names for it? Why are this important?
There are many instances where upper rooms were used, and for many purposes. They have also been called ‘upper chambers’, or ‘roof chambers’. Overall, they compare to staying in a hotel room for a brief time or in an apartment for a longer term living situation.
For a more in-depth look at these rooms, let’s go to Scripture and see who was using them and why, and how this can relate to us today.
Open up your home:
In 1 Kings, Elijah was sent by God to live with a very poor widow and her son during the drought. In time, the son became severely ill, so that there was no breath left in him. For the widow’s sake, the prophet took him “to his upper chamber where he lodged”, and laid him on his own bed. He cried to the Lord, laid on the boy 3x, and begged for the life of the child to come back into him again. The Lord listened, and he was revived. Pretty dramatic stuff in a time of extreme drought.
Then in 2 Kings, Elisha was given the mantle and the Spirit of God. As he would travel through Shunam (part of the inheritance of Issachar), he would eat at a wealthy, married, Shunammite woman’s home. She had recognized that he was a man of God. Eventually she and her husband prepared a small room for him on the roof, with walls, a bed, table, chair and lamp, because she enjoyed having him there. In gratitude, he prophesied she would have a son, and she did. Several years later, her son died from an illness. Remembering what he had done for her, she went searching for Elisha, and brought him home to her dead son. Elisha prayed, and the Lord brought her son back to life. Shortly thereafter, she was warned by Elisha to leave the area due to a famine of 7 years. When she returned, her land had been taken. But the Lord didn’t leave her destitute. He had the King restore her land to her including the proceeds of what her land had produced during that time. God took special care of this woman because of her kindness to Elisha his prophet.
Who can forget about Daniel who prayed 3x a day on his knees in front of the open window of the upper chamber in his house! This was while he was exiled in Babylon. (Daniel 6:10). It is unlikely the house was his prior to the exile or after. Because of his obedience and unwavering faith in God, he was delivered from the mouths of lions when thrown in to their den.
Be willing to visit someplace new:
Next we move into the New Testament, and jump to the story of Jesus and his disciples, and the Last Supper. Jesus said to Peter and John, “Behold, when you have entered the city (Jerusalem), a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house he enters, and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, where is the Guest Room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished, prepare it there.’ And they went and found it just as he had told them.
It is here that their last supper, accompanied by foot washings and final instructions, occurs with Jesus.
In Acts 1, after Jesus had ascended back up to heaven, all of the disciples (minus Judas Iscariot) were staying in the upper room, quite possibly the same one they had their last supper with Jesus in. It says they were devoting themselves to prayer, and were waiting for the fulfillment of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps they were even in this room when the day of Pentecost arrived!
In Acts 9:36-43, Peter raised Tabitha, aka Dorcas, from the dead who was laid in an upper room.
Lastly, in Acts 20:7-12, Paul was in the city of Troas. He spoke into the night to many disciples and fellow christians who had gathered to break bread together in an upper room, when young Eutychus fell deeply asleep, resulting in falling out of the 3rd story window! He was believed to be dead. Paul went down to him, knelt, and picked him upon his arms, declaring he was alive. Either Eutychus had been exhausted from the day, or it was Paul’s lengthy speech by lamplight at midnight. This young man left later that morning alive and well.
In all of these examples of upper rooms/chambers/rooftops, it shows:
– no matter where we are, we can be used by the Lord,
– it is good to share your home to help others, regardless for how long,
– be bold, go outside of your comfort zone to grow and encourage others,
– gather somewhere to pray as a group,
– gather somewhere to eat together in fellowship,
– the Holy Spirit meets with us when we are together in the Lord’s name,
– again, share your home to help others. It is the Lord’s anyway!
– be prepared for miracles to happen wherever you may be, because you just might be the tool God uses to perform that!
Food for thought: Have you opened up your home to a weary traveler, an exchange student or a missionary in need of short-term lodging? You don’t have to have an ‘upper room’, just room in your heart to love them as Jesus does.
Fun facts: For unique lodging options, check these out: Airbnb is for those that want to stay in someone’s home in a room with the homeowners present, interacting with the locals. VRBO and HomeAway are geared more towards renting an entire home from someone with total privacy.
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Our guest room