Lessons from the Rooftop

by Andy Wood on October 26, 2011

in Uncategorized

Perspective is important, and it’s very helpful to change it every once in a while.  Just remember, a different perspective doesn’t always mean a better one.

People in certain parts of the world have their own built-in (literally) perspective changers – they live in houses with flat roofs.  That includes people in the Bible.

I’m just thinking how cool it would have been to hear my mother say, “Go to your roof!”  She had her own ways of changing my perspective, though.  Whew!

Anyway, you can find a lot of action on the rooftops of certain biblical houses.  And some lessons along the way.  Here are some quick idea generators for you to learn from the perspective and example of others.

Rahab – Be Visionary

Rahab was the local prostitute in Jericho who hid the two Israeli spies on her rooftop just before the walls came tumbling down.  She wasn’t just being neighborly – she was trying to save her family from certain destruction.  Here’s her perspective on the whole deal:

“I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.” (Joshua 2:9)

Through eyes of faith, Rahab saw ahead of time what the Lord – actually a foreign God to her – was doing and brought herself into alignment with that.  That’s what faith-based vision does.  Rather than cling to tradition or her past, Rahab sold out to a God-sized vision.

So can you.

David – Be Faithful

The most famous rooftop in the Bible is the one over David’s palace, where he first saw Bathsheba.  It came on the heels of the first time ever that Israel’s beloved king let somebody else do his fighting for him.  David was lonely and bored, and he saw something he was never intended to see.

Just another reminder that not all changes in scenery are good ones.

Don’t you know how many times he relived that day – wishing he had never even been there?  Wishing he had never given in to temptation?

Interesting… years later when David awaited news of the battle with his son Absalom, he sat at the gate and let somebody else climb up on the roof.

Sometimes the lesson from the roof is, Get off the roof.

Nehemiah – Be Mindful

We mostly remember Nehemiah as the governor who helped Israel rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.  But he and Ezra did more than restore temples and walls.  They also helped restore people to the joy of a walk with God.

Once the wall was rebuilt, Ezra began reading publicly from the law of God, and the people heard about a long-ago commandment that they should celebrate a feast for seven days while living in booths.  This had not been practiced for hundreds of years.  The idea of the feast was to remember what it was like to be delivered by God from slavery and to travel as pilgrims to the promised land.

So everyone built a booth – a lean-to – on the roof of his house.  All for the purpose of remembering and celebrating.

Perspective is precious when you remember the faithfulness of God in the process.

Nebuchadnezzar – Be Humble

The great warrior-king of Babylon, instrument of the judgment of God, once did a really dopey thing, and it cost him.  He was walking on the roof of his palace, looking at all the splendor of Babylon, and he said to himself, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?”

Uh oh.

Bad form, your majesty

As a result, ol’ Neb’s on his all-fours, eating grass with the cows and in bad need of a royal manicure.  For seven years he was nothing short of nuts. Not a lot of glory and majesty going on there.

The lesson – beware of taking credit for something God did.  And give Him the glory due His name.

Daniel – Be Prayerful

Daniel’s rooftop was his retreat for prayer.  It was here that he talked with – and listened to – God.  Three times a day he went there, where he kept the window of his rooftop chamber opened toward Jerusalem, and called on the name of the Lord.

Daniel’s jealous enemies knew that, and they counted on him to be faithful so they could have him arrested and thrown in the lion’s den.  But Daniel understood something from his rooftop encounters with the Lord:

It’s better to be thrown in a lion’s den with God’s protection than to live on a rooftop without it.

Nothing changes perspective more than prayer.  And nothing brings the Lord’s protection and power more than faithfulness to pray, even in a hostile environment.

Peter – Be Teachable

No one would ever have accused Peter of being a legalist.  But he was a faithful follower of God’s laws, including dietary laws.  So when he was on a rooftop praying, he was a little disturbed when three times he had a vision of a sheet with all sorts of animals, birds and reptiles on it.  A voice came to him, commanding him to rise, kill and eat.

“No way,” Peter said.  I don’t eat unclean or unholy things.

“What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy,” the voice replied (Acts 10:15).

Out of that vision, the gospel was first introduced to Gentiles.  That includes me, and I for one am grateful that Peter was teachable.

Sometimes our rooftops are designed to take us to new spiritual territory.  Are you, like Peter, willing to go there?

The Four Friends – BeLIEVE!

When is a roof not a roof?  When it becomes a tunnel of faith and love for a friend.

You know the story:  Jesus is teaching in a house that is filled to the gills with people.  Four men bring a lame friend to be healed by Jesus.  But because of the crowd they can’t get in through the door.  So they climbed up on the roof and tore open the tiles covering it to lower their friend to Jesus.

You can assume that while Jesus healed the lame man, He probably didn’t heal the roof.

These guys didn’t care.  For them, the rooftop was a gateway, not a barrier.  No expense was too great, no work assignment too tedious, to keep them from getting their friend to Jesus.

Sometimes it takes a trip to the roof to remember that.


You can find a few other rooftop stories in the Bible.  But right now I’m concerned about your own “rooftop” experience.  When was the last time you had a healthy change of scenery – rooftop or otherwise?  When was the last time you were alerted to danger, called to pray, taught new lessons or given new vision?

I’m not your mother, but I’ll be your friend:  Go to your roof!

Lisa Thompson November 20, 2021 at 7:45 pm

Just happened to run into this article as I studied biblical rooftops. What an awesome article. Thank you for sharing, great job!

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