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Section 9B .. The Future

003white   Index to Section 9B... The Future         >        Index To Heaven       >       Heaven: The Location and Nature of Heaven

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What And Where is Heaven?
 Part II... The Promises and The Prophecies

 God made three interconnected and inseparable promises to Abraham. What we forget is that the third was firmly rooted in real estate

Carol Brooks

Index To All Six Sections

  Part I ...   "Heaven" v. The Promised Kingdom of God

You Are Here 001orange Part II ... The Location and Nature of Heaven... The Promises and The Prophecies

Part III ... Jesus' Second Coming and The Resurrection of The Body

Part IV ... A New Heaven and A New Earth

Part V ... No More Sea?

Part VI ... What The Bible Says About The Resurrected Body

 Part VI ... The Bema or Judgment Seat of Christ, and Rewards in Heaven
 

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Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever." (Revelation 11:15 NASB)

 

 Introduction
It may surprise many to learn that the Bible teaches that "heaven" is going to be right here on earth, ample evidence for which is provided by the Scriptures.

A Tangible 'Place'
Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them (and us). In His words...

    "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place (Gr. topos) for you. "If I go and prepare a place (Gr. topos) for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2-3 NASB)

The Greek word topos - used many times in the New Testament - refers to a physical place. For example

    "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place (Gr. topos) where He was lying. (Matthew 28:6 NASB)

    "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place (Gr. topos) where men ought to worship." (John 4:20 NASB)

    Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she *had a place (Gr. topos) prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. (Revelation 12:6 NASB)

The question is where this place is located

A simple reading, minus preconceived ideas, tells us that it is more than likely that Jesus was referring to simple geographic directions when He said...

    "...many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God" (Matthew 8:11 and Luke 13:28, 29).    

Also it is particularly telling that when the disciples asked Jesus if He was about to restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6) He did not correct them, which He would have done had their expectations been baseless. Jesus simply told them it was not for them to know the times and the seasons, or when it would happen. All they needed to know was that they would have the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to be His witnesses.

    So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:6-8 NASB)

Therefore it is well worthwhile (in more ways than one) to find out exactly what the Jews expected


The Kingdom of God in Jewish Thought
The promise of the kingdom was a major source of hope for the Jews and, consequently, never very far from Jewish thought.  As you will see, these expectations were based squarely on three promises made by God to Abraham. It is we who have overlooked, ignored, or spiritualized the third of the these promises (Yet, strangely enough we take the first two very literally.

While it is true that there were differences of belief as to how the reign of God would come back to the earth, the one common factor between all the possible scenarios was the expulsion of the Gentiles who ruled over Judea. As Rev. Dr. Mark Roberts points out...

    There were a variety of answers to the question of how God's reign would come on earth. Some Jews believed that the kingdom would come through a rebellion against Rome. The Zealots and others with a revolutionary bent continually plotted ways to undermine and ultimately depose the Romans. Others rejected this approach, preferring instead to wait for God's dramatic intervention.

    The Essenes at Qumran had grand visions of an apocalyptic war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness, in which God would finally vindicate his people and restore both his temple and his kingdom. They were disinclined to look for human agents who might bring the God's kingdom, probably because their experience of Hasmonean (Maccabean/Jewish) rule of Judea had been such a negative one.

    In many of the Jewish kingdom scenarios, God would act through a human being who would execute divine justice and restore divine rule over Israel. ...There wasn't one established set of expectations for the messiah, however. The Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, actually speak of multiple messiahs, including a priestly messiah and a royal messiah. [01]

    But, in no case was the kingdom expected to be anything but an earthly one -the Messiah would have simply been a means to an end. It was the redemption of their city and their land that they were looking forward to - when the kingdom of David would once again be free and independent.

This attachment to the land is seen in both Testaments

Old Testament

    Jacob made Joseph swear that he would not bury him in Egypt, but take him back to the promised land and bury him with his fathers (Genesis 47:29-31).

    Daniel When Daniel reading the book of Jeremiah realized that the seventy years of exile were almost over, he confessed the sins of the nation and asked the Lord to turn His anger and wrath away from His holy city Jerusalem (Daniel 9).

    Nehemiah: When Nehemiah heard that the remnant of Jews in Judah that had survived the captivity were in "in great distress and reproach", and that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and its gates burned with fire, he also confessed the sins of the sons of Israel, and acknowledged that they were scattered because of their many sins. He also reminded the Lord that He had once said that if the people return to Him and keep His commandments, He would gather them from wherever they were and bring them to the place where He had chosen to cause His name to dwell. Nehemiah then pleaded with the king to let him return to Judah, to the city of his fathers' tombs, that he could rebuild it (Nehemiah 9-10).

New Testament

    At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:38 NASB)

    "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. (Luke 24:21 NASB)

    Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: "Hosanna! blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!" (Mark 11:9-10 NASB)

    Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. (Mark 15:43 NASB)

The bedrock of the idea that one day the land and the holy city would no longer be under the Gentile oppressor's thumb but would be restored to the Jews was that it was theirs by right of inheritance. It was promised to Abraham and His descendants forever. And unlike us, the Jews took the promises made by God to Abraham very seriously. Promises that the modern day church seems to have little or no interest in.  

However, there were three promises made to Abraham.


God's Three Interconnected And Inseparable Promises to Abraham
The First Two Promises
The first two promises that God made to Abraham were that Abraham's descendants would become a "great nation" and that "in" Abraham all nations would be blessed.

    And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;  (Genesis 12:2 NASB)

    indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.  (Genesis 22:17 NASB)

These were repeated many times. On one occasion after Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, the Lord reiterated both promises together,

    indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." (Genesis 22:17-18 NASB)

Additionally, when Jacob (Israel) heard that his son Joseph was alive in Egypt and resolved to go and see him before he died God appeared to him is a dream and said "I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. (Genesis 46:3 NASB)

Perhaps some will wonder how the tiny nation of Israel could be considered a 'great nation'. However, the  Lord was referring not only to Abraham's physical descendants but to his spiritual ones as well. See Abraham's Spiritual Descendants Below.  The blessing also extended far beyond Israel's borders inasmuch as it was through Abraham's seed that the Messiah came to earth.

In other words both promises were literally fulfilled. This brings us to...


The Third Promise
was that was that Abraham and his descendants would be given an entire country for an everlasting possession. The first time this covenant promise was made was before Abraham even left his home country of Ur. The second time was when Abraham was journeying through what was then Canaanite territory...

    Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; (Genesis 12:1-2 NASB)

    Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. (Genesis 12:6-7 NASB)

Look and Walk
It was repeated several times thereafter - one occurrence being especially enlightening

    The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. "I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. "Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you." (Genesis 13:14-17 NASB)

What would Abraham have seen as he lifted his eyes? As said by Professor Anthony Buzzard

    As he looked northward Abraham would have seen the hills of Judea marking the border with Samaria. Towards the south the view extended to Hebron where later the Patriarchs were to be buried in the only piece of the land ever owned by Abraham. To the east lay the mountains of Moab and to the west the Mediterranean sea. The divine oath guaranteed to Abraham perpetual ownership of a large portion of the earth. [02]

Note that God not only told Abraham to look in all four directions, but also to walk length and breadth of the land which the Lord was giving him and his descendants. In other words there can be little doubt that the reward for Abraham's faith was firmly rooted in real estate.

Also note the wording of the following verse

    On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: (Genesis 15:18 NASB)

This promise was made to Abraham before he even had any descendants to give the land to. Nevertheless, God states His promise in the past tense to emphasize the certainty of the event. (Some Bible versions do not reflect the correct tense but have changed it to the future tense). The promise was also repeated Isaac and to Jacob neither of whom took it lightly. Isaac repeated it to Jacob who, in turn, repeated it to Joseph. Joseph then reminded his brothers that God would bring them up to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham. See what either God said to each of them or what they said to others Footnote I

In speaking of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah, the author of Hebrews wrote,

     All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth (Gk. ge). For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country (Gk. patris) of their own. (Hebrews 11:13-14 NASB)

Although ge does mean earth, one should not assume that that the Patriarchs were expecting to go to heaven. Verse 14 says "they" -  the people that considered themselves aliens "are seeking a country (Gk. patris) of their own". Patris derived from pater (father) means a fatherland or one's own country; homeland.

Since the promises that Abraham's descendants would be made into a "great nation", and that "in him" all the families of the earth would be blessed, have both been literally fulfilled, why do we understand the promise of the "land" to be a type of a heaven to come, and not be literally fulfilled as well? So...

How Did The Promise Of Earthly Land Became A Promise of an Unearthly Heaven
 As said by Professor Anthony Buzzard,

    A non-biblical view of the future, divorced from the land and the earth, was promoted by Gentiles unsympathetic to the heritage of Israel, for whom the promise of the land to Abraham was the foundation of the nations deepest aspirations. In direct contradiction of Jesus, Gentilized Christianity has substituted "heaven at death" for the biblical promise of life in the Land. The message of Jesus' famous beatitude, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the land" (Matthew 5:5) can no longer be heard above the din of endless funeral sermons announcing that the dead have gone to heaven! [03]

A second question is - why in view of God's promises to Abraham and his descendants are we not paying attention to the fact that through our faith we are spiritual descendants of Abraham.


Abraham's Spiritual Descendants
Once the New Covenant came into being faith and obedience rather than filial ties became the criteria that determines salvation and inheritance in the kingdom. Only those of faith could claim Abraham as a father and could partake of the blessing promised to the patriarch.

    and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. (Matthew 3:9 NASB)

    For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.  (Romans 4:13 NASB)

    Even so Abraham believed god, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "all the nations will be blessed in you." So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Galatians 3:6-9 NASB)

Yet, traditional Christian theology seems to have absolutely no interest in the last of the three promises made to Abraham, in spite of the fact that Paul even told the Gentile Christians that through faith in Christ they could receive the "blessing given to Abraham".

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:29 NASB. Emphasis Added)


A "Type" or Literal Fulfillment?
In order to preserve the tradition that a heaven located somewhere out there is the reward of the faithful, it is argued that the geographical land of Canaan is a type of "heaven" (See Typology). However, this New Testament passage specifically says that Abraham actually lived in the place designated as his future inheritance.

    By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; (Hebrews 11:9 NASB)

In other words, Abraham physically lived in the geographical location on earth that was designated as his future inheritance. However, as the book of Hebrews also makes perfectly clear, he never actually owned his inheritance.

    By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he became a sojourner (Gk. paroikeo) in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)

The New Testament confirms this.

     "But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that He would give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him. (Acts 7:5 NASB)

Abraham lived out his life as a stranger owning nothing but a single field that he bought from Ephron the Hittite to bury Sarah in (Genesis 23). Abraham himself told the Hittites that he was "an alien and a stranger" among them (Vs. 4). Yet, God's words were unambiguous... the physical land in which Abraham lived as a foreigner, forever belongs to him and his descendants.

He was given this land by God Himself, yet he had to buy a field to bury his wife in. Was this an enormous and cruel joke perpetrated by the Lord of the universe, or are we simply not getting it?

I plump for the latter option

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are all dead, so unless the God of the universe was joking or lying, the only way for this promise to be fulfilled is when Abraham returns with Christ, receives his resurrected body and 'claims' the land God promised him.  See That Earth Shaking Seventh Trumpet - Part IV of The End Of The Age.


The "Land"
The Hebrew word 'erets - literally earth or land - is used over 300 times in Genesis alone beginning with the very first verse of the Bible. Just nine verse later God specified that the entire area of dry land on the planet was called 'erets.

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Heb. 'erets). (Genesis 1:1)

    Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. God called the dry land earth (Heb. 'erets), and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:9-10 NASB)

While the word is also used in terms of a particular country with political boundaries, in all cases it refers to physical land on earth.

    'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land (Heb. 'erets) of Egypt to give you the land (Heb. 'erets) of Canaan and to be your God (Leviticus 25:38).

So why have we overlooked or spiritualized the Bible's numerous references to 'erets (the land) as being the inheritance of the faithful as so many of the prophets and other Biblical authors said...

Jeremiah
'For behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah.' The Lord says, 'I will also bring them back to the land (Heb. 'erets) that I gave to their forefathers and they shall possess it.'" (Jeremiah 30:3 NASB)

Zechariah
And the Lord will be king over all the earth (Heb. 'erets) ; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one. All the land (Heb. 'erets) will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; but Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin's Gate as far as the place of the First Gate to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king's wine presses. People will live in it, and there will no longer be a curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security. (Zechariah 14:9-11 NASB)

Isaiah
The idea of a restored and peaceful land inherited by the righteous was a recurring theme in Isaiah's prophecies...

    "When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you. But the wind will carry all of them up, And a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in Me will inherit the land (Heb. 'erets) And will possess My holy mountain."  (Isaiah 57:13 NASB)

    Violence will not be heard again in your land (Heb. 'erets), Nor devastation or destruction within your borders; But you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise... Then all your people will be righteous; They will possess the land (Heb. 'erets) forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified.  (Isaiah 60: 18, 21 NASB)

    I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, And an heir of My mountains from Judah; Even My chosen ones shall inherit it, And My servants will dwell there. Sharon will be a pasture land for flocks, And the valley of Achor a resting place for herds, For My people who seek Me. (Isaiah 65:9-10 NASB)

    Note: The valley of Achor (the word means "troubled") was a valley near Jericho where Achan was put to death. However, it seems that a place that was once the scene of great calamity would become the source of blessing and peace. Sharon was a fertile plain near the coast of the Mediterranean extending from Caesarea to Joppa.

Proverbs
The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked will not inherit the land (Heb. 'erets) (Proverbs 10:30).

For the upright will live in the land (Heb. 'erets) and the blameless will remain in it; But the wicked will be cut off from the land (Heb. 'erets) and the treacherous will be uprooted from it. (Proverbs 2:21-22 NASB)

The Psalms
Psalm 2:6 predicts that Christ will be "installed as King upon Zion, God's holy mountain",

    But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth (Heb. 'erets) as Your possession. (Psalms 2:6-8 NASB)

When the Lord said "I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession", surely he did not mean it as a temporary gift. However, that would be exactly the case if the "nations" are either in heaven or hell, and the earth is either destroyed or barren.

This promise is again seen in Zechariah 9:9-10...

    "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off; and he shall speak peace unto the nations: and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth (Heb. 'erets)

Psalm 48 says Zion will be the glory of the earth.

    Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, In the city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth (Heb. 'erets), is Mount Zion in the far north, The city of the great King. God, in her palaces, Has made Himself known as a stronghold. (Psalms 48:1-3 )


The Typology of Psalm 72
This Psalm of David was probably composed when his son Solomon ascended the throne. In it David asks God to pour out his blessings on the king and the people. However while the Psalm directly relates to Solomon's reign, there are a number of expressions which cannot literally refer to Solomon. For example, it says the king's reign would be universal i.e. his dominion would stretch from sea to sea, from "the River to the ends of the earth" (Vs. 8), and all the kings of the earth would submit to Him.

Since several passages of Psalm 72 are almost parallel to other descriptions of the Messiah in the Old Testament (Compare Psalm 72:2-4 with Isaiah 11:4), we can safely conclude that in the spirit of Hebrew typology, David's prayer for a glorious and peaceful reign for His son Solomon, looked forward into the distant future to the coming reign of the Christ. (See Typology)

    May he also rule from sea to sea And from the River to the ends of the earth. Let the nomads of the desert bow before him, And his enemies lick the dust. Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents; The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. And let all kings bow down before him, All nations serve him. (Psalms 72:8-11 NASB)


Jesus and The Book of Revelation
Jesus reiterated the words of many of the prophets in the Sermon in The Mount

    Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth (Gk. ge). (Matthew 5:5 NASB)

Revelation 5 says

    And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth (Gk. ge)." (Revelation 5:9-10 NASB)

Like the Hebrew 'erets , the Greek word ge means the earth or land as opposed to the sea or heavens.


A Real City Spoken of in The Book of Hebrews
There is another significant Greek word (polis) used in connection with Abraham and the coming kingdom in the book of Hebrews

    By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city (Gk. polis) which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10 NASB)

Speaking of the Old Testament men and women of faith, Hebrews 16 says "they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city (Gk. polis) for them." In chapter 13 he adds, "For here we do not have a lasting city (Gk. polis) , but we are seeking the city (Gk. polis) which is to come. (Hebrews 13:14 NASB)

Note that in the over 160 uses of this word in the New Testament, I do not believe there is a single instance when polis is used as anything other than a literal city. For example

    And he entered into a boat, and crossed over, and came into his own city (Gk. polis) . (Matthew 9:1)

    But the king was wroth; and he sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned their city (Gk. polis). (Matthew 22:7)

    For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city (Gk. polis) as I directed you, (Titus 1:5 NASB)

In other words, when the author of Hebrews said we are waiting for a city which is to come, the foundations of which are built by God, he was referring to a real city, prepared by God for the faithful.

Note: While it is certain that Abraham's faith looked beyond the possession of the promised land it is unlikely that he knew that there would be a capital city from which the Messiah would reign. However, by using the Greek word polis translated "city", the author of Hebrews imported "into the patriarchal faith the contents of a later and more developed faith - that of himself and his readers" (Vincent's word studies).

The author of the book of Hebrews did not come up with a new or novel concept, but was simply echoing the words of the prophets who had gone before him.


The Prophecies

The Prophets "Saw" The Coming Kingdom
A plain reading of the words of many of these men of God, makes it impossible to deny that they looked ahead to an undetermined time in the future when God would return to establish a literal, earthly kingdom. Although they might not have completely understood everything they themselves said, there is little question that they prophesied of a time when the Lord's anointed - a descendant of David would rule as king, from Jerusalem. The idea of a restored and peaceful land inherited by the righteous was a recurring theme in Isaiah's prophecies.

Perhaps Daniel's prophecies are the clearest of all.

Daniel's Five Kingdoms...
Because they were often viewed as messages from the gods which revealed fragments of the future, the ancients gave dreams careful attention. Therefore when king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which he could not remember the next morning, he summoned his "wise men" to both tell him what the dream was and what it meant, something that was obviously well beyond human ability. However, Daniel asked God to supernaturally reveal what men could not possibly know and, having obtained God's favor, was able to do both (for which he thanks and praises God in chapter 2, verses 20-23).

In summary, Daniel told the king that he had dreamed of a great and formidable statue, which had a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with clay. Daniel's interpretation of the dream was that four great kingdoms or empires would, in succession, dominate history. However, this composite statue was then struck on its feet by a huge stone. Interestingly, the statue did not merely topple over but disintegrated and was blown away by the wind.  However, the rock that destroyed it grew to the size of a mountain and filled the earth.

    "Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth (ara). (Daniel 2:35 NASB) See Daniel's Amazing Prophecies

Note: The word ara is in Aramaic and corresponds to the Hebrew 'erets.

Since, as several verses in the New Testament show, Christ is referred to as a rock, it is logical to believe that it is He who will bring about the destruction of man's kingdoms and, on His return, will inaugurate His own literal and everlasting kingdom.

See A Dragon and Two Beasts
That shows the correlation between the four empires in Daniel chapter 2, Daniel's vision of four beasts in chapter 7, and the beast that John saw rising up from the sea in Revelation 13.

Micah
clearly states that Jesus was to be ruler in Israel, which did not happen during His first advent. Was Micah sadly misinformed, or is the ruling part yet to happen?

    "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity."  (Micah 5:2 NASB)

Ezekiel
Since Israel has not had a king since Ezekiel's day, the prophet had to be speaking of a time yet in the future, when Jesus, King of kings and Lord of Lords, would rule over all. Besides which, the tabernacle and temple were outward symbols of God's presence.

Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. (Ezekiel 37:21-22 NASB)

    "My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. "They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. "I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. "My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. (Ezekiel 37:24-27 NASB)

Amos
The prophet Amos wrote about a physical kingdom on earth, complete with cities, vineyards, gardens, and fruit. The emphasis is on Israel's regathering to the land she had been given... 

      "Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit. "I will also plant them on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them," Says the Lord your God. (Amos 9:14-15 NASB)

I am sure that there are those who will claim that this prophecy was fulfilled when Israel was declared an independent nation in 1948. However, the context shows that this cannot be the case. In verse 10, Amos said that God would sift the house of Israel, and all the sinners of His people would die by the sword, which did not happen in 1948.

Zechariah:
Over and over again, this prophet states that the Lord will return and again choose Jerusalem and Judah, where His house will be built.

    'Therefore thus says the Lord, "I will return (Heb. shb) to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it," declares the Lord of hosts, "and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem." "Again, proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts, "My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem." (Zechariah 1:16-17 NASB)

    Thus says the Lord, 'I will return (Heb. shb) n to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain... (Zechariah 8:3 NASB)

    and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.' (Zechariah 8:8 NASB)

    'So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.' (Zechariah 8:22 NASB)

The Hebrew word shb, used extensively in the Bible, means to turn back, as when the dove released from the ark, found no dry land on which to alight, and returned to the ark (Genesis 8:9). It is this word that is often translated "repent" which, quite literally, means to return to God. See for example Psalms 7:11-12, Jeremiah 5:3-4, Ezekiel 18:30-32). (See Repentance The almost forgotten doctrine)

Isaiah:
Perhaps it was the prophet Isaiah who had the most to say about this coming kingdom that will have Jerusalem as its capital. He clearly prophesies the good news that when the Lord restores Zion, Jerusalem would be redeemed, His people will be comforted,  He will reign from Zion, and the effects of His salvation would be seen to the ends of the earth,

    How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, and says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, They shout joyfully together; For they will see with their own eyes When the Lord restores Zion. Break forth, shout joyfully together, You waste places of Jerusalem; For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared His holy arm In the sight of all the nations, That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:7-10 NASB)

    For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. (18) But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. (19) And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. (Isaiah 65:17-19)

    Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously. (Isaiah 24:23)

    And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:13)

    And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35:10)

Revelation:
 
Finally, Chapter 21 of the book of Revelation speaks about the God dwelling among men, and Christ sitting on His throne.

    And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell (Gr. skenosei) among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, (Revelation 21:3 NASB)

The Greek words translated "dwell" are all derived from skene, which means a tabernacle or dwelling.  Its derivatives have not been used very often in the New Testament, but a couple of examples suffice to show that it literally means "to live amongst".

     And the Word became flesh, and dwelt (Gr. eskenosen) among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NASB)

    "For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell (Gr. skenountes) in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time."  (Revelation 12:12 NASB)

And why are we missing Revelation 11:15 that tells us that after the third woe, the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of Christ

    Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever."

All of which leaves one question - Why did Jesus tell Pilate...


"My Kingdom Is Not Of This World"

When Pilate asked Jesus whether He was King of the Jews, Jesus replied,

    "My kingdom is not of (Gr. ek) this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." (John 18:36 NASB)

Some contend that when Jesus said "My kingdom is not of this world" it meant that His kingdom was not here on earth, but up in 'heaven'. However, this is not the case. Jesus stated that this kingdom (basileia - reign or rule) was ek tou kosmou. The Greek word ek is a preposition denoting origin - the point from which action or motion proceeds. (https://biblehub.com/greek/1537.htm)

Jesus then went on to say " My kingdom is not of this realm". Once again the original Greek has to be taken into consideration. It reads ouk estin enteuthen or "My reign is not from here."

He was not speaking of the location of the kingdom but the source of His authority.


In Summary
The prophets and the book of Revelation painted a glorious picture of the new earth, which will be our heaven. I don't know about you, but it certainly sounds like a marvelous place to me.

On the new earth, Christ will reign from Jerusalem. There will be peace and joy, to say nothing of earth, trees, plants, fruit, houses and, I presume animals, birds, flowers and waterfalls. In short... pretty much the world He originally created... a world without crime, fear, ugliness, disease and death.

How could it possibly get any better?


Continue on To Part III... Jesus' Second Coming which the New Testament describes in graphic detail leaving no doubt that His return will be physical. But what about believers - both those who have already passed on and those still alive at the coming of Christ? HERE


Footnote I - What Abraham's Son, Grandson, And Great Grandson Said About The Land Promised Them

Isaac:

    Now there was a famine in the land, besides the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. So Isaac went to Gerar, to Abimelech king of the Philistines. The Lord appeared to him and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you. "Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. (Genesis 26:1-3 NASB)

    When Isaac instructed Jacob to take a wife from the daughters of Laban, His mother's brother, he sent Jacob away with the following words... "May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. "May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham." (Genesis 28:3-4 NASB)

Jacob:

    God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name." Thus He called him Israel. God also said to him, "I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you. "The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your descendants after you." (Genesis 35:10-12 NASB)

    Jacob to Joseph: "God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, 'Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.' (Genesis 48:3-4 NASB)

Joseph To The Twelve Tribes

    Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob." Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, "God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here." (Genesis 50:24-25 NASB)

Heaven-Back

Part I.. Defining "Heaven"

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 "Artwork © by Duncan Long.
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