We really should know our destination is an earthly kingdom!
When people are heading places for an extended stay, even to work, they have a mindset that anticipates what will take place at that location. If you have ever gone on a trip or vacation, you are preparing for that destination. What is being discussed in this article is that knowing your destination is important, and knowledge can excite or cause anxiety in you. The last thing to note is that we will be unprepared if we don’t understand where we are going.
As a Christian, you can ask yourself, where is your final destination, and what do I have to be prepared for? I would dare say most would answer, “I will be going to heaven to see Jesus!” That is not wrong, but is it satisfactory? That is where we need to take a close look at the Bible so that we are prepared people for a prepared place.
Let’s start with Genesis.
It all starts in Genesis, and it should because that is the beginning. God created this wonderful world will all of its great features. However, the earth needed someone to care for it, and so God created humans (אָדָם, (aw-dawm’), adam) to be adjutants over the earth. God created them from the earth because they are to care for it. It is to be noted that a Hebrew word for ground is אֲדָמָה (adamah), the root being adam, so we are all people of the ground.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.Genesis 1:26
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.Genesis 2:7
An earthly kingdom is in our future.
That creates an extraordinary relationship between man and the earth. We need to recognize this is before the fall; therefore, it is how God wanted things to be and still wants things to be. If you don’t believe that, let’s look a little, father. First, we must realize that the Old Testament speaks only about inheriting the land, and job expects that when raised from the dead, he will find himself on the earth with his Creator.
For I know that my redeemer liveth,Job 19:25-5
and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body,
yet in my flesh shall I see God:
In psalms thirty-seven, David speaks clearly about how the righteous shall inherit the land, not just for a season but forever.
The righteous shall inherit the land,Psalms 37:29
and dwell therein for ever.
For evildoers shall be cut off:Psalms 37:9
but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
In fact, Jesus himself quotes from this psalm where David says;
But the meek shall inherit the earth;Psalms 37:11
and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
What did Jesus have to say about the earthly kingdom?
Speaking of this, Jesus himself always spoke of coming and reigning on the earth with His saints. You will be hard-pressed to find any talk about going to heaven from Jesus. Jesus told us to pray for His kingdom to come. Nowhere are we told to pray for us to go to a place in the sky.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.Matthew 6:10
The idea here is that God wanted an earthly kingdom when He created the garden and man in it. So here is an important thing to know; where God rules it is Heaven. Heaven is the rule of God. That is what Jesus taught. He taught that you don’t have to look for a particular place; you have to look for the reign of God.
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.Luke 17:21
Having an earthly kingdom was thwarted by Satan, but God had a plan to redeem it. Please note that Jesus did not tell Nicodemus about saving humans so they could go up in the sky; instead, it is about setting things back in order. He is talking about reestablishing His earthly reign.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.John 3:16
Returning the earth to order is God’s Kingdom.
The word “world” is translated from the Greek word kosmos, which means order. The original order was to have a man in God’s garden to care for His earth; it is this God wants to restore. This order has a name: the kingdom of God/Heaven. Here is where we need to think about this. If we say we are going to Heaven, we must ask ourselves where that is. It is definitely with God, but where? The first proclamation Jesus made was;
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.Matthew 4:17
During the sermon on the mount, Jesus mentions the kingdom of Heaven four times, and they come at a crucial time to establish why we should live His way; according to His instruction in the sermon.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:3
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.Matthew 5:5
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:10
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.Matthew 6:10
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.Matthew 7:21
Preparing to be good stewards of God’s Kingdom
Jesus taught about being a good steward because He wants to have people ready to form His earthly kingdom when He returns. Jesus made that clear in His parable found in Matthew twenty-five about the talents. He said the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man traveling into a far country, which is talking about himself going to His throne and leaving humans to do their duty. Upon His return, He will judge the servants; the disobedient ones are the goats, and the obedient ones are the sheep. We need to ask ourselves who goes where?
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.Matthew 25:32-33
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.Matthew 25:45-46
Luke records Jesus’ words of people being taken, and some have used these verses to speak of a rapture where Christians are taken off the earth. However, that is not what Jesus says.
Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.Luke 17:35-36
The disciple wanted to know where they were taken, and Jesus’ answer was not good.
And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.Luke 17:37
We read more detail about this in the book of Revelation.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.Revelation 19:17-18
There is much more Jesus had to say about His coming and very little about us going anywhere. The disciples’ last words were to ask Jesus: “When will He restore the Kingdom to Israel?” Israel never truly experience the earthly Kingdom. They did have glimpses of it, but Israel never thoroughly had its King reign over the whole earth. That is a promise in waiting. What did the angels tell the disciples? The promise was of Jesus coming, not us going.
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.Acts 1:11
It is all about Jesus’s coming.
Let us look at the abundance of verses about Jesus’s coming. We must remember how Jesus talked about His coming as we read these verses with that in mind. Jesus never talked about us going anywhere. It was Him coming to cast out the wicked and set up His earthly Kingdom. Somehow the church has turned His coming into us going. We are going to Heaven rather than Heaven coming to us. I will acknowledge that we are with Jesus when we die, but very little is said about the state between our death and the coming of His Kingdom. So we are comforted to know that, in some way, we will always be in His presence.
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:1 Corinthians 1:7
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.1 Corinthians 15:23
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?1 Thessalonians 2:19
To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.1 Thessalonians 3:13
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,2 Thessalonians 2:1
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:2 Thessalonians 2:8
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.James 5:7-8
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.2 Peter 3:4
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?2 Peter 3:12
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.1 John 2:28
When Christians read these verses, they often think of the rapture. Listen to how we Christians talk, and this becomes obvious. It is most likely because of a verse left on the list.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
Have we misunderstood?
This one passage seems to erase all that Jesus said and override Jesus’ clear teaching about His return. Was Paul coming up with some new teaching, or are we misunderstanding Paul? Dispensationalists will compartmentalize the teachings so that Jesus sees one thing and Paul sees another. There are various understanding of this passage, and what the rapture is and when it takes place are outside the scope of this article.
It has been planned from the beginning.
Here is the point the readers need to consider, Jesus told of His coming to redeem the earth and the humans who are its caretakers. He is coming to restore His earthly Kingdom, and we will rule with Him. That is our destination; it is what the Father had planned from the beginning. If we stop thinking about a far-off place in the spiritual realm and start thinking about being rulers of the earth, it will change our behavior, just like understanding a destination in this life will cause us to prepare accordingly.
Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? 42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.Luke 12:41-44
Revelation is clear about this. We are prepared to be rulers, priests, and kings, with Jesus on the earth, not in some far-off place.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.Revelation 5:9-10
And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.Revelation 22:4-5
Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.Revelation 22:7
Frank Viola in his book “Insurgence,” which is about the kingdom of God makes this insightful comment.
“There are those who believe that the kingdom is not yet. These are often escapists who are wanting for ‘the sweet by-and-by’ when Jesus will return and set up His kingdom on earth.Insurgence; Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, Frank Viola, Baker Books, 20018
In the meantime (they say), we are to consign ourselves to the fact that the world is going to get worse. There’s nothing we can do about it except to wait for our ‘exit strategy’ when Jesus returns.”
Knowing your destination will help you prepare properly.
Is this some unimportant teaching, or can it change the way we act in this life? Do we see ourselves just trying to be good for Jesus, or are we responsible now for becoming good stewards of this earth? How can we be trusted later if we can’t take care of what we are given now? Yes, we are to care for the earth itself, but that cannot happen when men destroy it because of sin. Greed and gluttony bring devastation to our planet. Man needs to be fixed; we need to be fixed because that is the only way to save God’s planet and restore His earthly Kingdom.
Each church, the body of Christ, should be like the garden of Eden, where men live harmoniously under the Father’s rule, where they take care of one another. The church is responsible for all that is given to them. The church helping people fulfill a need is an invitation to be part of Jesus’ earthly Kingdom, not a social service. The world will not be better if all the hungry are filled and the homeless have shelter. The world will be better if people cease to be selfish and let the Holy Spirit reign in their lives; that is the gospel’s call. It is not a promise to be taken out of the world. The gospel is an invitation to be part of the movement Jesus started—the Kingdom of God.
Everything Paul underwent, the suffering, is to be seen in the context of bringing the Kingdom of God to the world. It was not suffering for suffering’s sake. He did not endure the hardships, so he would be rewarded, though we are rewarded. Paul saw that peace would only come to this world when all men believe that Jesus is LORD! LORD of this world!
I know that some will react to this article emotionally because it goes against what they have believed. I plead with you to take the time to review what I have said that what the Bible says so that you can come to a logical and rational conclusion.