This post is one in a series of posts on a Bible study I am doing titled Heaven by Randy Alcorn and Dave McCleskey. The focus of this study is to get a Biblical view of what heaven is really like.
Today’s study was extremely related to yesterday’s study, which I didn’t get to do until today (read the previous post to see what I mean). It spoke of us, as followers of Christ, ruling over the Earth. Whether this means that we will rule a small area or an entire nation, that will be according to God’s own will. This post will cover how God’s kingdom on the New Earth will come to be and how we will rule in that kingdom, and it will talk a little about the traits God is looking for right now in a future ruler in His kingdom.
A Reminder of the Difference Between the New Earth and the Present Earth
We’ve talked a lot about the fact that God is going to restore the earth we currently live on into the form He originally intended. When He originally created the earth, He said it was good (see Genesis 1). God’s creation held many of His attributes, and one of those attributes in humans was free will. Humans took that free will and used it to sin against God, which brought the curse upon us and the entire earth. When God creates the New Earth (which will be a restored version of the present earth), it will be good once more. So, as Alcorn puts it, “the world as it was and as it will be is exceedingly good. The world as it is now, inhabited by humanity, is twisted.” This immediately prompts the thought of scriptures that talk about hating the world and the things of the world. Alcorn suggests that perhaps we should add the phrase “as it is now, under the curse” to any verse we come across talking about the world we live in. So for James 4:4 – “you adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?” – would not be referring to the New Earth, but to the earth “as it is now, under the curse.” And in Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – is, again, referring to the world “as it is now, under the curse.” Even when Satan is talked about by Christ as the “prince of this world” (see John 14:30), he is only talking about the present world. Satan’s rule over the earth was stolen indirectly – he tempted Man to sin, thus giving his own authority over the earth to Satan. This temporary nature of Satan’s rule is exemplified by Paul when he calls Satan “the god of this age” (see 2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan may have a throne over the earth right now, but God will take back this throne when Christ returns.
An Understanding of God’s Kingdom
Alcorn points to Daniel 7 as a reference for the characteristics of God’s eternal kingdom. In this passage, Daniel speaks of a vision he had of 4 beasts that come up out of the ocean. This vision is interpreted for him to mean that these beasts represented 4 kingdoms which would rule over the earth. The last of the 4 would be especially ruthless and would “devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it” (v. 23). But his vision also spoke of the appearance of Christ as He was “given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (v. 14). Then in v. 18, after speaking of the other 4 kingdoms, it says “But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.” And in v. 27 it says “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.”
Christ’s kingdom will be an eternal kingdom that is on the same earth that the previous kingdoms were on (though we know from other passages that it will be restored). Christ followers, the saints, will not just follow Christ on the New Earth in His kingdom, but will reign with Him – they will “receive [it] and possess it forever.” (v. 18). Christ will come and take the power previously held by worldly rulers and “hand it over” to His followers. This shows that what God intended from the beginning will still come to be. Humans will fill the earth and rule over it. Alcorn says “Christ’s redemptive work will ultimately restore, enhance, and expand God’s original plan.”
Who Will Be Given Positions of Leadership in Heaven?
In vintage God-style, people who have the most experience in leadership aren’t necessarily the ones who will be given these leadership positions on the New Earth. The Bible says that “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3, emphasis added), and “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5, emphasis added). It says “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10, emphasis added), and “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). So we can see that meekness and humility are important traits for the ones God will choose to lead in Heaven.
Click HERE to see the next post in this series.