*THANKS AGAIN to my bud Steven Sukkau, who’s posting this series on heaven while I rest up.
In my last post, I challenged our notion that Heaven will be an unfamiliar, otherworldly realm inhabited by disembodied spirits. Instead, the Biblical depiction suggests quite the opposite–a resurrected new Earth, a familiar, yet exotic paradise we inhabit with resurrected bodies.
Here’s what I want to get across this time: we incorrectly believe that there’s nothing to do in Heaven but sing the Hallelujah chorus.
Thankfully, we’re wrong.
We have a universe to rule, purposeful work to accomplish and glimpses of Heaven all around us point to our true eternal activity. As author Randy Alcorn explains in his book, Heaven, “With the Lord we love and with the friends we cherish, we’ll embark together on the ultimate adventure, in a spectacular new universe awaiting our exploration and dominion.”
A universe to rule
Alcorn breaks down mankind’s rule into three phases: the past, present and future.
In the past, before we broke God’s law in Eden, God delegated the reign of Earth to mankind.
In the present, we live in a constant power struggle, a disputed reign with God, Satan and fallen mankind.
But in the future, when we come to our eternal home of New Earth, God promises to delegate the reign to a righteous mankind.
Why is this so hard to imagine? When we think of God’s Kingdom, why do we leave out the work of ruling a territory and enjoying the culture? Is it because we spiritualize heaven to the point of it becoming otherworldly and intangible? If so, we’re doing it wrong.
Take a close look at Psalm 25:13 and the idea that the Earth in our inheritance from our loving Father”
“He himself shall dwell in prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit the earth.”
Or Isaiah 57:13: “The man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.”
God gave management of earth to Adam and Eve, and in turn their descendants (us) who would inherit this responsibility. But then came the curse, the usurper Satan who stole our birthright, and God’s promise of a redeemer who would retake the kingdom meant for us.
It was to Abraham that God promised a new land, one where his descendants would live, rule and worship God. Galatians 3:29 says, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” After our physical resurrection, we will receive a physical inheritance, a New Earth, the ultimate Promised Land.
And where Adam and Eve failed as just rulers of the kingdom, Christ has succeeded. Daniel prophesied this final Kingdom of heaven on earth saying, “The rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth… In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” (Daniel 2:35, 44).
We will rule the Earth
Why is this so hard to imagine?
Alcorn suggests it’s because we fallen so far from our biblical calling we have forgotten our true destiny. Yet the bible affirms it again and again. Paul addresses the subject as if it were common knowledge for all Christians, “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? … Do you not know that we will judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)
And Revelations repeats: “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations (Revelations 2:26)
This is the dramatic conclusion to the story of creation, Christ has come to win back our lost kingdom, and win back our inheritance. “If we fail to understand our status as God’s children and heirs and rulers of the earth, we will fail to comprehend God’s redemptive work,” Alcorn says.
Because Christ’s promise was not a metaphor; the meek really will inherit the earth. (Matt. 5:5).
Tune in later this week for the final installment of the Geek’s Guide to Heaven to find out how geeks are preparing for eternity without realizing it.
So, are you looking forward to ruling a New Earth with Christ?
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I love the connection to our commission in Eden. It makes no sense that God would give us the world to rule, watch us crash and burn, and never bring us back to that initial commission later in the story. The Gospel restores what we lost!
I know right?! God is like an author of a long running fantasy series, and by the end you’re like, “there’s no way you planned this ending from the first book” but he did! I’m glad God’s stories don’t have continuity errors lol