Heaven and Earth
The kingdom of God has aspects that are heavenly and aspects that are earthly. To understand the kingdom, we have to understand God's purpose for both heaven and earth. Let's review here a series of seven verses that contain the words "heaven and earth." (Please note them for future reference.)
Before God created anything, He had already planned the kingdom, the crucifixion, the resurrection, heaven, hell, etc. What He wanted at the end was already in His thoughts from the beginning. He created the heavens and the earth because He had a purpose for both.
Everything He created in both heaven and earth was good, even very good. The problems entered with the rebellion of Satan and the sin of man. Ultimately, sinful and satanic things will be removed, and the heavens and the earth redeemed to their final purpose (Romans 8:19-22).
This verse speaks of delegation of authority. The Lord has given mankind a long term lease on planet earth. The rabbis call this "the two floor apartment." God (and the angels) live in the apartment above; mankind in the apartment below. God often came to visit, like someone coming down a ladder or a staircase (Genesis 3:8, Genesis 18:1, 21; Genesis 28:12; Exodus 3:8). However the keys to the lower apartment were in the hands of men.
Men do not own the earth; God does. But He has given us a lease of approximately 6,000 years. For example, I live in a rented apartment. The owner has to call me and ask permission if he wants to come visit. The keys are in my hands.
God promises to create a new heavens and earth. This does not mean that the current universe will go out of existence, but that God will restore, renew and redeem. In the context of Isaiah 65, we see that the earth will be purified, but that the natural processes will continue, though greatly and supernaturally improved.
The difference is like from the time before the flood of Noah to after the flood of Noah, yet even more so (II Peter 3:5-12). When the book of Revelation (chapters 21-22) refers to New Heavens and Earth, it is giving additional revelation about this passage in Isaiah 65. As his custom, John gives spiritual insight to what is written in the other Hebrew prophets. He is adding a dimension to what was already said, not doing away with it.
Isaiah gave the earthly perspective; John the heavenly. We simply need to see it from both angles.
There are many injustices in the world today. Since God is both powerful and moral, He will remove the unjust elements. Those who are pure in heart will then take over what is here. Religions which do not understand the nature of the God of the Bible believe that pure hearted people will just leave this place for eternity. They do not see how God could bring justice, remove the wicked, reward the righteous and restore the earth. Therefore, they simply abandon God's good creation and leave for some other mystical, non physical, unidentified place.
This is what the Hindus and the New Agers call "Nirvana." Unfortunately, because of the separation of the Hebraic world view from Christianity, most Christians' view of the end times and the kingdom of God is closer to pagan mysticism than it is to the biblical description. Mysticism is escapism to a spirit only world; while the biblical view is both the spiritual and physical world restored by a benevolent Creator.
The kingdom of God has an origin, a direction and a destination. It starts in heaven. It comes toward us. It eventually takes over the earth. The kingdom of God comes in stages. It grows from small to big; it grows from inside to outside (Matthew 13:31-33). The kingdom of God is an invasion, not an evacuation (albeit a gracious invasion, but an invasion none the less).
Yeshua left for a time to establish the authority of His kingdom, but is coming again to rule and reign (Luke 19:12). Most Christians look at salvation as fire insurance and a helicopter ticket. I see the kingdom as an ownership certificate and a government constitution. Although the Lord's prayer above (about God's will being done on earth and His kingdom coming) is perhaps the most oft spoken prayer in the world, it doesn't seem to me that most people mean it when they say it.
It is worth noting that the Jewish prayer book ends every service with the prayer, "Aleinu", which includes the words, "to restore (or, repair) the world in the kingdom of El Shaddai."
Yeshua is both God and man; therefore He has authority on both heaven and earth. His authority in heaven stems from His divinity - His authority on earth from His humanity. The gospel is effective because of His dual nature and dual authority. He came from heaven and was born into a physical body on this earth. He was physically raised from the dead. He ascended into heaven. He will return some day as He ascended (Acts 1:11) and His feet will once again stand on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).
Not to affirm Yeshua's actual return to earth and a literal millennial reign is to mock the physical pain He suffered on the cross and to deny the purpose of the bodily resurrection. I am perplexed as to how difficult it is for many Christians to see the obvious and literal fulfillment of all the biblical promises concerning the millennial reign of Messiah. It is a dangerous position to dismiss hundreds of prophecies because they don't fit with one's denominational theology.
Please compare this verse to Colossians 1:16 which states that all things in heaven and earth were created for Yeshua and through Yeshua.
Today unfortunately there is still a separation between things in heaven and on earth. But that is not God's will. Ultimately all things both in heaven and on earth will be brought together through Yeshua the Messiah. That was His mission – to unite heaven and earth. There is another rabbinic tradition that says when a human being prays on earth with right spiritual intention, he unites the letters of the divine name YeHoVaH – the YH stand for heaven and the VH stand for earth.
Through Yeshua (and true spirit-filled believers with Him) the world will all be made one, both that which is in heaven and that which is on earth. And even God's name will be made one (Zechariah 14:9). Don't settle for just half the kingdom. Israel has tended to see the earthly part without the heavenly; the Church has tended to see just the heavenly without the earthly. However, Yeshua is both King of Israel and Head of the Church.
Thank God, we get the "best of both worlds" – both that which is in heaven and that which is on the earth.
Please PRAY for our ongoing ministry in Israel of indigenous evangelism, planting Messianic congregations, the discipleship training center, prophetic praise and prayer watches in Hebrew, and financial aid for the needy.