When you die, will you inherit a cloud of your very own? Will God give you a harp and a sheet of music? Or does He have something far more inspiring planned for you?
Millions—perhaps billions—believe that the bliss of heaven is the reward of the saved. This belief is shared not only by most who call themselves Christians, but also by members of many other religions around the world.
Christians believe in the words of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave some of His most basic and fundamental teachings in what is commonly called the "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5–7). How did He begin His teaching? "'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:3–5).
Notice carefully. Did Jesus say that the poor in spirit would go to heaven, while the meek would inherit the earth? No! He said that the poor in spirit would be blessed with the Kingdom of heaven. The Kingdom of heaven will come to earth when Christ returns! That is when the saved will be resurrected, and will inherit the Kingdom.
Jesus taught us to pray: "Your Kingdom come" (Matthew 6:10). Was He asking us to pray for something to come that is already here? If the Kingdom is here, then why has the world experienced such horrors as the two great World Wars of the last century, as well as the terrible genocides carried out against Armenians, Jews, Cambodians and many others? Even today, one out of every eight nations is fighting a civil war (The Economist, May 22, 2003). Yes, the world needs God's Kingdom to come!
Christ taught that there would be a Great Tribulation before His Kingdom would come. How severe would this tribulation be? He said: "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved" (Matthew 24:22). Thankfully, Christ promised to intervene, and by His Second Coming put an end to warring mankind's efforts to destroy the earth. If you are watching world events carefully, you realize that unless God intervenes, current military trends would lead to total cosmocide—the annihilation of mankind. Ever since the first atomic bomb was exploded over Hiroshima in 1945, human beings have had the power to destroy themselves with an ease never before known in history. And technology has become more powerful since then! Left to themselves, warring nations would eventually destroy themselves.
My friends, the Kingdom of God is not already here! Jesus Christ is not yet exercising His rule over all the earth, or there would not be the chaos and devastation we now see. Christ must return to save all nations—spiritually and physically.
Thankfully, He is coming soon to save the world physically. And He has a plan for the spiritual salvation of humanity. He reveals that plan through the Holy Days, which Jesus and the Apostles observed—and which they taught the first Christians to observe. Most professing Christians know that the very first step in this plan to save humanity is the redemption God gives to repentant sinners, through the blood of Jesus Christ. But many do not realize that Jesus and the Apostles commemorated His sacrifice and His redemption of humanity by observing the New Testament Passover, with unleavened bread and wine. Christ and the Apostles kept this annual memorial, and instructed Christians to do the same.
Notice how the Apostle Paul emphasized Jesus' sacrifice: "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7). In the very next verse, Paul tells even the Gentiles to keep the Feast—the Festival of Unleavened Bread. You may find these terms unusual, but for those who want to follow Jesus Christ, they are vital—and full of hope and encouragement! Jesus never kept Christmas and Easter, nor did the Apostles or the Christians whom they taught. From the beginning, Christians have kept the biblical festivals, following the example of Jesus Himself. To learn more about the true biblical festivals picturing the steps in God's plan of salvation for mankind, please request your free copy of our informative booklet, The Holy Days: God's Master Plan.
The Apostle John explained that God has called His servants and redeemed them "out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). What will be their destiny? Will they go to heaven? The Apostle John explains in the very next verse: "And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10).
God did not offer to save us so that we could rest idly in bliss in heaven. He calls us to become kings and priests, who will assist Jesus Christ—the King of kings—in establishing lasting peace on earth. This is why Jesus said that the meek—those who humbly follow Jesus rather than their own self-will—will inherit the earth. When we pray, "Your Kingdom come," we are praying for the coming of that Kingdom which will bring peace to all humanity, and in which faithful Christians will serve their beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, as kings and priests under His direction.
Over the years, some have taught that the church, on earth, is the Kingdom. Others believe that the Kingdom is in your heart. However, the Kingdom of God is a literal kingdom, whose King will be Jesus Christ!
What, exactly, is a kingdom? Every kingdom has four basic elements: a ruler, a territory, laws and subjects. But how does this apply to the Kingdom of God?
Who is the ruler of God's Kingdom? The Bible answers this question in many places, Notice what the Apostle John wrote: "Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself" (Revelation 19:11–12). Jesus Christ, wearing many crowns, will return to earth as its conquering King!
Here is another description of Jesus' appearance at His Second Coming: "He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:13–16).
Yes, the Ruler of the soon-coming Kingdom of God will be Jesus Christ Himself! Are you praying, "Your Kingdom come"? Are you eagerly anticipating Jesus' return to this earth? The Apostle John certainly was. John concluded the next-to-last verse in your Bible with his prayer and fervent hope: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20).
When Jesus Christ comes, His territory will be the whole earth! And His subjects will be all of humanity. Scripture describes that the whole world will learn the way to peace. People will come to worship their King, every year, in Jerusalem. The whole earth will learn to observe the same biblical Holy Days that Jesus and the Apostles observed. "And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles" (Zechariah 14:16).
Every nation on earth will worship the King—and will keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Many do not realize that the Holy Days are still filled with meaning for Christians today. The New Testament Church was founded on the day of the Feast of Pentecost, though many today have forgotten that Pentecost is one of the biblical Holy Days that God gave to His people. In the book of Acts, we read that throngs of people were gathered together to observe the Feast of Pentecost when the Apostles preached to them and converted thousands. The people were gathered together to observe the day because it was commanded in the Bible! As the NIV Study Bible states: "Pentecost is also called the Feast of Weeks (Dt 16:10), the Feast of Harvest (Ex 23:16) and the day of firstfruits (Nu 28:26)" (p. 1,645). True Christians today understand that the Feast of Pentecost commemorates that stage in God's plan of salvation when He calls the "firstfruits" to salvation in this present age, preparing them to rule under Christ in the Millennium.
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, came preaching a message that many may think they know, but that surprisingly few actually understand. What did Jesus preach? "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Jesus taught that it was time to stop sinning, believe His message and prepare for the soon-coming Kingdom of God.
Have you repented? To "repent" means to acknowledge that you have sinned—transgressed the Ten Commandments, God's law. It means not only to express sorrow, and repugnance at your sin, but to hate that sin so much that you turn from it, and begin to live a new life without that sin. Repentance means that you commit—with God's help—to change your life. What is sin? John wrote: "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4). As another translation puts it, "sin is the transgression of the law" (v. 4, KJV).
You cannot believe the gospel unless you understand it! Many who say that they believe in Jesus Christ do not, in fact, believe—or act on—what He preached. Jesus asked: "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). If you are truly a Christian, you will do what Jesus commanded. If you truly become a Christian, you will accept Jesus not in some abstract way as a "Savior" whom you do not obey, but as your Lord and Master whom you strive to obey, with the help of the Holy Spirit. As Paul wrote: "Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? And ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, ASV).
True Christianity is a way of life. Once you repent, believe the gospel and commit your life to Jesus Christ through baptism, He can live in you through the Holy Spirit. Then, you can grow as a Christian, and transform your life from a life of selfishness into one of service and love toward God and your fellow human beings. Those whom God is calling today are not being called merely for their own salvation; He is calling them to prepare to serve in His coming Kingdom as kings and priests, as we saw earlier. Their first opportunity to rule will come in the Millennium—the thousand-year period described in your Bible, when Jesus will rule a healed earth. As John wrote: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6).
From where will Jesus reign on the earth? He will reign from Jerusalem. He says: "I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem" (Zechariah 8:3). In fact, when He reigns, Jerusalem will have another name. The very last verse in the book of Ezekiel states that "the name of the city from that day shall be: The Lord Is There" (Ezekiel 48:35). In Hebrew, that name is Yahweh Shama. From there, He will rule His Kingdom: "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9).
When Christ comes back to rule the earth, He and the glorified saints will rule over the nations—over physical human beings. Christ will teach the nations the way of life that produces peace. Today's Christians—resurrected as spirit beings (the "firstfruits")—will rule under His direction, as the kings and priests who will rule over cities and nations (see Luke 19:17; Revelation 2:26). These kings and priests will educate the world about God's truth. Notice this inspiring scripture, describing those who will be taught God's ways during the Millennium: "And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers" (Isaiah 30:20). You could be one of those teachers. And what will the glorified saints—the kings and priests—teach? "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left" (v. 21).
In the Millennium, the teachers will teach God's law. The prophet Isaiah gives us an inspiring foretaste of what will come. "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:2–3).
Humanity's often-contradictory and unjust laws will be no more. God's laws will be taught and administered from Jerusalem. And the Ten Commandments are the foundation of those laws. Remember, Jesus said: "But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments"—then He went on to list several of the Ten Commandments (Matthew 19:17). Moreover, in His "Sermon on the Mount" Jesus actually magnified the Ten Commandments. He made them more comprehensive, and more binding, because Christians need to observe the Ten Commandments in the spirit, not just in the letter!
What will be the effect of God's government on this earth? "He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4).
When Christ returns, He will re-educate the whole world to the way of peace. "The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:7–9).
In Tomorrow's World, all nations will know the true God of heaven and earth—the God of your Bible—and He will bless those who keep His commandments, as He has always done. Notice this inspiring passage from the book of Deuteronomy, describing the blessings that come when we obey God's law. "Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you" (Deuteronomy 8:6–10).
Can you visualize your part in teaching the nations to observe God's commandments, and helping all people live the abundant life God promises them? If you are among the "meek"—one who seeks God's will rather than your own—God can use you to teach others His ways.
Our planet, even today, stands out like a jewel in the vastness of space. But a time is coming when God will purify the earth with fire, and renew it, before heaven will come to earth (2 Peter 3:10–13). As the Apostle John wrote: "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.' Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new'" (Revelation 21:2–5).
You can have a part in that awesome future. God calls His children His heirs, and "joint heirs with Christ" in Romans 8:17. As heirs of God, faithful Christians will not only inherit the earth—they will inherit the universe. We read: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). Also: "You have put all things in subjection under his [mankind's] feet" (Hebrews 2:8).
In these last two verses, the Greek expression translated as "all things" is ta panta, which literally means "the all"—in other words, everything that is seen and unseen. Yes, faithful Christians will eventually inherit the whole universe! Today, many of us dream of traveling to the far reaches of the galaxy, and marvel at the beauty of the stars, nebulae and other awe-inspiring and beautiful features of our universe. The time is coming when today's faithful Christians will be able to travel across the universe at the speed of a thought!
Yes, God wants you to inherit the earth—and more! As He tells us: "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son" (Revelation 21:7). May God help us all to seek Him, and His Kingdom, that we may soon inherit the earth, the universe and all things!