“The Kingdom shall be given to the saints” (Dan.7:27)
In rapid succession we have now covered the subjects of the “who”, “how” and “when” of resurrection. It remains in this number to attack the question of “where” and “why?” It is a common belief amongst Christians that either at death, or certainly at resurrection, we shall be living “upstairs” with the Lord. As the old song put it, “If heaven’s not my home, Lord what shall I do?” Is there any substance in this belief? It is time to investigate the problem by looking at appropriate Scriptures, and once again, unwrapping any pictorial language we may find.
The best place to start is Hebrews chapter 11, and the testimony of Abraham. “By faith Abraham sojourned in the land of promise as a foreigner , . . . for he looked for a city . . . whose builder and maker is God.” (Verses 9 & 10) Paul went on to say, “All these died in faith . . . they desired a better country, that is, a heavenly.” (Verses 13 & 16) On the surface it would seem unquestionable that these O.T. saints were looking for heaven as their home, rather than the earth, in the days of resurrection. But is this so?
In Philippians, Paul said, “I press onwards towards the mark for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil.3:14) Again, it seems obvious, on the surface, that Paul was looking for a “heavenly home.” But was he?
Jesus consoled His disciples with the words, “I go to prepare a place for you . . . and I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:2-3) There doesn’t seem to be any doubt about that, does there? Our Lord is in heaven. He went there to prepare a place for His disciples. When He returns, He will take them to heaven to be with Him. Is that what our Lord meant?
And as we quoted in part 4, “He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt.24:31) This sounds very much like a heavenly assembly meeting, rather than anything on earth.
Where then is the place that God has set apart for His saints? Where did Abraham expect to go? Where is the “city not made with hands”? Is it not the subject of John’s revelation? Isn’t this the “New Jerusalem”, the “heavenly city” of chapter 21? We fully accept that it is. But it is precisely there that we must go to get the whole picture.
“I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven.” (21:2) And again in verses 9 & 10. “Come hither, and I will show you the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.”
These verses tell us a lot. First of all, the city is not a structure, but a people. The city is the Bride, not an abode for the Bride. All the multifarious descriptions given in the chapter relating to the city are but picture language, and must be interpreted as such. Even in Isaiah’s day, this truth was presented. “The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bending unto you; and all those who despised you shall bow themselves down at the soles of your feet, and they shall call you ‘The City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.'” (Isa.60:14) Furthermore, we find Paul telling the Ephesians, “Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone, in whom all building, being fitted together, grows into a Holy Temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling-place of God in spirit.” (Eph.2:20-21) Peter also understood this truth when he said, “You, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.” (1 Pet.2:5)
In the second place, we note that the New Jerusalem “comes down”, “descends”, from heaven. Having thus descended, where does it touch down? Clearly on the earth. During the six thousand years in which God has been taking out a “people for His name”, He has been building His saints into a heavenly Jerusalem (to use the figure) and once this “building” is complete, the time arrives when its function is about to begin, and the place where it begins is on the earth.
Dear old Moshe Cohen, in his dream, saw this happening. First of all he saw a company of saints rising to meet the Lord, and then the whole company coming back down to earth. And for what purpose? In his dream he saw them as an army, or a company of armies. And this leads us on to the next topic. We have seen something of the “where”, and we must now seek an answer to the “why?”
Daniel speaks in the plainest language. “The Court shall sit in judgment, and the [little horn’s] dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. And the Kingdom and the Dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, and their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.” (Dan.7:27)
An important part of this dominion, Jesus promised to His twelve disciples. “And as for you, who have followed me, when the Son of Man, in the regeneration, when He shall sit on the throne of His glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging (i.e. ruling) the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matt.19:28)
Once the Kingdom of God has been established on earth, a great deal of change is required, a mega-shift in politics, and the destruction of all that relates to terror, murder, perversion, vice, and all the other most beastly ways of fallen humanity. Daniel was told that it would be destroyed “unto the end.” This is why Moshe Cohen saw the Lord returning as the Conqueror, the Commander in Chief of all His armies. There will be no sudden change in the hearts of men, and some will even try to evade being subject to the new dominion, by scurrying off to the caves to hide. No, when the Kingdom of Heaven begins, it will be a gradual process, and it will not be accomplished in a day. As a mustard seed in germination, it will grow from very small beginnings, but become great. The stone which destroys the great image ofNebuchadnezzar, grows and fills the earth, according to yet another picture of the Kingdom.
The saints will be granted the Kingdom, and in resurrection they will have the ability to exercise dominion righteously, wisely, and compassionately, something that could never be achieved by mortal man. This world’s ills cannot be rectified by any up and coming religious movement such as “Dominion Theology”. Their intended goals may be good in themselves, but they would be as corrupt as the rest of us when it comes to dominion. To quote the well-known saying of First Baron Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But he also said, “The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.” (1881)
To sum up, we have seen that the Heavenly Home that believers have thought of as an eternal resting place,is a mis-interpretation of Scripture. The word “heavenly” refers not so much to place as to dimension. Jesus said that His Kingdom was “not of this world.” (John 18:36) In other words it does not have the character of human kingdoms. Those who have been trained and prepared in a world of suffering, as disciples of Jesus, become “living stones” in God’s Temple. They, and they alone, in resurrection have the type of character that God is looking for in respect of world-government.
And yes, we shall depart when the trumpet sounds, and the angels come to collect us. The Lord is planning on a delightful gathering of His children. But this will only last for a season until we are all made ready for the task down here. It is on earth that the Kingdom of God is needed.