Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. – Jesus (Matthew 5:5)
I know this may sound strange, but I don’t want to live forever in Heaven.
Jesus, in Matthew chapter five, said that the meek would inherit the earth. He was quoting from Psalm 37, which also says: “the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”
An inheritance (in the Bible) simply refers to a gift given to someone. Most often, it refers to land. When Abraham was brought by God to the land of Canaan, God told him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it” (Gen 15:7). The best definition of ‘to inherit’ would probably be ‘to take possession of.’ In light of that, Jesus is saying that the meek are those who will one day take possession of the earth.
But why did Jesus say that the meek would inherit the earth? Didn’t he mean that we would inherit heaven?
In our modern church culture, we often think about the idea of heaven as our ultimate destination. When someone we love dies, we comfort ourselves with the idea that they are in heaven with Jesus. And when we think about our own mortality, we anticipate going to heaven when we die. And that’s correct (for those that are saved). But it’s not the whole story.
There’s a basic, fundamental doctrine of the church that is not talked about very often. It should be, but it’s not. It’s called the doctrine of the Resurrection from the Dead.
In my personal studies, I’ve stumbled across this doctrine over and over again. It’s everywhere in the Bible, especially the New Testament. As a matter of fact, you won’t find anywhere in the Bible where anyone preaches about getting saved so you can go to heaven when you die. They didn’t talk about that much. Instead, they spoke about the resurrection from the dead.
”Now as they (the apostles) spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. – Acts 4:1-2
Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. – Acts 17:18
What is the Resurrection that they are talking about?
Well, don’t think that I’m teaching some new thing. The doctrine of the Resurrection is a basic one that you can find on just about every church website in the ‘what we believe’ section (usually at the very end). It’s one of the basic doctrines of the church and is listed as such in Hebrews chapter six, where the writer speaks of it as something so elementary that he hopes to be able to move on from talking about it to other things. This doctrine was among the very first things that was talked about in the days of the early believers. It would have been part of the very first sermons they heard, right along with the doctrine of repentance, faith, and baptisms.
The doctrine of the Resurrection from the Dead is the teaching that one day everyone in their graves will come out. Some will come forth unto everlasting life, others will come forth unto everlasting condemnation.
The prophet Daniel puts it together very simply:
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. – Daniel 12:2-3
Jesus Himself also makes this perfectly clear:
Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live…Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.- Jesus (John 5:25,28-29)
One day soon, those who are dead will come back to life. All of them. First was Jesus, who is called the ‘first-fruits’ of the resurrection. Then will be the righteous (those that have truly repented and put their faith in Jesus) at His coming. And finally all the rest (the wicked), to appear before God for the final judgment. (1 Cor 15:23, Rev 20:6-15).
The only exception to this is those in Christ who happen to be still living at His coming. They will not die, but be changed, ‘in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.’ These will be transformed into their immortal bodies without having to ever taste death. What a blessed few!
And what will happen to those who are raised in Christ? They will receive new, immortal, and incorruptible bodies. This means that these new bodies will not be subject to sin or temptations or moral weakness. They will be free from sickness, physical weakness, and death. They will be perfect, just like the body of the resurrected Jesus. It won’t be ‘flesh and blood’ (1 Cor 15:50) but ‘flesh and bone’ (Luke 24:39).
And what will we do in these bodies? First, we will rule and reign with Christ on this earth for a thousand years (Rev 20:6). Then, after the thousand years are over, there will be a great battle. The forces of darkness will be finally and forever defeated. Then there will be a new heavens and new earth—perfect—with no curse and no evil. The holy heavenly city, the New Jerusalem (where God abides), will descend out of heaven to the earth. God, Himself, the Father, will descend with it. He will place His foot upon the earth once again forever. He will forever dwell together with His people. He will be their God and they shall be His people.
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 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. – Revelation 21:1-3
I’m looking forward to that day! Are you?
So that’s why I don’t want to live forever in heaven. Heaven isn’t the end game. Earth is. A new Earth, but Earth nonetheless. God is going to be on the Earth. I want to be here with Him.
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