Thursday, November 10, 2011

God's Kingdom is for the earth

In Graeme Goldsworthy's According to Plan he most helpfully points out that
it should be absolutely obvious that the Old Testament references to the kingdom being on earth and populated by people cannot be spiritualized away. Once we accept that Jesus rose bodily, even though his resurrection body was not exactly as it had been before, the physical component of the Kingdom is clear. Those texts which support the ideas of souls going to heaven (for example, 2 Cor. 5:1-10) see it as a purely temporary situation. Peter's description of the new heaven (sky above) and new earth is drawn directly from Isaiah 65:17 (2 Pet. 3:13), which in turn is based on Genesis 1:1. So also, the marvelous description of the kingdom in Revelation 21 and 22 is based on a number of Old Testament passages. But there is no suggestion that is mere symbolism which must be interpreted in a spiritualized way.

For John, the consummation is the open fulfillment of the Old Testament hope. There is a new heaven and a new earth and a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven (Rev 21:1-2). Some may think of the heavenly Jerusalem as a place in the heavens. But John describes it as from heaven and coming down onto the new earth. That which the tabernacle and temple pointed to, the dwelling of God with his people, becomes a reality (Rev. 21:3). The regeneration is now complete (Rev. 21:5), and thus there is no longer any need for 'government outposts and agencies', such as the temple which is the symbol of God's presence, for he is present and is also the source of all light (Rev. 21:22-23). The old images of Eden are there joined with those of the holy city and throne (Rev. 22:1-2, cf. Ezk. 47:1-12).

All sorts of questions no doubt spring to mind about what the new earth will be like. Most of them will have to remain unanswered in this life since scripture provides little information. One thing is for sure: the biblical view of the total regeneration of all things really beats the pagan view of an eternity spent as disembodied souls with only the odd cloud or two for support!"

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