When we look at the state of the world around us it is easy to feel confused. We look at a field of wild flowers, hear the songs of birds, or see the stars in the night sky and are amazed at the tremendous beauty. We watch a sunset and feel awe. We see the peaceful sleep of a baby. Yet these tranquil moments are often cut short by the news of another tragedy. Each day we hear of wars, starving children, high school shootings, or another friend diagnosed with cancer. There are floods, earthquakes, famines, terrorists, innocent children being shot, and examples of greed and cruelty everywhere we turn. We cannot help but wonder, “Is this it? Is this the best we will get?”
Many people try in all sincerity to make this world a better place. There are environmentalists lobbying the government, teachers working in inner-city schools, international aid workers bringing supplies to war-torn countries and people in dire need. In every election we hear talk of how each party will make the country a better place. Yet every time, as the nation evaluates the effectiveness of the administration finishing its term, it seems there are just as many problems and issues that need attention. This world seems to have so much potential for exquisite beauty and goodness in its very design, yet in reality it falls so short. When faced with this reality, we are left wondering what hope there really is. Will there ever be a leader who can help us out of this mess? This is why the promise God gives us of the return of Christ and the establishment of His kingdom on earth is such good news!
The Bible states God has promised Jesus Christ will return to earth to establish a kingdom. This was clearly the central message of the “Good News” preached by Christ and the apostles in the New Testament. Matthew states: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23). The future kingdom of God was the central focus of Jesus’ message of salvation to the Jews. It was the hope he so desperately wanted to share with them. The apostle Paul also places the kingdom at the heart of the message he preaches. The writer of Acts tells us:
It is clear, when we read scripture, why the kingdom is so central to the message of Christ and the apostles. God is promising us something so much better than anything we have experienced so far. He is promising us a world filled with his glory (Numbers 14:21) in which all of the sadness, tragedy, and evil has been taken away. Imagine living in a world where there is no more war, death, sickness, or evil! This picture is so foreign to everything we know that it is seems almost impossible to imagine. Yet if the Bible is God’s word, this book is promising a wonderful time of peace and prosperity to come.
So what does the Bible explain God’s kingdom will be like?
A Perfect Ruler – Christ as King
Isaiah tells us:
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. They [his subjects] shall not hurt or destroy in all my [God’s] holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:2-4,9, RSV)
As king, Christ will be both a just and merciful ruler. He will perfectly balance care for his people with justice for wrongdoers in a way that no other ruler before him has achieved.
Peace and Plenty
Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations afar off; And 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 any more; But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid. (Micah 4:2-4, RSV)
With the world’s resources and energies no longer being spent on war, “swords” will be turned into “plowshares” and men will return to caring for the land, not unlike Adam and Eve’s responsibilities in the Garden of Eden. The earth will again be fruitful and food will be abundant.
“Behold the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when the ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.” (Amos 9:13, RSV)
No longer will it be just the wealthy first-world nations where everyone is well fed and provided for. Instead, all peoples will benefit from the Earth’s new abundant harvest and world hunger will truly be a thing of the past (Psalm 72:16).
Health and Happiness
The desert and the parched land will be glad, the wilderness shall rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy…Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy…and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; Everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. (Isaiah 35:1,2,5,6,10)
Even the power of death will eventually be destroyed!
I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but for a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. (Isaiah 65:19-22)
When God’s kingdom is established, humans will live longer and they will get to enjoy the fruits of their labors in ways unknown to us today. We will no longer work hard for the profit of others. Rather, our work will be satisfying, both to ourselves and to God, and we will be able to completely enjoy the labor of our hands.
Mortals and Immortals
When Christ returns there will be a world full of people who have never had the chance to hear about him and respond to his call. It will be the job of the immortal saints, the people Christ judges righteous at his return who are given immortal life, to teach and rule over these people. The humans living at Christ’s return will have a chance to learn and discover God’s plan and choose to serve Him. (Zechariah 14:16-19) These mortals who choose to follow Christ will later be raised to immortality at the end of the 1000 years of the kingdom age (Revelation 20).
The work of the immortal saints will be incredibly rewarding during the establishment of the God’s kingdom on earth. They will be filling the earth with God’s glory. God’s whole purpose for His creation from the beginning has been that “the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14) Scripture tells us the saints will help Christ rule in the kingdom.
Being a part of God’s kingdom on earth is an incredible hope. We will no longer be weighed down by sickness and sadness. We will never have the impulse to sin or do evil. We will be filled with the indescribable joy at being able to perfectly serve God and participate in fulfilling His purpose on this earth. It is this hope that makes us yearn for Christ to return today! Our hope for the kingdom is not like hoping for a relaxing day on the beach. Instead, like Paul, we are excited that our imperfections and sins will no longer burden us and we will finally be able to perfectly glorify God (Romans 7: 21-25).
After the 1000 years of the kingdom God will give immortality to the mortals who have followed Christ and all other mortals will be destroyed. At this point, sin and death will be utterly conquered, once and for all. The earth will then be populated only by immortal righteous beings who will fill the earth with God’s glory. The curse that man’s wickedness brought on himself and the earth in Eden will end and God’s plan will reach its climax. Jesus will hand over the kingdom to God, his Father.
The end will come, when he [Christ] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. … When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:24-26,28)
While the Bible does not give us many details about life on the earth after the 1000 years, it will surely be a phenomenal time--seeing God’s glory fully fulfilled on this earth, beyond what our mortal minds can currently comprehend.
The Ultimate Question
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