The Promised Inheritance

What is the Believer's Reward?

Written by David M Rogers

www.BibleTruth.cc

Written: 1989

Published: 2003

Updated: 2010

Table Of Contents

The Abrahamic Covenant

The Promised Blessing

The Promised Seed

The Promised Land

The Mystery of Christ

What is Abraham's Reward?

Is Heaven the Reward of the Church?

John 14: A Home in Heaven?

1 Thessalonians 4: Will The Church Be Taken Up To Heaven?

Will Messiah Come Down "With His Church"?

Do the 24 Elders in Revelation Symbolize the Church?

The Desolate Earth Theory

The Messianic Age on Earth

What is the Reward of the Church?

When Will Our Inheritance Be Realized?

The Renewal of All Things

What Kind of Kingdom Did the Prophets Envision?

Conclusion


To all those who place their confidence and trust in the Messiah, God has promised great rewards. One inspired writer encourages each believer: "Do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of Elohim, you will receive what he has promised" (Hebrews 10:35,36).  To be sure, the New Testament writers allude frequently to the reward(s) which each Christian will receive.

But, there is a great deal of confusion about what this reward entails and when it will be given. Some Christian groups teach that the church will spend 7 years in heaven with the Messiah (at the rapture) and then return to earth for his millennial reign. Some think that heaven will be the eternal inheritance of the believer. Others believe that the church will be in heaven for 1000 years with Yahusha and afterwards return to a renewed earth. Still others insist that the church will only briefly leave the ground to meet the Lord in the air and then will reign on the earth with the Messiah for eternity.

Sadly, the confusion about the future home and reward of the New Testament believer does not end there. But it is generally agreed that a good place to begin a study of the biblical promises is with the covenant promises Elohim (Hebrew for "God") made to Abraham. The Abrahamic Covenant is the one by which Israel rests their claim of ownership of the Holy Land. And the student of the New Testament knows that Elohim's promise to bless all nations through Abraham's seed is fulfilled in the Messiah Yahusha.

Nevertheless, there is considerable disagreement over how the promises Elohim made to Abraham are to be fulfilled through the Messiah. Dispensationalists, for example, claim that the inheritance of land promised in this covenant is to be realized for national Israel only, and that the assembly of Messiah has different promises in the Messiah Yahusha, including the promise of a heavenly inheritance and dwelling. Others, as we already mentioned, disagree. Although the proponents of each of these views insist that their interpretation is the biblical teaching, we can be certain that the Bible does not support such a multiplicity of views. Our task, then, is to explore the biblical testimony regarding the promised inheritance of the assembly of Messiah, beginning with the Abrahamic Covenant, so that we may know the truth about our future destiny.

The Abrahamic Covenant

We are introduced to Elohim's promises early in the book of Genesis in the account of Abraham's call to relocate to the land of Canaan:

"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:2,3).

These promises which Elohim made to Abraham can be classified under 3 main headings. Elohim promised Abraham a blessing, an offspring, and an inheritance which he and his offspring would possess.

The Promised Blessing

The promise of a blessing is recorded in the passage above with these words: "I will bless you,...I will bless those who bless you,...and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." With this promise to bless him, Elohim is not conferring a vague wish of good will upon Abraham. On the contrary, Elohim is granting something very specific:  He is promising to credit Abraham with righteousness!  When Elohim told Abraham that his heir would be a son from his own body, the Scriptures tell us that "Abraham believed Yahuwah, and he credited it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). Later, Abraham demonstrated his belief in Elohim's promise by offering his only son Isaac on the alter. And Elohim confirmed to him this promise of blessing: "I will surely bless you...and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me" (Genesis 22:17,18). Elohim conferred the blessing of righteousness to Abraham because of his faith and obedience.

The New Testament presents the same message of a blessing of righteousness to all who, through faith in Elohim's word, obey him. First, Paul describes what King David said about the blessing of righteousness which comes by faith:

David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom Elohim credits righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin Yahuwah will never count against him" (Romans 4:6-8).

Paul also discusses the blessing which all the peoples of the earth were to receive through Abraham. The forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of Elohim imparted to the believer is that blessing. He explains that Elohim has "redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Yahusha Messiah" (Galatians 3:14). So it was through the sacrificial death of the Messiah on the tree that Elohim has blessed the Gentiles - and that blessing takes the form of forgiveness of their sins. And again in the passage in Romans, while speaking of Abraham, Paul explains that

the words "it was credited to him" were not written for him alone, but also for us, to whom Elohim will credit righteousness - for us who believe in him who raised Yahusha our Lord from the dead (4:23,24).

Peter preached the same message where he notes that Elohim "said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' When Elohim raised up his servant (Yahusha), he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways" (Acts 3:25,26). Thus, Elohim has not only fulfilled his promise by blessing Abraham personally, but he has blessed all the nations of the earth by crediting every believer with righteousness through faith and the complete forgiveness of sins.

And second, although this righteousness from Elohim is given "apart from works," it nevertheless results in good works. This point is emphatically made by James, who discusses the fruit of real faith: "I will show you my faith by what I do" (James 2:18). Moreover, James explains that Abraham was credited with righteousness because his obedience underlined his real faith:

"Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed Elohim, and it was credited to him as righteousness"

James is not saying here that his works alone are what earned Abraham the righteousness of Elohim.  On the contrary, he is explaining that faith in Elohim, by which Abraham is credited righteousness, is made evident by the good works of his obedience to Elohim's word.

The apostle Paul reaches the same conclusion about righteousness by faith; namely, that true faith issues in complete obedience to Elohim's will: "Do we, then, nullify the law by faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law" (Romans 3:31). True faith in Elohim does not result in freedom from Elohim's law or rejection of Elohim's law.  True faith results in the complete surrender of one's heart to the will of Elohim, which is spelled out in his holy law.  So, since true faith results in obedience, it is proper to say that righteousness is credited to those who believe and obey.

The Promised Seed

The second of the three important promises Elohim made to Abraham was the promise to give him a "seed" as a co-inheritor of the land of Canaan: "But Yahuwah appeared to Abram and said, 'To your offspring (seed) I will give this land'" (Genesis 12:7). And again, "the whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their Elohim" (Genesis 17:8).

Elohim shortly thereafter began to fulfill this promise by raising up from Abraham the great nation of Israel through Isaac and Jacob. All of them were descendants of Abraham by human birth, but only some of them became spiritual descendants of Abraham by means of their faith in Elohim. And Yahuwah gave the nation of Israel a great deliverance out of Egypt by performing signs and wonders through Moses, fully intending to grant them rest in the promised land of Canaan. But, as the writer to the Hebrews puts it, "they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief" (3:19). So, forty years later, Moses spoke to the new generation and said, "Yahuwah your Elohim has increased your numbers so that today you are as many as the stars in the sky" (Deut.1:11).

This was only the beginning of the fulfillment of Elohim's promise to raise up an offspring to Abraham, and to make a great nation from him (see Genesis 12:2). That generation of Israelites became Abraham's spiritual descendants because they believed Elohim's promises. And Elohim allowed them to enter the promised land. But the most significant fact to note here is that the unbelieving first generation to come out of Egypt did not receive the promised land. Only the following generation who trusted in Elohim's promise won the victory over their enemies and entered Canaan.

The fulfillment of that promise is still going on today. The apostle Paul wants us to

understand, then, that those who believe are children (offspring) of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that Elohim would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith (Galatians 3:7-9).

When Elohim promised to raise up countless descendants from Abraham and to bless them, he was not talking about just Abraham's physical descendants. Elohim's intention was to raise up and bless a multitude of believers who had faith like Abraham. In Galatians 3:29, Paul explains that "if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." And in another place Paul teaches us that Abraham is the father of all who believe and are not circumcised, and also the father of all who are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of Abraham, the man of faith (see Romans 4:12).

To put it another way, it is only through faith in Elohim that a person is considered Abraham's seed. Those who place their trust and hope in Elohim in the same manner that Abraham believes, become children of the promise. Not all of Abraham's descendants by birth are children of the promise, but only those who are born by the power of Elohim's Spirit. Paul notes that

not all who are descended from Israel (the nation) are Israel (Elohim's true, spiritual people). Nor because they are his (natural born) descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." In other words, it is not the natural children who are Elohim's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring (Romans 9:6-9).

And Paul tells the Galatian believers that "you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of the promise" (4:28).

Therefore, Elohim's promise to Abraham to raise up a multitude of descendants to him was only partially fulfilled in the people who are physical descendants of Israel. Elohim's intent was to raise up a multitude of people who would trust in him, made up of both Jews and Gentiles. Only those of Abraham's descendants by human birth who have faith in Elohim are considered children of the promise. The remainder of Abraham's offspring by birth are not Elohim's Israel! Everyone who has placed his trust in the living Elohim is considered to be a descendant of Abraham and a child of the promise.

Furthermore, as the apostle Paul argues in his epistle to the Galatians, Elohim promised not only descendants, but a specific 'seed' who would be the recipient of the promise. This 'seed' is Yahusha the Messiah, who also is Abraham's descendant. Paul writes that "the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Messiah" (3:16). The second promise, therefore, is fulfilled in the person of Yahusha and in those who have faith in him.

 

The Promised Land

The third promise Elohim made to Abraham was that of an inheritance of land. Elohim said to Abraham, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever" (Genesis 13:14,15). In Genesis 17:8, Elohim calls the land "the whole land of Canaan," and in 15:18,19, the boundaries of that land are given. So from these three references it is clear that what is roughly the land occupied by the modern nation of Israel is that promised land.

One of the mistakes of dispensational theology is that they fail to recognize who the recipients of that inheritance are. Yahuwah said to Abraham, "to your offspring (or 'seed') I will give this land" (Genesis 12:7). And again, "all the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring ('seed') forever" (Genesis 13:15). As we just noticed above, Paul makes the point in Galatians that the Messiah is Abraham's seed, and therefore the heir to the land of Canaan. The nation of Israel does not by virtue of their "Jewishness" have the right of inheritance to Canaan as many contemporary Christians and Israelites may think. The rightful heir to the land is the Lord Yahusha the Messiah. Canaan never belonged to Israel. They were merely renting the land, as it were, from Elohim. Elohim owns the land, and his son is to be the recipient of that inheritance.

Moses explained to the Israelites that the land did not belong to them. Among some other regulations he gave them concerning the Year of Jubilee, Elohim commanded through Moses that "the land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants" (Lev.25:23). Likewise, Yahusha told a parable about Israel and himself. He explained that a landowner rented his land to some farmers and then went on a journey. When harvest time arrived, he sent one servant after another to collect the fruit of the land, but his servants were sent away empty-handed by the farmers. Finally, he sent his own son. "But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'this is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him" (Matthew 21:38,39).  Yahusha related this story to the religious leader of Israel, and concluded, "therefore I tell you that the kingdom of Elohim will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit" (21:43).

The application of the parable is quite obvious to us who have the advantage of hindsight. Yahusha was the son and heir of the land whom the farmers hated and killed. The inheritance was to be taken from these tenants, who are the unbelieving nation of Israel, and given to the people who put their faith in Elohim and in his Messiah. Faithful Israel is that privileged group of people.  So the quotation from the law of Moses and the illustration of Messiah's parable confirm that Elohim owns the land and that Yahusha his son is the heir.

In fact, Elohim has appointed Yahusha as heir of all things (see Hebrews 1:2). And the land of the promise will be given to the people who put their faith in Yahusha, not merely to the physical descendants of Abraham!  Paul tells us that "if we are children (of Elohim), then we are heirs - heirs of Elohim and co-heirs with Messiah" (Romans 8:17). This is how Paul understood Elohim's promise to Abraham when he said,

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your Elohim and the Elohim of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan...I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be your Elohim (Genesis 17:7,8).

We have already established that the members of the body of the Messiah are Abraham's descendants. Therefore, the New Testament followers of Messiah along with the ancient people of faith are the recipients of this promise. The land will be given to Messiah and his people as an everlasting possession. Since the Messiah is the rightful heir and his people are the co-heirs with him, then the land of the promise will be the inheritance of the body of the Messiah!

The Mystery of Christ

Paul provides a further word of explanation about the inheritance of the assembly of Messiah in several discussions of the "mystery."

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.  This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:4-6, NIV)

This mystery is in harmony with what we have already said about Paul's interpretation of the Abrahamic Covenant. The message of this mystery is still widely misunderstood in spite of Paul's straightforward explanations of it. It is probably because of the connotations the word "mystery" has for English speaking people that Paul's theology has been misinterpreted and distorted. Some seem to look for a hidden, mystical message in the apostle's words which he never intended. But this is not what a biblical mystery is. In the New Testament, a mystery is a teaching about the plan of Elohim for the working out of his salvation, which has not been understood in the past, but is now being revealed by Elohim's Spirit.

The mystery of Messiah is summarized in Ephesians 1:9,10 where Paul explains that the goal of history is "to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Messiah." Paul's interest in this mystery is funneled toward a discussion of how Elohim is including the Gentiles in his household. The people of Israel had not previously understood that the Messiah was going to be more than just their political ruler. Elohim intended that the Anointed One would be the ruler of all the universe and the Savior of the whole world.

Paul's mystery and the gospel message are actually two different ways of viewing the same phenomenon. The gospel says that the Messiah died as our substitute on the tree to provide forgiveness of sins and access to Elohim for each believer. The mystery message tells us the purpose for which Elohim accomplished this work of salvation, namely, so that the Messiah might be the supreme ruler of the universe (see Ephesians 1:20-23; 2:16,18). The gospel deals with the personal application of the atoning work of the Messiah, whereas, the mystery takes in the wider view - the worldwide implications of this salvation.

Since Israel did not comprehend the global ramifications that the message of the Messiah's death and resurrection would have, the propagation of the gospel was not anticipated by them. They did not realize that Elohim intended to include the Gentiles with his body of believers. So Paul was commissioned by Elohim to preach the message that "Elohim has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Messiah in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).

In Ephesians two and three, Paul discusses the relationship the Gentiles now have with Israel through the Messiah. First, he lists the contrasts between the former and present lifestyle of the believer. He was formerly "dead" (2:1), but is now "alive with Messiah" (2:5). The Gentile was once an "object of wrath" (2:3), but now he is "saved by grace" (2:8). And he used to walk in transgressions and in sins (2:1,2), but now he is encouraged to live a life of good works (2:10). This list of contrasting characteristics continues in 2:11 where Paul specifically addresses the Gentile:

At that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without Elohim in the world. But now in Messiah Yahusha you...have been brought near....

This antithesis implies that the believing Gentile is now a citizen in Israel and a partaker of the covenants of the promise.

The word citizenship (Gr. politeiaj [politeias], 2:12) is also found in Acts 22:28 where the commanding officer, speaking of his political status, tells Paul, "I had to pay a big price for my citizenship." It is well known that the Roman citizen had rights and privileges that the non-citizen did not enjoy. Likewise, the citizen of the commonwealth of Israel possesses the privilege of access to Elohim and to the promises Elohim has made to Abraham and his descendants.

And in case the implication he was making in 2:12,13 was not plain enough, Paul drives the point home that the Gentiles "are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with Elohim's people and members of Elohim's household" (2:19). Even under the Mosaic economy, the alien who lived among the Israelites was to be treated the same way as any native-born citizen (cf. Num.15:14-16). How much more is it evident that the Gentile, who is now a fellow citizen with Elohim's people, has complete access to all of the promises, including the promise of inheritance.

Some object to this interpretation on the basis that Paul is speaking of different promises. But this is not so. Paul makes it crystal clear that the promises which belong to those who are the Messiah's are the same promises as those Elohim made to Abraham. The apostle plainly states that "Messiah has become a servant of the Jews...to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs" (i.e. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Romans 15:8). And in Romans 4:13-16, Paul explicitly states that the inheritance of each believer is in accordance with the promise of land Elohim pledged to give to Abraham:

It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith...Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring - not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all... (4:13,16).

Paul again makes this same point in his letter to the Galatians. In Genesis 13:15, Elohim said to Abraham, "All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring ('seed') forever." It is precisely this promise Paul is writing about when he tells the Galatian believers:

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Messiah....For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but Elohim in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.... If you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (3:16,18,29).

In light of such explicit statements, it is hard to imagine how some Bible expositors can make a mistake about the inheritance of the New Testament believers. Nevertheless, the mystery of Messiah is still largely misunderstood. Dispensationalists contend that at Pentecost, a new body of believers was formed, made up of Jews and Gentiles, who are now treated as equals by Elohim. This new group, they say, will receive an inheritance quite different from that of the "Old Testament saints." However, this interpretation is in stark contrast to Paul's explicit statement in Ephesians 3:6:

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Messiah Yahusha.

"The promise" which Paul is referring to here is none other than that which was made to Abraham that he and his descendants would inherit the world. Therefore, since the Gentiles are now citizens in Israel, members of Elohim's household, heirs together with Israel, members of the same body and sharers together with them in the promise, then how could their inheritance be different than that which was promised to Israel?

In Romans 11, Paul talks about the relationship between Israel and the Gentiles. He compares the nation Israel to an olive tree. The unbelieving part in Israel is compared to branches of the olive tree which are broken off. And the believing Gentiles are likened to wild olive branches which are grafted into the tree. By this example, Paul is illustrating the principle he laid down in Ephesians 3, where he explained that the Gentiles are now heirs together with Israel. The point of this illustration is that the promises Elohim made to Abraham were offered to his descendants by birth, the nation of Israel. But only the believing part of the nation will inherit the promises, while the remaining part has been cut off from the promises through unbelief (like those branches of the olive tree). In their place, the believing Gentiles are made heirs together of the promises by being grafted into the tree (i.e. Elohim's household).

The bottom line is not that a new group of people has been formed with different promises, but rather, that Elohim is now including the Gentiles in the promised inheritance with Israel. Therefore, while the concept of the body of the Messiah made up of Jews and Gentiles who are treated as equals is new, the promises which this group will receive is not any different than those which he formerly offered to national Israel. So just as Elohim offered the inheritance of the world to the whole nation of Israel, and the believing part of that nation will receive this inheritance, so now Elohim is offering the promises to all nations of the earth; and all believers, Jew or Gentile, will receive the inheritance in the kingdom of Elohim.

Paul also explains other aspects of this mystery in his letters to the Ephesians and to the Colossians. The insight Elohim gave to Paul is that Elohim was planning to make the gospel of the Messiah available to the Gentile by hardening the hearts of the unbelievers in Israel. This is the avenue Elohim chose to bring all things (i.e. the Gentiles) together under the Messiah (cf. Ephesians 1:10). The apostle expounds upon this aspect of the mystery in Romans 11:25 where he notes that "Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in." Because of the hardening of Israel, the gospel spread to the Gentiles who are now being grafted into the olive tree.

It should not be surprising to the student of the Word that the Gentiles are grafted in and have equal status with Israel to the obtaining of the promises. The prophet Hosea prophesied this when he wrote:

I will show my love to the one I called "Not my loved one."  I will say to those called "Not my people," "You are my people," and they will say, "You are my Elohim."

Paul quotes this Scripture in Romans 9:25 as evidence that Elohim always had intended to include every believing Gentile with the Jewish believers as a part of his people. The household of Elohim is made up of all who place their faith in Elohim regardless of their national or ethnic roots.

What is Abraham's Reward?

The interpretation and application of the Abrahamic promises by the New Testament writers seems to establish the fact that the inheritance of the New Testament assembly of Messiah is earthly. But how can we square this with the many references by Paul and others to the heavenly blessings of the believer and his citizenship which lies in heaven? In other words, doesn't the Bible promise the earth to Abraham and heaven to the New Testament assembly of Messiah?

The writer to the Hebrews informs us that

by faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith, he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country...for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is Elohim (11:8-10).

It should be obvious from reading that passage that although Abraham was living in the land Elohim promised him, this was not the fulfillment of the promise. Abraham expected that Elohim himself would build for him a city in that land. But when he died he still had "not received the things promised; (he) only saw them and welcomed them from a distance" (Heb.11:13).

Hebrews goes on to tell us that Abraham had the opportunity to return to the place he had come from. But he did not, because he was "longing for a better country - a heavenly one" (11:16). In other words, Abraham was living in the land of promise but he realized that there was more to Elohim's promise than just the plot of earth he stood upon. Elohim would someday build on that ground a heavenly city which would be his inheritance. This is, in fact, the hope of all the men and women of faith described in chapter 11, for "none of them received what had been promised. Elohim had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect" (Hebrews 11:39,40). The promised inheritance is both an earthly land and a heavenly city. Abraham was looking for a heavenly city on earth! Elohim is still waiting to fulfill his promise to Abraham so that all of his people, including the New Testament assembly of Messiah, might receive that inheritance together!

Paul spoke of that same heavenly city to which Abraham was looking forward when he told the Philippians that "our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there" (Phil.3:20). The New Jerusalem is that heavenly city, and it has been promised to the assembly of Messiah as well as to Abraham. In the book of Revelation, John records the promise Yahusha made to the overcomers at Philadelphia: "I will write on him the name of my Elohim and the name of the city of my Elohim, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my Elohim" (Revelation 3:12).

This fits in perfectly with our interpretation of the Abrahamic Covenant.  The New Jerusalem which the assembly of Messiah will inherit is the "city with foundations, whose architect and builder is Elohim" (Heb.11:10). And Elohim promises that "he who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his Elohim and he will be my son" (Revelation 21:7). The New Jerusalem is the kingdom of heaven on earth.

A detailed description of the city is given in Revelation 21. In chapter 21:9 an angel offers to show John the bride, the wife of the Lamb. These two metaphors, "bride" and "wife" are New Testament and Old Testament symbols (respectively) which speak of the intimate relationship Elohim has with his people. It is instructive for us that these two figures of speech describe the same group of people here. Both the Old Testament wife of Yahweh and the New Testament bride of the Messiah are together as one body of believers, partaking of the same promises Elohim made to Abraham. When the angel shows John this bride/wife, he sees "the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from Elohim" (21:10). Elohim's chosen believers from all ages inhabit the New Jerusalem.

In this vision, John also sees the gates and dimensions of the city.  Then the precious stones which form its foundations are identified.  The city also has twelve gates made of pearls and its street is pure gold. Can there be any mistake in identifying this as the "city with foundations, whose architect and builder is Elohim"?  This is the city for which Abraham and all his descendants with him are awaiting.

Is Heaven the Reward of the Church?

Elohim has promised a heavenly inheritance on earth to Abraham and to all of his descendants through the Messiah Yahusha, Abraham's seed. This is, in fact, the only inheritance the assembly of Messiah has been promised. A popular misconception which has been propagated by many theologians is that believers will spend some time (7 years, 1000 years, or forever) with Yahusha in heaven. But the Bible says no such thing. There is a conspicuous absence of any reference to the saints reigning in heaven. The Scriptures plainly and exclusively describe an earthly reward and reign of the New Testament assembly of Messiah.

There are 5 primary reasons why many believers think that heaven will be their future home. And yet, none of the texts quoted by adherents to that view actually say anything about the church in heaven. A thoughtful examination of these texts will reveal that the Bible depicts only an earthly kingdom in which the saints will reign with the Messiah.

John 14: A Home in Heaven?

The discourse of Yahusha in John 14 is the most frequently cited as describing heaven as the destiny of believers. In it, Yahusha comforts his disciples, "in my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (14:2,3).

It is argued that Yahusha is here promising a home in heaven for his followers. "My Father's house" is supposed to mean heaven, and the "dwelling places" ("mansions", king jimmy version) are the buildings he allegedly is going to build for each believer. Therefore, by implication, when he returns to "take you to be with me," Yahusha is supposed to be suggesting that he will bring all Christians back to heaven to reside in those "celestial mansions."

But in response to this popular interpretation of John 14, let the reader notice that Yahusha did not say that he would come back to take the believer back to heaven. He merely stated that the Christian would be with him wherever he was. While we can be certain that Yahusha spoke about descending from heaven, it is not clear at all that Yahusha intends to go back to heaven again when he gathers his assembly of Messiah. In fact, such an arrangement is foreign to the plain meaning of this text. That interpretation must be "read into" Yahusha's words, since the Lord said no such thing.

Either one of two other interpretations of John 14 is much more plausible. First, Yahusha may have had the New Jerusalem in mind.  In this view, the Messiah was returning to heaven to prepare the Holy City for the kingdom age, which he will bring with him at his second advent, according to John's vision in which he saw the New Jerusalem descending from heaven to the New Earth (see Revelation 21).  If this is the correct view, then Yahusha was not implying that he will return to take his church back to heaven, but rather, that at his return he would bring heaven down, as it were, to his saints on earth.

A second alternative invites the reader to reassess some of the terminology of John 14. We must rethink the passage by giving careful consideration to the possibility that exegetes and expositors have been misinterpreting Yahusha's meaning all along.  For example, was Yahusha's work of preparation one of constructing eternal houses for the believer or did he have something else in mind in our text?  And what was Yahusha referring to when he spoke of "my father's house"?  Also, what are the "dwelling places" he was going to heaven to prepare?

While it may be quite correct that Yahusha was heavenward bound to prepare the New Jerusalem, it is also just as important to realize that he had another work of preparation in mind as well.  As many others texts make very plain, the work of preparation which Yahusha spoke about was that of a high priest to make intercession.  Thus, Yahusha was referring in John 14 to his need to attend to the duties of his high priestly office in the heavenly sanctuary.  the Messiah did indeed prepare a place for us by offering up his own blood so that we may have access to the throne of grace.  The place which Yahusha prepared for us is a place in Elohim's family - his household.

The phrase, "my father's house," is not primarily a reference to heaven. Yahusha was speaking about the "household" of Elohim, which, according to Hebrews, is his people. That writer notes that "Messiah is faithful as a son over Elohim's house. And we are his house..." (3:6).  Then later in his epistle, he describes Yahusha as the "great priest over the house of Elohim" (10:21).  Both Paul and Peter also use this metaphor of Elohim's house as a designation for the people of Elohim (see 1 Timothy 3:15; Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:19; 1 Peter 2:5; 4:17).  So then, "my father's house" does not refer merely to heaven, but to the positional status each believer has in the family of Elohim.

And furthermore, the expression "dwelling places" (Gr. monh [monee], John 14:2, "mansions" king jimmy version) is used only once in the rest of the New Testament. Yahusha used this word later in this same discourse where he was describing the "dwelling place" which he and his Father would take up with each believer: "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home (Gr. monhn moneen) with him" (John 14:23). When we view this in the larger context of the chapter, the plain meaning of Yahusha's words emerge.

The Messiah said that he had to go away so that he could send the Comforter - the Holy Spirit.  Yahusha and his Father were to "indwell" each believer through the Holy Spirit.  Just as Elohim was to "dwell in" (monh monee) each believer, so each believer was to "dwell in" (monee) Elohim's family.  Therefore, the preparation Yahusha had to go away to make was his work as high priest to bring each one of his disciples into the family of Elohim, whereupon, the believer becomes a "dwelling place" of his Father, and has access to Elohim through prayer in Yahusha's name.

Not everyone will agree with this interpretation of John 14:1-3.  Many will still insist that Yahusha was going to prepare the physical structures in which each believer will reside when the Messiah returns in his glorious parousia.  But we can conclude with absolute certainty that Yahusha did not say that he would return to heaven after he gathers his assembly of Messiah.  So, although the precise meaning of John 14 may still be a debatable issue, it is most certain that Yahusha was not explicitly promising a future home "in heaven" for his disciples.

1 Thessalonians 4: Will The Church Be Taken Up To Heaven?

Nor does the text of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 teach that the assembly of Messiah will go to heaven. In it, Paul explains that Yahusha will "come down from heaven...and we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them (i.e. the dead in Messiah) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever" (vss.16-18). This text portrays the assembly of Messiah as rising in the air to meet the Lord and to be with him forever. But we are left hanging. We are not told where we will go from that meeting in the air. Most interpreters assume that the saints will keep on ascending while Yahusha escorts them back to heaven. But since the text is silent on this point, the opposite could also be true. Yahusha may continue to descend all the way to the earth with his bride.

There are 2 textual clues in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 which indicate that the assembly of Messiah will not rise up to heaven, but will immediately return with the Messiah to earth. First, the use of this word "meeting" in Greek literature with reference to the ancient custom of going out to meet a dignitary and escorting him into the city to which he is coming suggests to the informed reader that Paul had this same scenario in mind.

This word meeting comes from the Greek word avpanthsij (apanteesis). Noted Bible scholar F.F. Bruce has this to say about our word:

When a dignitary paid an official visit or parousia to a city in Hellenistic times, the action of the leading citizens in going out to meet him and escorting him on the final stage of his journey was called the apanteesis....

William R. Kimball notes that this word is used only two other times in the New Testament. Its first occurrence is in the parable of the ten virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom (Matthew 25:6). In this story, as Kimball explains,

a direct parallel is made between an Oriental wedding and the Lord's return for His assembly of Messiah. When the announcement of the bridegroom's arrival was sounded, the virgins arose and hurried out to meet the approaching bridegroom to escort him back to where they had been waiting. According to the Eastern wedding custom, the attendants to the bride (the virgins in the parable) went out from the bride's home to join the bridegroom's procession and accompany him back to his waiting bride. It would be ridiculous to imagine the virgins going out to greet the approaching bridegroom only to turn around and retreat to where he had come from. This would amount to an abrogation of the wedding ceremony.

The other place where this word occurs in the New Testament is in the story in the book of Acts about the final leg of Paul's journey to Rome. Luke logged this account:

And so we went to Rome. The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet (Gr. avpanthsij apanteesis) us. At the sight of these men, Paul thanked Elohim and was encouraged. When we got to Rome... (Acts 28:14-16).

Clearly, the word "meet" here denotes the continued journey of the dignitary (Paul) and the reversal of direction of those who were going out to meet him. Likewise, in the account of the Lord's coming in 1 Thessalonians 4, the dignitary (Yahusha) continues his journey to his destination (earth) while those meeting him will reverse direction and go back to their original location.

In summary, Kimball remarks,

An honest examination of the distinctive usage of the word apanteesis conclusively demonstrates that it meant that as one party was making a journey (the Lord, the bridegroom, and the Apostle Paul), others came out to meet them, and then accompanied them to the end of their original destination without changing direction. Nowhere else in the scriptures is this word so used. It is consistently used to suggest the concept of an unimpeded advance in the same direction. In the case of 1 Thessalonians 4:17, that direction would be a descent of the Lord from heaven to earth.

The second point to be made from the rapture passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 is that the apostle prophetically describes the Messiah as "coming down out of heaven" (vs.16). But other statements in the New Testament make it crystal clear that the Messiah will not come down out of heaven until he comes to reign on earth. In Acts 1:11, two angels told the Messiah's disciples that "this same Yahusha, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Since Yahusha left the earth and went to heaven in a cloud, it is certain that he will come back the same way; that is, he will come down out of heaven in a cloud and touch down on earth.

Yahusha will not come down out of heaven only to go back to heaven with his saints, as many churches teach. On the contrary, Peter explains that "he must remain in heaven until the time comes for Elohim to restore everything as he promised long ago through his holy prophets" (Acts 3:21). This restoration Peter speaks about is the renewal and repopulation of the earth when the Messiah brings down his kingdom. Since Yahusha will not come down out of heaven until this restoration of the earth, then the scenario, suggested by some, that he will come down, then go back up, then come down again, is lacking in biblical support, and is in fact contrary to the explicit teaching of the Scriptures.

Will Messiah Come Down "With His Church"?

The third reason why some believers think that heaven will be their future home is that certain biblical passages seem to depict the Messiah coming down from heaven "with his saints". So, the argument goes, if the saints will come down out of heaven, it stands to reason that they must have spent some time in heaven. This rationale is supported by mistranslations of Zechariah 14:5, "and Yahuwah, my Elohim, shall come, and all the saints with thee" (king jimmy version), 1 Thessalonians 3:13), "to the end he may stablish your hearts unblamable in holiness before Elohim, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Yahusha Messiah with all his saints (king jimmy version)"; and Jude 14, "and Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, Yahuwah cometh with ten thousands of his saints (king jimmy version)".

But advocates of this position have failed to recognize the identification of these "saints." The word translated saints is a generic term which means "holy ones." It can be used of saints or of angels or of both. In the three texts cited above, the word is referring to angels, not saints. This is substantiated by several other parallel texts which clearly show the angels accompanying the Messiah at his appearing.

The prophet Daniel, in vision, saw the Ancient of Days seated on his throne. And he notes that "thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him" (7:10). In a similar vision, the apostle John beheld the Lamb of Elohim approaching the throne of Elohim. John describes what happened next: "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousands" (Revelation 5:11). Obviously, both visions depict the same group of angels around Elohim's throne.

There are other texts as well which depict the angels who accompany Elohim in these numeric terms. Hebrews 12:22 says, "You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly...." And Moses describes the coming of Yahuwah to Sinai: "He came with myriads (thousands) of holy ones..." (Deuteronomy 33:2). We know that these "holy ones" are angels because Acts 7:53 tells us that the law at Sinai was given through the instrumentality of angels.

Furthermore, there are an abundance of Scriptures which show that angels will accompany Yahusha at his glorious posttribulational, premillenial parousia:

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done (Matthew 16:27).

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other (Matthew 24:31).

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory (Matthew 25:31).

This will happen when the Lord Yahusha is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels (2 Thess.1:7).

It is easy to see, in view of the many other passages which describe Elohim's angles in thousands and ten thousands, that Jude 14 is also a reference to angels.

Likewise, Zechariah 14:5 and the apostle Paul's reference to this same parousia of the Messiah in 1 Thess.3:13 ("May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our Elohim and Father when our Lord Yahusha comes with all his holy ones") must be understood in light of these other explicit texts which teach us that the Messiah will come down out of heaven with his angels, not with his assembly of Messiah.

Do the 24 Elders in Revelation Symbolize the Church?

The fourth reason why some believers think their future home will be in heaven is that the 24 elders around Elohim's throne in heaven have mistakenly been identified as representing the assembly of Messiah. But there are several reasons why these 24 elders can not be representative of the assembly of Messiah. First, although the term "elder" is used almost exclusively in the New Testament as a designation for leaders in the assembly of Messiah, the number 24 never is utilized anywhere to symbolize Christians. And there is no plausible explanation why "24" might be a fitting symbol for the Messiah's assembly.

Also, the four living creatures and the thousands and thousands of angels are literal. Their numbering is an actual figure and their designation is literal. How then can some say that the 24 elders are symbolic? Obviously, these 24 elders do not represent anything. They are not symbolic, but literal.

Furthermore, these elders speak of the redeemed of the earth in the third person:

The four living creatures and the twenty four elders...sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for Elohim from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our Elohim, and they will reign on earth" (Revelation 5:8-10).

Not only do these elders speak of the redeemed as a group of individuals different than themselves (i.e. "they" and "them"), but they also specifically indicate that the saints will "reign on earth," not in heaven!

It seems much more plausible, therefore, since these 24 elders are not symbolic and do not represent the redeemed humanity, and since they are in the company of other ranks of angelic beings, to identify them as heavenly beings. They must be a special class of angels with the specific duty of worshiping Elohim (cf. chapters 4,5,7 and 19:4).

The Desolate Earth Theory

The fifth reason some believers think their future home will be in heaven is that certain prophecies indicate that the earth will be made desolate in the judgment at the Messiah's posttribulational, premillenial parousia. This theory is based primarily on statements made by Isaiah and Jeremiah. Adherents to this "desolate earth theory" think the earth will be void of any people for 1000 years while the saints reign in heaven.

Isaiah 24 is frequently cited in support of the desolate earth theory. The prophet's vision begins with an eerie scene:

See, Yahuwah is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants - it will be the same for priest as for people, for master as for servant, for mistress as for maid, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. Yahuwah has spoken this word.  The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish (24:1-3).

Up to this point, the prophet seems to be predicting a totally desolate earth. But the vision does not end here. In fact, there are several indications that there is still a small population of people left to inhabit the earth. Verse 6 explicitly states that there are survivors on the planet:

Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.

 Isaiah even provides an illustration which graphically reveals that there will be a remnant of people left on the earth: 

So will it be on the earth and among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, or as when gleanings are left after the grape harvest (vs.13).

One would have to be purposely ignoring the biblical testimony to insist that Isaiah 24 teaches that earth will be empty for the millennial reign of Yahusha, because the righteous remnant is clearly shown on the earth. Verse 16, for example, shows the saints celebrating on earth, not in heaven: "From the ends of the earth we hear singing: 'Glory to the Righteous One.'" And verse 23 pictures the Messiah ruling in Jerusalem:

The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for Yahuwah Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously.

Isaiah 25 continues with this theme of the day of Yahuwah. Speaking of the earthly Mount Zion, the inspired prophet explains that

On this mountain Yahuwah Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples... On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth (25:6-8).

Again, the saints are depicted as reigning with the Messiah on the earth immediately following the resurrection of the just, which takes place at the posttribulational, premillenial appearing of Yahusha the Messiah.

Another significant text used by adherents to the desolate earth theory to bolster their belief that the saints will reign in heaven for 1000 years is Jeremiah 4, in which the prophet at first seems to be describing an "uninhabited" world:

I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone. I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying. I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins before Yahuwah, before his fierce anger (4:23-26).

But even the next verse qualifies what Elohim is saying about his coming judgment of the earth. There will be some survivors on planet earth, as he subsequently implies: "This is what Yahuwah says: 'The whole land will be ruined, though I will not destroy it completely'" (4:27). And later he writes, "'Yet even in those days,' declares Yahuwah, 'I will not destroy you completely'" (5:18). Although Jeremiah does not state that there will be survivors in this text, he certainly implies it. Then, in later visions, he more fully elaborates on the remnant of survivors left on earth immediately after this judgment.

In the vision recorded in chapters 30 and 31, for example, Jeremiah describes the restoration of Israel back to their land following the time of Jacob's trouble:

How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it. In that day...they will serve Yahuwah their Elohim and David their king, whom I will raise up for them... "Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you"... This is what Yahuwah Almighty, the Elohim of Israel, says, "When I bring them back from captivity, the people...will live together in Judah and all its towns"..." (Jeremiah 30:7-9,11).

As in the prophesies we examined from Isaiah and Jeremiah 4, a total destruction is first presented but then we are reoriented to the meaning of the vision and we understand that this total desolation does not include a remnant of Elohim's people, who are left to regather in the promised land.

Furthermore, the state of desolation of the land is complete, but it is not long lasting. A major mistake of the desolate earth theory is in attributing a lengthy period of time to the desolation which the prophets depicted. But the prophets themselves do not say this. Instead, the inspired writers describe a wasteland which is quickly renewed and rejuvenated to become a paradise for Elohim's people. So, in Jeremiah 30, the total destruction is followed immediately by the return from captivity to the promised land.

Some might object to applying this specific text of prophesy to the judgment which takes place at the Messiah's parousia. While, on the one hand, it is clear that this prophesy applies to the post-Babylonian captivity and the subsequent re-gathering to Canaan in Nehemiah's days, on the other hand, it is equally transparent that it will find fulfillment again at the Messiah's posttribulational parousia. The reference to "David the king" makes this point indisputable. Other Old Testament texts which speak of "David the king" apply exclusively to the Messianic kingdom. And the "time of trouble for Jacob" is another end times expression. These phrases are loaded with eschatological overtones and thus suggest the future applicability of this entire prophesy.

So, even though Jeremiah's writings sometimes appear to support a "desolate earth theory," a more thorough examination brings to light the hope that pervades all of the writings of the prophets; namely, that Elohim is going to judge his enemies and simultaneously restore his chosen people to the promised paradise on earth.

The prophesy of Zechariah 14 is another important text of Scripture we are compelled to consider. That book depicts the judgment which takes place at the Messiah's premillenial parousia and the subsequent rule of Yahusha on the earth. But proponents of the desolate earth theory think that Zechariah 14 is referring to an alleged postmillennial third coming of the Messiah!! By doing so, they relegate the obvious statements about the earthly rule of the Messiah to a period of time following their proposed 1000 year reign of Elohim in heaven. Nevertheless, that theory still fails to do justice to the context of the vision.

There are at least 3 specific evidences which prove that Zechariah 14 is portraying the premillenial coming of the Messiah. First, the activities in and about Jerusalem most assuredly do not fit the scenario of the postmillennial attack of Jerusalem. The inspired writer warns that "the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped" (14:2). But this is not what will happen at Jerusalem after the 1000-year reign of the Messiah. John tells us that at that time the nations "marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of Elohim's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them" (Revelation 20:9). The people who are in Elohim's camp after the 1000 years will not be touched by the enemy because the Messiah is with them. In the postmillennial scene, the enemies will be devoured with fire before they can do any harm to Elohim's people. Therefore, Zechariah 14 must be describing the state of Jerusalem at the premillenial appearing of the Messiah.

Second, as we discussed at length earlier, verse 5 refers to the posttribulational, premillenial revelation of the Lord Yahusha with his powerful angels: "Then Yahuwah your Elohim will come, and all the holy ones with him." There are no statements anywhere in the Bible which speak of the Messiah coming with his assembly of Messiah or with any of the redeemed of the earth, but there are ample references to his coming with his angels. So this text, too, must be interpreted as complementary to its parallels elsewhere.

And third, the fact that there are going to be survivors among those who attack Jerusalem places the fulfillment of this prophesy at the coming of Yahusha the Messiah which inaugurates his millennial rule. The prophet penned these words: "Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, Yahuwah Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles" (v.16). There will be no survivors among the enemies who attack the New Jerusalem after the 1000 years imprisonment of Satan. But, just as we have discovered from the prophesies of Isaiah 24,25, Jeremiah 4 and others, there will be a surviving remnant of people on the earth when the Messiah comes to take us to be with him forever. The fourteenth chapter of Zechariah, in agreement with all the other Bible prophets, teaches that at his glorious posttribulational parousia, "Yahuwah will be king over the whole earth" (14:9).

The Messianic Age on Earth

We have examined the major arguments used by contemporary supporters of the popular theology which says that the inheritance of the assembly of Messiah is to live with the Messiah in heaven. Careful scrutiny of the biblical testimony has revealed that nothing at all is said anywhere in the Bible about heaven as the reward and future home of the believer. But, in contrast to the glaring lack of any explicit statement about heaven as the inheritance of the Christian is the abundant information provided in Holy Writ regarding the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham for the assembly of Messiah and the millennial reign of the Messiah and his saints in the New Jerusalem on earth. Our final task, then, is to examine the prophets and the New Testament writings in order to discover what the reward and inheritance of the assembly of Messiah really entails and to discern where and when it will be given.

What is the Reward of the Church?

There is adequate information in the New Testament writings for us to have a complete picture of the teaching of the apostles of the Messiah regarding the reward of the assembly of Messiah. The fact that this reward is an inheritance is stated by Paul in his exhortation to the Colossians. The apostle encourages these believers to be a good representative of the Messiah in the workplace "since you know that you will receive an inheritance from Yahuwah as a reward" (Colossians 3:24). And in another letter, Paul alludes to this inheritance as he explains that the Holy Spirit "is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are Elohim's possession" (Ephesians 1:14).

James expounds upon this inheritance in more detail: "Listen, my brothers: Has not Elohim chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" (James 2:5). The kingdom is that inheritance which Elohim has promised the assembly of Messiah. James is referring specifically to a promise Yahusha made which is transmitted to us in part by Matthew. In a simple statement often overlooked in the famous Sermon on the Mount, Yahusha divulged the essence of the reward which will be given to those who follow the Messiah when he said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:3,5). Evidently, James had this saying of Yahusha in mind when he says that the poor will inherit the kingdom.

The symmetry between those two statements Yahusha made in the Sermon on the Mount urges us to understand "the kingdom of heaven" and "the earth" as synonymous terms in this context. The kingdom of heaven is the Messiah's kingdom on earth. The genitive "of heaven" does not describe the kingdom's location. "Of heaven" is qualitative which means that it delineates the characteristic of that kingdom. This declaration of Yahusha agrees with what we have already discovered; namely, that the kingdom of heaven is not Elohim's kingdom in heaven, but rather the Messiah's heavenly kingdom on earth!

The designation "kingdom of heaven" occurs frequently in Matthew's gospel. In the parallel accounts in Luke's gospel, the term "kingdom of Elohim" is used instead. It should be obvious that the Messiah was not referring to two different kingdoms. The gospel writers merely chose to use different Greek expressions to translate the meaning of Yahusha's words, which many scholars believe were spoken in Hebrew or possibly Aramaic. Both expressions are correct designations for Elohim's (heavenly) kingdom over which Yahusha will reign on earth. Thus, the phrases "kingdom of heaven" and "earth", used by Yahusha in the context of the Sermon of the Mount, are synonymous in the sense that they both depict the coming kingship of the Messiah. Therefore they correctly describe the same reward of the believer.

The theology of our Lord Yahusha must have been based on the promise of the inheritance of land in the Abrahamic Covenant when he declared that the meek will inherit the earth. The apostle Paul interpreted the Abrahamic promise of land in the same way. He understood Abraham's inheritance to be the "world," not just the land of Canaan: "It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith" (Romans 4:13). Then Paul goes on to say that the New Testament believer is also heir to this same promise: "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring...he is the father of us all" (Romans 4:16).

The letter to the Hebrews confirms this interpretation of the "land." The writer informs us that Abraham is still waiting to receive his inheritance so that we may receive it together with him:

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised (i.e. the heavenly city, see 11:16). Elohim had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect (Hebrews 11:39,40).

This same "city with foundations" Abraham was looking for is the reward of the assembly of Messiah, according to the book of Revelation. The Apocalypse has much to say about the churches rewards. In chapters 2 and 3, a message is given to each of 7 churches located in Asia Minor, which includes a promise of reward for those who will faithfully obey. At the end of each exhortation, Yahusha says, "To him who overcomes, I will give...", followed by a particular reward. Significantly, each one of these finds its fulfillment later in the book of Revelation in the New Jerusalem on earth.

About the Philadelphian Christians, Yahusha says, "I will write on him the name of my Elohim and the name of the city of my Elohim, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my Elohim" (Revelation 3:12). Chapter 21 records the future fulfillment of this reward of the assembly of Messiah:

I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from Elohim, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband...He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his Elohim and he will be my son (vv.2,7).

The Ephesian overcomers are promised to partake of the tree of life: "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of Elohim" (Revelation 2:7). But the tree of life is a feature of the New Jerusalem on earth:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of Elohim and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations (22:1,2).

Likewise, the believers at Pergamum are promised a new name (see 2:17). This new name is a reward of the Christian in the earthly New Jerusalem (see Revelation 22:4).

Further and even more compelling evidence for our thesis is supplied in the compensation promised to the Thyratiran and the Loadicean churches. The latter are assured of receiving the right to sit with the Messiah on his throne: "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne" (3:21). In the New Jerusalem, John tells us, "the throne of Elohim and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him... and they will reign for ever and ever" (22:3,5).

The "throne" and "reign" motifs are also stated explicitly in the promise to the Thyratirans. Yahusha tells them,

To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations - "He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery" (Revelation 2:26,27).

The text of the 2nd Psalm which John cites in this text is especially suited to the context of a disclosure of the reward which Elohim grants his people, because in it, the Psalmist describes the despotic reign of the Messiah in his heavenly kingdom on the earth. The Holy Spirit, through David, speaks on behalf of Yahusha the Anointed King, when he says,

I will proclaim the decree of Yahuwah: He said to Me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery" (Psalm 2:7-9).

This authority to rule over the nations and to have the earth as an inheritance is promised to the Messiah and his descendants in the Abrahamic Covenant and thus is appropriately promised to the overcoming assembly of Messiah in Revelation.

In a subsequent vision, John again records this same portion of Psalm 2 as being brought to fulfillment at the posttribulational, premillenial revelation of Yahusha: "The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter'" (vss.14,15). The citation of this portion of the 2nd Psalm in Revelation 19 implies that upon his arrival "on the white horse", Yahusha will immediately assume control over planet earth in fulfillment of the prophesy in the second Psalm and inaugurate his "1000 year" Messianic reign.

There are several explicit statements which prove that this coming of Yahusha to rule the earth is premillenial. First, we are told that when the Messiah arrives, Satan will be bound for 1000 years (see 20:2). Second, those who hold to the testimony of Yahusha come to life and reign with the Messiah during that same 1000 years:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Yahusha and because of the word of Elohim. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Messiah a thousand years" (20:4).

The fact that these righteous ones are envisioned seated on "thrones" and are "given authority to judge" again reminds us of the promise Yahusha made to the assembly of Messiah at Thyratira that he would give them authority over the nations. This authority, we have shown from the use of the 2nd Psalm, is that which is authorized for the earthly kingdom of the Messiah.

And third, the "kingdom and priests" imagery is always associated with an earthly reign of the Messiah with his saints. John describes this group of resurrected believers in chapter 20:6: "The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of Elohim and of Messiah and will reign with him for a thousand years." Elohim's people are here depicted as reigning with the Messiah for the 1000 year millennium. But in an earlier vision John describes these same believers as reigning with the Messiah as a kingdom and priests on the earth. A simple comparison of these two passages is quite revealing. 

Revelation 5:10 Revelation 20:6
"You have made them to be "...they will be
a kingdom and priests to serve our Elohim priests of Elohim and of Messiah
and they will reign on earth." and will reign with him for a thousand years."

Certainly these two parallel texts convincingly prove that the millennial kingdom of Yahusha is on the earth, not in heaven.

The Revelator utilizes this "kingdom and priests" imagery to dramatically portray the reward which the Messiah's persecuted followers will receive when Yahusha comes back in the glory of his Father and of his angels. This imagery is used to introduce the hope of the reward of the assembly of Messiah in chapter 1:6: "...and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his Elohim and Father...." The prospect of receiving this reward is heightened in chapter 5 (see especially verse 10) where the angel reveals to John that the disciples of Yahusha will reign with him on the earth. Then the climax of the Revelation comes in chapters 19-22 (cf.20:6) where John sees the appearing of the Messiah, the resurrection of the righteous and the millennial reign of Yahusha with his saints in the New Jerusalem on the earth.

The portrayal of Elohim's people as a "kingdom and priests" is found in other Scriptures also with the earthly rule of the Messiah in view. Isaiah prophesies concerning the destruction of the unElohimly and the establishment of the Messiah's kingdom on earth when Messiah appears in glory:

And you will be called priests of Yahuwah, you will be named ministers of our Elohim. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast (61:6).

This "feeding on the wealth of nations" certainly implies that the Israelites will enjoy their "priesthood" to Elohim in an earthly setting.

Moses used this "priesthood" figure of speech of the Israelites who could have enjoyed the inheritance of Canaan forever had they obeyed Elohim's law: "Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:5,6). Peter applies this promise and this terminology to the assembly of Messiah: "...you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood...you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation..." (1 Peter 2:5,9). Now the hope which Peter holds out for the assembly of Messiah which he calls "a holy priesthood' is not heaven, but the New Jerusalem on earth: "But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). Although the connection between Peter's ecclesiology (his use of the term "kingdom and priests") and his eschatology (the hope of the New Jerusalem) is not explicit, it is nevertheless instructive to our understanding of his systematic theology as a whole.

In view of the voluminous information the Scripture writers provide us, it is easy to see that the reward of the assembly of Messiah is the earthly New Jerusalem, not heaven as some have mistakenly assumed. That city on earth is the fulfillment of the promise Elohim made to Abraham and to his descendants. Yahusha also implied that the kingdom of heaven will be on earth. The book of Revelation confirms this over and over where John describes the inheritance of the assembly of Messiah in the earthly New Jerusalem.

When Will Our Inheritance Be Realized?

We have ample evidence to conclude with great confidence that the reward and inheritance the New Testament authors offer the believer is in the heavenly kingdom of the Messiah on earth - the New Jerusalem. Proponents of the desolate earth theory would agree with this evaluation, but they insist that the new earth will not be realized until after the 1000 years during which the saints will reign in heaven with the Messiah. Other theorists paint a similar picture. In fact, most theologians suppose that the new heavens and the new earth are a postmillennial phenomenon.

The cumulative testimony of the Scriptures presents a different scenario, however, than this most popular misconception. The New Jerusalem is to be brought down to earth at the posttribulational, premillenial parousia of Yahusha the Messiah. Yahusha was referring to this appearing when he told the assembly of Messiah, "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done" (Revelation 22:12). Judging from the context of Revelation 21,22, this reward which Yahusha will bring with him is the New Jerusalem, which John had just described in great detail. The synoptic Gospels record a similar saying of Yahusha. the Messiah told his disciples that "the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done" (Matthew 16:27).

The Lord later expounded upon that day when the Son of Man will come with all his angels. In Matthew 24:30,31, the Messiah explained that

Immediately after the distress of those days "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken." At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds....

This text makes it clear that the Messiah's glorious parousia ("coming" or "presence") will follow the time of great tribulation. It is at this time, according to Matthew 16:27 cited above, that the Messiah will give rewards to everyone.

In that same Olivet Discourse, the Lord Yahusha elaborated on the judgment that he will mete out at his parousia:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31,32).

By this illustration, Yahusha is teaching that with the execution of this judgment the wicked will be destroyed and the righteous will receive their rewards. In a similar story recorded in Luke 9, Yahusha alluded to what that inheritance of the righteous will be. In the parable of the king who went on a prolonged journey, the Lord said that the faithful servants would receive authority over "cities." The fact that "cities" were the reward is not an accident of the parable. Rather, it is an important detail of the truth intention the Messiah was disclosing that the earth itself is the inheritance of the righteous and will be apportioned to the saints at his premillenial parousia.

The apostle Paul pens these same details about the premillenial appearing of the Messiah and the reward of the assembly of Messiah associated with it. He informed the Thessalonians that Elohim would repay their persecutors with wrath and reward them with rest "when the Lord Yahusha is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels" (2 Thess.2:7). And he described the righteous judgment of Elohim to be executed when Yahusha is revealed: Elohim "will give to each person according to what he has done" (Romans 2:6).

And in his second pastoral letter to Timothy, Paul even expresses the expectation of receiving his personal reward at the premillenial appearing of Yahusha, when this identical judgment of the just and the unjust will take place. First, the apostle calls into view the day of the Messiah's parousia: "In the presence of Elohim and of Messiah Yahusha, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge..." (2 Timothy 4:1). Then he explicitly describes that day as the time when he will receive his reward: "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which Yahuwah, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing" (4:8). This premillenial appearance of the Messiah is when Yahusha will judge the living and the dead, establish his kingdom and personally give the promised reward to all who have faith in him.

The Renewal of All Things

Further evidence that the New Jerusalem is brought down to earth at the posttribulational, premillenial parousia of our Lord Yahusha can be excavated in an examination of the New Testament teaching about the renewal or restoration of all things. Yahusha spoke to his disciples about the renewal of all things in response to their question about their reward for following him: "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28). Two significant observations need to be made out of this text. First, the renewal will take place when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, according to Yahusha. And Yahusha will sit on his glorious throne at his posttribulational, premillenial parousia, as we have just demonstrated above (see Matthew 24:30,31; 25:31).

And second, at the Messiah's glorious posttribulational, premillenial parousia, the disciples of Yahusha are promised to sit on thrones with the authority to judge. This scene is reminiscent of several texts we have already examined. We noted particularly in Revelation 20:6 that the Christians who are to be raised to life at the parousia of Yahusha will sit on thrones and have authority to judge: "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge...they came to life and reigned with Messiah a thousand years" (20:4). So, since Yahusha declared without reservation that the renewal of all things takes place at his second advent at which time he will issue authority to judge, the time of the renewal is beyond dispute.

That the renewal of all things is a premillenial, not a postmillennial, phenomenon is confirmed by the testimony of the entire New Testament. For example, the premillenial restoration of the earth is implied in the account of Yahusha ascension. His disciples asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6), to which Yahusha replied that they were not to know the exact time of his return. This response of Yahusha amounts to an implicit admission that the restoration will occur at his parousia.

When Yahusha was lifted up from the earth into the clouds, the angel explained to the onlooking disciples, "This same Yahusha, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). Shortly thereafter, Peter preached to the Jews concerning the Messiah's return and the restoration: "He must remain in heaven until the time comes for Elohim to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets" (Acts 3:21). Evidently, Peter interpreted the angel's speech as indicating that the restoration of the kingdom to Israel and the renewal of all things would take place at the Messiah's premillenial parousia, because Peter preached that Yahusha will not come down out of heaven until the time of the restoration of all things!

This becomes even more clear to see when we compare Peter's sermon in Acts 3 with his teaching in his second general epistle regarding the Messiah's appearing and the home of righteousness:

Acts 3:19-21 2 Peter 3:2,10-13
- Sermon by Peter- -Letter by Peter-
Repent, then, and turn to Elohim,  I want you to recall the words
so that your sins may be wiped out,  spoken in the past by the holy
that times of refreshing may come  prophets...the day of Yahuwah
from Yahuwah, and that he may send  will come like a thief...that day
the Messiah, who has been appointed  will bring about the destruction
for you-even Yahusha. He must remain  of the heavens by fire, and the
in heaven until the time comes for  elements will melt in the heat.
Elohim to restore everything, as he  But in keeping with his promise
promised long ago through his holy  we are looking forward to a new
prophets. heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

 

Several significant verbal affinities link these two texts. In both, there is a call to repentance:

"Repent, then, and turn to Elohim.... "He is patient with you, not wanting
(Acts 3:19). anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

Each passage explains that this restoration is the fulfillment of Elohim's promise:

"...as he promised long ago..."  "...in keeping with his promise..."
(Acts 3:21).  (2 Peter 3:13).

In both texts, Peter bases his didactic on the words of the holy prophets:

"long ago through his holy prophets"  "in the past by the holy prophets...."
(Acts 3:21) (2 Peter 3:2).

In both sermons, the apostle focuses his exhortation on living in light of the Lord's soon coming:

"...turn to Elohim, so...that he may "the day of Yahuwah will come... so
send the Messiah..." (Acts 3:19,20). then...make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace..." (2 Peter 3:10,14).

And in both texts, the restoration at the Messiah's coming is the hope of the believer:

"...until the time comes for Elohim to  "...we are looking forward to a new
restore everything..." (Acts 3:21).  heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness..." (2 Peter 3:13).

The verbal affinities between these two texts and the fact that they both represent Peter's eschatology compel us to understand the "restoration of all things" and "the new heaven and new earth" as synonymous. Clearly, in Peter's inspired mind, Yahusha is going to restore everything, that is, he will bring down the new earth, at his glorious premillenial parousia, for this is the hope he holds out to the believer in conjunction with the Messiah's return.

This scenario synchronizes well with the Revelator's vision of the new heaven and the new earth. Following the cataclysmic judgments on the earth and the posttribulational revelation of the Messiah, John sees the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. We are immediately informed that with this ushering in of the new heaven and new earth the renewal has taken place:

"...the old order of things has passed away."

He who was seated on the throne said,

"I am making everything new!" (Revelation 21:4,5).

Since both Peter and John equate the renewal with the New Jerusalem, and since we have already established with concrete evidence that the renewal takes place at the Messiah's premillenial parousia, then we conclude that the new heaven and new earth is a premillenial, not a postmillennial, phenomenon.

Many exegetes and Bible interpreters have made the critical mistake of supposing that the new heaven and new earth depicted in John's vision in Revelation 21,22 is postmillennial. One of the primary reasons for this is that Revelation 20 is followed by Revelation 21. It is assumed that since chapter 19 pictures the Messiah's glorious revelation, chapter 20 briefly mentions the 1000-year reign of the Messiah and the postmillennial judgment of the wicked, and chapter 21 describes the new heavens and new earth, that the latter vision follows chronologically the events of the preceding two chapters and therefore is also postmillennial. But this assumption is not correct. In order to understand why, we must take a bird's-eye view of the entire layout of the book of Revelation.

The book as a whole is composed of a series of complex regressions. For example, John is given a vision which carries him through the time of great tribulation. Then he is taken back and sees the entire period again with an emphasis on some other aspect of that period. Perhaps a particular event, conflict or personality is examined in greater detail. So, while the events described within each vision are generally in chronological sequence, the visions themselves are not necessarily so. They are, in fact, usually staggered. This is the nature of most prophetic writings. No one, for example, would take seriously an interpretation of the last half of the book of Daniel as a chronological succession of events, although certain individual passages do indeed depict prophetic events in an organized, chronological way. Daniel 7-12, like Revelation, portrays prophesy by a series of regressions. The same event in one vision is frequently reexamined in greater detail in a subsequent vision.

So it is in this final section of Revelation. John is first allowed to see the Messiah's parousia, the millennial reign of the Messiah and his saints, and the postmillennial rebellion and judgment in a wide-ranging prophesy (chapters 19 & 20). Then, John is brought back to take a closer look at the millennial reign of Yahusha with his saints and the New Jerusalem (chapters 21 & 22), because this is the climax of Revelation. By structuring these visions in this fashion, the reader is brought to a heightened level of anticipation as he awaits for the glorious revelation of the Messiah and his kingdom on earth. Thus, the vision of the millennium and the New Jerusalem is appropriately placed after John is given an overview of the entire sequence of events because the Messiah's earthly kingdom is the goal of history and the reward of inheritance for the overcoming assembly of Messiah.

What Kind of Kingdom Did the Prophets Envision?

The descent of the New Jerusalem is also the fulfillment of what the prophets wrote. In Peter's sermon which we cited earlier, the apostle explained that Yahusha "must remain in heaven until the time comes for Elohim to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets." The restoration which the holy prophets promised is the New Jerusalem which the Messiah brings as the reward and inheritance of Abraham and his descendants at his premillenial parousia. The Old Testament prophets do not depict any other Messianic reign, either in heaven, or anywhere else. The only kingdom of Elohim portrayed in the Scriptures is an earthly one.

The prophet Amos foresaw the restoration of all things and described it in terms of David's tent:

"In that day I will restore David's fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name," declares Yahuwah, who will do these things (Amos 9:11,12).

This tent of David's is the tabernacle where Elohim meets with his people. In the vision of the New Jerusalem, we are told that "now the dwelling of Elohim is with men. And he will live with them" (Revelation 21:3). Thus, Amos' words find their fulfillment in the millennial kingdom of Elohim on earth.

Zephaniah is another prime example of what Peter meant when he said that the prophets spoke of the restoration. This prophetic book is also an excellent refutation of the desolate earth theory which we examined earlier. In it, the inspired writer describes the lawlessness and anarchy of evil men on the earth in the last days, followed by Elohim's judgment in the form of his wrath at the parousia of Yahusha. Then the righteous remnant who are left on the earth inhabit a restored earth in which righteousness thrives.

That the premillenial parousia of the Messiah is in view in Zephaniah is evident from the prophet's distinctive portrayal of the day of Yahuwah:

"The great day of Yahuwah is near -

near and coming quickly.

Listen! The cry on the day of Yahuwah will be bitter,

the shouting of the warrior there.

That day will be a day of wrath,

a day of distress and anguish,

a day of trouble and ruin,

a day of darkness and gloom,

a day of clouds and blackness,

a day of trumpet and battle cry

against the fortified cities

and against the corner towers (Zeph.1:15,16).

The striking parallels to this text in Isaiah, Joel and some of the other prophets clearly mark this prophesy as depicting the wrath to be poured out at the premillenial parousia of the Messiah.

Also present in Zephaniah are statements which proponents of the desolate earth theory insist are indicative of the total desolation and destruction of the earth:

"In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed,

for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth" (1:18).

"I will destroy you, and none will be left" (2:5).

"Their cities are destroyed;

no one will be left - no one at all....

The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger" (3:6,8).

Although these isolated references seem to indicate what the desolate earth theory so adamantly proclaim, the prophesy does not end there. These chilling prophesies need to be seen in the context in which they are set. For Zephaniah does not portray an empty and desolate earth after Elohim's judgments are complete, but a repopulated and rejuvenated earth.

Contrary to the interpretation which sees a desolate earth for 1000 years, the prophet Zephaniah describes a remnant of survivors inhabiting a renewed earth immediately following the judgments of the day of Yahuwah. This is best seen as we consider the content of the whole context in chapter 3:8-13:

"I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms

and to pour out my wrath on them - all my fierce anger.

The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.

Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them

may call on the name of Yahuwah and serve him shoulder to shoulder.

From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, my scattered people, will bring me offerings.

On that day you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me,

because I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride.

Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill.

But I will leave within you the meek and humble,

who trust in the name of Yahuwah.

The remnant of Israel will do no wrong;

they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths.

They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid."

This vision does not have anything to say about Elohim's people going to heaven or the earth being desolate for 1000 years. But it does describe the same earth on which Elohim poured out his anger as being repopulated by the group of people who survived the awful wrath of Elohim. These people, the prophet notes, are left to inhabit a new world, in which there will be no lying or deceit (see 3:13). When we read in John's vision of the New Jerusalem that all liars will find their place in the lake of fire (see Revelation 21:8) and that no one who does what is deceitful will be in the holy city (see Revelation 21:27), we are reminded of Zephaniah 3:13 in which the prophet describes the heavenly kingdom of the Messiah on the earth.

We could examine many more Old Testament prophesies which present the same kind of information regarding the kingdom of Elohim on the earth. But suffice it to say, the Old Testament prophets always wrote about the Messiah's millennial reign on the renewed earth. There is never any mention anywhere, either in the Old Testament or in the New Testament about an alleged reign of the Messiah with his redeemed people in heaven. Could it be that this is the case because there is no such kingdom promised in the pages of Elohim's Word? Indeed, the Bible does not hold out heaven as the reward or inheritance of Elohim's assembly; neither for 7 years, nor for 1000 years, in fact, not at all. In every single statement, throughout the Scriptures, where the location of the Messiah's millennial kingdom is described, it is the New Jerusalem on earth which is being portrayed.

Conclusion

If public opinion determined the destiny of the Messiah's people, then surely heaven would be the believer's reward. Most people who call themselves by the Messiah's name, of all denominations and affiliations, have adopted the theology that teaches that heaven is the inheritance of the saints. But the Bible declares that earth, not heaven, is where Yahusha will rule and reign with all who place their faith in him.  The background graphic of this page shows the inheritance - it is planet Earth!

Elohim promised Abraham that his seed would inherit the land. Paul tells us that Yahusha is the seed and has full rights to this inheritance. The Old Testament prophets wrote about the kingdom of Elohim on the earth. Yahusha declared that those who love him will inherit the kingdom of heaven on earth. And the rest of the New Testament, particularly the book of Revelation, is in agreement with this assessment.

In contrast to the testimony of hundreds of Scriptures which depict the earth as the place of inheritance for Elohim's people, is the popular teaching about heaven. This misconception must be abandoned for the teaching of the Bible, because it is purely the product of human reasoning. Let all those who hold up the testimony of the Scriptures cling to the BibleTruth that the Messiah will come in glory with his angels, destroy the wicked, and set up his kingdom on earth to rule and reign with all those who love him.

END