(In 2017, I wrote this series for the 40 days prior to Easter to prepare our hearts and minds for the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. I’m reposting the series now for the 40 days after Easter to encourage us to follow through, living in the risen Savior and King.)
If God was the executor of your will, what would He bequeath to you? The devil wants Christians to believe their inheritance will be an eternity of outdated elevator music and floating on a cloud as a disembodied spirit – or a chubby little cherub.
Well, God’s Word has good news and better news: first, the Lord Almighty is the executor of your will, and (if you are following Jesus by faith in Him) part of your inheritance will be the physical earth – but not this broken place where we’re living now.
Today’s devotional is the fourth in a mini-series on the Beatitudes. If you read the first one, “God focuses”, you may remember that I described Jesus’ mini-messages as His packing list for this life’s journey of following Him.
At the end of Matthew chapter 4, the Lord had just returned from His 40 days of being tempted in the wilderness, had begun preaching repentance for the Kingdom of God, had called His first disciples, and had begun reaching out to the undesirables of the world. Then, in Matthew 5, He tells those who have gathered around Him what it will mean to follow Him.
Today’s verse is Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Other translations might translate the original Greek equally accurately as “Blessed are the gentle”.
This description and prescription may sound similar to the Lord’s earlier statement in verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” But the two verses use different Greek words and have different results because the focus of each is different. The poor in spirit are humble toward God because of their sinfulness and brokeness. The meek (or gentle) are humble toward other people, because that is the nature of their spirit given by the One they follow. The same Greek word is used in Matthew 21:5 and 1 Peter 3:4. The first describes the Spirit of Jesus toward those who would soon crucify Him after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the second describes the spirit of Christian wives toward their unbelieving husbands who, we can reasonably assume, did not necessarily treat them well.
To say it more briefly, the humility of Jesus’ followers toward God in verse 3 has a spiritual blessing: salvation of their spirit for the Kingdom of God. Their humility toward others in verse 5 has a physical blessing: the salvation of their bodies for the new earth.
“The new what?!“, you might be saying.
If you’ve not heard of the “new earth”, you’re not alone. Although the Lord saved me in my late teens and I went to all kinds of churches and Bible studies in my first few years as a new Christian, I didn’t hear anything about the “new earth” until I read His Word all the way through in my twenties.
Listen to God’s promise to re-create the earth and the entire universe.
“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)
“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure.” (Isaiah 66:22)
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:11-13)
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” (Revelation 21:1)
Yes, these are the only explicit references to the “new earth”, but how many explicit references does Scripture make to the “Trinity”? Yet, the teaching of both truths run throughout His Word. The “Promised Land” of Canaan was only a foreshadowing of the perfect world that is to come for all who follow Jesus by faith in Him.
Why is that so important?
It proves and reminds us of God’s complete love for His people, soul and body, body and soul. It validates that He cares about our physical concerns and pleasures now but more so for eternity. It encourages us that our desires and efforts toward our work, sensuality and sexuality in our marriage, recreation with our children, our health, the beautification of our surroundings, and so much more are not “secular” concerns. There are no such things as “secular” concerns that will not be perfected for His people in His physical paradise, the new earth.
Since I raised the subject, I should probably follow-through on one of your questions. “Will there be marriage in heaven?” The Lord already answered that question to the Sadduccess. (Matthew 22:30, in context) But, then again, He was talking to a group of people who weren’t really looking for the answer. They already didn’t believe in the resurrection. John the Baptist had also told the Jewish leaders (probably Pharisees and Sadduccess) that he was not “Elijah” (John 1:21), yet the Lord told His followers that John was “the Elijah” who was prophesied to announce His coming. (Matthew 11:14)
What’s the point?
The Lord may have fit His response to the Sadduccess on the subject of marriage in heaven according to their unbelieving hearts.
Whatever the new earth will be like (marriage included) it will be perfect in every way.
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for Her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:1-5)
But, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s not the meek who are inheriting this earth. It’s the pushy, the obnoxious, those who know how to lie well and manipulate others, the brutal and selfish people with the means to get what they want.
They, too, will have an inheritance. And it will be just as physically real. (Matthew 5:29-30, 10:28 and 18:9, Revelation 20:14-15, etc.)
Be encouraged that the Lord Jesus blesses the faithful with a complete salvation. Remember, too, that our salvation is not ultimately for here.