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Heaven on Earth (10/03/2004)
From: Bill Steidtmann

Matt 5:5 (KJV) "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."

One of the keys to understanding the Bible is a phrase which, among the Gospel writers, Matthew uses exclusively: "the kingdom of heaven". Many readers assume this is "Heaven", but the kingdom which Matthew refers to is not in Heaven. The phrase "kingdom of heaven" speaks of it's character, not it's location. It means a heavenly kingdom on the Earth; heavenly in character, but earthly in location. Realizing this, many difficult passages (especially in Matthew) become clear. Let's take a look at one of them:

Matt 18:9 (KJV) "And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire."

Many readers imagine the "life" this passage speaks of to be eternal life in Heaven. There are actually people who will not give away their body parts to science or to loved ones because they think they will spend eternity in Heaven missing some vital organ! The kingdom on Earth however, will quite possibly have one-eyed people, as well as death. See Isaiah 65:20.

The truth is, no one during the Gospels or the Book of Acts entertained any thoughts of "going to Heaven". They only hoped to "go to Earth". Today, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ's death for your sins, burial, and resurrection, you will indeed go to Heaven. But there is a huge difference between what was promised the believer during the Gospels or Acts periods, and what is promised post-Acts, not to mention how and why it is granted. Many believers are stuck theologically in the Gospels. Some pull themselves forward enough to get into the Book of Acts. Yet another group realizes that something radical happened after Acts. Something unheard of, and much bigger than anything promised to mere men previously. You've probably been believing it all along, you just didn't realize it was new. Actually it was a secret. After Acts 28:28, this new thing happened:

Eph 2:6 (KJV) "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:"

No one during the Gospels or Acts had any notion of sitting in Heaven. Only after the Jews reject the offer of the kingdom on Earth one last time at Acts 28:28, can we begin to speak of anyone going to Heaven. God did not reveal in advance what would happen if the Jews didn't embrace the kingdom offer, we are only told what was to be if they did. This is not to say that the kingdom on Earth has been canceled, rather, it has been postponed. It will indeed come, as so many confusedly pray in the Lord's Prayer: "Thy kingdom come" (also in Matthew, no surprise). Nothing wrong with praying it, it's just a perspective issue. You should be praying "Take me up there", not "Come thee down here".

Again, in Matt 18:9 we see the words "hellfire". Once we correctly translate the Greek word "gehenna" as "Gehenna", a proper noun, it becomes clear that Jesus is talking about a place here on Earth: the Valley of Hinnom (a corpse-throw southwest of Jerusalem). It is not "hell". It was, and will be, a garbage dump. Those subject to capital punishment in the kingdom will be disposed of there. There are worms and fire, a typical dump. This was prophesied in Isaiah 66:24 (KJV) "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." Note the word "carcasses". These are dead bodies, not people serving an eternal life in hell sentence.

Much of traditional theology along with corrupt translations make God to be a contradictory liar. Let's rejoice then knowing this is no lie: Zec 14:9a (KJV) "And the LORD shall be king over all the earth:...". 

 

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