A Quick Look
The Bible is full of references to God’s kingdom being on earth. Right from the start God planned it, and it will come to pass in His good time. Isaiah says this in a chapter about God’s future kingdom:
Isa. 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
And how do we know the return of Jesus is involved? Here is what the disciples were told when he ascended to heaven, 40 days after his resurrection:
Acts 1:9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
A Personal Analysis
It is perhaps reasonable to surmise that, had Adam and Eve not sinned in the first place, then God’s kingdom, in the paradise of the Garden of Eden, with free communication between God and (then perfect) man, would have existed from the start, but that didn’t happen. It is not how God wanted it to be. Instead he wanted to fill his kingdom with people who used their free will to choose to be there, rather than with those who had no choice. Just as Adam and Eve used their own wills to choose to leave that paradise situation, we too have the opportunity to use our own wills to choose to return to it in the future when Jesus returns. In His wisdom, God knew this would be the best way to populate His eternal glory.
God has always promised that His kingdom of perfection to His glory should be on earth, and should include men and women, even though they cannot attain to it unless He gives it to them. Without God’s plan to include us in His glory, we would simply get what we deserve: death and nothing beyond it. However, God has chosen to include those of us who wish to turn to Him and believe, and He has done it by sending Jesus to die for our sins, and will send him again towards the end of the plan (a date only He knows) to undertake the process of returning the earth to its original state of glory before finally handing the kingdom over to God. Once again, Jesus is central to it all. His job is not yet done.
More Detailed Bible Teaching
In 1Cor. 15, Paul tells us about the resurrection, and in doing so he mentions when that will take place:
1Cor. 15: 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
1Thess. 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
So we see that the fulfilment of this promise of resurrection for those who belong to Jesus (those who believe) is to take place ‘at his coming’. When Paul wrote these words, Jesus had already been and gone, the first time, so Paul’s words must refer to a second coming of Jesus, as predicted by the angels when he ascended into heaven (Acts 1 reference above).
This is a promise of God. But like all of God’s promises, they are only aimed towards those that believe them. For God to include you and me in His promise, we must be amongst those who believe that His promise was made to us personally. We need to have a relationship with God, which we do by belonging to Jesus by baptism, followed by a new life being transformed by God’s grace, responding to His great gift to us in love.
Gal. 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Later in the same letter, Paul tells us of what this is like – how we can give God the opportunity to convert us completely to the ways of the Spirit:
Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
This was revealed to Daniel about the time of the end:
Dan.12:1 "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.
The concept of the resurrection at what the Bible calls “the last day” – the day when Jesus returns – is clearly held by believers throughout the Bible.
Job 19:25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,
John 11:23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
1Thess. 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
John 5:28 "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth…"