Allow me to start by making this disclaimer, I do not think that I am anywhere near an expert on this subject. My thoughts are based on teachings, self-study, hours of discussion, and lots of prayer. Still, I do not believe I have even begun to crack open all that Heaven on Earth could be. I would appreciate any and all comments. Secondly, I certainly hope that this does not come across as negatively targeting anyone whom I’ve had discussions with. Though we may not agree on all points, this is in no way meant to be about any one person’s beliefs.
Lately, I have been hearing/reading a lot of quotes from the Lord’s Prayer:
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10 NASB)
In his book, When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson says, “This is the primary focus for all prayer – if it exists in heaven, it is to be loosed on earth…Conversely, if it is not free to exist in heaven, it must be bound here.” He says that “everything that happens here is supposed to be a shadow of heaven…How much of heaven has God purposed to become manifest here on earth? No one knows for sure.”
I think the last part of what I just quoted was the most important part of that for me: what happens here is to be a shadow of heaven and we don’t know how much of heaven will be manifest on earth! Yet, I hear people read this scripture all the time, and give it the interpretation that “if it doesn’t happen in heaven, it shouldn’t happen here.” That sounds nice, but I would like to know where it actually says that.
In order to really understand what this verse is saying, we need to understand what the various words used in it meant to the first century readers. These definitions are going to come from Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament:
Kingdom – “the kingdom of heaven is spoken of as a future blessing, since its consummate establishment is to be looked for on Christ’s solemn return from the skies, the dead being called to life again, the ills and wrongs which burden the present state of things being done away, the powers hostile to God being vanquished”
Come – “equivalent to come into being, arise, come forth, show itself, find place or influence, equivalent to be established”
“Your kingdom come.” This first phrase seems pretty straightforward: We are to earnestly look forward to the establishment of the future kingdom of heaven, and all the promises that accompany it.
Will – “what one wishes or has determined shall be done, choice”
OK, that sounds basic, but it is whose will? Back in the scripture we see that we are praying that “Your will,” not “my will” be done. That can be a very hard thing; to surrender one’s will into the hand of another. Another way of saying it is, “Whatever You want for my life, Lord,” and it certainly implies, “Rather than what I want.” The great example of this was in Gethsemane, when Jesus was deeply distressed, and He prayed concerning His own death, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt. 26:39b NASB). Then, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matt. 26:42b NASB). Twice, within mere verses of each other, we see that Christ says “I won’t do as my flesh wants to do, but I submit my spirit to You.” That is the essence of “Your will be done.”
Now, it appears that a qualifier is placed on this prayer. We are not only praying for God’s will to be done, but now we are adding that we want for it to be done on earth as it is in heaven! This is where the confusion sets in.
The Apostle Paul picked up on this teaching, and talked about it in his letter to the Ephesians:
“In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.” (Eph. 1:8b-10 NASB).
The J.B. Phillips New Testament translates it this way:
“It is through the Son, at the cost of his own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truth. For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfilment in him.”
Paul is talking about reconciliation. Ever since the fall of man, sin has been an evil weapon, separating things that God intended to be joined from the start. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the reconciliation has been taking place in the lives of those who would choose to accept it. This reconciliation rejoins the things of heaven to the things of earth.
It has always been God’s intention, His will, for us to enjoy doing life with Him. Yet, every time He is not included in some aspect of our lives, it is as if we are rejecting Him on some level.
- In heaven, our sole focus will be on the King of kings.
- In heaven, we will only live to please the King of kings.
- In heaven, the King of kings will not only be our top priority, He will be our sole priority.
- In heaven, we are only going to care what the King of kings thinks about us, and not what anyone else thinks.
- The things that keep us from fully serving God on earth will not matter anymore once we reach heaven.
Yet, we pray, “On earth, as it is in heaven.”