The Eternal Empire of the Son of Man
It’s a common but serious mistake to spiritualize the eternal Kingdom of God. But consider Daniel 7, where we’re given a prophetic revelation of four earthly kingdoms, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, that will one day be forever replaced by a fifth kingdom. “There before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).
In contrast to the tenuous and temporary rule of the nations, we’re told that the Messiah’s dominion—in context, a kingdom on Earth—will be “everlasting” and “will not pass away” and “will never be destroyed” (v. 14). Christ will not merely destroy the earth where fallen kings once ruled. Rather, He will rule over the same Earth, transformed and new.
At Daniel’s request, an angel provides an interpretation of his vision: “The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth” (v. 17). Then the angel makes an extraordinary statement: “But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever” (v. 18). This statement makes clear both the kingdom’s location (Earth) and its duration (eternal).
God has never abandoned His original plan that righteous human beings will inhabit and rule the earth. That’s not merely an argument from silence. Daniel 7:18 explicitly reveals that “the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever.” What is “the kingdom”? Earth.
Earth is unique. It’s the one planet—perhaps among billions—where God chose to act out the unfolding drama of redemption and reveal the wonders of His grace. It’s on the New Earth, the capital planet of the new universe, that He will establish an eternal Kingdom.