I’ll let you in on a little secret: your heart is made for the kingdom of God. This might be the most important thing anyone will ever tell you about yourself: your heart only thrives in one habitat, and that safe place is called the kingdom of God. Stay with me now.
Jesus Christ gave his life to give each of us a hope above and beyond all former hopes. Every action and teaching of his brilliant life were very intentionally directed at unveiling this hope to us. Late in the gospel of Matthew he described it with breathtaking clarity:
Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne ... everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19:28–29)
At the renewal of all things?! God’s intention for us is the renewal of all things? This is what the Son of God said; that is how he plainly described it. I can hardly speak. Really?
The Greek word used here for “renewal” is palingenesia, which is derived from two root words: paling, meaning “again,” and genesia, meaning “beginning,” which of course hearkens back to Genesis. Genesis again. Eden restored. Could it possibly be? Sometimes comparing the work of various translators gets us even closer to the meaning of a passage; let’s look at two more:
Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life.” (THE MESSAGE)
Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” (NLT)
The re-creation of the world. When the world is made new. A promise so breathtaking, so shocking and heartbreakingly beautiful I’m stunned that so many have missed it. Oh yes, we’ve heard quite a bit about “heaven.” But Jesus is clearly not talking about heaven here—he is talking about the re-creation of all things, including the earth we love.