Matthew 5:5 states, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Before we can answer your question pertaining to the “physical earth,” we need to ask ourselves, “Who are THE MEEK who shall inherit the earth?” I believe it is wrong to apply this to the church of God, for the church is a “heavenly company” with a “heavenly inheritance.” Listen to Peter’s words written to Christians (who are in the church, the body of Christ) in 1st Peter 1:3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an INHERITANCE incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, RESERVED IN HEAVEN FOR YOU” (NKJV). If words mean what they say (and they do!), this passage clearly teaches believers today that we have a HEAVENLY INHERITANCE. Again, we are a heavenly people with heavenly blessings, as the apostle Paul also taught in Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

But God also has an “earthly people” that are promised “earthly blessings,” and one of those blessings is that they will one day “inherit the earth.” In the Sermon on the Mount (in Matthew chapters 5-7) the Lord is primarily speaking to His earthly people, the nation of Israel. God had promised them a kingdom on earth that would be ruled over by David’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God gave David this promise in 2nd Samuel 7:12-13: “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” Matthew’s gospel starts out by proving that Jesus Christ is the One who would fulfill this promise: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David” (1:1). We know that Jesus presented Himself to the nation of Israel as their long-awaited Messiah, but they rejected Him. John writes of this in John 1:11, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” When the Lord taught His disciples the Beatitudes, He was speaking of a “future generation of Jewish disciples” who will indeed “inherit the earth.” A time is coming (after the church is translated to heaven) when God will resume His dealings with His earthly people Israel and they will go through a time of testing known as the “Great Tribulation” (see Matthew 24:21; Jeremiah 30:7 and Daniel 12:1). They will be hated and persecuted by all men and the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11) will be very precious to them, for it will instruct them as to how to respond to their persecutors AND it will comfort them by promising them future rewards. One of those rewards is, “they shall inherit the earth,” for the Lord Jesus Christ will indeed establish His kingdom on the earth as “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” and He will share His kingdom with His earthly people Israel. He will make them the “head of the nations” and the city of Jerusalem will be the capital of the world.

In closing, I would encourage you to read Psalm 37. Mr. Arno C. Gaebelein said that “the 37th Psalm forms a perfect commentary to the beatitude ‘Blessed are the meek’.” Like our portion in Matthew 5, this Psalm instructs the believing remnant of Israel to be faithful as they wait for the kingdom to be established. They are told in verse 1, “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” In verses 3-4 their hearts are directed towards the Lord: “Trust in the LORD…delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” One of those desires will be to inherit the earth, and thus we read in verses 9-11, “For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more…but the meek shall inherit the earth.” (231.1) (DO)