Before we answer those question directly, we need to see that God alone, who dwells in heaven, is the “Ruler over His creation.” He is the Sovereign King over everyone and everything He has made. After God humbled King Nebuchadnezzar, he gave God the glory and said, “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done’?” (Daniel 4:34-35…NKJV). We see in these words of praise to God that the “kingdom of heaven” is actually “God ruling from heaven over the earth AND over the whole universe as well.” Psalm 103:19 puts it this way, “The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.”

Yet God also established a THRONE and a KINGDOM right here on earth. He anointed David to the Israel’s first king and then He promised him that eventually he would have a son that would rule over all the earth. We see this in 2nd Samuel 7:12-13, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your faithers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish the THRONE OF HIS KINGDOM forever.” That “son” is the Lord Jesus Christ! Matthew 1:1 confirms this for it says, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David.” Matthew was inspired to write of Jesus Christ as the King who would fulfill the promise that was made to David. When Jesus entered into His public ministry His main message was, “Repent, for the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). If Israel had accepted Him as their Messiah/King the kingdom would have been established, but Israel rejected Jesus as their King and had Him crucified and thus the fulfillment of God establishing a literal throne and kingdom here on earth has been postponed.

Does this mean God is not ruling over the earth while Jesus is absent? The parables of “the Kingdom of Heaven” in Matthew 13 teach us that all who profess to believe in Jesus Christ, whether true believers or false, are in His kingdom in its “outward form.” True believers are in His kingdom in its “inner reality” (see Colossians 1:13). This “form of the kingdom of heaven” will continue until Jesus Christ returns to earth as “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:16). He will then remove all unbelievers who merely professed to believe in Him (see Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43). Believers will then enter His kingdom on earth, as we see in Matthew 25:34, “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Thus, the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN will be established here on earth! The promise given to David will be fulfilled.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is still “God ruling over the earth from heaven,” but during the 1,000-year reign of Christ (see Revelation 20:4-6) God the Father will have His Son (Jesus Christ) sitting on His own throne and ruling over the earth (Matthew 25:31). Yet at the end of that Millennial Kingdom, we read in 1st Corinthians 15:24-25, 28: “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He has put all enemies under His feet…. Now when all things are subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” This brings us to the “end of time and the beginning of eternity.” The “kingdom of heaven” will then be made up of only true believers (unbelievers will have been cast into hell…Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 20:15). God will create a “New Heaven and a New Earth” and live in fellowship with all the redeemed throughout the endless ages of eternity (see Revelation 21:1-7).  (DO)  (533.3)