The primary image of this model is seen in a new heaven and new earth, “Revelation 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea.
Sometimes theologians refer to the already and the not yet. It means that we may have experienced something like a first installment, but there is more to come. The early Church experienced the ‘already’ of the Kingdom in the life of Jesus and the promise of the Holy Spirit. The ‘not yet’ for them was the expectation of the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter, as he was addressing the crowd said, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, “and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, “whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. (Act 3:19-21, NKJ) The early church believed that the return of Jesus and the establishment of the Kingdom was just around the corner.
There are four basic features of this model of the Kingdom. The first characteristic is the looking forward to the judgment and the reconciliation of the world.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
The second feature is not just the end to evil and the restoration of what was pre-fall, but something even more glorious. This is seen in Haggai 2:9 “’The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place, I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.” In John Wesley’s view, for example; “The whole brute creation will then undoubtedly be restored, not only to the vigor, strength, and swiftness which they had at creation but to a far higher degree of each than they ever enjoyed. They will be restored, not only to that measure of understanding which they had in paradise but to a degree of it much higher than that as the understanding of an elephant is beyond that of a worm.” “For all the earth shall then be a more beautiful paradise than Adam ever saw.” An unmixed state of holiness and happiness.
Paul writes, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
Everything will be restored and made new. That’s the future hope of the Kingdom.