The Bible, interestingly, refers to three distinct locations as heaven (2Corinthians 12:2, read also our article on the subject). This study, however, will focus on the place believed to be the reward of Christians and its relationship to the earth.
Heaven, at the present time, exists in a spiritual dimension that is completely separate from the earth and the physical universe. Its linkage to God is undeniable. It is not only the place where he dwells (1Kings 8:30, Matthew 6:9) it is also where his throne, which represents his authority and power over all things, is located (Isaiah 66:1, Matthew 5:34, 23:22).
Heaven is also the place where angels interact with God and receive instructions from him. The patriarch Jacob, in a dream, saw angels traveling back and forth from the earth to God's heavenly presence (Genesis 28:12 - 17). Heaven is the place where demons, including the devil, go to interact with the Eternal (Revelation 12:7 - 10).
Are those in the first resurrection of the dead, set to occur in the near future, taken to heaven? The surprising Biblical answer is NO! They are brought back to life, given new spiritual bodies, and meet Jesus in the air as he returns to earth to rule as King of Kings (1Thessalonians 4:16 - 17).
The saints will stand with Jesus on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) and be given authority to reign over the earth for 1,000 years (Daniel 7:18, 22, 27, Revelation 5:10, 20:4 - 6). They will reside in a Jerusalem that will become the planet's capital city (Revelation 20:9).
Will resurrected humans ultimately get a chance at reaching heaven? God's plan is to ultimately deal with sin, on a permanent basis, in everything that he created. He will accomplish this by destroying, in the lake of fire, all those who refuse to obey him (Revelation 20:10 - 15). He will then create a NEW universe that includes a new earth (21:1).
The last two chapters of the Bible describe a glorious New Jerusalem that will descend to the earth from God's throne in heaven (Revelation 21:10). It will be a magnificently beautiful city built from pure gold that is clear like glass. Its walls will look like jasper and contain twelve foundation stones, composed of various gems, that have the names of the original twelve apostles inscribed on them (Revelation 21:18 - 21).
God the Father, after the city is taken from heaven and placed on the earth, will then do something he has never done before! He will personally place his and Jesus' throne within the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22 - 22:3)! He will make the city the new center and capital of the entire universe.
God's awesome plan to create beings like himself, which started in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:26 - 27), will finally be complete. He can now share eternity with his children and interact face-to-face with all those who were saved (Revelation 21:24, 26, 22:4) and forever enjoy their company. The placement of their thrones within a New Jerusalem will finally bring heaven to earth.