The Bible, interestingly, refers to three distinct locations as heaven (2Corinthians 12:2). 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 our planet 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 presence (Genesis 28:12 - 17). This is also the place where demons, including the devil, go to interact with the Eternal (Revelation 12:7 - 10).
Where are they?
Are those in the first resurrection of the dead taken to heaven where they will live for eternity? 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 rule as King of Kings (1Thessalonians 4:16 - 17).
The saints will stand with Jesus who, after leaving heaven, comes to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). They will then be given authority to reign over mankind 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 New Jerusalem
The last two chapters of the Bible describe a glorious New Jerusalem that will descend on the planet 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 constitue heaven on earth!