Sabbath School Lesson for December 22-28, 2018
- It is certain that Christ will return (Sunday).
- Our world, with all its natural beauty, will someday be restored (Monday).
- Not only will our physical lives be restored when our bodies are resurrected, but our relationships as well (Tuesday).
- Our new earth will produce peace and harmony among nations (Wednesday).
- Life on this promised, new earth will enhance the lives of all in the universe (Thursday).
It’s hard to envision the final restoration after so many millennia have passed on earth. For thousands of years, we have waited for God to hit the “reset” button and make all things right in the universe. We’ve been given ample evidence and promises that this will happen–on God’s timetable, not ours. And this week we will examine some of these promises and try to imagine how wonderful the new earth will be, including the unity it will bring to all heaven.
As the world celebrates the First Coming of Christ this season, it reminds us that there is soon to be another time to rejoice…His Second Coming. Looking forward, and not just backward, is designed to give us hope. We must keep our eyes on the prize. And that would be a new heaven and a new earth without sin, spoken of repeatedly throughout Scripture.
Memory Text: “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:13 NKJV
Think for a moment of the kind of righteousness mentioned in this verse. From the descriptions we have of this promised land, the “righteousness” of man is certainly not going to be adequate to maintain the peace and joyful existence portrayed there.
Ruling out all righteousness, but that of Christ, who is called “The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16),we can see how achieving this state of being like Him, will unite the entire universe. His righteousness prevails. We have only to anticipate and be ready for the happy, promised event.
Sunday: The Certainty of Christ’s Return
Messianic prophecies that predicted Jesus’ birth abound in the Old Testament, but we find them often interwoven with references to the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior. This understandably led to some incorrect interpretations on what to expect from the Babe born in Bethlehem.
This next glorious appearing that is soon to take place will seal the process of reconciliation, and lead to yet another powerful event after the saints spend a thousand years with Christ in heaven.
God is intent, not to just end the evil that has taken place on earth, but to continue the process after the millennium with a cleansing fire, until sin and death are irrevocably removed from the universe.
Read James 5:7, 8, Titus 2:13, and John 14:1-3. How are we to wait for the Lord to come? In what state of mind should it find us?
Read Jude 14, 15 and Hebrews 9:26-28. What part does judgment have in the final events of earth’s history? How is does the term “justice” compare with “judgment”? Is judgment/justice, something to dread, or look forward to?
Read Psalm 50:3-5. How does this “gathering of the saints” indicate that unity should be an ongoing objective for God’s people?
Monday: The Promise of Restoration
Two of the most-loved passages describing the restoration of this earth are in Isaiah 11:1-10 and Revelation 21:1-5. We particularly notice that not only will humans grow more united, but the animals there will not be predatory. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb.” “And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”
The most prominent feature, however, will simply be the presence of the Lamb. God Himself will be our next-door neighbor, so to speak. We will become more and more acquainted with His love and concern for us, and His desire to embrace us with an eternal hug.
This is what full restoration will look and feel like. This is when we will have all our tears wiped away, and enjoy an eternal existence without sin, death, sorrow, fear, or pain. What a promise!
Read Isaiah 11:4 and Job 4:8, 9. What does it mean that “His lips shall slay the wicked”? Why does this happen? In what way does this act still show God’s love and mercy?
Read Isaiah 11:6-10. What does this description of the new earth tell us about the righteousness and justice that was talked about in the first part of the chapter? What causes the animals to live so peacefully with each other?
Read Revelation 21:1, 6 and 22:1. What water supply will there be in the new earth? How might this explain why there is no sea there?
Tuesday: Resurrection and Restored Relationships
We know Jesus is returning, and we know how it will affect our planet’s existence, but how will we someday be able to enjoy a full relationship with the Lord?
The Bible is clear that we will indeed be reunited with the Lord, and also with our loved ones who have been “asleep” in death. And this reunion happens the moment our bodies receive immortality at the Second Coming, on what is called “Resurrection Morning”.
Then and only then will we receive immortal, incorruptible bodies. We won’t waste away and grow old, as now happens. Our perfect, heavenly bodies will serve us throughout eternity. See 1 Corinthians 15:54.
There will evidently be two groups of saints when Jesus comes back to earth in all His glory.
- those who have been resurrected (who have waited in the grave for this event)
- those who are transformed (who are alive when He comes in the clouds to save us)
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 tells us that this part of the process happens simultaneously. Neither group of the saved is first or last in line. We don’t have to worry that some will be getting to heaven before us, or that some will miss out on heaven because they died too soon.
It may have been that the Thessalonians were saddened to lose loved ones in death, because, in their minds, it would mean they would miss Christ’s Return, an event that they were eagerly anticipating would happen very soon (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. How should the fact that our loved ones are waiting in the graves until Jesus comes be a comfort to God’s saints?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 and Revelation 1:10, 11, 18. When is this “last trump” when we receive our immortality? How does the belief that our “spirits” go directly to God upon death, as most Christians believe, feed man’s desire to be immortal and escape death (remember what the serpent told Eve, “You will not surely die” Genesis 3:4)?
Read Isaiah 25:8, 9 and John 11:11, 21-24. How was Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead a promise to Martha, and all God’s followers, that our eternal lives are secure, that Christ is the Resurrection and the Life, and He will raise us to life again at His Coming?
Wednesday: A New Earth for the Redeemed
Having our restored, immortal bodies will be just the start of the blessings the Lord has planned for the redeemed. Revelation describes the first thousand years in heaven as a time when the saints are invited to sit on thrones, helping to complete the judgment that is going on in the heavenly sanctuary.
Satan, his angels who followed him in rebellion, plus all those on earth who are deemed “risk factors” in God’s holy universe, will be mercifully and justifiably burned up after that millennium period.
The fire that then comes down from heaven, from God Himself, will cleanse the earth, allowing God to re-create it and make a fresh start for its inhabitants.
“For behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” Isaiah 65:17 NKJV
Read Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:2, 3. What will be new about heaven, after God re-creates our earth after the millennium?
Read Revelation 21:1-5 and Isaiah 66:23. Why is there no need for the sun or moon in the new earth? What is the significance of the twelve fruits, produced by the tree of life? How might these fruits provide God’s people with a way to reckon time, and what reason would we need to be able to do that?
Read Micah 4:3, 4 and Zechariah 3:10. Why will it be easy to show hospitality in heaven? Why would we desire the companionship of others there?
Thursday: Life on the New Earth
In heaven we are given a “new song” (Isaiah 42:10, Revelation 5:9) and a “new name” Isaiah 62:2). This, of course, might be referring to the “song of Moses…the song of the Lamb” (Revelation 15:3). And also to the name of God and the Lamb (Revelation 14:1, 22:3, 4). Our relationship with Him will be closer than ever.
Revelation 21 and 22 both paint a glorious picture of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven, and remaining, after the cleansing fires and God’s miraculous re-creation of this planet.
Yes, God’s plan for our world goes far beyond what our feeble imaginations can fathom. All along, He has wanted His capital city to be with us, gracing us with His ever-abiding presence. This is why God made humanity on this tiny planet to be social beings. We are meant to be “best friends” with God.
This special relationship with God will encompass our friendships with each other as well. Nowhere in the universe will we find the peace and harmony God desires for us to experience than right here on our earth made new. Our hardships and trials will pale in comparison to the glorious, eternal existence that awaits us there.
It is this blessed hope that sustains us, that makes us strong enough to bear whatever burden and challenge Satan hurls at us. God is our shield through it all. The battle was won at the cross; and soon the war will be over. Our Oneness will be achieved, 100% guaranteed.
Read Isaiah 35:4-10 and 43:18, 19. What emotion is most prevalent on this Highway of Holiness, this road in the wilderness? What are some of the things that will make us happy there?
Read Isaiah 65:21-25. How will we spend our time on the new earth? What specifically makes our work there easier?
Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and Hebrews 11:8-10. How are we able to bear our afflictions, whether light or heavy, on this earth?
There are many angles and perspectives to consider when looking at the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3. Amidst all the symbolic, poetic language, John is also sharing with us the blessings of heaven that await us. The blessed hope of God’s people will include these wonderful rewards:
- Ephesus–they will eat of the tree of life, Rev. 2:7
- Smyrna–they will not experience the second death (the fire after the millennium), Rev. 2:11
- Pergamos–they will receive manna, the bread of heaven, Rev. 2:17
- Thyatira–they will have power over the nations, Rev. 2:26
- Sardis–they will be clothed in white garments, Rev. 3:5
- Philadelphia–they will get a new name, Rev. 3:12
- Laodicea–they will sit on thrones with God, Rev. 3:21
Unity doesn’t come in a finer package than this. Let’s all be ready to experience these blessings…TOGETHER!
Next Week’s Lesson: New Quarter – The Book of Revelation,
Lesson One – The Gospel from Patmos
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
Other Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/