Sabbath School Lesson for March 23-29, 2019
The sequence of events that ends Satan’s rebellion is found at the end of the book of Revelation:
- the wedding supper of the Lamb–Revelation 19:1-10 (Sunday)
- the battle of Armageddon is finally over–Revelation 19:11-21, 20:7-13 (Monday)
- Satan is bound for 1,000 years after the Second Coming–Revelation 20:1-6 (Tuesday)
- God establishes a new heaven and earth after the millennium–Revelation 21:1-7 (Wednesday)
- the New Jerusalem resides on planet Earth for all eternity–Revelation 21:9-27 and 22:1-4 (Thursday)
Last week, we saw the end of the apostate religious system, known as Babylon. This week, we see the total destruction of Satan and all the evil that has resulted from his rebellion. The prayer is finally heard of God’s people–“How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10)
The wedding supper will be enjoyed by God’s faithful church, the Bride, when Jesus, the Bridegroom, comes to take us to His Father’s home. We then begin our 1,000 year “honeymoon” experience with Him, called the millennium. What a joy then to finally reside in our newly-made home after the millennium, which sounds like the pleasant Garden of Eden, once enjoyed by our first parents.
Memory Text: “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ “ Revelation 21:5 NKJV
What faith it takes to believe that all things will be made new, when the world has been crashing down around us. That everything in the universe will once again be made perfect, with an eternal lifetime guarantee that will never expire. But we are told in this verse that the words Jesus spoke about this are true and faithful. We can rely on this message of hope and endurance to get us through to the end.
Sunday: The Wedding Supper of the Lamb
We, as a church, don’t have to guess what our Bridegroom is doing during our engagement period. As a faithful Fiance, He asks us not to be troubled over His temporary departure. He goes to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house. And He thoughtfully promises to come back and take us there to be with Him someday. See John 14:1-3.
What a comfort to know, not just where He’s at, but what He’s doing there. We can readily see that He desires this to be a relationship based on trust. What a joy it will be to dine at the Marriage Supper with Him in heaven.
To further keep His people informed, Jesus once told a parable to His disciples about a wedding feast. In Matthew 22, we read the story of how a king arranged a marriage for his son. Most of the guests, however, turned down his invitation to the feast, and stated, for numerous reasons, why they could not attend.
The king then told his servants to go invite everyone they met, and sure enough the wedding location was soon filled with people. Upon meeting and examining the guests, however, the king noticed that some were not dressed appropriately in the robe provided for them and were firmly told to leave.
Through this story, Jesus wants us to understand that, with every wedding, there are preparations to be made. Our duty as guests, meaning anyone who attends the Wedding of the Lamb, must be properly clothed with His robe of righteousness, in order to participate in the festivities.
Revelation 3:13 shows us the proper attire for the wedding. Our robes of self-righteousness will definitely keep us out of the grand celebration. Jesus tells the seventh and last church, Laodicea, that they also need to buy from Him gold (faith and love) and eye salve (the Holy Spirit).
In order to ensure that only those who are prepared actually attend, the King of the Universe is now actively examining those invited to His Son’s wedding. He is now determining who are those chosen ones and who is not, in a special investigative judgment during these last days.
Read John 14:1-3. In what ways does this sound like a bridegroom talking to his future bride? How is this closest of human relationships a good metaphor for Christ’s relationship with His church?
Read Revelation 19:6-9 and Ezekiel 1:24. What causes the sounds heard at this festive celebration? What does “wings” on angels tell us about them?
Read Matthew 22:11-14 and 20:13-16. What did Jesus mean by the endings of these two parables–“many are called, but few are chosen”?
Monday: Armageddon Ends
The language chapter 19 uses to describe the Rider on the white horse is the language of war. Verse 11 tells us “in righteousness He judges and makes war.” And in verse 14 it says “the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.”
His name and description definitely point to this Rider as being Christ. And He has already had many victories over Satan:
- He defeated him in heaven. (Revelation 12:7, 8)
- He defeated him in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:10, 11)
- He defeated him at the cross. (John 17:4, 5)
- He WILL defeat him again when He returns to earth. (Revelation 19:15, 16)
Read Revelation 19:14-16, Ephesians 6:17, and Hebrews 4:12. How is the word of God like a sword? How did Jesus use this weapon when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness? What other spiritual “weapons” are spoken of in Ephesians 6?
Read Revelation 19:12, 16, 2:17, and 3:12. Why does 19:12 say that no one knew the name written on the rider of the white horse? Why would the name “King of kings and Lord of lords” be a new name for Jesus at this time, just as we are given new names when we get to heaven (3:12)?
Read Revelation 19:17, 18. Who are those eating at this feast, and who are those who are eaten? What does this obvious symbolism mean to us?
Tuesday: The Millennium
Although some Bible scholars have projected this 1,000-year time period to be just prior to the Second Coming, its context and the most logical interpretation seems to be that it takes place between the Second Coming and the creation of a new heaven and earth.
Jeremiah 4:23-26 portrays a description of the earth during this desolate time. Satan is bound during the millennium, but his chains are circumstantial. There is no one left alive on the earth to tempt. All of the wicked have been slain by the brightness of Jesus’ Coming (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
Jeremiah even uses the expression “without form, and void”, depicting a similar state of the planet prior to God’s creation of the world as we now know it (Genesis 1:2). This would explain why John said, “I saw a NEW heaven and a NEW earth.” After the thousand years, our earth and the atmospheric heaven above it will be made new.
Many wonder about the purpose for the thousand years we evidently spend in heaven. We will have the role of…
- kings–John says we “reign with Christ” during that time (Revelation 20:4). We are also involved in the judgment process, establishing our role as governing agents near the throne of God. We are able to look over the records of everyone in the universe (even angels)–(1 Corinthians 6:2, 3 and Matthew 19:28), and determine that God was both just and loving in His dealings with the saved and the lost.
- priests–The highest status in the government is king, and the highest status in the religious world has always been priests. We will take an active part in worship (Revelation 5:9-13), and bear a testimony like no one else in the universe, because no one has experienced salvation like we have (Revelation 14:3).
- students–What a joy it will be to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from the Master Teacher! With our perfect, incorruptible brains and bodies, our capacity to learn about God and His creation will be unmatched by anything we can presently imagine.
The millennium will serve three valuable purposes:
- It will be a time of recovery for God’s saints.
- It will be a time of examination of God’s justice.
- It will be a time of preparation for the lake of fire experience (the total eradication of sin and sinners), thus securing our loyalty to God throughout eternity.
Read Revelation 20:1-3 and Jeremiah 4:23-26. Why does the scene in Jeremiah sound like the earth during the millennium?
Read Revelation 20:4-6, John 14:1-3 and John 11:24. Since Jesus is preparing a place for us in heaven, why does it make sense that we will be spending the millennium there with Him, and not here on earth? When does the first resurrection happen? What did Martha mean by “the last day”, when her brother Lazarus would be resurrected, if Jesus had not performed a miracle?
Read Revelation 5:9, 10, Matthew 19:28, and 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3. How will God’s people be spending their time during the millennium? Why is the millennium an important part of the plan of salvation?
Wednesday: “A New Heaven and a New Earth”
What does it mean that there will be a new heaven at the end of the millennium? The Bible speaks of three heavens. 2 Corinthians 12:2 talks about a man who had a vision of paradise, referring to it as “the third heaven”, the place where God dwells.
The other two heavens then would obviously be the earth’s atmosphere (Genesis 1:8 tells us He called the firmament Heaven on the second day of creation) and the starry universe (Genesis 1:16, 17–lights of the firmament on the fourth day).
When God creates a new earth, He will, of course, include a new atmosphere (heaven) around it, with fresh air to take the place of the polluted mess that will be left behind after the lake of fire finishes burning, eradicating sin for eternity. See 2 Peter 3:10-13.
Another question people have wondered about this new earth is that there is no sea. John was a man, exiled on an island with the sea all around him, isolating him from all those he loved and the comfortable life he once had. So, not seeing water around him would be a wonderful thing to behold and the first thing he would notice.
Certainly, the separation that a sea or any large body of water meant for John will not be experienced in the earth made new.
Read Revelation 21:1, 2 Corinthians 12:2, and Genesis 1:8, 16, 17. What are the three heavens mentioned in the Bible, and which one would most likely be created along with the earth at the end of the millennium?
Read Revelation 21:3, 4, 7:15-17, and Psalm 23. How is the 23rd Psalm a good description of the new earth? Why is Jesus depicted as both a Lamb and a Shepherd? Which one represents His tie to the human race, and why does He make that connection with us?
Read 2 Peter 3:10-13. How does Peter’s account of end-time events support the visions John shared with us?
Thursday: The New Jerusalem
1 Corinthians 2:9, which quotes Isaiah 64:4, correctly summarizes our humanly impression of the New Jerusalem, the holy city that comes down and becomes the center of God’s government, right here on this earth made new.
Both the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul agree that the things that await us there are beyond our imagination and ability to process. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard…” No wonder so many images are symbolically represented. We can get a faint glimpse of the glory there, but the total experience will be more breathtaking and wonderful than any human language can express or mind comprehend.
Some things about its exterior and interior features can be explored though. At least two noteworthy observations of its exterior (Revelation 21:9-21) might be the symbols of…
- all the shiny, precious jewels that are mentioned (streets of gold, jewels in our crowns, gates of pearl, etc.)–representing God’s glory
- the prevalence of the number twelve (12 gates, 12 tribes, 12 foundations, 12 apostles)–representing the saints
As for the inside the city (Revelation 21:22-22:5), we can’t help but picture the similarities it shares with the Garden of Eden…
- the temple of God (representing His presence, enjoyed so intimately by our first parents, Adam and Eve)
- all those whose names are written in the Book of Life (representing the saints)
- the river of life (“He leads me beside still waters”, Psalm 23)
- the tree of life (“He makes me lie down in green pastures”, Psalm 23)
Read Revelation 21:9-11, 23, 1 Peter 3:3, 4. In what way would all these jewels in the New Jerusalem represent God’s glory? Why are we humans on earth told to beware of lots of adornment?
Read Revelation 21:12-14, Ezekiel 48:31, and Ephesians 2:20. What spiritual characteristics about the twelve tribes of Israel of the Old Testament and the twelve apostles of the New Testament make these religious leaders symbolic of gates and foundations?
Read Revelation 21:15-19, 21, 1 Kings 6:20, and 1 Corinthians 3:16. Why do you think both the Holy City and the Most Holy Place are pictured as perfect cubes? What might the use of multiples of the number twelve indicate about the saints of God in heaven? What does the verse about our bodies being the temple of God really tell us, as we compare ourselves to New Jerusalem?
How easy it is to see the purpose for all the good things that await God’s people after the Second Coming. Our faith is challenged, however, when we dwell on some of the terrifying events prior to that glorious appearing. The picture of our immediate future isn’t all rosy, for sure.
The book of Revelation, however, is valuable in building our faith, because it covers all time periods…
- the past (informing us about how Satan has deceived us in the past)
- the present (teaching us to rely on God’s power for strength)
- the future (encouraging us with hope for the final outcome of this great cosmic struggle)
No matter how you dislike or are stymied by all the symbols and metaphors that are presented in John’s recorded visions, one message should be clear: Jesus is the answer to the problem of sin, not just the world’s, but own very own cherished desires that may or may not be making our life of service less than it should be.
Let’s all determine to represent our Maker more faithfully, and begin to practice some of those roles we will assume during the millennium. Working together, with Christ, we can be better…
- church members/priests
Ed Dickerson (another Outlook blogger) can help us become better Sabbath School teachers. Here’s the link for his latest blog: Teaching a Bible Class
Next Week’s Lesson: “The Rhythms of Life”
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/