[Thought questions for When All Things Become New December 17, 2012]
1. What is utopia? Does the word ‘utopia” remind you of an ideal world where you would like to live? Or is the thought you associate most with “utopia” an unrealistic dream of a never-ever land? What about the millennium? Will that be utopia? What is a “year” in heaven? How long is a thousand years? Do you think we’ll sit idly on a grassy slope, playing our harps and enjoying heavenly food for a thousand years? If not, what can you imagine us doing then?
2. The 1,000 years. Can you imagine living for 1,000 years? To celebrate your 1000th birthday this year (2012), you would have been born in 1012. How has the world changed in the past 1,000 years? Do you think it will change during the millennium? Why does it take as long for the devil to be confined to earth after Jesus comes as it does for us to “reign” in heaven during the millennium? How can Satan occupy himself during that long period of time? If we are “reigning” with Christ in heaven for 1,000 years after the wicked were slain, who are our subjects?
3. The end of the millennium. What reasons can you give for the righteous to judge those who have determined they want no part of salvation? If that was their decision, why do they need to be judged? What is at stake in all of the judgments that take place at the end of time? What is being judged? Since the judgment is of cosmic proportions, what role can miniscule individuals such as you and I play in this grand event? What do these final events reveal, as nothing has before, the nature of God as shown most of all by his infinite (choose one) (A) Power; (B) Love; (C) Wisdom.
4. New heaven, new earth. Have you noticed what a mess the geological lump we call earth is in? Do you agree that tornadoes, earthquakes, droughts, and floods are just some of signs that the earth is sick and not getting well? Why doesn’t God just vaporize the earth and create a whole new planet from nothing? Or do you think perhaps He will? In any case, do you think we will be able to see the new earth as it is being formed? Or will it be better to see it after it is complete?
5. Living with us. “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.” Revelation 21:3. Why do we as a church hold to the belief that Jesus will come back to earth and reign here on this earth forever? What is that basis for that belief? Have you ever wondered what will happen to the Grand Canyon, the below-zero Antarctica, the mountain peaks of Australia, and so much more? Will there be even greater scenic wonders to see and enjoy? Or will everything melt into a gently rolling landscape? Can we trust God to do the designing?
6. Imagining what heaven will be like. Is it wrong to imagine scenes from heaven? Do you derive comfort from thinking about a new and safe creation with people and animals who are safe to be around? Will there be any challenges in heaven? Will everybody in heaven be exactly alike? If not, how will we differ from one another? Explain the following from the lesson guide: “God will forever remain distinct from His creatures, but in the new earth, the separation between God and humanity that was brought about by sin will be removed.” Is that good news for you?
7. Home in heaven. Would you be happy if your home in heaven turned out to be a tiny hut at the edge of a pristine lake? Or are you anticipating a “mansion” with dozens of rooms and a huge front lawn? What difference does it make? Can imagining scenes from the New Earth ever get us in trouble? If so, how? What is the most glorious aspect of heaven? Can you count on it?