Longing for Eternity
By Mark A. Finley
Deep within our hearts is a longing for eternity. As we witness gruesome acts of terror and violence, and the endless suffering on our planet, we know that this world is not our home. Our hearts tell us that we were created for something better. We were not made for sorrow, suffering, and death. We were made to be happy, healthy, and holy. In this month’s Bible lesson we will explore God’s amazing plan for each of us, and discover that God’s plans are better than we can imagine.
1 Read Revelation 21:1 and 2 Peter 3:13. What words do both John and Peter use to describe God’s eternal future? What expression do they use to emphasize the reality of what God has in mind for us?
The Bible writers pictured God’s eternal world as a real place. They describe it as “new heavens and a new earth.” God’s world of tomorrow is not pie in the sky; it is not some make-believe fairy tale. All that has been lost by sin will be restored. God will re-create this world more fantastic then we can imagine. Eden will return more glorious than before, in all its magnificent beauty.
2Will we have real bodies, or will we be some kind of spirits? Compare Philippians 3:20, 21 with 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. See also Isaiah 35:5, 6.
The disciples recognized Jesus when He appeared to them after His resurrection by His physical features. Although He had a glorious, immortal body, He was still recognizable. An immortal body is not some kind of invisible spirit. If the new heavens and the new earth are real, we will have real bodies to live in this real place.
3Read Isaiah 65:17, 21, 22. What are just a few of the activities we will participate in throughout eternity?
Eden restored will be a place of incredible joy. The image “They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit” is rich with the symbolism of perfect peace, inner contentment, and eternal happiness. According to Isaiah’s prophecy we will actually build houses and inhabit them. We will plant gardens and enjoy the natural products they produce. But there is something more here than is on the surface: We will be eternally content, without fear, anxiety, and worry.
4How does the Bible describe our relationships in heaven? Read Matthew 8:11 and notice particularly the expression “sit down with Abraham, Issac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” What does this phrase imply? Rephrase it in your own words.
5Read Revelation 21:2, 3; 22:3, 4. What will be our greatest joy in the earth made new? Which relationship above all others will be most precious to us?
6Read Revelation 21:4; Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 65:24, 25. What rock-solid promises does our Lord give regarding eternity?
7Compare Micah 4:8 with Acts 3:19-21. What concept is key in getting a glimpse of God’s new world?
The prophet Micah speaks about the return of the “former dominion.” Peter used the expression “restoration of all things” in Acts. These expressions are key to understanding God’s magnificent plan for us throughout all eternity because they point us back to God’s original creation in the Garden of Eden.
Heaven is a real place for real people who will participate in real activities. The shame of a world lost in sin and the agony of a planet in rebellion will be restored through the sacrifice of Christ. In Eden made new we will worship the Christ who redeemed us forever. The entire universe will gather about God’s throne and sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12).
This is the greatest joy of heaven, and a reason to praise God through all eternity.