Lesson 9

Heaven

(2 Kings 2 & 13, Matthew 17, Revelation 21)
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Introduction: What motivates you in life? Money, reputation, power, love, success, God or all of the above? Why did I list God among human motivators? Because God is in the motivation business. One major motivator is His promise of heaven for those who are faithful. Last week I asked you to consider Satan's strategy when it comes to undermining the authority of God. What do you think is Satan's strategy when it comes to the issue of heaven? If heaven does not exist, sin (which does exist) looks pretty good, right? At least at first. Let's dive into the Bible and see what it says about our eternal reward!

  1. Elijah, Elisha and Heaven


    1. Read 2 Kings 2:1 and 2 Kings 2:11-12. How did Elijah die? (He didn't!)


      1. Where did he go? (He went directly to heaven.)


      2. What do we learn about heaven from these few verses? (It is "up" and it has public transportation. More seriously, it has to be a physical place where physical bodies live.)


      3. How do you explain Elisha's reaction? Tearing your clothes means you are unhappy. (Elisha called Elijah "the chariots and horsemen of Israel." Israel had no chariots and horsemen. Elisha was saying that Elijah was the power of Israel, and he was sad to see him go.)


    2. Read 2 Kings 13:21. What happened to Elisha when he died? Did he follow the path of his friend, Elijah? (No. His bones were in a tomb.)


      1. Does this mean Elisha was not in heaven? (We know for sure that, unlike Elijah, his body was not in heaven.)


  2. Moses and Heaven


    1. Read Deuteronomy 34:5-7. What happened to the great man Moses when he died? (God buried him!)


      1. Was Moses in heaven when he died? (Elijah shows us God had the option to take him to heaven, but the text says God buried him instead.)


    2. Read Jude 1:9. What is Jude talking about? (Apparently, after Moses died, God and Satan had a dispute over Moses' body. In that dispute, God rebuked Satan.)


      1. What do you think was the subject of the dispute? (No doubt God wanted Moses' body and Satan did not think God had a right to it because Satan was the "ruler" of the earth.)


    3. Read Matthew 17:1-3. Who won the dispute over Moses' body? (God did!)


      1. Where did God take Moses' body? (Must be heaven because that is where Elijah was taken!)


      2. What was the timing of Moses going to heaven? (Sometime after God buried him.)


  3. Jesus on Heaven


    1. Read Matthew 22:23-28. Why would the Sadducees ask this question if they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead? (They wanted to show it was an impractical idea.)


    2. Read Matthew 22:29-32. What does Jesus say about whether a resurrection is in your future? What does Jesus say about God's plans for believers? (Jesus specifically endorses the idea that we will be resurrected. He bases that both on the Bible and the power of God.)


    3. We see from these stories and Jesus' statement that there is a heaven and there is a coming resurrection. What does that teach us about God's interest in you? (That God has a rescue plan for us so that if we are faithful, we can live with Him.)


  4. Heaven When?


    1. There is a great deal of speculation and debate about what happens when a believer dies. Some believe a person's "spirit" goes to heaven while the body decays. Others believe the spirit is not separate from the body, and body and spirit lie unconscious in the grave until the resurrection. What do the stories of Elijah, Elisha and Moses teach us with a very high degree of certainty? (Elijah teaches us that God can take us directly to heaven without seeing death. Elisha teaches us that the normal course upon death is that our body decays and remains on earth. Moses teaches us that after we die, and our body is buried, Jesus can raise us to life before the general resurrection.)


      1. What do these stories tend to teach us about having a separate, conscious spirit? (They tend to refute it. Why was Elijah's body picked up? Why would Moses' body be the subject of a wrestling match if we have a spirit existence in heaven? The fact that God collected the body of two prominent believers tends to show that in heaven we will have our bodies. God can take us to heaven at any time during life or after our death. But, it seems He takes everything, and He takes it to Heaven, a place where bodies seem to be important.)


  5. You and Heaven


    1. So, you are in heaven with your entire body. What is there to do? Is there a water park? Do they have trees to climb? What about good restaurants?


    2. Read Revelation 21:2-3. What is the first thing to do in heaven? (We will have a close relationship to God. Our Creator and our Redeemer - who loves us beyond imagination - will be there.)


    3. Read Revelation 21:4. What will be our emotional state in heaven? (We won't be sad. There will be no death or pain. The "old order" of progress towards the grave is finished.)


    4. Read Revelation 21:5 and Isaiah 65:17. Do you like new stuff? (It is all new in heaven and the new earth.)


    5. Read Revelation 21:10-11 and Read Revelation 21:18-21. Imagine the most beautiful jewelry. Then imagine a whole city that looks like one massive gorgeous jewelry setting! That is in our future!


      1. Why would God make the New Jerusalem like that? (The time of self-sacrifice is past. This suggests that God creates and gives us a lavish world.)


    6. Read Revelation 21:23-26. What do we learn about lighting conditions and sleep patterns?


      1. What does the discussion about "kings" and "nations" suggest? (That we will have organization.)


    7. Read Revelation 22:1-3. What does this tell us about water parks, tree climbing and eating in heaven? (It is all there.)


      1. What does this eating and drinking idea suggest about a spirit existence? (That we are not spirits.)


      2. Notice again the reference to "nations." The discussion of the New Jerusalem includes all the physical stuff that is familiar to us - except fantastically better. What does this teach us about heaven? (That it will be familiar to us in many ways.)


    8. I read a book by Randy Alcorn called "Heaven." Alcorn looks at the Bible and concludes that when God brings the New Jerusalem down to the earth made new, that the same general geographical landmarks will be recreated. Revelation 21:1 reveals that the sea no longer exists. That would expand the present land mass. Thus, Alcorn's understanding is plausible. I would like to continue to live in Virginia. Would you like, in the earth made new, to live where you do now? To be able to visit the area where you grew up?


    9. Read John 14:2-3. Oh no! Are we now reduced to a "room" in heaven? (No. This is our "New Jerusalem" condo. In the New Jerusalem there is limited space. We have our condo in Jerusalem and our country home(s) wherever we want.)


      1. Read Isaiah 65:21-22. Is this the country home to which I just referred? (I am uncertain how to treat this text. I think it primarily refers to God's plan for the Jews if they were faithful to Him. However, just as some prophecies have more than one fulfillment, I think this may very well (to some degree) point to heaven as well. It certainly gives us a view of what God wants for us.)


    10. Friend, would you like to live forever in a perfect place? A place of joy? A place of extravagant beauty? God has promised His people heaven, a New Jerusalem and an earth made new. You can be there. Will you confess your sins to God, accept Jesus' life and death on your behalf, and ask Jesus to join with Him in that glorious resurrection to a new life with Him?


  6. Next week: Discipleship.

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