Heaven can be a tricky topic to teach. In fact, it can be hard for adults to understand the themes of Revelation or to grasp what awaits us after life on earth has passed away. To be sure, we cannot know with certainty what will happen as our earthly bodies slip away, but the main message of eschatology should be one of hope. We can know that what God has in store for us is bigger and better than anything we can possibly imagine. As we communicate this message to kids, we want to remind them that God can take even the worst things in our lives and make them beautiful.
Lesson focus: God is the beginning and the end of all things. He promises that one day He will take all things and make them new again. We might not know what Heaven will look like, but we can be sure that God will take away all of our sadness and tears and turn them into joy. It can be difficult to imagine or understand, but we can take hope in the fact that for those who love the Lord, life after death will be wonderful.
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Toys or items that can come apart; “broken” or breakable things; jigsaw puzzles; recyclable materials (paper towel or toilet paper tubes, boxes, etc.); decorative materials.
Bonus Ideas: You can draw extra inspiration and teaching ideas from the following lesson plans.
Lesson Opening: Can you fix it? Start with a little challenge…present kids with a toy or object that needs fixed. Some toys are meant to come apart and be put back together. If you don’t have one of these, purposely break apart a game, a pen, or a toy, and give it to students. Or dump a puzzle on a table. Invite children to re-build the items. You might want to make this into a race and have students group into teams to see which can fix items faster.
Alternatively (or additionally), play a game of “make it new art”… have children draw a simple picture. Pass pictures to another artist, and invite the new illustrator to change the original and make it something new. For extra challenge (or older kids), encourage the first drawing to be a little sad, and the changed item to be more uplifting.
Explain to students that today we will look at some Bible verses that talk about making things new.
Start off with a discussion question… What do you think Heaven will be like? Will it be floating on clouds? Lots of singing? Unlimited and non-caloric ice cream? Explain to kids that the Bible does not share all of the details, but it gives us some clues about what Heaven might be like. The most important things it tells us is that things will be beautiful and new, and that we will be with God. The book of Revelation talks about what will happen at the end of the world that we know. Take a peek….
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God. -Rev. 21:1-3
Does any of this seem strange? Some people might think it’s a little funny that the Bible says Jerusalem is like a bride. How can a city be like a bride, or wear clothes? Well, think about a bride walking down the aisle to her husband. Usually there is great joy, and hope, and excitement for things to come, right? In these verses, we can imagine a glorious new beginning to things. God is promising to be with people. The city is not just Jerusalem as we know it in Israel, but all of creation. That sounds pretty neat, but it gets even better!
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” -Rev. 21:4
Discuss with children things that are painful… What makes you sad? Are there things that make you cry? When was the last time you got hurt or needed a band aid? Sometimes life is rough. Things can be very challenging. But check this out! In Heaven, God promises to take away all of that hurt. The boo-boos will heal. The crying will end. All of the old crusty junk will be gone!
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. -Rev. 21:5-7
This is truly a glorious promise, and has some interesting things to note. These words are from God. What is He saying? One of the key highlights is that God is making all things new. He is fixing what’s broken and making it better. Now, this doesn’t necessarily say God is making all new things. He is not replacing, but restoring. He’s getting rid of the imperfections and making things even better. Will we have bodies when we are in Heaven? Well, there’s a whole lot of research and writing on that topic…but it’s safe to say we very well might, and that they will be sort of like our bodies, but unbreakable and much better. Thinking about the new beauty of Heaven might be like comparing a gorgeous waterfall or beach to a hastily drawn crayon picture. The picture can convey an idea of what we would experience in nature, but it’s nothing like the real sounds and smells and feel that accompany truly being there. Our present life and world are only a dirty glimpse of what really awaits us. Or perhaps it’s like baking a cake. When the ingredients are put together and placed under high temperatures, things that were bland or inedible on their own (raw eggs, flour, salt) become brand new and wonderful.
Faulty analogies aside, we can rest assured that God’s words are indeed “trustworthy and true.” The passage says that God is “Alpha and Omega.” These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Sort of like saying God is A and Z. He began everything and will end everything. He is promising to give the thirsty a drink and the hungry food. He will be there for us no matter what happens. We can rest assured that whatever else happens after this life, God will be there. He will comfort, protect, guide and strengthen us. He will make all things new. He will transform our lives and make them amazing! Amen!
Make something new! Provide children with a variety of scrap materials. You might even ask ahead of time to have them bring some in (tubes, boxes, cloth, papers, etc.). Invite kids to get creative and make something new out of the “junk.” Attach a verse (Revelation 21:5). It could be anything from a functional tool or a fictitious friend… have fun!
Close with prayer and thanks to God for making all things new. Express trust in Him as the Alpha and Omega, author and finisher of all things.
Unless noted otherwise, scripture quotes from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®