Challenge 20 With God, always

CONTENTS

 The story shown in bold is explored in full in the Big Bible Challenge book www.scriptureunion.org.uk/shop

 Stories in this challenge

A voice and a vision                         Revelation 1:9–20

Dear church, love from Jesus          Revelation 3:10–22

Who’s in charge?                           Revelation 7:9–17

Hip, hip, hurray!                                 Revelation 19:5–10

The new beginning                            Revelation 21:1–7

 

COMMON tips for this and every challenge

  • Always have a Bible in a child-friendly translation available, as you take the Big Bible Challenge. Even when the Bible verses are printed in the Big Bible Challenge book, find them in a Bible as well. This will help the child gain confidence in handling the Bible and become familiar with its size and number of pages.
  • Finding your way around the Bible can be a challenge in itself! Each reading from the Bible is shown in a certain way, like this:

Genesis 2:15–22.

  • Use the Index or Contents page of the Bible to help you find the book (or books) in the Bible for the readings in this challenge. In this example, the book title is ‘Genesis’.
  • Each book of the Bible is in chapters. In this example, the reading is in chapter 2.
  • Each chapter is split into verses. In this example, the verses are 15–22. In most Bibles, the verse numbers are printed very small.
  • Many of the challenges have five readings from the same part of the Bible, so use a bookmark to keep your place and it will be easier to find the Bible reading next time.
  • The Bible consists of many ‘books’ collected together and presented as one. See if you can work out what sort of ‘book’ you are exploring: is it history or is it a letter? Are you reading words spoken by a prophet or written as a song?
  •  Spend time looking at and chatting about the artwork in the Big Bible Challenge. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’
  • When you have finished this challenge, use the simple evaluation sheet [here: hyperlink]. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’

 

COMMENCE: your introduction to this part of the Bible

John is in exile on the island of Patmos. While worshipping, he receives a new revelation of Jesus: having come as Saviour in the past, he will come as Judge in the future. John also presents a new insight into God’s view of the church.

It is not without pain and struggle, however. Revelation depicts a church that is suffering persecution and in many ways it is a call to endure in the light of the future hope. The seven messages to the churches reveal the depth of care Jesus has for his church. He affirms the positives and he challenges the people where they are falling short: both are signs of his desire to see them achieve their potential. Right now the world may look a mess and the people of God an insignificant minority. It may appear that the forces of evil are winning the battle. But that is not the way it will end up. The future is secured by the death of the Lamb and the power of God: the Spirit is always active in the world.

John envisages the overwhelming beauty of our eternal dwelling place: pearly gates, streets of gold, a river of life, all lit by God’s glory (Revelation 21:23). Everything will be new and God will dwell with his people for ever.

Revelation is not an easy book to interpret and Christians have not always agreed on the details. If we remember the nature of apocalyptic writing, use our imagination and concentrate of the broad sweep, we shall gain the most.

God brings his plan for the redemption and the restoration of the world to completion. By the end of Revelation we have come full circle. God’s creation is back where he had always intended: it is the home of peace and righteousness, inhabited by a redeemed humanity who will share fellowship with God for ever. The future hope promised from the fall onwards has come to its final fulfilment.

 

CONNECT: the five stories in this challenge

These passages all come from Revelation, the last and most enigmatic book of the Bible. There is much picture language (sometimes difficult to understand) and talk of death and destruction in this book, but in these five readings we concentrate on Jesus being the ultimate King and Victor, and wanting us to be part of his ‘for ever kingdom’.

It would be best to read the passages in the order given.

 

 CONSIDER: what this challenge means today

This is the grand finale of the Big Bible Challenge – and it’s also the grand finale of the Bible story. But as the Narnia series concludes, it’s really ‘… the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures…had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.’ (The Last Battle, CS Lewis, 1956)

Try to capture that excitement. Be prepared for a conversation about who will be in this new kingdom and how they will get there.

The people to whom this book was originally written were going through very hard times of persecution. They are encouraged to ‘hang in there’ in spite of difficulties and temptation. John (the writer) was helping them to understand that it was worth keeping hold of their faith because of the reward to come. Children and young people often go through times of temptation to conform to the world around them. They may need much encouragement to hold on firmly to Jesus. Being positive about the life to come and hearing about the wonderful things God has in store for us will give them strength in times of difficulty.


CLARIFY: issues that may arise from this challenge

Will I go to heaven?

If your child is fearful and unsure about whether they will go to heaven, reassure them that if they love and follow Jesus, they will be there – Jesus has already done everything necessary for them. If they have not made a decision to follow him, read together Revelation 3:20. Ask your child to close their eyes and imagine that Jesus is standing outside the door of whatever room you are in. As you read the verse again, ask your child to imagine themselves opening the door and inviting Jesus into the room, and to imagine him coming in and sitting down next to them.

Will heaven be all standing around and singing? (I don’t like singing much.)

God will not have prepared a place for us that we won’t like! (In John 14:2 NIV Jesus says ‘I am going there to prepare a place for you.’) In heaven we will sing and praise God – we won’t be able to help it because we will discover so many more wonderful things about him – but we will enjoy doing it!

But God won’t have prepared beautiful trees, rivers and buildings (see Revelation 21:9 – 22:5) without wanting us to enjoy them, too; so there are bound to be plenty of other lovely and exciting things to do in heaven.

 

COMMUNICATE: talk with God

Chat together about some of the word-pictures in Revelation that describe what heaven is like: we will see Jesus in his glory (explain that the Son of Man, the Lamb of God, Alpha and Omega are all names for Jesus); heaven will never end; there will be no sadness, suffering or death; we will worship God with millions of people from all over the world.

For children, their own death generally seems far away, but most will have experienced the death of pets, relatives and maybe even friends. Be sensitive here and do not cause distress or fear. Assure them that we do not need to fear death as we will be with Jesus in heaven for ever. Read aloud together some of the words used to praise God in heaven, for example Revelation chapter 7, verses 10 and 12, as prayers.

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