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New Heavens and a New Earth (Isaiah 1)

June 28, 2010

The first lesson on Isaiah 65:17-25 focuses less on the waiting and more on the content of the promises made by God, especially on the vision of a world of peace and safety.  Keeping in mind the rather involved craft to come, this lesson offers a no-prep, very simple, high energy game to illustrate the difference between living with anxiety and fear and living in the context of cooperation.

I was really tempted to build a lesson out of trust games but I’m guessing that most of our Sunday School students are too young for trust games to be effective (or safe).  If you have older students – or exceptional younger ones – I won’t be hurt if you swap out my activity for some trust games.  Let me know if you’d like some instructions!

Things to know about this lesson:

  • You need a bag of balloons.
  • You need enough space to allow some moving around and the possibility that a balloon could get away on you but not so much space that people can simply take their balloon off to a corner by themselves.


New Heavens and a New Earth

Materials

  • balloons (at least one per student, more is better)

Open with prayer (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

Today we are going to read about a promise God made that is written in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah was a prophet who lived a very long time ago – long before Jesus was born. (If appropriate, tell the class that Isaiah lived after Moses.) Does anyone know what a prophet is? (students may well be familiar with the idea of a prophet as someone who predicts the future – explain that a prophet does more than that)

A prophet is someone who speaks for God – someone who God chooses to tell the rest of us what God wants us to hear. Often, prophets talk about the future but they can also talk about the present – telling us what God thinks about the way the world is going. God gave Isaiah many, many things to say. Sometimes, God gave Isaiah warnings about what would happen if people continued to live badly and if the government continued to make bad choices. Sometimes, God gave Isaiah good news about how God would change the world and make it a perfectly happy place.

What are some sad things in the world? (sickness, death, hunger, pollution, war – the kids will come of with plenty of examples)

What would a perfectly happy world be like?

Let’s read the message that Isaiah gave us about the perfect world God has planned.

Read the Story

The Lord told Isaiah to tell the people about the future

I am going to to create new heavens and a new earth.
The old things will not be remembered – people will not even think about them any more.


Be glad and rejoice for ever in what I am creating;
I am going to create Jerusalem as a joy and its people will be a pleasure.


I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be happy with my people;
No one will hear the sound of crying; there will be no more cries of distress.


There will be no more babies dying after just a few days of life.
Everyone will live very long lives,

One hundred year olds will be called young.
Anyone who dies before they’re a hundred will be called unlucky.


People will build their own houses and enjoy living in them;
they shall plant their own crops and eat the food they grow.


No one will build a house only to have someone else live in it;

no one will plant crops only for someone else to eat;

My people will live for as long as the trees
they will be happy in their work and enjoy what they make.


Good things will come from their work, and their children will never get sick or hurt or lost.
They will be blessed by God and their children and their children’s children will be blessed by God.


Before they even call me I will answer them,
before they stop speaking, I will have heard them.


The wolf and the lamb shall eat together.

The lion shall eat straw like the ox but the serpent – the serpent will have to eat dust.

No one will hurt or kill anyone or anything on my holy mountain, says the Lord.

(Isaiah 65:17-25)

Discussion

What are the good things that are going to happen in the new world God will make?

Near the end of the story, God says that the wolf and the lamb will eat together. What does that mean? What do wolves usually eat?

How do you think it would feel to live in a world where there was no sickness or violence – where no one hurt anyone else? Would there be any reason to be afraid or worried?

Introduce the Activity

We are going to play a game to help us imagine what it might feel like to live in such a peaceful world. Everyone will get a balloon. Your job is to keep your balloon in the air. The game begins with a wolf (appoint a wolf or play the part yourself) who wants to knock your balloon away from you so that it will land on the floor. No one except you and the wolf can touch your balloon. The second part of the game is played in God’s new world. Everyone, including the wolf, has to work together to keep all the balloons in the air for as long as possible.

Play the Game

Give everyone (except the wolf) a balloon. Allow play to go on for a while, making sure the wolf has some success. After a while, call a time out and give the wolf a balloon. Keep an eye on the clock or set a timer to see how long the group can keep the balloons in the air. Add more balloons for a greater challenge.

Regrouping

How did it feel to have the wolf steal your balloon?

How did it feel to work together without having to be scared of anyone? (if kids insist the competition against the wolf was more fun – which it may well have been – point out that it wouldn’t have been so fun if the wolf was actually trying to eat them.)

Was is difficult to cooperate? How was it difficult? Why was it difficult?

Jesus also talked about the new world God promised – he called it the reign/kingdom of God – and he told us that we had to get ready for this new world. He told us some of the things we needed to do, too – things like love our neighbours and take care of people who need help and trust God. We might not be able to stop the wolf from eating lambs but we can practice doing the things Jesus told us to do.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, help us live peaceful, loving, brave lives today while we wait for the perfect world you have promised. Amen.

Today we are going to read about a promise God made that is written in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah was a prophet who lived a very long time ago – long before Jesus was born. (If appropriate, tell the class that Isaiah lived after Moses.) Does anyone know what a prophet is? (students may well be familiar with the idea of a prophet as someone who predicts the future – explain that a prophet does more than that)

A pr

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark Monroe permalink
    November 13, 2010 9:57 pm

    Rhonda — I love this balloon activity. I have young, young kids this year, 2 kindergartners and a second-grader. Then sometimes a 6th-grader (he or I will be the wolf!) One week as an experiment I tried having a story-and-discussion class (your improv activity). The improv actually went pretty well, but by the end of the lesson it was too much talk and not enough action! I think this will be wonderful. Just need to figure out the best place to score some balloons since I worked outside all day and, once again, left this until fairly the last minute.

    Hey — here’s an activity suggestion that always works for me. You may want to use it. It’s having the kids make bread to be used for communion. We make it one week, freeze it, and put it out for communion the following week (be sure to come back…). I did this with the Moses lessons, tying in to the unleavened angle on account of needing to leave quickly. I have also done it in Easter season with the Last Supper lesson. My simple, unfussy recipe (unleavened), based on things they would have had in the Middle East at that time:

    Equal parts white and whole wheat flour
    A little honey
    A little olive oil
    A little salt (ok, some might consider this leavening)
    Water

    Try maybe 1-1/2 cups of each type of flour to start. 2 tbsp. to 1/4 cup each honey and olive oil. 1 tsp. or less salt (or none at all). Everybody wash their hands first! Put flour in a large bowl and make a well in the middle of it. Let the kids add the honey, oil and salt here. Then start adding water and stirring with a strong spoon. Add just enough water to get a moist but not sticky dough (muscle up on that spoon). Divide it up so each child has a piece of it. Sprinkle some flour on the table in front of each child. Show them how to knead the dough a few times: flatten it, fold it once and then again at a 90 degree angle, then flatten it again, etc. After 2-3 rounds, flatten it to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and shape it roughly like a pita bread. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350-375 degrees about 15-20 minutes, until it’s firm and seems done. You can tear a corner a bit to check. Let cool prior to freezing.

    The kids of all ages gather around the bowl, clamor for their turn at squeezing honey or pouring water, and love getting their hands on the dough!

    Mark Monroe

    • November 14, 2010 7:35 am

      Hi Mark,
      I hope you found some balloons!

      Thanks for the bread recipe – the activity is actually already part of the Lenten lessons (about the Last Supper). In fact, you were part of the inspiration because I knew it was something you had done with your kids in the past!

  2. Mark Monroe permalink
    November 13, 2010 10:02 pm

    I just realized this lesson would also be a nice place to talk about the line in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

    MM

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