Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson study options which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson option includes opening activities, Scripture passages, and discussion questions.
This is the time of year when may graduations take place. This includes kindergarten, 8th grade, and high school/academy. These are graduations most youth can relate to, especially if they are about to experience one of them soon.
Use the handout for individuals to respond to the questions or do it as a group. After filling it out, have individuals share their responses and what they mean to them. This can have some emotional weight associated with it.
This can be a springboard to talking about graduation plans, what it took to get to this point, how to celebrate, and what happens next. Is this all about the graduate(s) or does God have his hand in all of this as well?
Create your own taste test for the start of Youth Sabbath School. You can choose to blindfold a few volunteers or have them close their eyes (but it’s better if you blindfold them). When the Israelites received the manna they asked, “What is it?” when they first saw it and first tasted it (Exodus 16:15). Provide a similar experience with this activity.
NOTE: Please be aware of any food allergies or intolerances before beginning this activity. You will also want to respect special diets such as vegan, gluten-free, etc. by providing substitutions as needed.
Here are four examples of taste test items. You can substitute or start from scratch or just use these. It takes a small bit of prep before Youth Sabbath School.
If you’d like to try another combination of four items, here’s another option:
Don’t have people say the answers aloud. Instead, have them taste all four, one at a time, and then write down their answers on a sheet of paper. Compare results.
As we consider Unhappy Campers today, point out that following an extremely dramatic experience like the crossing of the Red Sea and the elimination of Pharaoh and his army (last week’s lesson), life can seem boring by comparison. The obvious intervention of God may not seem so obvious on other days. Sure, the cloud was still guiding them, but when you’re running out of food and water, who cares about a cloud that isn’t guiding you to what you want/need?
This is a short video clip and an idea to help you create your own video on this week’s topic, plus a few follow-up questions to spark discussion afterwards.
Create a video clip that illustrates either: 1) Not hearing from God when you want an answer; or 2) Sabbath as a gift. These are two very different topics, but both of them are part of the lesson this week (just a few chapters in Exodus). Ask someone in advance to create follow up questions based on these video clips.
These are more approaches to the same topic featured in the Teacher’s Guide, but just a different way of looking at it. Expect activities to illustrate the topic followed by some questions.
You’re Killing Me!
BASED ON EXODUS 16:1-17:7
Do a quick review of the Bible story from last week about God delivering his people from the trap at the Red Sea when Pharaoh and his army were bearing down on the Israelites and they had nowhere to flee. Invite different individuals to stand in front of the group and share what part of the story stood out as one of their favorites. After they share that part of the story ask them to share some of the details they image as well as why this part of the story stood out for them. Encourage others to add their unique versions, too. Have several people share.
Let’s jump from thousands of years ago to something that has happened in your lifetime or in the lifetime of your parents or some other adult in this church. Can you recall any miracle stories you’ve heard from others? Here’s one example:
One youth pastor remembers hearing his parents tell a story about a slow-motion car accident that happened before he was born. His oldest sister was just a baby. This was before car seats for babies and even required seat belts. His dad, mom, and sister were driving downhill on a winding road in dense fog. They came to a fork in the road and straddled it. There was a slight slope, so the car, moving slowly down the hill in the fog, eventually rolled over, as if it was in slow motion. It rolled again and started down a steep embankment. Mom and baby flew out of the car and downhill from the car. The car continued to roll down the hill toward them. It got to the spot where they were, and then it rolled uphill and stopped. How do cars roll uphill? This is one of those stories that builds faith—knowing that your mom should have been killed before you were ever born!
Stories like this are wonderful! And they can be passed along from person to person, and from one generation to another. Do you know of any stories of God’s intervention in the lives of people you know?
This same youth pastor can also tell the story of being a student in college when his parents suffered a financial crisis that resulted in having to declare bankruptcy. The obvious question comes up: Where was God when they needed money? It’s nice to have your life spared, but why doesn’t God take care of every crisis in ways that make sense to us? And what do you do with the stories of others who died in tragic car accidents?
Our Scripture passage for today follows the amazing miracle of God parting the Red Sea, but it lacks a miracle for something as basic as food and water. And when God finally does provide these necessities, it’s after the people became desperate.
There are five segments of Scripture. Give each person in your group one of the passages and ask about the need, the miracle, and the timing (God usually doesn’t do the miracle as soon as we’d like). Then put yourself in the story and imagine what you would have done if you were one of the Israelites at that time. If you have less than five people in your Youth Sabbath School, give each person one passage, and then do another round. (Alternately, choose the passages you want to distribute. The teacher can also take a passage.) Here are the five Scripture passages and some questions:
We can’t help but see things the way we see them! Or can we? Learning to trust God when his timing doesn’t match ours can be difficult. But our perspective is so limited.
Back in February, one of the Youth Sabbath School Bible study options involved looking at something from so close a proximity that it might be hard to really perceive what it was. Next, another photo was shared from a little distance away. That might have been enough to see what the picture really was. And there was a third option, if that was needed. Try it again. You can use the same pictures (especially if you didn’t use them back in February). Or you can take your own and just crop in closer. There are 10 photos, with three versions of each (way too close, too close, and close). You can divide your Youth Sabbath School participants into two groups and compete.
Points can be given in the following manner:
10 points Very, very close photo identification done correctly
6 points Very close photo identification done correctly
2 points Close photo identification done correctly
Here are 10 sets of three pictures each. You can download it as a PDF or PowerPoint or Keynote. Here’s one set of three to give you an idea of what keys look like from these three close perspectives.
When obvious miracles of God happen, it seems easy to trust. But when things don’t happen in ways that make sense from our perspective, we need faith in God to trust that God knows what we need and he will provide it when we need it. We can take all of our cares to God, but then our trust can grow by remembering what God has done in the past—for us as well as for others. The Israelites actually wished for a moment they were back in Egypt as slaves! We can make some pretty outlandish statements when we feel that pressure. We can also make statements of faith.
I’m inviting each of you to try it this week. Start each day by praying for God’s action in your life for what you need for that day. I’ll give you a sheet to write it. At the end of the day, have another prayer as you reflect on what happened and what didn’t happen. Try this each day for the coming week, and we’ll compare notes next Sabbath, okay? (Add “What God Provides for Me” download here)
BASED ON EXODUS 16:13-36
After crossing the Red Sea and before arriving at Mount Sinai where God gave the Israelites the 10 commandments and directions for all of life, they got to experience another evidence of God’s daily care for them, plus more. Before giving the 10 commandments, God taught his people about the Sabbath—something he started at creation, but something they, no doubt, hadn’t experienced during slavery.
You might be familiar with this story, or maybe you’re not. You can read Exodus 16:13-36 from a translation or paraphrase of your choice. You can also have a few of the youth act out your paraphrase of this passage, such as the following.
The people had complained loudly. (Have participants make loud complaining comments, such as “Why don’t we have more food” and “Where is God and his miracles now?”)
In response to their complaints, God brought a bunch of quail right into the Israelites’ camp so they could eat the meat they had complained about not having. But that’s not all. When they work up in the morning, there was something on the ground, sort of like a thick layer of snow, although it wasn’t cold.
Everyone asked the same obvious question: “What is it?” And that’s the name that stuck. From that moment forward, people called it “Manna,” which means, “What is it?” (Participants should say “What is it?” or “Manna” a bunch of times as they act like they are picking up little pieces of manna off the ground and even putting it in their mouths.) It tasted good, sort of like a cracker with a bit of honey to give it a sweet taste.
Moses instructed them to collect enough for everyone in their family for the day, like a good-sized bowl for each person. By the middle of the day, whatever hadn’t been picked up just sort of melted into nothing. It was truly amazing. They thought this was a pretty nifty trick. The next morning, it happened again. And the next day, again. (Encourage participants to show surprise or other emotions.)
Some people decided they wanted to collect food for more than one day at a time, so they picked up two or three bowls for each person in their family. That way they didn’t have to go out the next day. (Have some act like they are taking more.) Because there was so much on the ground, everybody still had enough even though some took more than what they needed for the day. But the next morning the extra some had taken had spoiled. It smelled bad and worms were crawling in the extra bowls. They complained to Moses. (Have them complain to Moses.) But Moses reminded them of his instructions to take what they needed every day. This was a daily routine, not something to store. They would need to trust God to provide for them each day—not a bad perspective to develop.
But Friday was different. On Friday they were to collect enough for both Friday and Sabbath—two days. This was because God was helping them re-orient to the flow of life God has started in the Garden of Eden—six days of work with a Sabbath that would be different that all the other days of the week. Most of the people took the double amount on Friday. And surprise, it didn’t rot or have worms in it on Sabbath like it had when extra was gathered in advance for other days. (Have some people act surprised and others be confident that God’s word can be trusted, so that’s exactly how it happened.)
Of course there were a few people who hadn’t gathered a double portion on Friday. They complained that God didn’t take very good care of them by starving them on Sabbath. (Have some people complain.) But nobody felt too sorry for them having to fast one day when they clearly did the opposite of what they were told. It took only one or two Sabbaths for everyone to catch on.
Manna wasn’t only provided for daily sustenance and experiencing Sabbath rest by collecting a double portion on Friday. God made this a memorable experience to pass down to the next generations, so he had the Israelites put a serving in a special pot which was later placed in the ark in the sanctuary, along with the 10 commandments. And it never got bugs in it or spoiled. Does that surprise you? (Have the actions either show surprise or no surprise since they trust God.)
This was one of the ways God taught his people about the weekly routine of work and rest. That continued with the manna for 40 years in the desert. And the Sabbath continues for us today.
Create four poster boards with one key word at the top of each. Here are the four key words: Rest, Bless, Sanctify, Serve. Make two columns under each key word. The left column on each page should have the word “YES” and the right column on each page should have the word “NO.” For an example of this, download the single page version of “Big Deal.”
Explain to those in Youth Sabbath School that people often develop certain traditions with their Sabbath observance, but those traditions, even though they are traditions, might be better at one time than at another time. For example, you don’t have manna in your front yard six days a week. And grocery stores are often open seven days a week. So how do you observe meals and obtain food in our setting today?
We have four poster boards with basic principles that continue in our day. The first three are principles God made clear at creation. You can read about it in Genesis 2:1-3. God did three things with the Sabbath from its very start in the Garden of Eden. Those three are rest, bless, and sanctify. Let me give a brief explanation for each, because they might be different than what first comes to mind for you. And then I want you to come and write things you think would be good things to put in the left column, as in “Yes, do something like this on Sabbath” column, as well as something in the “No, don’t do something like this on Sabbath” column.
Rest—this literally means stop! It doesn’t mean sleep. It means stop what you do every other day of the week. Sabbath is different, so do things differently on Sabbath. With the manna, Sabbath was a day to stop gathering food (because there wasn’t any on the ground that day). But that doesn’t mean they stopped eating. Ideally the food is done differently on Sabbath because you “stop” what is just a regular day and make Sabbath special.
Bless—We often think of a blessing and a statement of good will toward someone. But think of the beatitudes when Jesus said, “Blessed are the ______.” What did he mean by that? God’s blessing brings about joy—gladness, happiness, and shall we say, “fun”? In other words, if Sabbath isn’t fun, you’re doing something wrong and need to change it. If you have traditions that have stopped being fun, you might need to experiment with some new ones. When Jesus came to earth, this basic principle of Sabbath seemed to have been squeezed out of people’s practices. So Jesus changed things up when it came to the Sabbath. That returned the blessing for many, but really upset those who had locked into a bunch of “No’s” for Sabbath at that time.
Sanctify—This has to do with setting something aside as special. It what you do for God because he is God. It’s like setting the dessert in a special place for the special time of savoring dessert. It’s like going on a date and doing something special so it’s not just like any other day or time with someone. We do that for friends and family. God set up the Sabbath so we’d do that with him. It’s not that we can’t be with God every day of the week; it’s just that Sabbath is designed to be more intense and more extensive. If you want to be with God, this is great news. If you’re not really friends with God, this could be awkward until you want to know him more or just hang out with God. Sanctify isn’t just different or fun, it’s also Godly. You can see how worship could be a key component of sanctify—something for every day, but especially for Sabbath.
Serve—Because sin came into the world after God created the Sabbath, Jesus demonstrated another key principle for how to observe the Sabbath. It has to do with serving others. Again, this can be done each day of the week, but especially on Sabbath. Jesus did some significant Sabbath miracles that showed Sabbath was an ideal day for serving others, including those who simply suffered from boring or mundane living. In Jesus’ day, some considered his service to be work. Some still think that way today. Because Jesus served on Sabbath, he became a role model for us—for every day, but especially for Sabbath!
With those four key words or principles for Sabbath, let’s brainstorm some things we’d want to be sure we do on Sabbath and put those in the “YES” columns. And let’s identify things we’d want to be sure to not do on Sabbath and put those in the “NO” columns. Some of these might be things we already practice, but maybe it’s time for us to experiment with this in some new and fresh ways, like what Jesus did when he was on earth.
Help the students identify what they are already doing, as well as to think in new ways. By the teen years they should start to be able to reason from principle to applications of that principle. These four words embody four principles. But those principles need specific ways to live them out—to apply them. Encourage them to experiment and then evaluate. Each generation needs to discover Sabbath afresh. Some traditions will continue, and others will end, and still others should be started. Be careful that traditions NOT be set in stone. That’s what principles are for. Traditions may continue or may need to change.
When the Israelites in the desert complained about needing food, God provided it for them daily, and revealed to them the Sabbath he had instituted at Creation. The weekly cycle of six days plus Sabbath became the way the Israelites lived their lives individually and as a community. Sabbath continues to be God’s provision for us and he expects us to observe it for obedience and for life. Sabbath traditions can help us live out the Sabbath principles of rest, bless, sanctify, and serve. But some might need to be adapted for our specific setting today.
BASED ON EXODUS 17:8-16
Perhaps you have watched the sun move by observing shadows. It takes time, but there’s no question that things change. You can actually move things and sort of predict where the sun or shade will be at certain times. And yet you do nothing to make the sun shine or to make the earth rotate. You can’t speed it up or slow it down. But you can observe it.
You might be able to actually make some other things happen, such as sidetracking a teacher so they don’t cover enough material and the test has to be postponed another day. Or maybe you engage one of your parents in a conversation that really interests them and they forget and keep you up past your bedtime. Are you able to talk someone into giving you money, and be able to do that whenever you want? Can you pick a fight with your sibling and know exactly how to push their buttons? There’s no question that you’re able to influence other people, and sometimes you can do it even when they know you’re doing it!
Part of our Scripture passage for this week has to do with what we can do to influence others. It’s a battle story—a battle between relatives, or more like the descendants of relatives. The Israelites were the descendants of Jacob/Israel. The Amalekites were the descendants of one of Esau’s grandsons, named Amalek. If you want to get into that more, click here (link to: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3942715/jewish/Who-Was-Amalek-and-the-Amalekites.htm) and you’ll discover that they were perpetual enemies of God’s people, and that King Saul was trying to completely eliminate them, although he didn’t. And it was one of their descendants who became the wicked Haman who tried to eliminate all the Jews, including Queen Esther. After that backfired in a big way, there is no record of any surviving Amalekites.
But let’s get back to this battle in the desert. While Pharaoh and his Egyptian army were gone, for some reason the Amalekites chose to come attack the children of Israel. Perhaps it was the generational hatred that provoked them. Maybe they wanted to steal all the Egyptian wealth that had been given to the Israelites when they left Egypt (Exodus 12:36). Or maybe they feared an invasion. Could it have been that they just wanted to pick a fight? For whatever reason, they simply attacked the Israelites. And the Israelites had no battle experience, except for walking through the Red Sea and watching Pharaoh and his army drown in the same sea.
We can read about this attack from the Amalekites in Exodus 17:8-16 NIV:
8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”
15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
Moses is 80 years old at this time. How long can he hold up his staff? This staff has been through the plagues in Egypt. It’s the staff Moses held over the Red Sea and it parted. It’s been his walking stick through the desert. And now it illustrates God’s sway in the battle.
To experience this a little, invite several in your Youth Sabbath School to try holding two pails, one in each hand, and extend both arms completely out to the sides. If you want, add a little bit of water to the pails to weight them more. Then it’s time to see how long somebody can hold out their arms.
Send somebody to walk around the outside of the church and see if the people are still holding their arms fully extended by the time they return. If they are, have them tag another person to walk around the church and then check on the pail-holders. Switch places and give others a chance to try this. Another option is to have somebody assist in holding up the person’s arms.
The term “hold up” can have several meanings. It sounds like a bank robbery instruction. It could be a delay. In this lesson, it had a literal meaning of holding up the arms of Moses so the staff served as an indicator of God’s supremacy over the battle God’s people were fighting on the ground. It illustrated the supernatural forces at work, and the need for humans to help one another in the task God had for them. The same is true for us today.
Let these spark ideas for ways you can move from talk to action and live out the lesson in a practical way this week. The following applications relate to the corresponding Bible study guide options for this lesson above.
Give each Youth Sabbath School participant the sheet titled “What God Provides for Me” and explain how it has two parts for each day for this week. The morning segment is a prayer asking God to provide what you need for that day. The evening prayer includes a reflection for God’s activity in your life for that day. It might be the very thing you prayed for, or it might be something completely different. God’s answer might come on a different day than you asked, or God may be taking you in a whole new direction. Or maybe you went through the entire day without even communicating with God. Let’s give it a try. You can use the worksheet, or you may prefer keeping notes on your phone, and that’s fine too. The place you record it doesn’t matter, but doing this and recording it does matter. Do you want to try this for a week? Are you willing to do it? Do you need a partner to help you be accountable? We’ll start next Sabbath with sharing what happened this week, okay?
(Please repeat the download buttons here from the first lesson option: What God Provides for Me” in Word and PDF formats.)
One of the biggest challenges for Seventh-day Adventist young people is to take initiative when it comes to Sabbath. As little children, your parents/guardians and possibly church leaders took the initiative for you. But your parents/guardians did that for everything in your life—such as dressing you, feeding you, setting bed times, etc. But by your teen years, you’re making more of your own decisions. This impacts your family as well. You might even be responsible for certain things around the house that you’re supposed to initiate. The same should be true for your Sabbath observance. It’s time for you to take the initiative (if you haven’t done so already). The application for you for this week is for you to take the initiative to prepare for the Sabbath BEFORE Sabbath begins Friday evening. This might require a small adjustment or maybe a major one. It could alter your orientation for the week to make Sabbath the biggest day of the week instead of collapsing into the Sabbath and sleeping because Sabbath is nothing more than a recuperation day for your real life the other six days of the week. Brainstorm with others and talk with God about what you will do and what you won’t do so Sabbath will include the principles of rest, bless, sanctify, and serve.
If you have somebody who “holds up” your arms like Aaron and Hur did for Moses, go to them and thank them for what they are doing. If you don’t have someone like that, contact a person this week and ask them to be your Aaron and Hur to “hold up” your arms for the coming month. You’ll need to be specific about what that metaphor means—holding up your arms. It could mean praying for you and keeping in contact with you about a certain relationship where you recognize you need help. It might have something to do with uncertain plans for your future—this summer or beyond. It might be a financial challenge or a need for more consistency in your private time with God.
This is a bonus just for the youth leader—a quick tip and an illustration to enhance your youth leadership. You may already know this idea, have learned it through trial and error, or just need a quick reminder.
It simply comes with the territory! Usually it will come from people older than the youth who “have heard something” and then jumped to their own conclusions, especially if it sounds like something different than what they like. Without being disrespectful, keep in mind that your target group is the young people, not the adults. They might have the youth as their target group as well, but for the purpose of the youth being just like the adults in all things. Come to agreement on deeper issues, such as the need for young people to praise God (just as older people need to praise God), rather than on superficial issues like the style of music or the instruments used. If it’s young people who criticize you, listen again for what’s behind the criticism rather than a superficial reading of the initial message. And remember you need to meet young people where they are.
Here’s a question a teen is asking, with a response from a youth pastor. This might be a question your teens are asking. Use the response to springboard into discussion with your Youth Sabbath School participants.
Question: How Many People Will be in Heaven?
Answer: Lots of people!
When I was a small child, our family of five lived in a three-bedroom house. My parents shared one room. My oldest sister had a room to herself (she was the oldest, you see!). And my other sister, who was the second born but still older than I, shared a room with me. I think I could have used more space, but that was all I knew.
As I got older and much more mature—about the age of 5—my parents decided that maybe the girls should be in one room, and the boy should be in a separate room. So my sisters shared a room, and I got a room all to myself. It was amazing how quickly I filled up the new space, since I didn’t have to share a room. That was probably when I realized that I “needed” the extra space.
But that all came to an end when my younger sister was born, and my parents moved her crib into my room! I thought the garage would’ve been a better place for her. Anyway, I got to learn how to share all over again!
My sisters and I played kickball in our front yard. As I got older and much more mature—as an adult—I’ve had the opportunity to visit that childhood house and its yard. It doesn’t seem possible that we played games in the postage-stamp-sized yard. It was so small. Yet I don’t remember us ever kicking the ball into the busy street.
How many people will be in heaven? Is that a matter of how much space is available or what it takes to get there? That brings up other questions about heaven such as: How large is it? Who will be there? Who won’t? What will we do? What won’t we do? What will Sabbath be like? What will the food taste like? Will we play basketball?
One of the most common verses people turn to when considering heaven is a misreading of 1 Corinthians 2:9: “As it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’” (NKJV).*
This gets explained or paraphrased as, “We have absolutely no idea of what God has in store for us in heaven!” What gets implied is that it’s sooo good, that it’s beyond our limited, human conception, which may be true! However, the very next verse reads, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:10, NKJV).
That makes me think that if you have God’s Spirit—the Holy Spirit—you will have an idea of what heaven is like! That’s just the opposite of having absolutely no idea.
So what’s heaven like? How much space is there? How many people can heaven hold? What does it take to get there?
A few years before teens today were born, a Christian band called Audio Adrenaline came up with a song about what heaven will be like. Maybe God’s Spirit revealed it to them. The lyrics go like this:
“Come, and go with me to my Father’s house.
It’s a big, big house, with lots and lots of room,
A big, big table, with lots and lots of food,
A big, big yard, where we can play football
A big, big house, it’s my Father’s house.”
I like the lyrics to the song, and I like the music, too. I have many fond memories of singing this song at youth retreats and feeling the anticipation of being in heaven with tons of teens, lots of room, food, football, and more. It sounds like heaven to me!
But where did Audio Adrenaline come up with this idea? Are they prophets passing on a message from God’s Spirit to us? Actually, I think they’re simply paraphrasing Scripture. Here are two passages that I think they may be paraphrasing:
“There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:2, 3, NLT). This is what Jesus said!
“I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a mighty shout, ‘Salvation comes from our God on the throne and from the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9, 10, NLT).
In the beginning of Revelation 7 is the listing of the “144,000 who were sealed from all the tribes of Israel.” Some people think that heaven holds only 144,000 people. I think the number is symbolic, not literal. Even if it were literal, Revelation 7:9 says “a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation . . .” go into heaven.
So how big is heaven? How many people can it hold? Since God created the universe, the issues of size and space aren’t even issues for Him. Since He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13, NLT), time isn’t an issue for Him, either.
During my early childhood years, time and space were issues for me. They still are. But those boundaries are nonexistent for God. There is plenty of room for all who want to be in heaven. According to Revelation 22:17 (NLT), “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let each one who hears them say, ‘Come.’ Let the thirsty ones come—anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge.”
For God, space isn’t a problem. The issue for God is whether or not we will choose to be with Him. God’s desire all along has been to hang with us; some say “to fellowship together.”
To answer the question, “What does it take to get there,” I could use a one-word answer: Jesus. Quoting Jesus as he answered a form of this question for his disciples, “I (Jesus) am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT).
The other one-word answer is: grace (gift). Paul summed it up this way, ”It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV). The typical human answer is that people get to heaven based on how good they are. Another sly way people continue this misinformation is to say, “Jesus saves you, but you’d better be good.” Of course, be good! Be like Jesus! But that doesn’t save you! The verse revealed that it’s not our works, so there’s no boasting on our part. Our only boast is God’s gift to us. You can accept that or reject it, but the credit all goes to God.
How many people will be in heaven? Not everyone. But more than you or I can count. And each one will be there as a gift because of Jesus.