What will it be like in heaven? Despite the word “heaven” being used so often in the New Testament (around 240 times), there are very few descriptions of what heaven will be like and even fewer that talk about what it will be like to be in heaven. I am confident there is a reason for this: how do you describe something that is so much more wonderful than anything on earth, using purely human terms?
One of the glimpses we get of what it will be like in heaven comes from an unlikely source – a discussion Jesus was having with his enemies. They were trying to trip him up in his teaching (Matthew 22:15) but instead helped produce the answers to some difficult questions.
It was the Sadducees who asked the question for our consideration: “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and father children for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children he left his wife to his brother. The second did the same, and the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her” (Matthew 22:24-28 NET).
Before we look at Jesus’ answer, there are a few things we need to understand. The Sadducees did not believe in several things, including a spiritual world or an afterlife. which means they did not believe in a resurrection(see verse 23) or angels. That they didn’t believe in a resurrection, yet asked a detailed question about it, might lead you to believe that this was the question they used to prove the illogicalness of a resurrection.
Notice Jesus’ answer. First, he said their problem was that they didn’t know the scriptures or the power of God (verse 29). Then he gave us this glimpse of life in heaven: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). In the remaining part of his answer he dealt with their refusal to believe in a resurrection by showing that God is said to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob long after they were dead. But the problem for the Sadducees was that God is not the God of the dead but the living (verses 31-32).
But notice this description of heaven: no marriage, no being given in marriage, but are like the angels (notice how Jesus dealt with the Sadducees lack of belief in a spiritual world!). The closest human relationship is that of a husband and wife. I find it difficult to conceive of being some place where my wife was not married to me. Yet, when we get to heaven, no one will be married to any other person. Perhaps the reason is this: as Christians are the bride of Christ, when we get to heaven our closest relationship will be with Jesus himself. And we will all have this close relationship! Isn’t this what Paul wrote about at the end of Ephesians 5? – it wasn’t about husbands and wives but it was about Jesus and Christians!
What, then, does this say about our need to have a relationship with Jesus as we prepare for heaven? If we don’t know Jesus now, how will we have a chance to know him in eternity? Think about it – and spend time reading and studying God’s word with a view of getting to know our Saviour!
Readings for next week:
8 February – Matthew 24:1-35
9 February – Matthew 24:36-51
10 February – Matthew 25
11 February – Matthew 26:1-35
12 February – Matthew 26:36-75