Marriage in Heaven?

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Reading the Word

Matthew 22:23–33 (ESV)

23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

Parallel Texts: Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-40

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Sadducees were religious leaders who denied that there would be a resurrection of the dead. They were at odds with the Pharisees, who did believe in a future resurrection. So, the Sadducees approached Jesus to ask him about this topic. In order to make their point on the ridiculousness of a future resurrection, they framed their question in a far-fetched manner. Suppose there was a woman who had been married seven times to seven brothers. She remarried each time her husband died to arrive at the seven marriages. When the future resurrection of the dead takes place, who will be her husband?

This seems like a good question on the surface. It may even seem to point out the silliness of belief in a future resurrection. However, the Sadducees were wrong about both the resurrection and marriage in the eternal state. Jesus acknowledged that there will be a resurrection of the dead, but there will be no marriage.

I often get questions about this teaching of Jesus. Many are disappointed to hear that there will be no marriage in the new heavens and new earth. I am always reminded of C. S. Lewis’ comments on this:

I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer ‘No’, he might regard the absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their carnal raptures don’t bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it.

There will be no marriage, but we can trust that there is something even better. There is a future resurrection for all believers. Our bodies will raised and fit for an eternal existence with our Lord in a new creation (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:50-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). What a wonderful day that will be!

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Learning to Give Thanks

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Reading the Word

Psalm 136:17–26 (ESV)

17 to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In verses 4-9, we are told to give thanks to God who is our Creator. In verses 10-16, we are reminded that it was God who led the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt. And now, in verses 17-26, we are called on to give thanks to the Lord because he brought the people into the Promised Land and conquered the powerful kings who resided there.

This psalm reflects on the history of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. However, it also speaks to Christians today. We should give thanks to God who is our Creator. He is also the one who has delivered us from slavery to sin and death through his Son, Jesus Christ. And he has promised that we will inherit the true promised land, a new heaven and new earth where sin and death will be no more. We will dwell in that land for all of eternity and the Lord himself will be there with us. We have much to be thankful for!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Lord Surrounds His People

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Reading the Word

Psalm 125:1–5 (ESV)

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,

which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

so the Lord surrounds his people,

from this time forth and forevermore.

For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest

on the land allotted to the righteous,

lest the righteous stretch out

their hands to do wrong.

Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,

and to those who are upright in their hearts!

But those who turn aside to their crooked ways

the Lord will lead away with evildoers!

Peace be upon Israel!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Before the days of airplanes and missiles, the best way to fortify against any enemy attack was to build a fortress in the mountains. The mountains would make defense much easier. This psalm tells us that, just as the mountains are a protection, the Lord surrounds his people to give them security.

The Lord offers a sure defense to the righteous because one day all will stand before him in judgment. At that time, the wicked and the righteous will be separated and the wicked will be led away. Scripture tells us that those who belong to the Lord will dwell in his presence for eternity and that there will be no more sin or wickedness (cf. Revelation 21:1-8). We can trust in the Lord and his ways because in him we know our future is secure.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Your Years Have No End

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Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but do include a suggested reading from Scripture. Be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along each day as we read through the Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 102:23–28 (ESV)

23 He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. 24 “O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days— you whose years endure throughout all generations!” 25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end. 28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.

Let Creation Rejoice

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Reading the Word

Psalm 98:7–9 (ESV)

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Understanding and Applying the Word

All of creation is called on to sing for joy. This includes the sea, the rivers, the hills, and all of the world and those who dwell in it. This means all of creation, including mankind. Why? Because the Lord comes to judge the earth with righteousness and equity.

The Bible tells of a day when God will judge the world. In that day, sin will be dealt with once and for all and will be no more. God’s people, who have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ, will then dwell with him forever. When we speak of our eternal home with God, we often refer to it as “heaven”. We might even imagine a cloudy scene with angels and harps. The Bible has a different picture for our eternal home. It is described as a “new heaven and new earth”. It is a new creation without sin and its consequences. This is why all of creation joins in singing for joy in this psalm. All of creation rejoices at its release from bondage to the curse of sin (Romans 8:21). We look forward to that day when we will inhabit a new creation without sin. What a joyous day that will be!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Light for the Righteous

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Reading the Word

Psalm 97:10–12 (ESV)

10 O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. 11 Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. 12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Those who love the Lord should hate evil. As we look at the world around us it might sometimes seem as if the wicked prosper. They may seem to have the best that life has to offer: money, possessions, fame, and power. Yet, we can be sure that judgment will one day come. In that day, it is the righteous who will be preserved and the wicked will be destroyed.

Verse 11 tells us that “Light is sown for the righteous”. This may seem like an odd statement, but taken in the context of this psalm, the meaning is clear. There is coming a final day when God will judge the world. The wicked will be condemned, but for the righteous, light is sown (rather than judgment). The righteous will be delivered and given life filled with joy and delivered from evil once and for all. This is truly worth our rejoicing!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Lord Reigns!

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Reading the Word

Psalm 96:10–13 (ESV)

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” 11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 12 let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 13 before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord reigns. He rules over all things. This is established by the fact that he is the Creator who established the world. It is also established in the fact that it is the Lord who judges all people. The judgment of God is an occasion for joy and praise because God judges perfectly. He is fair and right in all of his judgments.

While this psalm is focused on the present truth that God rules over all things, it also points to the future when God’s rule will fill the creation completely. Sin and wickedness will be judged and removed from the world and perfect righteousness will prevail. This is why the creation itself is called to rejoice: the heavens, the earth, the sea, the field, and the trees. The creation, along with God’s people, will be finally released from the curse of sin and its consequences and we will dwell with the Lord forever. That is cause for great rejoicing!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Better Is One Day in Your Courts

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Reading the Word

Psalm 84:9–12 (ESV)

9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Understanding and Applying the Word

There is a well-known Christian song based on this psalm called Better Is One Day. The chorus takes the words of verse 10: “Better is one day in your courts, better is one day in your house, better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere.” The song, as well as the psalm, reflect on the supreme value of living in the presence of the Lord. Nothing else even comes close!

There is nothing this world has to offer that is of greater value than knowing the Lord. He is better than fame and fortune. He is better than beauty and power. Let us seek him while there is still time and let us savor his goodness as we wait to dwell in his presence for eternity.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Pilgrimage to God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 84:5–8 (ESV)

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. 8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

The words in these verses describe a pilgrimage to the temple. The opening verses (vv. 1-4) described the wonder of being in the presence of God, so here we find a description of the reward of the journey to get there. There is a progression in the journey along the highway from the Valley of Baca to the place of springs. The meaning of the word “Baca” is “shrubs” and pictures a dry desert region.

The imagery of this psalm is quite striking. It describes the pilgrimage to the presence of God as one that takes the traveler through the difficulty of the desert and brings her to a place of abundance, a place of springs. As pilgrims in the world, we understand that we may have to go through trials and difficulties before we reach our destination. But our destination is an eternity in the presence of God and it is described as a new creation where there is no more pain or suffering and where there is life abundant (Revelation 21-22). What a day that will be when our journey is over and we stand in the presence of God! For now, we are pilgrims on the way.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Longing for the Presence of God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 84:1–4 (ESV)

1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, the psalmist speaks about beauty of the dwelling place of God. In the immediate context, this spoke of the temple in Jerusalem where the people would go to worship, offer their sacrifices, and celebrate the yearly festivals. The temple was an ever important place to the Jewish people because it was the place where God dwelled among them. And it looked forward to a time when God would dwell with his people in an even greater way.

The Bible looks forward to a day when God will dwell fully with his people. In the Book of Genesis, God dwelled with the man and woman in the garden of Eden, but they were sent away from his presence after they sinned. Through the work of redemption, God has made it possible for mankind to reestablish a relationship with him. It is done through the cross of Jesus Christ where sin was atoned for. This who repent of their sins and trust in the work of Christ will be saved and receive eternal life in the presence of God forever in a new heaven and new earth. Blessed are those who dwell in the presence of the living God!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!