I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
-Isaiah 62:5 NIV®
Last Monday night, as Megan Lacefield, Marriage and Family Pastor at New River Fellowship, dismissed us to our Re|Engage small groups, she reminded us that a good marriage is a process, that our marriages would not be perfect until we get to heaven, where there are no marriages. The scripture Megan alluded to is in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22:
That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 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 same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”
-Matthew 22:23-30 NIV ®
Our good friend, Luke Ogle, leaned over and shared that he and his wife, Meagan, had been discussing this very subject. “What’s the point?” he asked. “The Bible is all about marriage—it’s one of the most powerful covenants given to man. If we spend our whole life on earth in this covenant marriage, why wouldn’t we have that in heaven?”
“Mary and I have been talking about that, too,” I replied. “But whatever God has in mind, it’ll be better than what we have now. It has to be.”
I have to admit, though, that the thought of not continuing my marriage in heaven bothers me a bit. I mean, Mary and I have an amazing relationship, and I know God is using our marriage as an inspiration to others who may be struggling with theirs. We communicate, we share, we serve each other, we pray for each other, we’re moving forward equally yoked, infinitely blessed. “I’m bummed we won’t be married in heaven,” she told me one day. I had to agree. After all, I plan to spend the majority of my life married to this strong woman of God, and by the time I head off to heaven, it will be practically the only life I’ve ever known.
Tuesday morning I woke up at 2:46, but instead of being angry this time, I opened myself up to God’s revelation. “Show me what you want to teach me, Lord,” I prayed.
“Humans always want more,” He told me. “And in marriage you receive more.” More intimacy, more joy, more fulfillment, more peace, more adventure. But what do we, as humans, want most of all out of life? Whether we realize it or not, we’re all pursuing a relationship with God. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” Jesus said during His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:33 NIV®). And Moses assured us in the Book of Deuteronomy that we “will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV®). Marriage is an earthly preparation for a heavenly relationship far greater than anything we will ever experience or imagine here on earth.
Our ultimate goal is intimacy with God. That is God’s will for us. That is the “more.” “You wouldn’t have a covenant marriage in heaven if you had two marriages,” my friend Luke told me later. And, indeed, Jesus is the bridegroom, the church His bride. “As a young man marries a young woman,” Isaiah wrote, “so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5 NIV®).
The Apostle Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, “… he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV)—if we’ve given our lives to God, we are already one spirit with Him. And as Jesus told Martha while her sister sat at His feet, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” To be one with God is not only the “better,” it is the fulfillment of the “more.”
There are no marriages in heaven because, when we get there, we will be one with God. That is not only the “more,” that is the “all.” “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,” Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:20b-23 NIV®). When we reach heaven, there is no “more”—just oneness. Just God. And that is enough.
Copyright © 2015 David C Hughes