Our typical Christian thinking tends to cause erroneous ideas regarding many aspects of the Bible. One example of this that has popped into view for me recently is with the New Heavens and New Earth that we see in Revelation 21-22.
What has been the way we’ve inevitably thought about “heaven?” When we die we go to be with Jesus. We’re like the angels in many ways, i.e. spiritual beings. Not much goes on in our heaven. We sit around on clouds with our harps and worship God night and day for ever and ever. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that except I believe it’s incorrect. Is it any wonder that many non-Christians, as well as believers, look at this paradigm and think, “Boring!”? With good reason, because I think this idea imposes our very limited understanding on God and misses the bigger picture that He has always intended for us.
To see what may indeed be the truth of this issue, we must consider two ideas. The first shows up right from the beginning in Genesis 1:28 where God gives Adam and Eve His original mandate for all their descendants:
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
After the flood, which follows a complete breakdown of humanity so that God must begin again, He repeats His command to Noah and his progeny in Genesis 9:1:
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
We see from this that God wants His human creation to take dominion over the earth. That has always been Plan A with God. Of course, this gets sidetracked once more when men in their infinite wisdom think they know better than God. They gather in one place to make a name for themselves, and at Babel God scatters them and assigns them to nations (Genesis 11; Deuteronomy 32).
The question is: As a result of mankind’s failure twice to fulfill God’s desire for them to bring the earth into submission, does this then nullify what God wanted for them to accomplish? Does He decide that’s a bad idea and forgets all about it?
Hold that thought, and let’s look at the second concept we must consider. This has to do with what the nature of man will be following the resurrection. Many people argue for the Sons of Seth theory regarding the account of the fallen sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4. Part of that worldly idea is that angels don’t have reproductive capabilities. A supernatural limitation is placed on this account.
In the synoptic Gospels we read a statement that Jesus makes which brings many to this conclusion. Here it is:
“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”
“For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”
“but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage,”
From these passages it’s clear that at the resurrection, humans who are now in their glorified bodies won’t marry because they’ll be like the angels in heaven.
I maintain that this creates a contradicting situation going forward once we come to the New Heavens and New Earth. If humankind will never marry in “heaven” because they’ll be like the angels, how will man fulfill God’s twice-repeated mandate once this new earth has come about?
I’m a novelist, so I can do this: “What if…” Novelists have to propose the what-ifs in order to create a story. Well, we have a story line here, a Biblical narrative. We know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If that’s the case, then He still wants man to multiply and take dominion over the New Earth when we come to that point.
What if the passages above where Jesus says “in” or “when” “at” the resurrection, He means exactly that? What if Jesus refers to the point in time when the resurrection occurs and it’s limited to a certain season? What if when God creates the New Heavens and New Earth this brings about another season that changes the dynamics?
When we’re glorified we have no real idea what that means other than we’ll look like Jesus, judge angels, and at that one particular point in time won’t marry. Who’s to say once we’re placed on the New Earth that God doesn’t enable us to procreate once more? The earth will be virgin again as it was during the initial creation. The number of glorified humans will by no means fill up the earth. Isn’t it reasonable to assume that God will now repeat His command: “Multiply in order to rule and take dominion over this new sinless earth?”
If God doesn’t change—and He doesn’t—then Plan A remains operative. There will be no sinful, fleshly humans in this new earthly environment. Yet, if we accept the viewpoint I’m proposing, then man has to procreate to fulfill God’s destiny for us.
There are mysteries that remain. God has given our frail human brains only a fraction of what we’ll know when we no longer see through a glass darkly. There are many Bible passages that have been misunderstood over the ages and only clarified at later times. Perhaps Jesus’ declaration about marriage at the point the resurrection occurs is one of them.