The Gospels record Jesus taking children up in his arms and blessing them, despite his disciples thinking children would be a bother. Jesus healed children gladly and immediately when asked, mentioned that children have their angels, and said, “of such are the kingdom of heaven.” Even in the older testament, God makes it clear He cares for the fatherless and for the children who are abandoned. Children are His heirloom to humanity. They are moldable, impressionable, vulnerable, and so, the world’s most often exploited treasure. And in another place, our Lord gave severe warnings to those who would “offend” any little child. Children are important to God–and to us, whether we realize it or not.
It is strange, then, that some doubt whether children go to Heaven should their lives be “cut short.” A good lot of that sort of thinking stems from the Dark Ages and Medieval times. More precisely, all those centuries ago, certain Doctors of Theology and “church authorities” interpreted the Bible by excessive symbolism and subjective methods. It led them to see certain things that aren’t there and to miss things that are. Plus, they kept people from reading the Bible for themselves. The result was startling. The Church told parents that their children would not go to Heaven, unless they were baptized. While that was good for the “pocketbook” and “head count” of the Church, it was at the expense of God’s reputation and the inner suffering of many families that could not afford the ceremony… or, whose children died of sickness before getting them to the priest. In the words of Jesus, the persons responsible ought to have had “a mill stone hung around their necks and be cast into the sea.”
How can I be so dogmatic? What are my reasons? Well, there has been a lot of craze lately over the book, “Heaven is for Real,” and I appreciate and recommend any biblically congruous record. However, I have the habit of relying on the Bible for dogma…. I’ve already supplied a couple quotes in the opening paragraph, and I have appealed to the character of God; but, let me go further. Moreover, the Planned Parenthood scandals, the ravages of war, and the child euthanasia of Belgium reveal how depraved we can be as a race, sacrificing (unborn) children on the altar of prosperity and selfish convenience or political cause.
Commonly, people discussing the issue of “children in heaven” will quote a saying King David made upon the loss of his young child. David said, “He cannot come to me, but I will go to him.” From that statement, it is gathered that since David is righteous and surely going to Heaven, then David’s child went to Heaven. I agree with that reasoning.
Less commonly, I ask you to step a moment into Jesus’ sandals. Think about Christ’s life. At the outset, the jealous King Herod wanted Jesus dead. The only reason Herod knew about Jesus was His natal star, which was prophesied in Micah 5:2. So, Herod ordered all the children 2 years old and less to be murdered (Matthew 2). Sure, all that was according to prophecy; sure it was Herod’s fault and Satan inspired. Can you imagine how Jesus felt his entire life, knowing that all his local contemporaries died for Him? Even as the Messiah, it would be an altering knowledge.
What comfort could Jesus have been consoled by when such a cloud tempted him to false guilt, let alone if those children were eternally damned, having died for the Savior of mankind’s life? It’s all backward, upside down, and inside out, if it is that way! Thankfully, God imbedded words of truth and hope into that same prophecy which foretold the infanticide of Herod (Jeremiah 31:15-17).
16 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work,
declares the Lord,
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope for your future,
declares the Lord,
and your children shall come back to their own country.
In these verses, God talks to the mothers and fathers of those who lost babies that day. He calls their suffering “work” that will be rewarded. Then, it reads that the children shall come back from the enemy–“death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). God promises these parents that the same children whose lives were cut off will one day return to their own country. That is to say, they will enjoy a resurrection and occupy the very homes and stations they should have… but for eternity. It is more than safe to say that these children, and all who are “cut off” in their innocence, have not only an eternal home with God but also the reward of what they should have had on earth. That prophecy was not only a comfort to the Lord Jesus and for the parents of that day, but it was meant to comfort all who read and understand its words.
I am all for making God look as good as He is. The truth is He has no trouble being as Good as He is, or telling us about it. Our troubles are simply reading the words through which He describes Himself and believing Him. “Fear not; only believe.”