This Post comes from Jake Brown, our Associate Director of Youth and Discipleship. Its another thoughtful and concise post about a very personal question
Do miscarried babies go to heaven?
There is a lot behind this question. This question brings to light some questions about the character of God. It is hard enough for a believer to deal with the idea of heaven and hell and the consequences here on earth. But when we bring a baby into this equation, one who was never allowed to grow to a point of even having the opportunity to choose Christ, it becomes even more heavy. We will first start with a few biblical premises.
As we look back in the Old Testament we see a conversation between God and one of his prophets. In the book of Jeremiah the prophet has a vision in which he speaks with God. Jeremiah 1:4-5 In answering this question we need to first understand that God’s knowledge of us is so much more completely than our knowledge of him. During our spiritual walk there comes a day for many of us when we recognize the presence of God in our lives and choose to follow him. God has been following us since before we were born. Our first take away is that long before we have an encounter with God and even before we are born God knows us.
It is also important to understand that Heaven and Hell are instituted as a result of a just God. Heaven is an eternity spent with God while Hell is an eternity of torment spent away from God. God is just and acknowledges that there is a standard of righteousness, recognizes that none have achieved it (Romans 3:23) and then gives mankind a way to achieve this righteousness by way of substitution. (Romans 6:23 and John 3:16 -17) This is set in place due to our sinful nature and the fact that all sin. God is not a bully who allows his friends into the good area and punishes those he doesn’t like. God sets up this substitution for those who wish to follow him. Our second take away is that Heaven and Hell are end points for humanity based on justice and grace.
As we look at Jesus’ ministry we see how he feels about children. (Matthew 9:13-14) Christ had a huge and important ministry on earth, but even in the midst of that ministry he still had time for the children he loved. Christ has a special place in his heart for children for “they will inherit the kingdom of God”.
In the Jewish faith, from which Christianity finds its roots, there is a tradition called the Age of Accountability at which point children are held accountable for their sins and required to follow the commandments of God. This is the intent behind the Barmitzvah ceremony that young men go through at the age of 13. Their coming of manhood symbolizes a faith that is now theirs to hold and not their parents.
Finally, we have one reference in the bible of a baby dying and the biblical character’s response. 2 Samuel 12:1-23 details the results of the sin that David and Bathsheba have perpetrated in causing the death of Bathsheba’s husband and the conception of a child. As a result of the sin in David and Bathsheba’s lives they end up losing their child. David spends the days when his child is sick weeping and fasting for his child. When the child dies David goes home, bathes, puts on lotions and then goes to the temple to worship. His attendants are amazed at this and ask him why the sudden change. He goes from weep and fasting to bathing and worshiping. David’s response is found in verses 22 and 23. “He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” David acknowledges that ultimately the decision for his child’s life was in the Lord’s hands and now that his child has passed “he will not return to me.” David also acknowledges that “I will go to him”. This is a future look. David recognizes that one day he will die as well and will meet up with his child. This is probably the strongest evidence that we have biblically about the death of a child and the resulting intervention by God. David turned from a man in mourning to man in worship. He had good knowledge of the place of his child and in the future verses managed to comfort his mourning wife.
Putting together all of these pieces we come up with a loving God who knew us long before we ever knew him. Heaven and Hell are an end point based upon God’s justice and mercy. Christ was never so busy in his ministry that he didn’t have time for children who would “inherit the kingdom of God”. In the Jewish faith there is an Age of Accountability before which a child is not responsible for his faith, but who’s responsibility lands on the parents. David upon losing his son worshiped God and recognized that one day he would be with his son again. Ultimately when we put this all together it paints a picture of a loving God who loves you and loves the child of yours who was never born. This same God extends grace to your unborn child in a similar way to the grace he extends to someone who puts their faith in him.
“The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people,14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
2 Samuel 12: 1-23