Do Pets Go to Heaven
I have been asked the question, “Do pets go to Heaven?”, and my reply always has been, “Yes.” I also know that some people do not agree with that position, and that is OK. So, with that in mind let’s examine what I understand the Bible has to say about animals in heaven. Incidentally, I just ran across a web site that has been produced by a group of atheists who are pet lovers, and they are offering to take care of pets (dogs, cats, and some others) who are left behind after the rapture of the church. They, being atheists, do not believe in God (of gods), so they do not believe in the Rapture. However, they do believe that in case they are mistaken and the Rapture does take place, they are ready to take care of the pets left behind. For $110.00, they guarantee they will rescue the pet within 24 hours of the Rapture, and care for them. If the pet has special needs, you indicate those needs in your application, and they will be met. All of this happens providing the Rapture occurs within 10 years of the receipt of the money. Wow!
Many theologians claim that pets do not go to heaven, and they, in fact, do not have a soul. That is OK for them to interpret the Word in that manner, but they cannot know they are right. I don’t agree with them, but I also admit I cannot absolutely know either. Let’s explore the reasons I disagree.
Here’s a thought. Let us assume that when our pets die, they go to heaven because a loving and merciful God has ordained it that way (biblical proof to come). Our pets have never had a “salvation experience” like you and I have had. Why? Because they do not need it; they are innocent and not fallen from grace. They were created in an innocent state. Adam’s sin passed upon all MEN (humans) according to Romans, third chapter. It doesn’t say sin passed to the animals. They are, however, part of God’s creation that is under the curse caused by Adam’s sin. When the Rapture occurs, and the redeemed are taken out of this world, why wouldn’t God take all the innocent animals also? This could easily be an animal-less world after the Rapture, couldn’t it? I believe that if the Rapture takes place while I am alive, my Great Danes and Basset will go along with me. In fact, I expect it.
What does the Bible say? First, we know that ALL creation is under the curse of sin. Please read carefully Romans 8:18-21. It says that creation is frustrated, not by its own choice, and is waiting in eager expectation in the hope that the creation will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. This passage speaks of ALL creation: animals, fowl, fish and the created world. If that is the case, then we must agree that more than humans are waiting for redemption.
But, you say, animals do not have souls, and therefore, cannot enjoy a relationship with God. There is not much in the Scripture to indicate the souls of animals, but let’s look at Genesis 1:30, and 2:19. In the 30th verse, we are told that God looked upon his creation and told Adam He had given him a perfect environment. But notice, He said, “every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creeps upon the earth wherein there is “life”. The Hebrew word for “life” is “Nephesh”, which is better translated, “soul.” In other words, He has given his animal creation a soul.
In Genesis 2: 19, God brings the animals He created out of the ground to Adam to name. The verse says that Adam named “every living creature.” It is interesting that the word, “creature” is also “Nephesh” or “soul.” Adam named every living soul!
When God brought the flood, in Genesis 6: 17 He told Noah that the flood will destroy all flesh where in is the breath of life. That word, life. is better translated “spirit.” All flesh has a spirit. Interesting!
Ecclesiastes 3: 19 states that both man and beast have “one breath", again the Hebrew word for spirit. Solomon is saying that both man and beast have a spirit, and in verse 21, he says that we cannot know if man’s spirit goes up and the beast’s spirit goes down. In any event, it appears that animals are blessed with the spirit or soul as is man.
I mentioned before that animals were innocent and their soul unaffected by Adam’s sin. There is an interesting story in Numbers, the 22nd chapter that seems to substantiate that premise. Balaam is a prophet who got himself involved with a fellow by the name of Balak who insisted that Balaam go to see him and curse the children of Israel. God didn’t like it, so as Balaam was riding his ass along the road, the Angel of the Lord stood in his way. Balaam couldn’t see it, but the ass (because of his innocent nature) could, and three times turned aside. You need to read the story to see what happens. Now, this was not a “special” ass, nor was it divinely inspired. It was simply an animal whose spirit could see heavenly things we fallen men could not.
We know that God loves His creation, and that includes animals. He mentions that when He returns, He will be riding a white horse. In fact, Revelation reveals that His saints will ride horses (my first experience!). Isaiah 11: 6-9 tells that there will be animals in His kingdom—the wolf, lamb, calf, leopard, sheep, lion, cow, bear and snakes. Where do they come from? Are they specially created? I don’t think so. I think they are some of the animals who have found their glorified bodies as one day we will.
Think about the following poem penned by John Piper:
And as I knelt beside a brook
To drink eternal life, I took
A glance across the golden grass,
And saw my dog, old Blacky, fast
As she could come. She leaped the stream---
Almost--- and what a happy gleam
Was in her eye. I knelt to drink,
And knew that I was on the brink
Of endless joy…
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