Focus On Jerusalem


What Happens to Our Pets?

By: Rick M. Michelena
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Focus on Jerusalem, in its continuing endeavor to make available interesting and doctrinally sound articles associated with Bible Prophecy, and in some cases, with topics of a general interest concerning the natural world that our wonderful Creator created, is pleased to provide this fascinating exposition that many people wonder about; “Will dogs (pets) be in Heaven?” FOJ hopes that its presentation will inspire your further interest in the wonderful study of the amazing things of our Lord. (11-15-2005)

One of our friends recently invited Carla and I to their home for a Memorial Day cookout. After dinner, we began to discuss biblical issues. One of the ladies present asked this question: "What do you think happens to our pets?"

I never really got a chance to say anything before one of the other invited guest said, "I'm sorry, but there will be no pets in heaven. Animals do not have souls. Therefore, there will be no pets in heaven."

Since I love Chinese food, I am reminded of an old Chinese proverb which says: "A turtle only makes progress when it sticks out its neck." Therefore, with today's lesson, I'm going to stick my neck out and examine this issue. I would like to begin by evaluating the remarks of the guest and his wife who said, "Animals have no souls, so there is no reason for them to be in heaven." I quickly asked this guest, "Are there any animals in heaven right now?" He promptly replied, "No!"

Of course my next question was, "Then why does Jesus Christ return riding upon a White Horse?" It surprised me that this person, who was raised in a strong Christian home, had so little understanding of the new heaven and the new earth. As a matter of fact, he was not sure who inhabited either place.

There is no doubt that I am an avid animal lover. My affinity for animals began when my parents got us our first German Shepherd in 1968. After that came many more German Shepherds, along with a pony, a horse, and the responsibility of feeding 50 cows on our farm in eastern Ohio. Currently, Carla and I have rescued 20 cats. They have their own outdoor community which is complete with an air-conditioned kitty condo, exotic plants, miniature waterfall, and their own pond. This area is enclosed with a protected 8' fence which is electrified at the top.

When I was asked about our pets, as a Bible teacher, I cannot just give out an answer as factual without providing scripture to back it up. Therefore, let's see if we can find a biblical answer this question.

The Bible does not provide any specific teaching on whether or not animals have "souls" or whether animals will be in heaven. However, we can use general scriptural principles to shed some light on this subject. To see the primary difference between human beings and animals, let's read:

Genesis 1:26-27  26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (NKJV)

Scripture is clear that God created man in His Own image. We could also say that Man is created in "the likeness of God." The Bible then tells us that God did something for Man that he did not do for animals. Let's read:

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (NKJV) If animals do not have a "soul," they must be a different and lesser quality of life. This difference probably means that animal do not carry on after death. This is one point of view. However, before all you other "animal lovers" walk out of here "heart-broken," let's look at some other biblical evidence. The fact is, God did create animals as a part of "His creative process." This is clearly found in the Bible's first book: Genesis. As a matter of fact, God not only created animals, let's see what God actually said about them:

Genesis 2:25  And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (NKJV)

Scripture tells us God created animals and also said that they were good. Therefore, there is no reason why animals won't exist on the new earth. I was surprised when this dinner guest said, "The earth will be destroyed." I said, "That is correct, but what about the new earth?" Let's read:

II Peter 3:10  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (NKJV)

Our current earth and heaven will be destroyed by God. This happens because "Sin" has infected both of these environments. Please recall that Lucifer's rebellion caused 1 / 3 of the angels to turn against God. This is why the current heaven and earth must be replaced as these next verses prove:

II Peter 3:12-13  looking for and hastening to the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (NKJV)

    There are some who suggest that God would never allow animals in His presence and people have a right to believe this. However, anything we believe must also be backed up with scripture. The fact remains that animals will definitely be a part of Christ's Millennial Kingdom:

Isaiah 11:6 "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. (NKJV)

Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," Says the LORD. (NKJV)

It's impossible to say, with any clarity, whether any of these animals may have been pets. The one thing we do know is this: When we do get to Heaven, I'm confident that we will find ourselves in complete agreement with God's decision on this issue no matter what it may be.

Sometimes, it's disappointing to hear what other Christians say about animals. While it's true that the Bible is all about Man and not animals, there is still enough information, given to us by God, that we can take comfort in this situation. Let's begin by establishing some other biblical facts. To do this, we will use scripture:

Revelation 4:11 "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created." (NKJV) From this passage, we can establish that every animal was created by God. Nothing on this planet exists except for God's creative power. Let's now read:

Mathew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. (NKJV)

This passage tells us that even when a tiny sparrow falls to the ground, God takes notice. Since God is the giver of life, He watches over His Creation.

Luke 12:6 "Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. (NKJV)

Not only has God created every animal and then watches over them, the Bible also confirms that none of these creatures are ever forgotten. In simple English; God never forgets about the animals He created.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (NKJV)

There is no doubt that God cares for animals. The reason is clearly found in this passage. When someone cares for something, they will also provide whatever is necessary to meet their physical needs. God has already taken this step by feeding the animals. Let's now read:

Proverbs 12:10 A righteous man regards the life of his animal,....(NKJV)

Scripture declares that "a righteous man" takes care of the animals that God has entrusted to him. Let's remember that God created a virtual "Utopia" when He created the Garden of Eden. However, Man's sin brought death and suffering to himself and all animals. Let's now consider how each survived:

Genesis 1:29-30  29 And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food"; and it was so. (NKJV)

God originally designed green plants and fruit as the diet for all creatures. People and animals alike were to be strictly "herbivores." As a matter of fact, "carnivorous activity" necessitates death and suffering. These two elements would have had no part in the creation God had previously called "good."

Man was given the responsibility of serving God as an overseer of the animals. In fact, it wasn't until after the flood that animals became afraid of people. I don't want to just make an assumption here. So the question is, "Do we have biblical evidence that animals only became afraid after the flood?"

Genesis 9:2  And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea.....(NKJV)

When Man chose to rebel against God, Man brought down not only himself, but also all those for whom he was responsible. God not only cursed Man, but God also cursed every living thing. This included animal and plant life as well. The apostle Paul confirmed this when he wrote the following:

Romans 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility.....(NKJV)

But folks, there is good news! I'm going to make a statement and, I hope you don't think I have gone off the deep end. I believe that "all of creation" shares in and even looks forward to the redemption of Man and the lifting of God's curse. This was accomplished by Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Because God cares for His animal creations, as seen from scripture, anything that is created also reaps the benefits of the redeeming Cross of Christ. When Christ returns, "Creation" will be restored to its original condition.

As a matter of fact, all carnivorous activity will cease. This promise is found in something we read earlier. Let's recall the words of Isaiah 11:6, which says, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them." Here is even more evidence that carnivorous activity will cease:

Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, (NKJV)

In his allegorical book, "The Great Divorce," Christian author C.S. Lewis tells about a redeemed lady arriving in Heaven with a glorious procession of animals behind her. An observer then asks this question, "What are all these animals?" The observer then counts out the following: "A cat---two cats---dozens of cats. Look at all those dogs! Why, I can't even count them. Look at all the birds and horses. Did she have a zoo? I mean, this is a bit too much."

At that moment the angelic teacher says, "Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. And now the abundance of life that she has received in Jesus Christ, from the Father, flows over onto them."

Folks, it's the same effect as throwing a stone into a pond. The first thing that happens is the sound of the splash and then the formation of concentric waves which spread out further and further from the point of impact. We just have no way of knowing the full effect of God's Grace over His entire creation.

For one thing, it's amazing to me what distinctive little personalities every animal can have. I praise God for creating them, and I constantly thank Him for the joyful companionship that my pets provide.

Yet, I do realize many people don't like animals or pets. I can also understand why this dinner guest took exception to the issue of animals being in heaven. However, I'm not talking about heaven. I'm talking about the fact that God has promised a new earth and a complete restoration in its original sense:

Isaiah 65:17-18 17 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; (NKJV)

As I said earlier, the eternal fate of our pets or animals is a question the Bible does not directly answer. But let's not forget what scripture does tell us. We have already seen biblical evidence to suggest that God loves His creation, including animals, and He is determined to restore all of His creation to the original perfection they enjoyed before being corrupted by the sin of Man.

Scripture clearly says that Jesus died not only to redeem Mankind, but to also redeem creation. This fact is emphasized prophetically in the Old Testament. We see this in two ways: First, we will see that this was taught symbolically.

When the High Priest entered "the Holy of Holies," once a year to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, the book of Leviticus tells us that he would take a step back and sprinkle some of the blood on the ground in front of the Ark of the Covenant:

Leviticus 16:15  "Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. (NKJV) Let's ask ourselves why the Jewish High priests would do this? The reason is because the blood on the mercy seat was a prophecy that one day the Blood of the Messiah would make it possible for God's Grace to cover the law. Please remember that "the tablets of the law" rested in the Ark of the Covenant. This resting place was right under the lid which was also called the mercy seat. Therefore, the blood which was sprinkled on the ground was a prophecy that dealt with the sacrifice of the coming Jewish Messiah.

The Blood of Christ would not only cleanse Man, but now make it possible for God to "lift the curse" that was placed upon creation at the time of the fall. This is why we can have confidence when God tells us that He will make all things new again and redeem creation to its original perfection.

We have biblical evidence to suggest that animals will exist on earth during the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ. We read this earlier and to deny this simple truth is the same as denying any other portion of God's Word. As a matter of fact, scripture confirms that some sort of "special transformation" occurs in all the animals:

Isaiah 11:8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. (NKJV)

      A child will play in the cobra's hole. Barbara, would you allow Austin to play in a Cobra's hole? The answer is you wouldn't. You might allow your husband, but not Austin. The fact remains, the deadliest snake in the world has somehow become no longer poisonous.

This is why this verse says, "...a child will put his hand into a viper's pit." Again, this definitely implies that poisonous snakes are no longer a treat to humans giving us a clear example of God redeeming creation.

Do you remember the passage which talks about a child who leads the lion? Folks, Carla and I are avid "cat lovers," but I cannot imagine having a lion for a pet. However, using my very weak creative powers of poetry, we can determine that the lion will "indeed be a pet, because it's no longer a threat."

The Bible says very little about the eternal state which follows our Lord's Millennial reign. All we really know is that the redeemed will live in new bodies, on a new heaven and a new earth, in the presence of God, serving Him, and experiencing intimate fellowship with Him.

Animals are not mentioned in the eternal context. But that does not mean they will be absent. I suspect that one of the many delightful surprises God may grant to the redeemed will be the joyful companionship, of the pets, they knew and loved while here on earth.

I certainly hope so, because I, like many, have lost pets that were precious to me. Wondering about our pets enters into the mind of every pet owner, especially when they lose a beloved pet. For those of us with pets, we can attest to the fact that each of our pets has a different personality and feelings.

We know that it's our spirits that makes each of us unique. Therefore, whatever it is that makes each human unique, it's probably the same thing that makes each pet unique. This could be the reason why many pet owners wonder if their pets are going to heaven.

However, before going on, we need to address a critical issue. A few years ago, Carla and I were at the Vet's to pick up some medicine for one of our cats. While we were in the examining room, Dr. Gray said he had to put down a ladies cat in the next room. Carla went outside and tried to comfort her. She was crying when Carla told her, "We will see our pets again." The young lady asked Carla how she knew this? I don't know what exactly transpired within their conversation, but I do know this. I saw Carla lead this young lady in a prayer to receive Christ. This issue becomes the most important thing we can possibly talk about. If God allows our pets to have eternal life, on the new earth, then the owners of these pets must also possess "eternal life" in order to ever see them again.

The Bible makes it absolutely clear that the majority of people will not go to heaven. In fact, Jesus said the majority of people will end up going to Hell. If you think I'm making this up, you need to consider the following passage:

Matthew 7:13-14 13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (NKJV)

    Did you realize that God can use our love for animals as a witnessing opportunity to the lost? Yet, the fact remains; if you have lost a beloved pet, you have absolutely no possible chance of seeing them again unless you yourself have received God's gift of eternal life.

Now is the time in our lesson when I am really going to push the limits of that old Chinese proverb of wisdom. Do you remember what it was? It said, "A turtle can only progress forward when he sticks his neck out."

I have talked about animals on the new earth. However, there is some biblical evidence to suggest the idea of animals also being associated within the context of heaven itself. Let's read:

II Kings 2:11 Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. (NKJV)

Revelation 19:11-14 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. (NKJV)

We definitely have horses in heaven. As a matter of fact, Jesus comes back on a White horse and guess who will be following Him on even more White horses? Please remember the following scenario: The Rapture takes place and we go to heaven. The Tribulation ends and we return with Christ on horses.

Another question that can be asked concerning animals on the new earth is this: "Are these animals new creations or do these animals include reborn earthly creatures?" Again, let's consider the biblical facts.

Both mankind and animals are formed from the ground. (Gen 2:7, 19) This tells us that the physical bodies of both humans and animals are similar, but it does not tell us about their immortality.

The Bible also demonstrates that God's covenant with Noah included both people and animals alike. This is found in Genesis 9:9-11. However, that covenant was not a covenant of eternal life, but only an agreement that God would not destroy the earth again with a flood.

The fourth commandment, as recorded in Deuteronomy 5:12-15, includes a Sabbath rest for animals as well as it does for people. Again, this reveals some equality between people and animals, but makes no statement regarding animals going to heaven.

Yet, at some future time, the Bible says that Jesus Christ will bring about a time of peace where all animals and Man will be in absolute harmony with each other. Still, the description is not necessarily of heaven, and these animals are not necessarily reborn animals.

Probably the most commonly cited passage used as "proof" that animals go to heaven is Ecclesiastes chapter 3, verses 18-22. Since it is so commonly cited, we will examine it. Let's read:

Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 I said in my heart, "Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals." For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?

King Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes and next to Jesus Christ, King Solomon was the wisest man to walk upon the earth. He was also the wealthiest person in the world and could have had anything he wanted. As a result, he experimented with everything that this world could possibly offer him.

These verses basically put the Jewish reader, along with the rest of us, "in his place." In verses 18-20, the perspective is clearly that of a physical comparison of man to animals. These physical comparisons point towards a completely meaningless existence from a physical or worldly perspective.

With the spiritual distinction made, the physical comparison now comes into play. That is the whole point of Ecclesiastes which teaches us the following: All that this world and what it has to offer to us is meaningless by itself. Therefore, first turn towards God, where we can find meaning.

So, where does that leave us? It leaves us with this truth: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man, The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Obviously, what God has prepared for us is wonderful beyond anything we can possibly comprehend. Therefore, love your pets as much as you can while they are here. For those of us who are saved and going to heaven, we will one day understand that everything worked out perfectly regarding what happens to our pets.

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