Bet this topic will divide the camp to a degree. Those who own pets will most likely say Yes, while non animal lovers maybe hope No, but scripturally it’s quite an interesting topic to review.Having always not only lived with pets of various types, but also grown up in the country and ran a wild bird hospital in between trekking around the countryside watching birds and also breeding birds, I have always had a great love for nature and the outdoors etc. However, although I’ve been a Christian for many years, and kept and lost many pets, mostly cats in that time, it’s only been over the past decade really that I’ve started to wonder about this topic of whether we will be reunited with our pets in particular in heaven. I’ve always just sort of hoped so, like most pet owners, but now I’m more than convinced of the reality of it.
Firstly, when God created man He gave Him all the animals, birds etc to name, and the text denotes a relationship of sorts between Adam and all the rest of creation – there’s certainly no mention at that point of animals fearing him or him having to chase them around to have contact. And initially there was no mention of eating any of them either. After the fall however, that changed, and suddenly man was no longer a friend to creation having brought it all under judgement by the fall, until after the flood when the animal kingdom in particular was to become a food source as God then specifically states:
Gen 9:3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
So things changed from that point on with wildlife becoming what we know them to be today – wild! Yet despite this, there is a capacity for animals in certain circumstances to become what we term domesticated which grants us a similar type of relationship with them that Adam may have had to a degree, but the overall difference is that those which would have been considered truly wild e.g. large cats in particular, can never be 100% domesticated, as has been seen in many instances of lifelong feline ‘pets’ turning on their owners with disastrous results. We see similar behaviour patterns even in the most domesticated small cats and dogs – many will revert to that same ‘wild’ streak unexpectedly at times, an indication that their nature is inherent from centuries past. It’s interesting to note that domestication of animals isn’t a new thing but has been presumably possible since creation and perhaps Adam began it in some effort to recreate what he had with the animal kingdom before the Fall. But my primary ethos for believing animals will be in heaven is because God sets them firmly beside man in many instances. Many times scripture will speak of both man and animals in the same sentence even regarding the same things:
Jonah 3:8 All persons and animals must wear sackcloth. Everyone must pray earnestly to God and must give up their wicked behaviour and their evil actions.
Hosea 2:18 At that time I will make a covenant with all the wild animals and birds, so that they will not harm my people. I will also remove all weapons of war from the land, all swords and bows, and will let my people live in peace and safety.
Psa 36:6 Your righteousness is towering like the mountains; your justice is like the depths of the sea. People and animals are in your care.
Exo 23:12 “Work six days a week, but do no work on the seventh day, so that your slaves and the foreigners who work for you and even your animals can rest.
Lev 27:32 One of every ten domestic animals belongs to the LORD. When the animals are counted, every tenth one belongs to the LORD.
Eccl 3:19-20 Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath, man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust and to dust all return.
And of course there’s the more well known verse we’ve all heard about how the lion will lie down with the lamb in the Millennial Reign and beyond- well, it’s a wolf actually but anyway – shows the animal kingdom is retained:
Isa 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
God’s care and love extends to even the humble sparrow – Lk.12:6 and He has promised that He will restore all living things –Acts.3:21; Eph.1:10
Death as a whole will be annulled or abolished –1 Cor.15:25-26; 2 Tim.1:10 and the whole of creation will be renewed –Rev.21:4-5.
So animals have a certain importance in scripture, and thus I see no reason whatsoever that they should not be provided similar privileges in respect of heaven as humans, but for different reasons. I contend that animals are endowed with a spirit, as they can experience all the same emotions we do quite likely – certainly fear, and enjoyment are obvious, but many other emotions are acted out within different animal groups, in particular the primates, which is partly why some insist on identifying with that group above all others – they see themselves in them perhaps 🙂
I also consider that since heaven contains the Garden of Eden, and that’s where the original perfect creation resided, then there’s no reason why there won’t be everything within that Garden now that there was then, including animals. Although I appreciate that it’s probably a more likely case that if we are ever to be reunited with our pets specifically, it may well be on the new earth, rather than in the new heavens but that’s a whole other ballgame, as there’s nearly less information about what they will be like than this subject!
Photo of “Kirsten” – German Shepherd by kind permission of Caroline Hunt.