Will pets go to heaven?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of whether pets go to heaven is a deeply emotional and often debated topic among Christians. While the Bible does not directly address the fate of animals in the afterlife, various scriptures and theological perspectives provide insights that can help us explore this question. In this essay, we will examine what the Bible suggests about animals, creation, and the afterlife, and how these can be interpreted in the context of pets going to heaven.

The Nature of Animals in the Bible

The Bible acknowledges animals as an integral part of God’s creation. Genesis 1:24-25 (NKJV) states:

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so. 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.”

This passage indicates that God created animals and saw that they were good. It affirms the inherent value of animals in the eyes of God. Additionally, the creation narrative places animals in the context of a harmonious world where all creatures, including humans, live in balance.

Animals and the Covenant with Noah

Another significant passage that highlights the importance of animals is the story of Noah’s Ark. In Genesis 9:9-10 (NKJV), God establishes a covenant with Noah and all living creatures:

“And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth.”

This covenant underscores that animals are included in God’s plans and purposes. The inclusion of animals in this covenant suggests that they hold a special place in God’s creation and His redemptive plans.

The Role of Animals in God’s Kingdom

Prophetic literature in the Old Testament often uses imagery of animals to describe the peace and harmony of God’s kingdom. For example, Isaiah 11:6-9 (NKJV) paints a picture of a future where predatory and prey animals coexist peacefully:

“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. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

This vision of peace extends to all creation, suggesting a restored order where animals are part of the new, harmonious creation.

The Question of Animal Souls

One of the core theological questions is whether animals have souls. The word for “soul” (psuchē) is used of animal life as well as of human life (Matthew 10:28; Pslams 16:10). In Revelation 8:9 psuchē is translated creatures, referring to marine life. In Genesis 8:1 the Hebrew equivalent (nephesh, “living thing”) is similarly used of animals (Job 12:10).

Revelation 16:3 (KJV) states:

“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.”

This verse teaches that creatures of the sea are souls.

Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 (NKJV) states:

“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?”

This passage suggests that both humans and animals share the breath of life and face death.

New Testament Insights

The New Testament, while primarily focused on human salvation, also provides perspectives that can be extended to consider the fate of animals. Romans 8:19-21 (NKJV) speaks of the redemption of all creation:

“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

This passage implies that the whole creation, which includes animals, will be liberated from corruption. It suggests a future restoration where all of God’s creation will share in the glory of God’s kingdom.

Theological Perspectives

While animals are souls, they are not capable of moral decision-making they are not made in God’s image like man. However, God’s restoration (not redemption) will extend to all His creation, including animals.

Heaven will have animals but whether it will include our pets that we knew on earth is not known. The Bible affirms that “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4) The Lord will restore all the happiness that we lost through sin – including the loss of our pets.

The Lord promised, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). This verse reveals the inexpressible joy of God’s kingdom of glory, the eternal home of the redeemed. All such knowledge is far beyond anything that people may know apart from the gospel of Christ (Isaiah 64:4). Therefore, we need not worry. The Lord will make sure that we will be exceedingly happy, satisfied and fulfilled.

C.S. Lewis, a renowned Christian apologist, speculated in his book “The Problem of Pain” that animals might partake in the afterlife through their relationships with humans. He suggested that pets might be saved “in their masters” as part of the joy and fulfillment of heaven for those who loved them.

Pastoral Considerations

For many pet owners, the question of their pets’ eternal destiny is not just theological but deeply personal. Pets often become like family members, providing companionship and unconditional love. In pastoral care, it is important to acknowledge these feelings and provide comfort.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) offers reassurance:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

This verse encourages believers to trust in God’s peace and care in all things, including concerns about their beloved pets.

Conclusion

While the Bible does not provide a definitive answer to whether pets go to heaven, it offers numerous insights that suggest a compassionate and restorative view of all creation. From the Genesis account of creation, the covenant with Noah, the prophetic visions of a harmonious kingdom, to the New Testament promise of creation’s restoration, the Scriptures portray animals as an integral part of God’s plan.

Ultimately, the nature of God’s love and the promise of a restored creation suggest that the joy and fulfillment of heaven may indeed include the animals we have loved and cared for on earth. In the end, believers are called to trust in God’s wisdom and compassion, knowing that He cares for all His creation.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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