Will there be animals in heaven?

Published 2:37 pm Friday, September 2, 2022

BY TONY HOSS
Many people have pets. In the homes of people throughout the world there are many different animals. Pets in the home range from dogs and cats to hamsters, snakes, mice, turtles, birds, fish and everything in between. These animals are considered pets, and they are very precious to those that have them. And there is no doubt that they are part of the families of those that possess them; we love and have such a connection with them that we spoil them, feed them, travel with them, and yes, we even consider them part of our family. Because of our great love for these precious creatures and our special connection with them, the question many people want answered is, “Will my pets be with me in heaven?” Several years ago, a movie was made called “All Dogs Go To Heaven.” But is that true, do animals go to heaven. As we consider this question, we must allow God to help us find the answer.
First, we must affirm that mankind is different than animals in that man was made in the image of God and given dominion over all the animals. I can remember being taught in science class in grade school that humans are part of the animal kingdom. While this is scientifically true, we learn in the Bible that man was reserved to a higher position than animals. Genesis 1:26-27 says “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness…” That is something that wasn’t done for the animals; and this understanding is the beginning of the answer of whether dogs or any animals will be in heaven.
While it seems that many people have forgotten, animals are more than just pets. After the flood God said, “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you” (Gen 9:3). The Bible does give one restriction, the eating of blood.
We also find that animals were to be offered as sacrifices. Here we see the difference is that humans were not allowed by God to be given as sacrifices. This point helps us to see that by God’s standard the life of a human being is held in a higher regard. This does not diminish God’s love for the animals of His creation. While they are loved by God and were a part of the creation that God said was good, their purpose and rank in the world is different than humans.
Another point that should not be overlooked is that animals lack a conscience and free will. This does not mean that animals do not have emotions and feelings. It would be difficult for anyone who has ever dealt with animals to deny this. But more important for animals is that they live mostly by instinct as well as by how they are trained by people. Here again the difference is evident, people live by the choices they make, and they are held responsible for their actions. There are things that animals do that they cannot help but do, it is part of their instinct to do some things. An animal may not be able to help themselves for what they do and there is no biblical knowledge of them being held accountable for any of their actions. This is another difference between animals and man; people are responsible, and God will hold us accountable for our actions.
We should also remember that Heaven is for those who walk with Jesus in obedience to His Words. Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary for the sins of humanity. He died so we can be cleansed by His blood. Jesus died so we can have forgiveness of sins. The actions of Jesus on the cross had nothing to do with animals of any kind, even our beloved pets. This is true because animals are incapable of sin. When they do things that are repulsive to us, and all animals do, when they use our floors as a toilet, when they bark at or bite someone, when they chew on furniture or our shoes, when they dig into our trash cans and spread garbage all over the house, we do not see our pets as sinners. It is simply a fact that animals cannot sin. Since they cannot sin, we are left with the fact Jesus did not die for them. He did not prepare a place for them. Heaven is reserved for those that submit to the will of God.
Some people say, “Heaven is going to be full of things that make me happy, and my pet makes me happy, so my pet will be there.” Using this logic, we could say that heaven will be filled with anything that a person could desire to be there. Heaven is not about the physical things we have in this life. It is a place more beautiful than anything we could ever imagine; it is a place where we will worship the God of heaven eternally.
As a child I grew up with animals and until this day I have pets in my home. I have loved each and every pet that I have ever had. And each of them was a part of our family. Regardless of the feelings I have had for these beloved pets, they will not be in heaven. On the other hand, heaven will be filled with the saints of God. When we get to heaven, the only thing that will matter will be that we are in the presence of God. We should realize how special we are in the mind of God; He gave us something that He gave no other living being: a soul. I pray that you will guard it and protect it. God wants you with Him in Heaven.
(TONY HOSS is minister of Elizabethton Church of Christ)

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