Some are convinced that animals go to Heaven, and maybe they’re right. The eternal fate of animals is a question the Bible does not directly answer.
God loves His creation, including the animals, and He is determined to restore all of creation — both the plant and animal kingdoms — to the original perfection they enjoyed before being corrupted by the sin of Man.
Jesus died not only to redeem Mankind, but to redeem the creation. This was emphasized prophetically in the Hebrew Scriptures in two ways. First, it was taught symbolically. When the High Priest would enter 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 (Lev. 16:15).
Why did he do this? The blood on the mercy seat was a prophecy that one day the blood of the Messiah would make it possible for the grace of God to cover the law of God (the tablets of law rested in the Ark under the lid called the mercy seat). The blood on the ground was a prophecy that the sacrifice of the Messiah would also make it possible for God to lift the curse that rests on creation and redeem all of it to its original perfection.
We know for certain that animals will exist on earth during the millennial reign of Jesus (Isa. 11:6-9), and we are told that all animals will become herbivorous once again. The wolf will lie down with the lamb. The lion will eat straw with the ox. A little child will play in the cobra’s hole because the cobra will no longer be poisonous (Isa. 11:8). I have a picture of the “peaceable kingdom” hanging behind my desk. It shows a little boy in a white robe walking down a road with a lion on a leash. The lion will be a pet instead of a threat.
The Bible tells us very little about the eternal state that will follow our Lord’s millennial reign. All we know is that the redeemed will live in new bodies on a new earth in the presence of Almighty God, serving Him and experiencing intimate fellowship with Him. The book of Revelation says we will “see his face” (Rev. 22:4). 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 will give to the redeemed will be the joyful companionship of the pets they knew and loved here on this earth. I hope so.
In the third and last segment of this “Pets in Heaven?” series, we’ll look at the answer “No.”