Do Pets Go to Heaven?
This question is a bone chewed on by many pet lovers. Did you know half of all U.S. homes have a pet? Some 80% of Americans believe that when they die they will go to Heaven. And their pets? 43% believe they’re going to Heaven as well! (2004 ABCNews/Beliefnet Poll, Gallup Poll)
But, is that biblically true? Why, theologians for years have been chasing their tails over this topic. Whole books have been written on the subject.
Their conclusion? Well, honestly, they have to admit they just don’t know. The eternal fate of animals is a question the Bible just doesn’t answer directly. The Bible, after all, centers on human redemption. But, it does provide a few hints we can look at concerning the eternal fate of animals.
Before we look at those hints, though, we’ve got to be fair and expand our scope from pets to all animals. That would also include insects, microorganisms, mollusks and non-oxygen breathing creatures. Just because we make an animal a pet does not grant it an exclusive status over the rest of the animal kingdom.
Do Animals Have Eternal Souls?
The author of Ecclesiastes asked this very question, but he had no answer (Ecclesiastes 3:18-21).
Genesis tells us that during the Creation God formed all creatures out of the dust of the earth and gave them life. He called what He made “very good.”
God loves what He has created, but He loves and values people the most (Matthew 6:26; Luke 12:6). Genesis reveals mankind is special, made in the very image of God, with God’s own Spirit breathed into us. Therefore, humans have been given eternal souls that outlast our bodies, but for animals, it appears not. Mankind was granted dominion over the animal world, and animals as our food source.
Do Animals Need Salvation?
When Adam and Eve rebelled against God by eating the forbidden fruit, the sin nature was birthed in all of humanity. True, the animals never joined in man’s sin, but man was put in charge, and so God cursed both humans and the earth as punishment. All of creation fell under a death sentence (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:20).
The only way to escape eternal death has been offered by Jesus Christ to mankind alone (Romans 5:18-19). Salvation of the soul is, after all, only for those who actually have a soul. But, the Creation eagerly awaits to be released from the Curse (Romans 8:18-25). At that future time Jesus will make, as He said, “all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Now, does that “new” mean every creature that ever died under the Curse will be resurrected, or just the Creation will be made perfect again after the Curse is lifted? Well, that’s up to interpretation.
What About the Lion and the Lamb?
The book of Isaiah describes wolves lying down with lambs, calves and lions and bears grazing together, and little kids playing with vipers. Isn’t that a scene from Heaven? No, in context, that pastoral scene refers to Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom.
Actually, in the scant two chapters the Bible dedicates solely to the Eternal State — Revelation 21-22 — animals are not even mentioned. In descriptions of Heaven, Revelation does describe four Living Creatures who look part animal. These aren’t animals, though, but seraphim, a special class of angels who worship before God’s throne. And, Jesus, He’s also described as riding a white horse, but since it flies, it might just be an angel as well.
Will Animals Be Raptured?
The Apostle Paul taught that when Christians are raptured up to Heaven by Jesus Christ, the Rapture is for the Church alone. That means our pets won’t also be flying up to Heaven with us.
And those unsaved people left behind who face the Tribulation? They still eat, and animals are described as suffering during that time period, so animals must have been left behind as well. By the way, if you’re worried about your pet being left behind, make preparations now.
Having not just our pets, but every bird, fish, insect, plankton, microbe, and whatnot that has ever existed throughout all of time, all living up in Heaven and the New Earth together, makes for some very problematic scenarios.
- Does anybody really want to take care of every cat, dog, bird, hamster, fish and snake we ever owned all at the same time for all of eternity?
- Would you really want to scoop the poop for all those animals with never an end in sight?
- If you really didn’t want to take care of all those pets, are there homeless shelters in Heaven?
- Would it even be Heaven if hundreds of yippy dogs were barking in the back yard of the mansion next door?
- What do you do when you meet up with an animal you once ate?
- And, if pets go to Heaven, are there also pets that go to Hell?
What we know about our pets going to Heaven can be summed up in one verse, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know…” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We just won’t have a definitive answer until we get to Heaven. But, while the Bible pretty much indicates that our earthly pets will not be waiting for us, surely new animal friends await us in Heaven.
As for me, make mine a dinosaur!
6 CommentsLeave a Comment
Nathan, Boy am I depressed. Dr. Reagan did a whole show on pets going to heaven. I loved that show because they had many people saying they did think that. It gave me hope, I know you think I am sick but I LOVE my pets. I have had a lot of people hurt me but never my pets. Thanks for hearing me out! Leon White, 04957
Understood, Leon. Just remember we have greater things, things beyond belief or understanding, waiting for us in Heaven, that will make this world seem so pale by comparison.
Nathan, According to the original OT Hebrew and NT Greek scriptures, Genesis 7:22 It was written “all in whose nostrils (639) was the breath of the spirit of life (2416) died . Isaiah 2:22 says “stop regarding man whose breath(5397) of life is in his nostrils(639) Ecclesiastics 3:18,19 says “I said to myself concerning the sons of men God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts” For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other indeed they all have the same breath (7307) and there is no advantage for man over beast for all is vanity All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Who knows that the breath (7307) of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth” (776) Clearly throughout the scriptures God teaches animal have a body, soul and spirit. Ecclesiastics 12:7 states”then the dust(6803) will return to the earth as it was and the spirit(7307) will return to God who gave it. Animals have a body soul and spirit. Life (the spirit) comes from God and returns to Him..says so right there. . My beloved horse of 30 years (bought him when he was a year old) just died. He was a kind gentle soul whom God allow me to have for 29 years. The Bible teaches, all the animals are His. They are just on loan to us, until He see fit to take them back. An amoeba is hardly the same as a dog or a cat, a horse or an lion or an elephant. Saddened that so often nowadays, I hear Bible teachers saying “I think” or “I feel” when teaching on various topics. How about “the Bible says…” and delve into the original Hebrew and Greek language. I knew “my” horse was not mine but Jesus’ and I always reminded him that in heaven he would be Jesus’ horse. Can’t wait to see him again, young and spirited , kicking up his heels as he gallops the hills of heaven. My condolences to Dr Regan on the home-going of his little dog ZacK. God bless and Maranatha!
Helen, so sorry to hear about the passing of your favorite horse. Bear in mind when it comes to the interpretation of Ecclesiastes, though, that the author writes from the perspective of a fallen man who has no godly wisdom. Other points Ecclesiastes makes would not be doctrinally sound in light of the whole of Scriptures, but when understood hermeneutically as a fallen man’s point of view, can then be interpreted holistically.
I don’t think there’ll be any poop in heaven either from us or animals.
The so-called problems about all animals that ever lived being in Heaven are not things for God’s Children to even concern themselves with. No animals in Heaven would ever go hungry or be homeless. God will provide. Just my knowledge of God and His Awesome promises and love for His creation.