EXPLORING THE WORD
Will I See My Pet in Heaven?
By Dillon Burroughs
Many books and articles have been written in recent years that suggest Christians will be reunited with their pets in Heaven. Is this true?
First, it is clear there will be animals of some kind in Heaven. Elijah was taken to Heaven by a chariot pulled by horses (2 Kings 2:11). In fact, there are many horses Heaven, enough for its large army to ride (Revelation 19:11; 2 Kings 6:17).
Others suggest Isaiah 65:25 refers to animals in Heaven when it states, "The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food." However, two potential problems exist in this interpretation. This passage may refer to the Millennial Kingdom on Earth rather than to Heaven. Also, this poetic passage may not intend to speak of literal animals in Heaven. Regardless, there will be animals in Heaven, perhaps including new animals never known to our present Earth.
However, those who claim that people will be reunited with pets in Heaven do so based on inferences, not the clear teachings of the Bible. In other words, pets might be in Heaven, but the Bible never directly says this. For example, Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 teaches that man's fate is like that of animal and that "all go to the same place". Some suggest this means pets go to Heaven just like their owners. However, the passage is simply referring to death or the grave, not where a person or animal spends the afterlife.
It is not impossible that our pets would show up in Heaven. After all, Heaven will be a perfect existence that brings the greatest joy to God's people. But the Bible does not teach where a pet will spend eternity (or if it will at all). Instead, Scripture's focus is on who we will dwell with in eternity—God and His people.
Despite the important role pets play in our lives on Earth, the greatest commandment is to love God and love others as we love ourselves: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40).
On a final note, we need not belittle those who ask about pets in Heaven or consider it a silly question. God has often used animals as part of His divine plan in the lives of humans, from Adam naming animals in the Garden of Eden to Jesus riding a particular donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. God even once spoke through a donkey (Numbers 22:22-30). Further, animals were likely present at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-20). David watched sheep as his preparation as Israel's future king. We can appreciate the unique role animals, and especially pets, play in our lives while still carefully speaking only what Scripture teaches on the topic of pets and Heaven.
Image Credit: normanack; "in memorium"; Creative Commons
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