EXPLORING THE WORD
Will Animals Be in Heaven?
By Dillon Burroughs
The Bible is clear there will be many animals in the heavenly realm. In the Old Testament, Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a chariot pulled by horses: "And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into Heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, 'My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!' And he saw him no more" (2 Kings 2:11-12). 2 Kings 6:17 further shares, "So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." Horses are also mentioned as literal animals in Heaven in Revelation 6:2-8; 19:11.
Others have suggested that 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" (also Isaiah 11:6-9). However, this passage may refer to the Millennial Kingdom on Earth rather than Heaven. Regardless, there will be animals in Heaven, likely including new animals never known to our present Earth.
One example of a new beast is found in Revelation 4:8, where it is described, "four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, 'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!'" The Greek word translated there as "creatures" is commonly translated as "animals." Though unknown in this world, these "creatures" are likely heavenly animals that give worship to the Lord. Commentators have also noted that these beings appear to be the same ones described in Ezekiel 1:5-14 and 10:10-14.
Consider also that when God judged the earth in the time of Noah with a flood, Noah was commanded to fill the ark with his family as well as many animals (Genesis 6:19-20). Clearly God extended His grace to rescue these created beings because He cared for them. They existed as part of His original creation that He called "good" (Genesis 1:21).
In fact, the first man, Adam, was originally entrusted to care for animal life, including naming the animals. Genesis 2:19-20 notes, "Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field." Though animal companionship did not match the relationship that would soon exist between Adam and Eve, the human-animal bond has existed from the beginning of creation.
Animals will certainly exist in Heaven, likely including some animals familiar to us on earth. New types of creatures will also exist, with Revelation 4:9 offering a glimpse of the possibilities that lie ahead. Whatever animal life exists in Heaven, we know it will be good, free from the curse of this world (Revelation 22:3), and serve the ultimate purpose of bringing glory to the Lord.
Image Credit: S. Edgar; "Quake, R.I.P."; Used with Permission
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