If you are like me, you probably grew up as a child wondering if it’s true that “all dogs go to heaven”. When I grew up that was a popular kid’s movie, and even though when I asked I was told that animals do not have souls and therefore when they die their lives end (unlike humans, who have souls and either go to heaven or hell) a piece of me always wanted to believe that could not be true. I think everyone asks this question at some point (so you will probably find this interesting even if you are not “religious”). How can it be that God would create animals that way? This is actually a topic I have been thinking about writing on ever since I started this blog. For some reason it was never really the “right time” to do it. Well folks, this is the right time.
This is a question that has been rolling around my brain (more than usual) for the last year. Ever since my dear Sampson died. I had pets die when I was a child, but this one was a little different. My 2 Alaskan Malamutes (Nike and Sampson) left our fence for a few minutes last summer and she returned with a gunshot wound (it entered her right hip and exited her left shoulder. It was determined because of this that she was running from the person when she was shot). While my mother rushed her to the vet I stayed and searched for Sampson. I searched for him constantly and walked several miles over the course of 2 weeks. I never found him. We are 99.9 percent sure who did it, and they watched me every day walking my dogs by their house. Once they even stopped me and told me how beautiful my dogs were and that if they ever saw them out they would call me. What I didn’t know at the time was that they are well known animal killers in our area.
I guess this was different than when I was a child because when I was little it was just the circle of life (I had never had a pet brutally murdered). They either died by accident or natural causes. This was different. There is something about murder that strikes a nerve like none other. Not to mention the never finding him part. That bothered me more than anything. Was he paralyzed in the woods somewhere? Was he alive? Was he dead? It killed me to think he was lying out in the woods alive and unable to come home, that is why I hiked several miles in the mountains around our house desperately searching. Oh yes, and if you were wondering, Nike was just fine. The bullet entered and exited clean without damaging anything at all (absolutely a miracle!).
Anyway, I spent a long time at our friend’s church yesterday decorating for VBS. On my way home I was passing a car when they deliberately hit a large golden retriever and it got flung out in front of me and I nearly hit it too. I debated for a minute and then turned around to see if there was any saving it (which I doubted). He was not well and dying in front of a house so I knocked and the people came out and called the owner. By the time they got there he was gone. I just thought that I wished someone would have told me what happened to Sampson, and someone should say something… Very upsetting. Not only did those people deliberately kill an innocent animal (which could have been prevented) but they almost caused a very bad accident. It was not a pretty sight at all; the poor animal suffered badly for about 10 minutes before he passed. I just felt like no one else was stopping and someone should at least stop and see if he was well enough that the owners might want to take him to the vet. I’m glad I stopped; he deserved at least that much.
Proverbs 12:10: “The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.”
So today I woke up with that same old question in my mind (do animals go to heaven?) I cannot say for 100 percent sure what the answer is to this question, but let’s look at some Scripture:
Growing up I was always told that animals do not go to heaven, so I was rather surprised when I read where Isaiah says God will include animals in the new heavens and new earth:
Isaiah 65: 25: “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD.”
This passage sparked my interest in the fact that perhaps there will be animals in heaven after all. Of course, we also learn in Revelation 19:14 that the Apostle John’s vision of heaven also included animals, showing Christ and the armies of heaven riding on white horses:
“The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.”
I always knew the Bible said this, but somehow I never connected the dots that this wouldn’t be possible if animals do not exist in the afterlife. So we have determined that the Bible says there will be animals in heaven, so the question is are these the same animals that are on earth now? Does this mean that we can expect to see our pets there? Let’s look further:
Many who believe animals have no soul believe this because they assume that man’s likeness to God and animals’ subservience to man implies that animals may have the “breath of life,” nephesh in Hebrew, but not an immortal soul in the same sense as man’s.
Genesis 1:26: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
However; “the term nephesh is from the root word that means “to breathe,” and it is translated throughout the OT as “soul.” The King James Version of the Bible translates the expression nephesh chay as “moving creatures that hath life.” Curiously, however, the KJV translates the expression as “living soul” when it is used to identify mankind in Genesis 2:7: “and man became a living soul.” It is likely that the two different renderings of the same terms have led to the understanding that animals merely have life but people have souls. The NIV, on the other hand, avoids this dichotomy by translating both uses of the expression as “living creature.”” (http://wonderofcreation.org/2009/07/27/do-animals-have-souls/)
Here are some passages that might peak your interest and answer your questions regarding an animal’s fate after death:
Ecclesiastes 35:18-21: 18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Hosea 2:18 “In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.”
Luke 12:6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”
Job 12:10 “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath (literally “spirit”) of all mankind.”
Genesis 9:9-10 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth.”
Genesis 9:16 “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
“From the scripture evidence we can neither conclude that our pets will be in heaven or that they will not be in heaven. We just don’t have biblical support to say this with certainty, however it does appear that animals will exist in the Kingdom of heaven (e.g., Isaiah 11:6-9) but if our pets will be resurrected or not, we just cannot say for sure. A more important question is if you, the reader, will be in heaven. It is pointless to ponder the question of whether your pet goes to heaven if you yourself are not there. The only way to be sure is to make certain you can go there. Decide today to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and have the full assurance that you can go to heaven and receive eternal life. As for your pets being in heaven or not, the only way to find out is to go there yourself. That is my prayer for you.” (http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/do-animals-or-pets-go-to-heaven-a-biblical-analysis/)
Personally, as a fruit carver/artist, when I finish a piece that is especially good I sit back, smile, and say that one is so good I wish I could keep it forever. We know that God said “it is good” about both man and animals:
Genesis 1:20-24: 20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning —the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
For this reason, I find it a little hard to believe that if animals are seen as good in God’s eyes, and they are to be in heaven, how can they not be the same ones? Additionally, I find it interesting to note that nearly all people who have claimed to have died and seen heaven say there were animals there also.