Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Animals in Heaven?
This was our dog growing up. Her name was lady. She was a member of the family. (Yeah baby, I'm sporting the baseball pajamas!) So this question has a personal dimension for me.
I want to walk through a few things about this question.
First, I think it's important to recognize that the biblical understanding of heaven is the new creation. The new heavens and new earth. In Revelation 21 there's a New heaven and new earth brought about and God says "I am making everything new."
Second, in Genesis 1, on the sixth day, God creates animals and calls them good. Also, the only two living things that are said to have "the breath of life" in Genesis 1 and 2 are animals and people. What sets humanity apart from animals is that we are created in the image of God, however, what makes us equal is that we both have the "breath of life" in us.
Third, the last part of Isaiah 65 is a description of the new heavens and new earth. Verse 25 is especially interesting for this question:
The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD.
Conclusion: It looks like the natural order of things will be transformed. In this new heaven and new earth there will be animals, but their relationship to one another will no longer be predator and prey; there will be no killing of one another i.e. "they will neither harm nor destroy."
There are other examples as well, this is just one sampling. Biblically, I think it is clear that there will be animals in the new creation. Also, if this new creation is better than what we now experience on earth and we have loved a pet on earth, then I don't see why our pets wouldn't be a part of the new creation.
Biblically, it seems clear that animals are a part of creation, however, the Bible isn't clear about whether we will know the animals that were our pets on earth. I am speculatively hopeful Lady (my dog in the picture) will be part of the new creation. If God is defined by love and Lady was a member of our family on earth that we loved, I think it is likely that we will know her and she will konw us.
Maybe it's a little cheesy and mushy. And maybe it's just a selfish hope, but I do believe that the Bible is clear that animals are a part of the new creation, so why not the animals that were our pets?