Do Animals Go to Heaven?
After my beloved cat Remy died, I pondered this question at length. A few days later, while approaching a co-worker’s office, I caught the end of her conversation with another. They were apparently discussing heaven.
“Do animals go to heaven? I always hope to see my dog there….”
“No,” was the reply, “They don’t go to heaven, they have no soul!”
What? No soul? I did not offer the objection that arose in my heart. Obviously this sincere woman did not know Remy….nor the likes of Cookie, Scout, or Tina. What about beautiful Kelly, our seeing eye dog, whose heart was solely bent on pleasing her family? And Alison, her ‘co-worker’ who, in times of grief, could read my countenance and run to comfort me? Alison….who, in her senior years of retirement, saved her family during a house fire…. no soul???
I began a Biblical search to grasp a broader understanding and, quite frankly, validate my hopes and own anticipation. Animals are frequently present in the Bible, most often in a positive and purposeful way. God is not indifferent to them at all, in fact He displayed His unmatched creative glory when He fashioned the animal kingdom.
The Lord’s overtures to animals are actually vast, from Genesis – where He ushered in every specie into an ark – to the ‘lion and the lamb’, noted in scripture as present in His coming heavenly kingdom. In the book of Numbers, chapter 22, God ‘opened the mouth’ of a donkey, letting him speak his mind to his rider Balaam. It is obvious from this text that the donkey had more wisdom than his master.
God cares about animals, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” (Matthew 10:29) “In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:10)
We are but stewards of this earth and all that is upon it – God is the rightful owner of all, “….every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.” (Psalm 50: 10-11) . The Omnipotent and Omnipresent One knows every bird…while, according to National Geographic, man has yet to even identify 86% of earth’s species!
There is more in scripture to affirm that the Lord knows and cares for all his creation. No Bible scholar would dispute these findings. The question remains, do animals go to heaven?
Well known Christians such as Randy Alcorn and C.S. Lewis provide theological argument and insight supporting the presence of animals and/or pets in heaven. Scripture describes the presence of animals, living in harmony, in God’s coming kingdom: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together….The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, the lion will eat straw like the ox….” (Isaiah 11: 6-7)
If the soul is where the mind and emotion meet, where intellect and reason dwell, then yes, of course, animals have souls. Who doubts their capacity to discern friend and foe, express emotions of love, anger and fear? There is little doubt that animals communicate. They grieve for lost members – do they not love? Anyone with a beloved pet knows, they receive and give. Delving deeper, do animals have a spirit? Can they hear from God?
There are Biblical examples of animals hearing the call of God and obeying – at His call they came to the ark, at His call fish swam into nets. They are created for the service and pleasure of man but owned and governed by their Master. They live out the life designed by their Maker.
Jesus Christ provided forgiveness of sin to all who receive Him. As “…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23, we need a Savior. The shed blood of Christ is the atoning sacrifice for all who come to Him in faith. Through Jesus Christ we have salvation and life eternal, “…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” I John 5:11.
What about animals?
Assuredly, the Son of God did not die for the eternal life of animals. However, animals did not rebel against God. Within Biblical teaching we can see that it is man who is born with a sinful nature, man who rebelled against God, man who is capable of every wretched sin conceived in the bowels of hell. Assuredly, it is man who is in need of a Savior! Above all, we must ask, are we reconciled with God, are we heaven bound?
We have a Savior, our Good Shepherd, who has prepared our way to eternity. Much of what awaits for us there is a mystery. Animals will surely dwell in the coming Kingdom of God – will Remy be there? What about Cookie, Kelly, Scout? Why not?
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)