Do Animals Go to Heaven When They Die?

Ladies Fellowship – January 14, 2020

Cover photo courtesy of Prairie Girl’s mommy – Prairie enjoying the Dog Park

These days there are so many adorable animals that have risen to the status of celebrity on social media. If we don’t follow them, at the least we easily get captivated by photos and possibly take the time to watch cute videos.  We call them our “fur babies” and grieve when they die. 

My cat Bubu thinks he has a lot to say about this subject, too!

Do animals go to heaven?  What are your initial thoughts on this?

I know as much as I love my cat and have loved animals in the past, this has been a question I’ve asked more than once and even lightly looked at, so I finally decided to take the time to really look into it.  I was surprised by what I found, and I think you will be too!

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15: 39-44 together to see if it offers us any insight, as this portion of scripture speaks about the resurrection of the dead.

39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 

Photo courtesy of Ember’s mommy – Ember playing “peek-a-boo”

Does anything within this passage stand out to you?

The first thing that stood out to me was verses 39-44, where the Apostle Paul talks about the resurrection of the body in particular, explaining that if there is a natural (or earthly) body, then there is also a spiritual body, making it clear that man and animals both have fleshly bodies, and as a result will both have spiritual bodies as well.  Where there is one, there is the other.  Do you agree?  What are your thoughts surrounding this?

For anyone who might be wondering about salvation for animals, there is another portion of scripture I’d like for us to read – Romans 8:18-21:

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

What does this tell us about creation?

I like to think this scripture is important to point out because it helps to address a side thought that often arises around this subject, noting that salvation is for man only, and that animals do not have a soul and so therefore cannot receive the gift of salvation.

Taking the time to really think about this scripture, we understand that it was never the choice of creation to be subject to a fallen state.  This means that creation itself did not sin, and is now in a fallen state as a result of man’s choice. Therefore, creation is not in need of salvation, but of redemption to its original state. Salvation is offered to man, but redemption in the end will be granted to all creation regardless.

What can we take away from these two portions of scripture?

What I take away from 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 8 is that God delights in His creation and does not see it as disposable.  I truly believe that, as animals do have earthly “bodies”, they will also receive heavenly ones – not because they obtained it through the gift of salvation, but because it was given as a result of the redemption promised in Romans chapter 8.

What else does the scripture have to say about Heaven and animals?

  • There are also scriptures that talk about ALL flesh praising God and seeing His salvation:
    • Revelation 5:13, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’”
    • Psalms 145:21, “My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever”.
    • Luke 3:6 “And all flesh will see the salvation of God”
  • The prophet Isaiah had visions of animals in God’s kingdom: Isaiah 11:6, “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them.”
  • Of course, Jesus rides a white horse 😄 Revelation 19:11, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.”

How does God feel about His creation?

  • Psalms 24:1 (The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains…)
  • Psalms 50:10 (Every beast is His and the cattle on a thousand hills)
  • Psalms 89:11 (The world is His and all it contains)
  • Psalms 146:6 (a reminder of Genesis – He made them all)
  • Matthew 10:29 (not one sparrow falls apart from the Father knowing it)

What about scriptures that tell us that earth will be destroyed – where is there redemption for creation in that?

For those of you who might be wondering about the scripture reference in Revelation 21:1 regarding a “new heaven and a new earth”, noting the old heaven and the old earth will “pass away” – I believe the earth is burned with fire at the final end of the day of the Lord.  I also believe confusion comes within the few verses where the translation makes it sound as if the earth is completely annihilated. away.  The other 15 or so verses on this subject state the earth will be here forever.  So, which is it?

Renovated, not annihilated?

The “new” heaven and “new” earth being referenced, in context, occurs at the end of the millennial, after the 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth, which according to scripture takes place after His second coming. 

The Greek word for “new” as found in Revelation 21:1 is “Kainon/Kainen/Kainos”, meaning “new, fresh – not found exactly like before”, and it is the same Greek word used for “new” in the term “new creation” or “new creature” found in 2 Corinthians 5:17.  Based on this, I believe the fire 2 Peter 3 references will be for the purpose of cleansing, removing of the “dross”, making all things new – not for the purpose of totally destroying.

Interesting scripture studies/reads on this include: Psalms 37:29;78:69; 104:5; 105:10-11; 125:1-2; 1 Chronicles 23:25; 28:8; Isaiah 60:21; Ezekiel 37:25; Joel 3:20, and of course Romans 8, as noted above.

Job 12:7-10 NIV: 7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you,or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,or let the fish in the sea inform you. 9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? 10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

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