Do Animals Go to Heaven?
Our cat Wild Thing died July 18th of cancer tumor in her mouth. So I was interested in this from Lamb & Lion Ministries. What happened to Shannon dog happened to our cat.
Do pets go to Heaven?
Some thought-provoking answers to the age-old question.
By Michelle Shannon
Our dog, Sable, died late last night, May 24, 1998. She was just over 9 years old.
We had taken her to the vet on May 18, just six days earlier, and a tumor was found. But the vet said she was otherwise in great health. So, we decided to have the tumor removed after our camping trip that weekend.
When we returned Sunday, Sable was dying. She struggled to greet my husband, Steve, and then slumped down, breathing laboriously. She would not get up again.
We knew she would not make it through the night, so we stayed with her, gently stroking her fur and scratching her favorite places, until she was gone — just before midnight.
What a blessing it was to us to be able to be there for her in her last moments. We are greatly comforted that she was not alone.
Seeking an Explanation
It’s been a long time since we lost a pet. This time, though, we had a 5-year-old who would need an explanation. But, we knew what to say. It would be “easy,” regardless of our tears because we ourselves believed what we would say: “Yes, honey, Sable is in heaven with the Lord Jesus, and He is taking great care of her. And, yes, one day we will see her again.”
Over the past few years, it has been very disappointing to hear what other Christians have to say about animal death. One source said, in referring to the New Earth (our eternal abode), “there will be no animals at all…” Another said, “The Bible does not give us any reason to say yes to the question of whether or not a pet goes to heaven.”
Well, I have a problem with these conclusions. While it is true that the Bible is about Man, not animals, and that there is much about animals we are not told, God has given us just enough to comfort us.
God cares for the animals He created:
- Revelation 4:11 tells us that all things were created for God’s pleasure.
- Matthew 10:29 says that even when a little sparrow falls to the ground, God notices.
- Luke 12:6 says that God never forgets about the animals.
- Psalm 104:21-30 and Matthew 6:26 describe how God Himself feeds the animals.
- Proverbs 12:10 declares that a righteous man cares for the needs of his animals.
- Job 12:10 assures us that “In His hand is the life of every creature.”
Man’s sin brought death and suffering to animals. God had decreed in Genesis 1:29-30 that green plants and fruit were to be the diet for all creatures. People and animals alike were to be strictly herbivores. Carnivorous activity necessitates death and suffering, which, of course, in the beginning, would have had no part in the beautiful creation God had called “very good” (Genesis 1:25).
Man was given the responsibility of serving as overseer of the animals. In fact, it wasn’t until after the flood experienced by Noah that animals became afraid of people (Genesis 9:2). When Man chose to rebel against God, Man brought down not only himself but also all those for whom he was responsible. In Genesis 3:17 God told Adam: “Cursed is the ground because of you…” According to Hosea 4:3 this curse affected animals too: “Because of [the sins of Man], the land mourns, and… the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying.” Paul confirmed this in Romans 8:20 when he wrote: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it…”
But there is good news! Animals share in and even look forward to the redemption of Mankind accomplished by Jesus on the Cross. Because God cares for His animal creations, as seen above, they also reap the benefits of the redeeming Cross of Jesus. When He returns, the creation will be restored to its original “very good” state, and carnivorous activity will cease. This promise is found in Isaiah 11:6-11 where God says, “the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox… They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord…” (Isaiah 65:25).
In his allegorical book, The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis gives us a beautiful picture of a redeemed lady arriving in Heaven with a glorious processional of animals. An observer asks his angelic teacher:
“And how… but hullo! What are all these animals? A cat — two cats — dozens of cats. And all those dogs… why, I can’t count them. And the birds. And the horses.”
“They are her beasts.”
“Did she keep a sort of zoo? I mean, this is a bit too much.”
“Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.”
I looked at my teacher in amazement.
“Yes,” he said. “It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.”1
And, so, Sable, we know exactly where you are… in the caring palm of your Maker, bringing Him the pleasure for which you were created.
We look forward to seeing you in our processional.
Michelle Shannon lives in Houston, Texas. She is the mother of three children. She and her husband, Steve, attend First Baptist in Houston.