Friday, August 29, 2014

Will Our Pets (and Other Animals) Greet Us in Heaven? *

Part Twenty-Nine:  Animals in Heaven Brings Glory to God

When all is said and done, when all the evidence for animals inhabiting Heaven is mustered and analyzed, if earthly creatures share the new heaven and earth with redeemed humanity, it hinges totally on the selfless, astonishing, miraculous work of Jesus Christ. The reality of Christ’s resurrection guarantees the believer’s resurrection to eternal life (1 Cor. 15:20-23, 49). If animals are blessed with eternal bodies, whether resurrected or recreated,  it too will depend entirely on the redeeming work of Jesus Christ for the glory of God.

At Jesus first advent on Earth, God “rescued” believers “from the dominion of darkness and brought [us] into the kingdom of the Son he loves,” (Col 1:13). Jesus reconciled “all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross” (Col. 1:20). Jesus removed the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15) and promised eternal life in heaven for His followers (John 14:1-3). 

When Jesus returns to Earth the second time, His victory over death will encompass the whole of creation. Heaven and earth will become one, and nature’s curse will be removed forever (Rev. 22:3). This heavenly New Earth will be the old earth redeemed, renewed, and restored to its original unspoiled, uncorrupted, pristine state—as God originally created it to be. The late theologian Anthony Hoekema said it well:  “The work of Christ . . . is not just to save certain individuals, not even to save an innumerable throng of blood-bought people. The total work of Christ is nothing less than to redeem this entire creation from the effects of sin. That purpose will not be accomplished until God has ushered in the new earth, until Paradise Lost has become Paradise Regained.” (Quoted in Randy Alcorn, Heaven, 104)

The Challenges 

I want to end this series of twenty-nine articles with four challenges for skeptics who reject animals inhabiting Heaven, especially being resurrected, to ponder.  

First, if God and humans enjoy wonderful, heartfelt relationships with animals in this life, why would God remove such blessings in Heaven? 

Second, if this “old” earth will be redeemed and renewed to become the New Earth (Heaven), why would animals not be part of this continuity?

Third, if Jesus removes the fear and “sting” of death (1 Cor. 15:54-57), and reconciles “all things” in heaven and on earth (Col 1:20) through His atoning work on the cross, why would animals not be part of these “all things?”

Fourth, Paul teaches in Romans chapter eight that all “creation waits in eager expectation” for its redemption (19). Why would animals be waiting eagerly for their redemption if they are going to be annihilated when Christ returns? 

I have yet to hear a persuasive biblical, philosophical, or scientific argument for why animals will not join God’s people in Heaven.  I’m certain that the pets we loved and enjoyed in this life, and which served us faithfully, will spend eternity with us in the redeemed New Earth. I’m certain domesticated animals, whose suffering the human race is responsible for, will be recompensed in Heaven. And I’m certain the untamed animals that make the wilderness wild will roam the forests and fields of the new heaven and earth. 

One more thought, and this is for skeptics. Throughout this series of blog articles, I occasionally received comments from readers who are very hostile to the idea of animals joining God’s people in the new heaven and earth—despite all the biblical and other evidences I’ve provided to the contrary. (Fortunately, I’ve received many more affirmations than criticisms!) These critical comments always cause me to scratch my head. Why, I wonder, are some Christians so opposed to the idea of animals dwelling in the Eternal Kingdom? Why does it bother these people, even if animals are resurrected from earthly bodies? That animals will dwell in Heaven has nothing to do with the special status humans have in God’s eyes, that only people are created in His image, and that we are vastly more valuable to God than nonhuman life. I would think everyone would look forward to a future Eden-like Paradise where all God’s beloved creation will spend eternity together—both human and animal. 

For people like me, who relish walks in the wilderness with dog companions, who are thrilled to observe nature’s wild inhabitants, who dream of the day when we can scratch between the ears of lions and wolves, nap in the shadow of grizzly bears, race across meadows with deer and antelope, and perhaps even soar into the heights with eagles and hawks—such a future Heaven is indescribably exciting to anticipate. I for one look forward to it with eager anticipation! 

Thanks to all my faithful readers, and I look forward to starting a new series in a few weeks, after a brief hiatus.

*  The blog articles in this series are adapted from copyrighted material and may not  be reproduced in book or article form, either electronically or in print, without my written permission. But feel free to send links to these articles, with a brief introduction, to your personal email list, Facebook friends and groups, or other people who may enjoy them. Or post a link on your own website. If you would like to be added to my personal blog email list (people who receive an email notice whenever I post a new blog article), contact me through my website:

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