Many people who love their pets wonder if animals go to heaven. This question can be answered from many different perspectives. Somebody who has never experienced deep friendship with an animal, could easily think animals surely don’t go to heaven. But someone who has had an intimate relationship with God’s creatures, will have a totally different perspective on this.
Both humans and animals have been lovingly created by the same Father in heaven, to live alongside each other. In our ‘civilized’ western world we have lost so much divine wisdom on how to live alongside of animals, that we tend to think animals are not important to God. But they are very important to Him! God even says that caring for animals is a characteristic of a righteous man:
‘A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.’ (Proverbs 12:10)
Animals are however not equal to humans, because the Bible explains that only humans have been created in God’s image:
‘God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ (Genesis 1:26, 27)
But just because God only created humans in His image, doesn’t mean He didn’t put a lot of Himself in animals as well. The Bible speaks about creatures in heaven who have four different faces:
“In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.” (Revelation 4:6)
Furthermore Jesus Christ is compared with both a lion and a lamb, and the Holy Spirit is pictured as a dove. The Bible also says that as the result of the restoration God is bringing through Jesus Christ, the relationship between animals and humans will be fully restored:
‘The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.’ (Isaiah 11:6)
The Bible doesn’t literally say animals go to heaven. But I have explained that animals are far more important to God, then some of us think. Still there are some verses that can help us. For example:
‘Ask the animals, and they will teach you… In God’s hand is the life of every creature, and the breath of all mankind.’ (Job 12:7, 10)
Another scripture is even more clear:
‘O Lord, You preserve man and beast.’ (Psalms 36:6)
The word ‘preserve’ is the translation of the Hebrew word YASHA which means ‘to be delivered, to be saved’. Young’s Literal Translation translates this verse as:
‘Man and beast Thou savest, O Jehovah.’(Psalms 36:6)
These scriptures give us an indication that God indeed saves animals.
It is good that christians look to the bible to find answers to their questions. But a major mistake many of us make, is that we think all answers to all questions we can ever have, must be answered literally by the Bible. That is not how God wants us to use the Bible.
Although the Bible is very important, it is not our only source of wisdom and truth. Jesus Christ never said ‘the Bible will guide you into all truth’. No, He told His disciples:
‘But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth’ (John 16:13)
In order to know God, we both have the written word of God and the Holy Spirit who is our teacher. The apostle John said:
‘…you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things...’ (1 John 2:27)
It can never contain the full wisdom of God. The apostle John said that the entire world would be too small to contain all the books that would have to be written, if people tried to write down all that Jesus Christ had said and done (John 21:25). Jesus Christ has revealed much more than which has been recorded. Why didn’t God give us all this revelation in written form? Because the core message of the Bible is:
Have intimate friendship with God! Learn to hear the voice of God for yourself. Let Him be your Guide, your Father, your Friend, your Teacher, your Helper. It’s all about a personal relationship with God.
Moses knew this wonderful relationship with God:
‘The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.’ (Exodus 33:11)
Jesus Christ also called us His friends, if we obey Him and remain in His words and His love for one another (John 15:15). So there are truths that aren’t written in the Bible – not because they are ‘not biblical’, but simply because God is too big to be contained in one single book, and His wisdom exceeds whatever can be written. If we have a truly intimate relationship with God, as our Father and Friend, we can also ask Him personally about certain matters, like for example: do pets go to heaven?
When my beloved horse died, I asked the Lord if Shine was gone forever. I felt Him speak to my heart that one day I would ride him again, in the meadows of heaven. I knew Shines body would return to dust, but the unique person Shine was not simply gone. He was a living soul, who could feel, think, understand, be creative, his heart could be wounded and mended, he could rejoice and grieve, and so much more.
Jesus Christ and the angels are for example pictured as real horse lovers, riding on the back of stunning stallions! I am sure He has the most glorious stables we can ever imagine, filled with horses that will blow our minds.
There are two main objections christians have against the idea that pets go to heaven. The first is that animals supposedly don’t have a soul. Some believe that only humans have a soul and animals are mere biological machines, who stop functioning and return to the dust of the earth. I used to think this too, but I must say that the Holy Spirit has been teaching me a little bit about honesty and humility the last couple of years. I will explain what I mean. As christians we sometimes have the idea that we know everything about the spiritual realm, only because we have read a few things in the Bible.
Most of these things are still a great mystery and the Bible only lifts a corner of the veil for us, leaving most of it covered. It can be confronting and hard for christians to acknowledge this, because many of us have been raised in churches where there is a lot of systematic theology, and we tell ourselves that we know it all.But… what do we know for sure about the unseen dimensions?
When you have an intimate relationship with an animal, you can be amazed at the depth of emotion, intellect, personality and sensitivity of this beautiful creature. Animals often sense the spiritual realm better than humans. Horses for example can sense unseen realities in an astonishing way. If I honestly look at the level of sensitivity of humans compared to horses, than one would rather be led to believe that humans have no soul and animals do have a soul, because horses are far more sensitive to spiritual and emotional realities. Humans are often so insensitive, they simply have no clue what is happening on deeper levels. Many humans are like a cold rock, sensing nothing but the obvious. Animals are not like this at all.
Yet we claim to be far superior to animals, when it comes to spiritual things. I believe we can learn a lot from our animal friends, as God originally intended it. He designed us to live in close relationship with all the animals He created for us, to be our friends and companions and from whom we could learn a lot.
Have you ever noticed that dogs can be very comfortable with one person and, seemingly without any obvious reason, be afraid or very careful with another person? Many humans often have no clue, as if they are completely blind and insensitive to the realities their dog is sensing. The same goes for horses.
The horse responds to its owner based on what the human unknowingly emits. When a person is stressed, the horse senses this and will become stressed. When a human is loving and peaceful, the horse will be peaceful as well. When a person is fearful, the horse will be uncomfortable. And so on. Because of this high sensitivity of horses, they are often used in therapy, to help people become aware of themselves and their issues, so they can work on them.
Anyone who works with animals on a deeper level, and who invests effort to learn the language of animals, will laugh at the idea that animals have no soul. They are far more sensitive than humans and they pick up a whole lot more of the unseen realm than we do.
A second objection to the idea that animals go to heaven, is the thought that animals can’t be saved from sin, because they can’t make a moral choice to believe in Jesus Christ. The Bible however says nowhere that animals are guilty of sin. Man is guilty of sin, because Adam and Eve disobeyed God and allowed the knowledge of good and evil to enter their hearts and minds, through the eating of the forbidden fruit, offered by satan (see Genesis 3).
And sin was passed down to the descendants of man, not to the descendants of the animal world.
‘…sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin…’ (Romans 5:12)
The Bible says that all creation came under a curse, meaning that death, sickness, suffering and bloodthirstiness entered God’s once perfect creation. But not creation itself caused this curse: man is responsible for this. Now creation suffers from the consequences. And the Bible says that all of creation is longing intensely for the salvation that will come, once the sons of God beging to arise in the earth.
‘For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.’ (Romans 8:19)
Then the curse will be completely removed. The Bible doesn’t say animals need to repent, before they can be saved. Man is guilty, not animals. So the argument that animals can’t be saved, is not valid.
Based on the importance God gives to animals, what the Bible says and what I hear the Holy Spirit say, I believe we may expect to see our beloved pets back in heaven. Although they are not created in God’s image, like man, they are very precious to God, who is also their Maker. He created them with far more sensitivity and intelligence than most of us realize. We can learn a lot from animals, if only our hearts would be open for them…
David Sorensen had a dramatic encounter with God, which completely transformed his life. He decided to spend the rest of his life showing others show real God is and how much he loves us. David's desire is that people would learn how to experience God as the most beautiful reality there is.