Animals In Heaven


Dr. John Hoole – April 19, 2015






I have been asked this question many times, by people of all ages.  This is a big question for many people, and stirs up great emotions especially for those who would like to see their pets in heaven.


So we actually have two questions.


                   1.      Will there be animals in Heaven?


                   2.      Will my pet be in heaven?


Let’s deal with the first question – will there be animals in heaven?


Genesis 1:25 NKJV


25     And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.


Genesis 2:19 NKJV


19     Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.


Those who argue for animals in heaven sometimes point to creation, where, after creating the animals, He pronounced them good.  The paradise of the Garden of Eden was teeming with animals.  Why would God have a future for us that would not include the pleasure and beauty of these animals?


The Word of God tells us that Heaven will contain many of the same things that were in the original creation --- things such as a river, trees, and fruit.  Why not animals also.


After all, animals are an integral part of earthly life, and testify powerfully of the creative, imaginative genius of God.  He created the giraffe, the camel, the platypus, the lion, the pachyderm, and the hummingbird.


Here is a quote from Dr. W. A. Criswell, former pastor of one of the largest Baptist churches in America in Dallas. and very instrumental with the founding of Dallas Theological Seminary.


Dr. Criswell stated, 


         “God has shown a penchant for varieties of life forms, and it would be difficult to imagine that this would not be perpetuated in the heavenlies.”


As I began looking at the biblical answer to our questions, I wanted to broaden my search to find what was the purpose of animals in God’s creation.  As I did, it became apparent I should narrow my search to this:  How have animals affected the human race, and conversely, how has the human race affected the animal kingdom?


Let’s look at some biblical facts about this issue.


1.  Both mankind and animals are formed from the ground (Genesis 2:7, 19.  By making that statement, I am not saying animals are equal to humans, because only mankind is made in the image of God.  But it does provide, at least in a minor way, a tie between them.


2.  God’s covenant with Noah included both people and animals (Genesis 9:9-11).


Genesis 9:9-11 NKJV


9       "And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you,

10     and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth.

11     Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."


This covenant was not one of eternal life, but that God would not again destroy the earth with a flood. 


3.  The fourth commandment, as recorded in Deuteronomy 5:12-15, includes a Sabbath rest for animals as well as people.


Deuteronomy 5:12-15 NKJV


12     Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.

13     Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

14     but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.

15     And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.


We know God saved the animal kingdom in the days of Noah and the great flood.  He brought two of every animal, and in some cases, seven.  When God destroyed the world as it was at that time, and saved humans and animals, could that be true when this world, as we know it, is once again changed?  We know that Revelation 20 speaks of a New Heaven and New Earth.  Does this indicate that animals are worth saving?


God not only saves animals – but at times, his covenants include them.  We read God covenant a moment ago, from Genesis 9, after the flood.  It actually was a restating of what God has said to Noah prior to the flood.


Genesis 6:18-19 NKJV (before the flood)


18     But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark — you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.

19     And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.


We also know that when God chastised reluctant Jonah about the need to save the people of Nineveh, He also included its many animals (Jonah 3:7-8).




Certainly not in the way he died for mankind.  People are made in God’s image – animals are not.  People have sinned – animals have not.  Because animals didn’t sin, they don’t need a redeemer in the way that we do.  But, in a broader sense, didn’t His death have wider ramifications than humanity?  Why do I ask that?  Consider a couple passages of Scripture.  But first, let me ask you another question.




1 John 3:8 says that “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (NIV)  The KJV says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifest, to destroy the works of the devil.”





The works of the devil have affected all of creation.  Romans 8 is very pointed concerning this subject.


Romans 8:21-23 NIV


21        …The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22        We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

23        Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.


This Passage seems to be a clear statement that our resurrection – the redemption of our body, will bring deliverance not only to us, but also to the rest of creation, which has been groaning in its suffering ever since sin entered it.  This burned-out planet, the barren deserts, and the fallen humanity will be delivered from the curse of sin.  Animals have been an integral part of earthly life.


The passage we just read, in Romans 8, indicates that on the New Earth, after mankind’s resurrection, animals who once suffered on the old Earth will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.


If God created a new race of humans on the New Earth – rather than raising the people who had lived on the old Earth, would it fulfill the promise given in Roman 8 of redemption, deliverance and resurrection?


         No!            Why?


To have any meaning, the people who are redeemed and resurrected into the new world must be the same people who suffered in the old world.  Otherwise, their longing for redemption would go unmet.  But doesn’t this passage speak of all creation in a similar manner?  The parallel Paul makes between mankind and the rest of creation seems to indicate so.


There are a number of passages in the Bible that links both God’s judgments and blessings upon mankind to also affect the animals likewise.  Let me mention just a few of them.


Jeremiah 7:20 NIV


20        Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground, and it will burn and not be quenched.


Ezekiel 14:12-13  (NIV) finds God asking some questions of Israel:


12        The word of the Lord came to me:

13        "Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals,…


The judgment of God on mankind, because of mankind’s sin also seemed to affect other parts of creation.  The same is true in times of blessings.


Deuteronomy 7:12-13 NIV


12        If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers.

13        He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land — your grain, new wine and oil — the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you.


Psalm 104 demonstrates God’s intimate involvement with the lives of his animals and His purpose for them.  This Psalm speaks of birds, cattle, wild donkeys, rock badgers, and lions (in verses 17-21), about which, he says,…


Psalms 104:24-25 NIV


24        How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

25        There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number —  living things both large and small.


Then in verse 27, the writer adds:  “they all look to You.”   The Psalmist continues, in verse 29, with, “When you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.  But then in verse 30 he adds: “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth.”


The “THEY” in verse 30 seems to be referring to those who died and returned to dust (verse 29).  And the same verse 30 indicates it happens at the same time when God “renews the face of the earth.”


God created everything – including animals – for His pleasure and His glory.  The Bible says, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by You will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11).  But the Bible speaks of even inanimate objects, such as the sun, moon and stars, praising God (Psalm 148:3).  Of course, we know these objects cannot praise God in the same ways as humans.  However, they praise God by shining.


Human beings were specifically created for glory.  “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I have created for My glory, I have formed him; yes, I have made him.” (Isaiah 43:7).


We do have other Scriptural evidence for the presence of animals in Heaven.


Revelation 19:11 (NIV)


11     I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 


3 verse later, we also read;


14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean


First of all, these verses tell me that there are enough horses in heaven for all the armies of heaven to ride.  We also know that horses were used in taking Elijah to heaven  (2 Kings 2:11)   I think there is a strong argument for animals in Heaven.  Heaven will be a beautiful Edenic paradise for all of us who are there.  And it seems you could argue for the presence of animals.


Other animals in these verses are not mentioned, presumably because they don’t play a role in Christ’s second coming.  But it seems likely that since there are innumerable horses in Heaven, there are all kinds of other animals too.


Will there be animals in Heaven?  Yes!  God’s original creation has been subjected to degradation and decay through sin, but it will be restored as it was in the beginning.


Pets in Heaven


There is a very interesting biblical story regarding the prophet Nathan.  We know Nathan is the prophet that God uses to convict King David.  Nathan confronts King David with a parable.


2 Samuel 12:3 NKJV


3       But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him.


                   Because we love animals, often the question arises: Will our pets be in Heaven?


As we have seen, I believe we can formulate a strong argument for the presence of animals in our eternal residence.  But, usually when I am asked about animals in Heaven, it is in conjunction with “Will my pet be in heaven?”


Humorist Will Rogers said:


“If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”


This statement was, of course, based on sentiment, not on theology.  However, it reflects something biblical:  A God-given affection humans have for animals.


We love our pets – whether dogs, cats, birds etc. – and often consider them to be members of our family.  The topic of animals and pets going to heaven received extra attention when Pope Paul IV said: “Paradise is open to all God’s creatures.”  The questions still remains – Do our pets go to heaven.


Before going on, it is most important to state that if pets do go to heaven, their owners will also have to go to heaven to see them.  But the Bible makes it very clear that the majority of people will NOT go to Heaven.


This part of our question about animals in Heaven is much more hotly debated.  If you know anything about church history over the last 300 years, you probably have heard of the name John Wesley (1703 – 1791)  John Wesley espoused animal immortality in his 60th sermon – titled “The Great Deliverance.”


On one side you have those who say the Bible doesn’t say anything about our pets in Heaven, so, obviously they are not going to be there.  On the other side are those who say the Bible doesn’t say our pets will not be in Heaven, so why not assume they will be there.


Billy Graham once responded to a little girl’s question, “Will my dog who died this week be in heaven?”  He replied,  “If that would make you happier, then yes, he will be.”


Randy Alcorn makes this statement:


         “Animals aren’t nearly as valuable as people and they don’t have eternal souls, but God is their maker and has touched many people’s lives through them.  It would be simple for him to recreate a pet in heaven if this would bring his children joy.”


                            “He’s the giver of all good, not the taker of them."


With all this in mind, I no longer consider it silly if asked whether or not their pet will be in heaven.  I know that God could resurrect them if He wanted to.  And just because the Bible says little about this is not reason to say it cannot happen.


We know animals will be on the New Earth, which is a redeemed and renewed old Earth, in which animals will have a significant role.  We have seen, in Romans 8, that animals are part of the entire creation that is anticipating their renewal at the resurrection of mankind.  This seems to indicate that at least some of the animals that have inhabited this earth will be made whole on the New Earth.  And might some of those be our pets.


John Piper is the pastor of a Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I also consider him a decent theologian on some topics.  I would probably exclude his position on Pentecostal issues.  He wrote this poem about the world to come:


And as I knelt beside the brook

To drink eternal life, I took

A glance across the golden grass,

And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast

As she could come.  She leaped the stream –

Almost – and what a happy gleam

Was in her eye.  I knelt to drink,

And knew that I was on the brink

Of endless joy.  And everywhere

I turned I saw a wonder there.


To end this discussion about animals in Heaven, I think it is safe to say having our pets in heaven should not be our focus.  Indeed, when we make it there, the thought of pets may not even cross our minds.  The Lamb of God will be our focus.  That doesn’t means, however, that we will not enjoy other thing and the beauty of our heavenly paradise.


We might have to put the issue of pets in heaven on the back burner, and wait until we get there.  Some may say that birds might sing the praise of God here on earth.  But the main song of heaven is sung by redeemed humans and it is about the glories of Christ’s redemption.


I want to end with a quote from Joni Eareckson Tada, in her book, Holiness in Hidden Places.  In the book she talks about whether she will see her pet schnauzer, Scrappy, in heaven. 


“If God brings our pets back to life, it wouldn’t surprise me.  It would be just like Him.  It would be totally in keeping with His generous character…..Exorbitant.  Excessive.  Extravagant in grace after grace.  Of all the dazzling discoveries and ecstatic pleasures heaven will hold for us, the potential of seeing Scrappy would be pure whimsy – utterly, joyfully, surprisingly superfluous….Heaven is going to be a place that will refract and reflect in as many ways as possible the goodness and joy of our great God, who delights in lavishing love on His children.  So will pets be in Heaven?  Who knows?”


Christ proclaimed from his throne on the New Earth:  “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)   It is not just people who will be renewed, but also the earth and “all things” in it.  Do “all things” include animals?  You would think so.


As to whether there will be animals in Heaven, God knows, but I believe the Scriptural evidence points to a “yes” answer.  As to whether our pets will in Heaven, God knows, and I am not sure we have the evidence from Scripture to be certain, one way or other.


We must not insist that God order things according to our desires or understanding.  Perhaps God may allow our beloved pets to be with us in heaven.  Or He may choose to create a new pet for you.  We must be willing to allow God to order things as He sees best.


Obviously, what God has prepared for us is wonderful beyond comprehension.  Therefore, love your pets as much as you can while they are here.  Those of us who go to heaven will later understand that everything worked out perfectly regarding our pets.