Have you ever thought about how we love our pets so much? Someone visiting from another planet would be surprised by the way we treat our dogs. We take these furry, sometimes flea infested, time consuming, rolling in the yard, slobbery creatures into our homes. We talk to them like they are humans, worse, like they are human babies. We give them special nicknames, buy them treats, wash them, comb them, brush their teeth, put bows in their hair, give them Facebook accounts, get them regular checkups, clean up their messes. They sit with us to watch tv and the some of them sleep in the same bed.
We are crazy for our animals. What does God think about animals and will they be in heaven? First we need to look at the hierarchy of created things. The best chapter for understanding this order is Psalms 8:1-9
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
God is in a category alone
The Lord – God is so much above us that David writes, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” I’d like to give you some perspective on this. Have you ever walked by something small and not noticed it? Have you ever had to focus your attention on the pavement to see an ant at work? If you hadn’t stopped, looked downward and focused you might not have seen it. This is what David is talking about when he says, “that you are mindful” of man. He is saying that God is on a different level, and it shocks David that God even notices us, let alone that he would care for us. That He, would express His care in such a personal and giving way to give up something so precious. Not only does God notice us but He drizzles us with love as you drizzle chocolate syrup on ice cream. Completely covering us.
Back to the order of things in Psalms 8. Angels are the top of the hierarchy of created things
- Angels – Powerful messengers of God, over and over again people in the Bible are faced with an angel who tells them something. Sometimes they deliver warnings, sometimes it’s a promise from God, sometimes they give good news, sometimes they scare the person and sometimes humans don’t know that they are angels. There seems to be at least two states that they can take, extra shiny and normal.
- Man – Crowned in honor and ruler over all animals. Fallen into sin because of Adam and Eve’s sin. We are special because man and woman were made in the image of God, that doesn’t mean that we look like God only that we have a soul, understanding and free will. Our understanding is limited and finite unlike God’s understanding which knows no end. We are rational beings using logic, ethics, deductions.
- Animals – They can sense, feel and learn. They can chose to stay or go. Fallen under the curse, unable to sin. They suffer under the weight of the curse not because of evil that they committed but because of us.
Romans 8 :19-22
“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. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
4. Plant life – They grow, and reproduce other little trees, or weeds or bushes. They cannot feel, sense or learn.
5. Non living things like rocks – They have no breath, no feelings, no senses, no knowledge. They are inanimate objects. There is a very interesting passage in Luke 19 that talks about rocks.
“When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Do you see what Jesus is really saying? If these people don’t acknowledge me as king, I can make the lowest part of the created order cry out.
From our previous two days of heaven talk you know that God, the angels, man, plants and rocks will be in heaven, 5 out of 6. It would be strange to exclude animals from that list. Especially since God said He is making all things new, so that would include animals. I’m going to fire off several references to animals to give some context.
From the start of life on this planet God gave animals a special place. In Genesis 1 when God created animals, he said they were good.
One of man’s first job in Genesis 2:19-20 was to name the animals.
When Old Testament believers wanted to offer a sacrifice to God most of the time they offered an animal. This had large symbolic significance because they had to offer the best animal, no spots, no blemishes, the firstborn. Animals that they raised by hand, that they knew. The symbolism was that God offered His perfect sacrifice Jesus, without spot or blemish and precious to Him. In the same way they were to offer special animals to God.
There are numerous references in the Old Testament about how to take care of your animals and livestock.
Talks about God blessing livestock and field if we obey Him. In some ways animals are a reward to us.
Animals are a lesson to us about how awesome God is
Early in the spring I noticed a bird nest on the gutter of my house directly under the overhang. It was a perfect place for a nest, protected from rain, high enough to be safe from predators and firm in the wind. A fat robin laid 5 pale blue eggs in her nest and waited. After some time we saw scrawny heads peeking out of the nest. Over and over again momma robin would search for worms to feed her little ones. Then one day my 2 dogs started barking at the back door and scratched to get outside. There on our deck was one of the baby birds trying out his wings. He didn’t have the beautiful tan chest that full grown robins have, it was speckled and it’s wings seemed short and feathers stuck out in weird places. Looking at that bird made me think. A mother bird carried that egg, sat on them for 12 to 14 days heating them up with her own warmth in all kinds of weather. A mother robin has a brood patch which is basically a bald spot under a mother robin used for keeping her eggs warm. Throughout the day she will turn the eggs to keep them uniformly warm and to keep them from getting stuck inside the egg. Rarely will she leave the nest in those 2 weeks for more than 5 to 10 minutes. After hatching the mother and father will feed the blind, hairless, and quite ugly, baby birds for 9 to 16 days. Chewing their food for them then depositing into their mouth in an act that is absolutely gross but is also awesome parenting. God set all of those unique pieces in place creating a beautiful picture of a love that sacrifices for the good of another.
Psalm 104 talks about God interacting with mankind and animals. Here’s a brief quote.
“All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.”
God created all these animals who are on the land, in the sea or above the trees. There are some small and some enormous the whole of which we cannot number. That very God, our God, feeds each of them and waters each of them. God lovingly cares for each one of these animals in their own way.
In Genesis 3, the serpent or snake convinced Eve to eat from the tree that God said don’t eat from. God cursed the serpent, an animal, just like he cursed Eve to difficulty in childbearing and Adam with thorns and thistles in the land.
Genesis 9:8-11 – God makes a covenant with man to never flood the earth again but he also covenants with animals.
“Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals”
There is no verse that absolutely and clearly says, “Thine favorite pet wilt be in heaven above as it was in earth below, thus sayeth the Lord”. However there are several verses that talk about heaven and give us clues about what to expect.
Isaiah 66: 20-23 talks about a new heaven and a new earth and it says they will ride horses and mules to get there.
When God comes to judge the world at the end of the age. Psalms 96 says
“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.”
Why would animals rejoice if they weren’t invited?
Revelation 4 – We see 4 creatures, one looks like a man, one a lion, one a eagle and one an ox. All have 6 wings and eyes everywhere. These bring to mind animals. Why would God remind us of animals if they weren’t there?
Revelation 21 – talks about a new heaven and a new earth
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Everything includes your wonderful pet.
Isaiah 65:17-25 is the best set of verses on animals in heaven. This is a very familiar set of verses that start with “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.”
At the end of those verses it says
“The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.”
Animals have been valued by God since the beginning and they will be in heaven. Specifically it mentions horses, mules, wolves, lambs, lions, ox and snakes but it seems obvious that all animals will be there. Every type of dog and cat that you can imagine will be there. I think the “making all things new” includes the wonderful dogs that I’ve had in my life! Can we pray for no spiders? Please NO SPIDERS