Some of my fondest and most heart-warming memories while growing up as a kid were when our family had various pets. It was amazing how our family dog brought such joy and laughter to us all. I can also pinpoint times in which that same dog brought about great frustration such as when she chose to hurt me by chewing the head off of my only G.I. Joe action figure! I never saw any sorrow in her eyes after having done this evil deed! I even recall the day that my tough-skinned father shed tears when we had to put that dog to “sleep” due to health issues. I’m sure many of us have “Old Yeller” stories that tug at our hearts and cause us to cherish the specialness of our pets.
One might assume that all pets go to heaven and that we will be reunited with them on that glorious day when we see Christ. Might we finally own a perfect, obedient, and potty-trained pet? Scripture does not say a great deal about animals going to Heaven. We may even stand guilty of offering great confidence to our children that our pet will be in Heaven waiting for us on a golden leash.
We do know a few things in Scripture about this matter but we are not told at all in Scripture that animals have eternal souls—only humans do. We do know that both mankind and animals were given their breath of life from God (Gen. 1:30; 2:7; 7:15). But, God’s Word tells us that only humanity was made in the image of God and that man would live forever whether with God or eternally separated from Him (Gen. 1:26-27; Rev. 20:15). Being made in the image and likeness of God means that human beings are like God, capable of spirituality, with mind, emotion, and will, and they have a part of their being that continues after death. In Scripture, only man is identified with the ability to truly know God and to depart from this world and live with Him eternally. This does not mean that animals do not have a personality or that they are not distinct from one another. We are just not told that they have souls or that they have an eternal spirit that will live forever.
Remember, animals were a part of God’s creative order and I suspect that we will have them for certain in the Millennium (Isaiah 11:6) and there is a good probability in the New Heaven and Earth (Rev. 21:1). We do know that God is just, kind, and right in all that He does. We can know that Heaven will serve as the perfect place for all eternity with God present. I do believe that we would be adding to Scripture to say that we will see our current pets on Heaven’s shore waiting for us. We can know with confidence that we will stand in agreement with God when we reach Heaven whether we see our current pets there or not. Until then, lets enjoy the pets that God has created and blessed us with as gifts from Him to enjoy while here on earth.