Questions & Answers About Heaven
With Randy Alcorn
Will there be animals in heaven?
Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot pulled by horses (2 Kings 2:11). We're told there are horses in heaven (Revelation 6:2-8; 19:11). In fact, there are lots of horses, enough for the vast armies of heaven to ride (Revelation 19:11; 2 Kings 6:17).
Other animals aren't mentioned in the Revelation passages, presumably because they don't play a role in Christ's second coming (an army bringing deliverance rides horses, not Dalmatians or hedgehogs). But isn't it likely that since there are innumerable horses in heaven there are all kinds of other animals too? Why wouldn't there be? Why would we expect horses to be the only animals? If there were no other animals, there wouldn't be horses.
In Isaiah 65:17 God refers to creating a New Heavens and a New Earth. In subsequent verses the text seems to move back and forth from the millennial kingdom to the New Earth. God makes clear he will have animals living there-either in the millennium or the New Earth or both (Isaiah 65:25).
Some also argue for animals being in heaven based on Ecclesiastes 3:19-21, which says "Man's fate is like that of the animals...all go to the same place." However, in the larger context of Ecclesiastes Solomon is simply talking about the outward appearance of death. Men and animals both die and we can't see where they go. Scripture tells us elsewhere, however, that man has an eternal soul. It tells us he goes one of two places at death. Animals are not said to have eternal souls. They are not said to relocate when they die. The presumption would be that at death they cease to exist.
However, this doesn't mean beloved animals won't be in heaven. I once read Billy Graham's response to a little girl's question, "Will my dog who died this week be in heaven?" Graham replied, "If it would make you any happier, then yes, he will be." Animals aren't nearly as valuable as people, 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. I see no reason to believe he wouldn't if it would bring his children pleasure.
Romans 8:18-22 says that the whole creation was subject to suffering and futility because of human sin. The creation groans in longing for the liberation that will come to humans, and thereby to all creation itself. Creation is under man's dominion and will share the rewards of his redemption just as it shared the punishment for his sin. Animals are a central part of that creation, next to man himself the most significant part. After all, besides his wife, Adam was called upon to give names only to one other part of the creation-the animals (Genesis 2:19-20). He worked the garden, but he wasn't invited to name the vegetation. Clearly, the animals had certain qualities that set them above other creation. They were to be special to man, and his naming them makes his connection with them personal.
If the New Earth is all the best of the old earth and more, then we should expect it to contain animals. If animals weren't part of the New Earth, this would seem an obvious oversight. Eden was ruined through sin and will be restored through Christ's reign of righteousness. All that was part of Eden, and then made wrong through the sin of the first Adam, we would expect to be part of the New Earth, made right through the virtue of the Second Adam.
Would God take away from us in heaven what he gave, for delight and companionship and help, to Adam and Eve in Eden? Would he revoke his earlier decision to put animals with man, and under man's care? If he remakes the New Earth with new men (who look very much like the old men, only perfect), wouldn't we expect him also to make new animals (who will presumably look like the old animals, only perfect)?
2 Kings 2:11
As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.
2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
The Second Seal--War
3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come."
4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.
The Third Seal--Famine
5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come " I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.
6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine."
The Fourth Seal--Death
7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come."
8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.
2 Kings 6:17
Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see " And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent's food They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain," says the LORD.
For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity.
All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.
Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth?
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.
The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.