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Questions on the Afterlife: "Will there be animals in heaven?"

Animals are one the things that make creation beautiful, are they not? The sheer weight of creativity and diversity in the animal kingdom can inspire worship in even the coldest heart. But will there be animals in heaven?

It depends on what we mean by “heaven.” The answer will vary whether we are referring to the intermediate heaven where God reigns now or to the New Creation in the resurrected cosmos.

Are there animals in the intermediate heaven? Remember, the intermediate heaven is where we go when we die before our bodies are resurrected. Before God’s throne we see four living creatures described as mixes of different animals (Revelation 4:6–9). That said, it would be wrong for us to think of these as animals in the traditional sense, as they are sentient beings actively praising God. It doesn’t seem like there are any animals in the intermediate heaven.

As for the New Creation, I cannot fathom a New Creation without animals. Remember, the New Creation is a part of God’s fulfillment of his original plans for creation that started in Genesis 1–2. Were there animals in the original creation before sin? Yes. So unless we see something that is explicit to the contrary, we should expect that animals will be present in the New Creation.

What’s more, recall that humanity will reign alongside God in the New Creation (Revelation 22:5). Over whom will we reign? If Genesis 1:26–28 are any indication (and again, they seem to portray the same activity as Revelation 22:5), then we can be utterly confident that there will be animals in the New Creation.

Of course, when most people ask this question, they are likely wondering about a pet that has died. Do dogs “go to heaven”? The Bible does not say one way or the other, though Joni Eareckson Tada has a thought worth considering:

“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.” (quoted in Heaven by Randy Alcorn, digital edition)

Will animals be in the New Creation? Absolutely. Will our pets? It would fit within God’s character for them to be there, but we cannot be sure either way.