God Wants More For You. So Do We.

Are There Animals in Heaven?

Ask Pastor Alex, Episode. 49

This is the Ask Pastor Alex podcast with your host, Pastor Alex. All right, welcome back everyone. We are here with another episode and another question. The question for today’s episode is, are there animals in heaven? 

That’s a really cool question. It’s one that I actually was asked last year by a group of older kids at our child development center here at the church. I was recently asked this by someone from our women’s Sunday school class. I wanted to take the opportunity to address it here on the podcast. It’s a good question, but it’s one that surprisingly requires a fair amount of nuance. The reason it requires nuance is because in the church today, we typically think of heaven as the end goal. We sing songs like, “When We All Get to Heaven” or “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.” We say things like, I want to go to heaven, I can’t wait for heaven and so on and so forth. So, heaven has become the end goal for Christians today, but according to the Bible, it’s not. Now, that statement shouldn’t be controversial, but I understand that it is. So let me clarify. The end goal for Christians is perfect union with God. The location doesn’t matter. The person we’re with is what matters. One of my favorite pastors has exposed how we’ve made heaven into somewhat of an idol by saying this, quote, the critical question for our generation and for every generation is this, if you could have heaven with no sickness and with all the friends you’ve ever had on earth and all the food you’ve ever liked and all the leisure activities you’ve ever enjoyed and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven if Christ were not there? And how we answer that question exposes whether or not heaven is our ultimate goal or whether Christ is our ultimate goal.

So the first clarification we need to make is that heaven is not actually our end goal. It’s not our ultimate goal. Our end goal is to be perfectly united with God forever. Our end goal, the ultimate reason for our faith, what we are aiming towards, working towards, hoping in, in our faith is that perfect union with Christ where we will get to be with him and enjoy him forever. There’s a second clarification we need to make too, and that’s the fact that heaven is not our final resting place. Again, that sounds controversial, but it shouldn’t be controversial at all because the Bible

never once says that believers will spend all of eternity in heaven. In fact, the Bible describes heaven as the place where God lives and is surrounded by the heavenly host. And it also describes heaven as a temporary dwelling for believers. The key word there is temporary. It is not the permanent dwelling of believers. It is a temporary dwelling. When believers die, they go to be with Christ in heaven temporarily. It’s called in the Bible Abraham’s bosom or paradise. It’s a wonderful place, but it is a temporary dwelling. While we are there in heaven, we will not be in a physical form because the resurrection of the body doesn’t actually happen until the end when Jesus returns to earth to raise the dead and escort all people to the throne of God for the final judgment. It’s a place where we are still going to have longing and desire for an ultimate fulfillment. 

That’s why we read in Revelation chapter 5, we see there that the saints who were already in heaven are calling out to God asking Him, how long, oh Lord? They’re asking how long until we receive the resurrected glorified body? How long until Jesus returns and makes all things right? How long until the fulfillment? So I want you to understand what’s happening here. The picture depicted in Revelation 5 is of believers who were already in heaven and they are longing for fulfillment even while they are there in heaven in the presence of Christ. So heaven is a temporary dwelling for believers who die before the return of Christ where they will be with Christ and await His consummation of all things. 

So then we get into this question of, well, if heaven is in our final dwelling, then where is it? Where will believers spend all of eternity? And the Bible answers that. The Bible says that believers will spend all of eternity on the new earth. We actually read about this in the final two chapters of the book of Revelation. And specifically in Revelation 21, it describes the new heavens and the new earth. And it says that the new Jerusalem descends from heaven to earth as a bride adorned for her husband. And believers will actually then inhabit this city, the new Jerusalem. And the Bible goes on to say that the dwelling place of God is with man. And so we will be present with God. He will be present with us on the new earth for all of eternity. And so once we inhabit the new Jerusalem, we will actually spend eternity doing what God called Adam and Eve to do in the beginning, which was to expand His dwelling place to encompass all of creation. You see, when God put Adam and Eve in the garden, they were supposed to work it and keep it and expand its boundaries. They’re called to be fruitful and multiply, right? Because there’s going to need to be more hands to continue with the work of expanding His dwelling place to encompass all of creation. And that is what we will do in eternity. We will not just be playing a harp and singing while we’re leaning back on fluffy clouds, which is often what’s depicted in movies and TV shows. That’s not biblical at all. The Bible says that in eternity on the new earth, we’re going to be working, we’re going to be building, we’re going to be creating, we’re going to be designing and cultivating. And we are going to be expanding the dwelling place of God to encompass all of creation. In other words, eternity will not be boring in the slightest, but we’ll get more into that in another episode. But let’s focus on the animals for now. Okay.  So with those two clarifications in mind, we can now finally turn to address the question that was asked. Actually, we can phrase it as two questions. Number one, are there animals in heaven? And number two, will there be animals on the new earth? And so let’s start with the first one. Are there animals in heaven? Well, the Bible doesn’t actually have a lot to say about animals in heaven because that’s not its focus. All right.

So I want you to hear me say this. The purpose of the Bible is not to give us a detailed description of heaven. The purpose of the Bible is to give us a detailed description of God’s redemptive plan to redeem a people in Christ Jesus. So the Bible doesn’t go into extensive detail about heaven, but the Bible does mention at least one animal in heaven, maybe more, but at least one. In Revelation 19 11, we read, then I saw heaven opened and behold, a white horse. The one sitting on it is called faithful and true. And in righteousness, he judges and makes war. Now we know that the one it’s describing there is Jesus. And it says that Jesus is sitting on a white horse. So there is at least one animal in heaven. Jesus is white horse. Now that could imply that there are more animals, but it’s also possible that this is the only

animal in heaven. In fact, the data we have about this topic is so scarce that I don’t actually want to speculate further and risk reading something into God’s word that’s not there. So suffice it to say that in heaven, there is at least one animal, maybe more, but at least one.

Now a more relevant question, and the one that I think that this question that was asked is actually focusing on is will there be animals on the new earth? So when we’re inhabiting the new earth and we’re spending all of eternity there, will there be animals there? And this might surprise you, but interestingly enough, the Bible does actually address this topic. The Bible describes the new heavens and the new earth in Isaiah 65. And in Isaiah 65, 25, we read, the wolf and the lamb shall graze together. The lion shall eat straw like the ox and the dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain. We read something very similar in Isaiah chapter 11, verses 6 through 9. The Bible says, the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den and the young child will put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  So the Bible pictures the fullness of redemption and new creation even reaching to the animal kingdom. You see, our sin affected everything in this world from ourselves to creation to the animal kingdom. Our sin invited death and destruction into this world But the good news is that’s done away with in the new creation, in the new earth. All of creation will be restored to how it was in the beginning. And so we learned that natural predators and prey like wolves and lambs will actually live in peace with one another. Lambs will no longer kill other living creatures, but will eat straw. Snakes unfortunately will be there. But the good news is no animal will hurt any other living creatures. So we don’t even have to be afraid of snakes anymore. So safe is the new earth that a child will be able to play near a cobra’s den and put his hand into a viper’s nest. You will actually be able to approach and pet a lion without fear of that lion killing you or harming you in any way.

Furthermore, something really cool to think about here is the fact that since everything God created experiences renewal, I think it’s safe to conclude that animals that have gone extinct will be present in the new earth. And so it’s very likely that dinosaurs will be present on the new earth and we will get to live among them without fear of them. And that’s going to be really awesome that we get to be around all these creatures that we can admire from afar and appreciate from afar, but now in eternity on the new earth, we will actually get to live with them and be among them without fear of them. 

And so this is what the Bible says about animals in heaven and as well as animals on the new earth. In heaven, there’s at least one. It’s Jesus’s horse. There might be more, but we know there’s at least one. But more importantly, the Bible clearly states that there will be animals on the new earth. The animal kingdom will get to experience the renewal of Christ making all things new. They will be as God created them to be. They will not kill or endanger. They will be at peace with all and we will get to fully enjoy being with them without fear of harm or death. And again, just let me state here at the end that as good as all of this is, the best thing that we can hope for and desire for and aim for is to be with Christ forever. That is the most important thing in all of eternity. So I hope that this answer has been helpful and I look forward to answering more in the future.