All Dogs Go To Heaven….Or, Do They?

Photo by: Collin Key

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

Mark Twain

STOP!!  If you think I am going to answer this question, then quit reading right now because you will be disappointed. Better brains than mine, better educated people, and more learned Biblical scholars have attempted to answer this question, and not succeeded, and neither have I. Unless you have been to Heaven and lived to tell about it, you cannot say for sure what happens there. However, you can have a well-developed and well-founded opinion, and I would just like to add my to the mix and hope it provides you with some insight.

I once heard  Joni Eareckson Tada speak about animals not having souls, and therefore not being in heaven to greet us. She quoted  this verse from Ecclesiastes,  “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” Eccl 3:21 – KJV She implied that this difference of direction meant that there would be no animals in Heaven. I tend to disagree with this strongly, as did many of her listeners.  She later retracted this statement.

However, when I look at the verses that precede this verse, one things becomes clear, not only do animals have spirits but they are, according to Scripture, quite similar in that they both are created by God and destined by God for other things. Ecclesiastes 3:19 states, “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.” – Eccl 3:19 KJV As I mentioned above, I am not a Biblical scholar, I have no training in Greek, Latin or Hebrew. Yet, to my simple mind the message seems pretty clear. All of God’s living creatures breath, die and are destined for other places. There is some debate on what those places might be, and therein lies the heart of the problem.  If animals do have spirits, as Scripture states, where do they go after death.

If you are a Hindu or a Buddhist, or a Native American you are raised to believe that animals have spirits or souls unlike European/Western Christianity where animals are, or were, considered simply an inferior life form. For example, in the Hindu faith all living creatures have an Atman, or soul, and that this soul is continually evolving growing and changing from one incarnation to the next. The Buddhist believer basically agrees with this but also believes that animals possess a spark of the “Divine” and can teach humans many things by their example of gracious living. Most Native American Nations also believe in the spirit or soul of the animal with many tribal religions calling upon animal spirit guides to help them as they walk upon this earth.  Even Islam and Judaism believes that animals have souls, although they do disagree as to their final destination. Which brings us back to the question of are there animals in Heaven.

Lots of people like to use the verse from Isaiah about the lions lying down with the lamb to provide Scriptural support for the view that animals will be in heaven. However, I am not so sure this particular verse applies. It reads, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” Isa 11:16 KJV. However, when you look at this verse in context with its neighbors it tends to lend itself more to an interpretation of the events during the Second Coming of Christ, or what is called, “The Millennial Kingdom.” A thousand year period of peace and happiness on earth where Christ rules as king.

In my mind, there are two strong verses that support the existence of not only animals in heaven, but the souls of our beloved pets as well. Both of these verses can be found in the Book of Revelations, which is interesting as it speaks specifically of the “End Times” and of the existence an d nature of Heaven. The first verse reads, “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” Rev: 19:11. Okay, so here we go. John has a vision of Heaven and he sees Jesus on a white horse. How could this be if there were no horses in Heaven? Now, it could be argued that if they had Hummers or other motorized vehicles in those days, John might have seen Jesus arriving in a jeep, or a tank, or an airplane.  However, they did have carriages, chariots, camel caravans and other means of transportation, and John did not see Jesus sitting in one of those. Instead, he saw him astride a horse. I find this interesting and it tends to lend credence to the argument that there will be animals in Heaven.

However, the most compelling argument, and the one that most people know is the verse in Revelations that speaks about no more tears. It reads, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”Rev 21:4 For many people, this is all the proof that is needed. No more tears, no more pain, no more death. Heaven simply will not be Heaven if it does not contain the souls of all our beloveds including our pets.

To give Joni credit, when she retracted her statement, she did agree that Heaven in order to be Heaven must include replications of our pets so that the pain of their passing would no longer exist. However, I am willing to take it one step further and say that, “We will see all our love ones in Heaven including our pets for our God is a good God and He desires more than anything else to fulfill the desires of the hearts of His children.”

I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness. If it takes my dog being there [in Heaven], I believe he’ll be there.

Rev. Billy Graham

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