It has been a while since I last spoke with you, but felt the need to contact you again since our beloved pet rabbit, “Honey”, died 29 December 2012. As you probably recall, my wife and I have not been blessed with any children (to date), and have often kept “house” rabbits (who live indoors with us) and are very much like our “children” to us. Although, we do recognise they are not “real” children.
My wife’s and my belief is that we will see her again in the New Earth – and I recall hearing you say that in one of your sermons that you believe there is evidence in the bible to support this as well.
However, I am often surprised at some of those beliefs that differ from this response, and, if possible, would like to hear your sermon (if available) or scriptural references to help support our own understanding, and possible argument’s for overcoming objections.
I obviously do not want to cause unnecessary debate about such issues with others, but knowing how much I appreciate your own word on the Scriptures, I would value your teaching at this very sad time in our lives at the moment. I know our pets can never replace our Lord, but I also believe the Lord would not destroy those gifts He blesses us with.
Dear (name withheld),
I want you to know that I grieve with you. The sting is sharp, I know from personal experience.
Our English Springer Spaniel (Royal) loves us both but is clearly “my” dog.
I love dogs, grew up with them, feel a bond with them, but also like cats, thankfully, because my wife is the opposite regarding cats and dogs (we have 3 indoor cats and feed several strays). He follows me everywhere, even room to room — he is sleeping about 6 feet behind me right now. My wife says I love Royal more than I love her, but I tell her that is not true — I love her just as much. (She has a great sense of humor…fortunately!)
Regarding your question about our beloved pets being with us in the New Earth, I have several reasons for believing it. One is that the New Earth is the parallel to the Garden of Eden; even the Tree of Life is mentioned as being in the New Earth (Rev. 2 and 22). You may have heard my sermon explaining that the word “paradise” (i.e., “Today thou shalt be with Me in paradise) refers to the Garden of Eden/Christ as the Tree of Life.
Milton wrote, “Paradise lost will become paradise restored.” God will not make new things. He makes “all things new.” In other words, He restores creation to it’s original state…and beyond. Of course we know that animals were in the Garden. Are we seriously to believe that plants will be in the New Earth/New Eden but not animals?
Both men and animals were given the breath of life (Gen. 1:30, 6:17, 7:15, 22). That does not say they are equal in God’s sight. It does say that they have the breath of life. We know that whatever the breath of life means, it is something that men and animals have in common.
The curse upon man, which glanced off the ground and resulted in the death of animals as well as man, will be lifted in the New Earth. While animals cannot sin and thus do not need a savior, they are subject to the curse. The lifting of the curse from man will also be the lifting of the curse from animals. Here is a vivid description of the New Earth (obviously, since it cannot be of this present earth!):
Isa 11: 6 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. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed ; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
The Enlightenment was the first time in history that men questioned the fact of souls in animals. Before that it was universally believed. And the Enlightenment, as you know, was no friend of Christianity.
Further, I do not believe that the deep bond the Lord gives between us and our pets, and which He gives them to reciprocate, is a trifle. He created us to respond to them and created them to respond to us. See II Sam. 12:3-5. The rich man who killed the house pet deserved to die. The Lord takes such a crime very seriously.
Randy Alcorn wrote in his book “Heaven”:
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 decision to put animals with people, under their care? Since he’ll fashion the New Earth with renewed people, wouldn’t we expect him also to include renewed animals?”
“O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.” (Ps. 36:6)
“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast” (Prov. 12:10) Would the Lord commend a righteous man for this if an animal’s life was not precious to Him? Granted, this is not a proof text for animals in the New Earth, but it builds toward it.
Ps. 148:10-13, speaking of life on the New Earth,
“Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent ; his glory is above the earth and heaven.”
An argument from Ecc. 3:21 has been made, but it is easily answered: animal souls are different from men’s. They need a body, men do not, so redeemed men’s souls go to heaven. Animal souls do not, they go to the earth, awaiting the earth made new. (Note it does not say “downward to hades,” but “to the earth.)
Remember that heaven is temporary. Redeemed souls await the New Earth.
And remember that the Lord didn’t just save Noah and his family. He took special care to save the animals by causing them to go into the ark.
The Lord made a covenant not just with Noah, but with the ANIMALS, too! See Gen. 9:8-17 and the passage from Hosea below.
“God’s plan for a renewed Earth after the Flood emphatically involved animals. Wouldn’t we expect his plan for a renewed Earth after the future judgment to likewise include animals? If the rescue of mankind in the ark is a picture of redemption, doesn’t the rescue of the animals in the ark also anticipate their restoration as part of God’s redemptive purposes?” (Alcorn, ibid)
“And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground:and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies.”
Rom 8:21 clinches it:
“…the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
What more Biblical proof could one ask for??!!
My heart goes out to you. May the Lord wipe away every tear from your eyes and give you peace in the sure knowledge that Honey will greet you in the New Earth. And think of what a reunion that will be!!
In His Name,