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Archive for February 8th, 2019

Do Pets Go To Heaven?

Friday, February 8, 2019
posted by Jim Murphy

Since I have lost my beloved cat Molly, I have pondered this question many times. Some Christians say that the bible doesn’t mention pets getting into the kingdom of God and this really disturbs me. Personally I believe that Heaven supposed to be a perfect, happy place. Pets are a huge part of human life. Would God eliminate our furry friends from entering his kingdom? I think not. I believe that everything we know and love will be included in the kingdom of Heaven. Guideposts says this on the subject.

The Bible does indeed have an answer about whether we will see our furry loved ones again.

Consider the story in Genesis of the very first covenant established between God and his people, made with Noah right after the flood.

The clouds part and the world’s first rainbow appears. God tells Noah that he is creating a covenant “with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.”

God goes on to say that his covenant with “all flesh” shall never be “cut off”—a strong suggestion that animals will not be excluded from his dealings with the world.

(This passage was an inspiration for “Rainbow Bridge,” an anonymous poem that has become very popular on the internet. It describes how when people arrive at the gates of heaven, the first thing they will encounter is their deceased pets.)

Then there’s Luke 3:6. “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Or Mark 16:15—a passage well-loved by that great friend of animals, Saint Francis of Assisi. The risen Jesus tells the Apostles to go into the world and “preach the Gospel to every creature.”

Jesus filled his teachings with references to animals. His promise in Matthew and Luke that not even a sparrow falls to earth without God’s knowing it subtly but powerfully suggests what every grieving pet owner feels: God refuses to forget a single one of his creatures, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

What about the argument that runs: “Animals can’t go to heaven because the Bible says they don’t have souls”? Norm Phelps points out in his book, The Dominion of Love that the Hebrew term repeatedly used to describe animals in the Old Testament is nephesh chayah.

Chayah means “living,” while nephesh is the Hebrew term for the force that animates the body—what Phelps describes as “the whatever-it-is that makes a person or an animal a conscious, sentient individual.”

A funny thing happened when this term was translated into English. In most English versions of the Bible, different words are used to translate nephesh chayah depending on whether animals or people are being discussed.

In Genesis 1:21 and 24, for example, Phelps points out that nephesh chayah is translated as “living creature.” But in Genesis 2:7, where the term refers to people, not animals, it’s translated as “living soul.”

The use of two different terms in the English translation completely blurs the fact that in the original Hebrew, no such distinction exists.

Why did the Bible’s english translators take such pains to use different terms for the souls of animals and people, when the Hebrew of the Old Testament repeatedly uses just one? Probably because they were concerned not to contradict Genesis teaching that humans alone are created in God’s image.

But to acknowledge that animals have souls isn’t to usurp the unique place of humans in God’s creation—as the original Hebrew makes clear enough.

Of all the biblical passages that I ultimately discovered I could turn to for consolation, the most moving and compelling is the Old Testament’s single greatest passage prefiguring the Christian heaven—Isaiah’s vision of the Peaceable Kingdom:

“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.”

Why, when Isaiah wanted to paint the ultimate picture of heavenly fulfillment, did he choose to make such rich use of animals? Because he knew what every pet owner knows: A world without animals is a barren one. And clearly, a heaven without our pets would be less heavenly.

So expect to see your departed. loved furry friends when you cross over that bridge into the kingdom of God!

Remember, your pets count!

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