This is a question that we would love to be able to answer with yes. We all love our pets (at least most of our pets) and many believe that they will go to Heaven when they die, but the Bible does not say that. What do we know about the destiny of animals at death? Is there any indication that there might be animals, especially our pets, in Heaven?
The Bible tells us that both man and beast have the breath of life (Genesis 2:7; Genesis 1:30, 6:17, 7:15, 22). While animals were created by God with a respiratory system by which they breathe, in Adam the breath of life was breathed into him by God.
Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
The breath of life God breathed into Adam was the very breath of God, the Spirit of God, and it gave life to his soul. Adam’s life was sustained physically and spiritually by the Holy Spirit until he sinned. When he sinned everything changed in ways that we don’t fully understand, but we are told that the life of man after the fall is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11) We also know that as a result of the fall of Adam all creation is dying. This raises the question, how should we understand the eternal destiny of man and animals?
Ecclesiastes has a passage that helps in answering this. It speaks of the breath of life in the respiratory system of both animals and man and where their bodies go when their last breath is breathed.
Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.
This is speaking of physical death. The “one breath” referenced in verse 19 is the breath generated from the respiratory systems of humans and animals. It’s understood this breath will cease.
Verse 20 further confirms that this is about physical death. “All go to one place” is a reference to the physical bodies of both man and animals going to the grave at death, and “all return to dust” is about the decomposition of the bodies. These verses speak of the destinies of both man’s and animal’s physical bodies. Physical bodies of both go into the grave. But only man has a spiritual destiny.
Created in God’s Image
Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), animals were not. That means man is a triune in his being, just as the Godhead is triune. God is Father, Son, and Spirit. Man is body, soul, and spirit. Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 spoke of the death of the body, but what about the soul and spirit? Verse 21 reveals this answer.
Ecclesiastes 3:21 Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?
This verse indicates that both man and animals have spirits. The Bible doesn’t explain about the spirit of an animal, but we know that man has a soul, which is the essence of his being, and his soul is the vessel of his spirit. A simple reading of Ecclesiastes 3:21 tells that the spirit of man goes upward—an indication that it goes to God who gave it, and “the spirit of the animal …goes down to the earth”—into the grave along with the body. Because man’s soul is eternal, and all souls will live eternally somewhere, all will be judged by God.
Hebrew 9:27 tells that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” At physical death, a soul that has been made alive (regenerated) by the Holy Spirit is received into Heaven to live eternally with Jesus. The soul of unregenerate man will be judged unworthy and will go to the abode of the dead, the place in the belly of the earth that we call Hell.
But what about “All Dogs Go to Heaven?”
For those who remember the movie by that name, it was an entertaining movie, but it was not theologically sound. There is nothing in the Bible that confirms our pets being in Heaven.
There are passages that speak of animals in the Millennial Kingdom. The book of Isaiah tells that these animals will be at peace with each other and with man.
Isaiah 11:6-9 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. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 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 Millennial Kingdom is an earthly kingdom, this is not Heaven. The Bible does not tell where these animals came from, but just as there will be people who will live through the seven-year Tribulation and enter into the Millennial Kingdom, it is reasonable to think there will also be animals that will survive the Tribulation and be on earth when Christ returns to rule and reign. Some would be household pets and others undomesticated or wild animals. The only thing we know for certain from the passage in Isaiah is that there will be animals during the 1,000-year reign of Christ and they will live at peace with man.
Are there horses in Heaven?
We do read of Jesus returning from Heaven on a horse (Revelation 19:11), but even that is not biblical support for animals going to Heaven when they die. Are there horses in Heaven? Possibly, but they wouldn’t be horses that had died and gone to Heaven. Yes, Jesus is described as returning from Heaven on a horse, but even that verse does not tell us that there are horses in Heaven.
It’s sad to think that there is no afterlife for our beloved pets, but the Bible is quite clear on this. Just like all creation (with the exception of man) animals live for a season and then die. We do not find any scriptural evidence that our pets, or any animals from this earth, go to Heaven.
Remember, we are told that there is only one way to Heaven and that is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We also know that Jesus’ atonement was for the sins of man, the sins of those who are created in God’s image. It was not for animals, nor was it for fallen angels. Only man is redeemed by Jesus and given His righteousness so when one stands before God he has been made worthy to enter Heaven.
God has given us animals to love and enjoy here on earth. We will miss them when they die and we will grieve the loss, but Jesus will comfort us in this sorrow, just as He does in all things. In the death of a loved pet, give thanks for the joy it has brought you and be quick to say:
…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD. (Job 1:21)
Be Ready Always...
to give a reason for the Hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15). When you can’t share the gospel with your words, share it by leaving tracts that tell people about God's grace.
When leaving a tract, always be diligent to pray about the short gospel message. Pray that it be found by someone who is in need of Jesus’ saving grace, and pray that the person will have a tender heart and open ears to receive the gift Jesus desires to give them.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, even a small tract can help in turning a broken sinner from darkness to light.
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