Do Pets Survive Death?
A great number of people have had pets in their lifetime. Maybe some of you have a pet of some kind at the present time. Dogs are slightly more popular than cats but both of them enjoy great popularity.
Other pets are also popular. Some choose a gerbil or a guinea pig. Others choose a snake or a lizard. Canaries and parakeets as well as other exotic birds are chosen by many. And still others choose tropical fish. When I was a young boy, I had three different dogs: Spot, Dasher, and Pal. Each of them meant something to me. Ive trapped and studied animals such as a squirrel, a raccoon, frogs, mice, snakes, and so forth. But since age 15 I’ve not had such a pet at all.
There are some indications that God is interested in His creatures in the animal world. Jesus said that if an ox were to fall into a well, surely his Jewish listeners would pull it out even on the Sabbath day (Luke 14:5). He also told His disciples that “not one [of the sparrows] will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29).
We might also remember the prophet Nathan’s parable of the poor man who had “one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished” and the lamb “grew up together with him and his children.” It would even “eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him” (2 Samuel 12:3). While this may seem somewhat extreme, we would suggest that it does show the prophet’s acknowledgement of the lamb’s worth. We might also recall how Solomon said, “A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast” (Proverbs 12:10). These scattered comments seem to say that animals are worth something to Godand they should mean something to us as well.
Depending on the person and the animal, pets can become surprisingly close and dear to the owner. In fact, as strange as it may seem, some people are closer to their pet than they are to other human beings. They talk to the pet and somehow think that the pet understands human conversation.
Some who live in the country raise animals for various reasons. They may have a dog for protection or a cat to rid the premises of mice. They may raise sheep, goats, pigs, cows, horses, donkeys, mules, and chickens for certain purposes (to ride, to eat, etc.), but they can become attached to them as a sort of “pet” as well.
If you are a pet owner, what does your pet mean to you? Some imagine (vainly imagine, I believe) that their dog or pet will be in the general resurrection and will be them and receive eternal life. They expect to have this pet with them through eternity! Some preachers have even held out hope to grieving owners that they will see their pet one day in Glory! Not long ago I heard a preacher state that since God is so merciful, he will probably give the owner his or her pet back again. Thus, this gracious God will have grace on the pet and especially on the pet-owner in this special way.
For instance, popular Bible student and teacher Ron Rhodes says, “I would like to think that we will see our beloved pets again someday as they participate in the benefits of the redemption that Christ has achieved for the human race” (What Does the Bible Say About?, p. 272). Even R. C. Sproul seems to hold out some hope for the restoration of animals: “Nowhere does Scripture explicitly state that animals do not have souls. . . . There’s nothing in Scripture I know of that would preclude the possibility of animals’ continued existence. . . . The Bible does give us some reason to hope that departed animals will be restored. . . . Whenever heaven is described, though it may be in highly imaginative language, it is a place where animals seem to be present” (quoted by Ron Rhodes, Ibid, pp. 271-272).
There are many Biblical problems with this speculative view. First, there is no Scripture that would suggest such a position. Thus, it would seem that to affirm such a belief, one would “exceed what is written” in Scripture (1 Corinthians 4:6). Second, the only way to experience eternal life in the kingdom of God is to be born again or born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-7), to place one’s repentant faith in Christ (John 5:24; 11:25; 20:30-31), to submit ones will to Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), to be baptized into Christ Jesus (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-5), and to live a faithful life of obedient service to the Lord (Hebrews 5:9; Revelation 2:10). We know that an irrational creature of any kind is not able to respond in this way. Third, if one’s cat or dog or fish will receive eternal life, then what about the opossum, the raccoon, or the goat–and the hundreds of millions of creatures in the wild? Do they all go to heaven–or do only “good” pets go to this place of bliss?
So there is no way that one’s pet dog, cat, or rat will be received into heaven! But regardless of the irrational nature of this vain hope, we know that there must be millions of people who so imagine it. Not far away is a pet cemetery and maybe you have seen such a place as this yourself, in your own vicinity. Probably many of those who use such a place think that their pet is in a “better land” than here–perhaps a pet “heaven”?
Recently my wife showed me a website in which grieving people who have lost their pet could find consolation. I was shocked to read one page that was meant to console these sorrowful people. You will find it interesting. Notice this below:
The Rainbow Bridge Poem
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
This is an expression of a faulty and wrong view of life, creation, and eternal life. We must acknowledge that God must love His creatures of all sorts; but this is far, far different than His love and care for human beings who are made in His own image and likeness (cf. Genesis 1:27). God is far more concerned about human beings than He is about animals (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:9-10; 2 Peter 2:12). And he has made provision for the eternal salvation and glorification of His people–not the animals.
Although surely pets don’t survive death, you and I will. Are we prepared to be with God forever?