Here’s a very sweet memory- I remember “saying my prayers” out loud every night as a child, with my Mom and Dad right there beside me. I’d pray for my Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles, cousins, people in trouble and even my little sister. And I’d usually end by giving thanks for my dog. Yeah, childish stuff I know. Of all the important things that you need to give thanks for, a dog surely isn’t one of them. Well, I can now definitively say that this is NOT true. I give thanks to God for my dog. There were some very long lonely days, and God sent this dog to me at just the right time. I didn’t want her, but I did need her.
I’d forgotten about “dog-prayers” over the years, and certainly hadn’t repeated them. But my wife and I were talking recently about God’s care of everything, how he cares for even the Sparrow, and has even numbered the hairs of our head. And she asked if I thought we would see our beloved pets in Heaven. I reflexively said “Of course”, while I made a note to refresh myself on why I believed so.
Some scripture to ground us in Truth;
Psalm 36:6 (ESV) Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.
Romans 8 (ESV) 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Psalm 84:3 (ESV) Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
Proverbs 3:10 (ESV) Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast,
but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
Ecc 3:19 (ESV) For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?
Isa 11:6 (ESV) The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
So what does this all say?
In Psalm 36, the Spirit is saying that the judgments and righteousness of God save man and beast alike. Similarly, Ecclesiastes 3 speaks to our shared journey, that we both share the same breath, and asks the rhetorical question whether man’s spirit goes up and that of the beast goes down. The sense is that as we both return to dust, our spirits return to Him as well.
Psalm 84 tells us that the sparrow and swallow find a home at the altar of God. And Proverbs 3 defines a righteous man as having regard for the life of his animals. For we elevate them in our sight as we have been in Christ’s. We are, in a sense, Lord to them.
Romans 8 is most telling to me, in that the creation itself eagerly awaits redemption, and will be set free and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. When Satan fell and tempted Eve, it was not just mankind that became his target. Everything in the Universe became corrupt. He not only wanted to destroy mankind, but the entire Creation. Salvation was wrought to save and redeem ALL that which was lost. To restore the entire world, everything, to Eden.
And finally, in Isaiah, a Little Child will lead all the disparate parts of Creation into a harmonious eternity together. To include the Wolf, Leopard, Goat, and Lamb, and even the Cobra.
And we will all dwell together, finally at peace.
As animals were there in the Garden at the beginning, I believe they will be there in the New Jerusalem.
Cats and Dogs alike.