I’ve often thanked God for my golden retriever, Champ—my dog when I was growing up. I have lots of great memories of running and playing and hanging out with Champ. I especially remember the many times when he crawled into my sleeping bag as I lay in my backyard looking up at the stars.
You might really love animals. If you do, that’s good. If you’ve ever had a pet that died (or several, or maybe lots, like thirty-seven gerbils), you’re probably wondering if you’ll see him or her again.
God, who created the animals, has touched many people’s lives through them. It would be simple for him to re-create a pet in Heaven if he wants to. He’s the giver of all good gifts, not the taker of them.
God loves to give good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:9-11). So if it would please you to have one or more of your pets with you on the New Earth, that may be a good enough reason for God to make it happen.
Aren’t you glad you’ve had two hamsters, a rabbit, a calico cat, and a chocolate lab? That might mean that you will be a pet owner on the New Earth, too. Or if your family wasn’t able to have a pet, Heaven may be the place where you’ll have a pet for the first time, and all of your friends will unselfishly share their pets with you.
The most important passage on this subject may be Romans 8:18-22. (You can read it yourself.) It says that “all creation” suffers because of human sin and longs for the deliverance that will come with our resurrection. It’s like everything around us is yearning to be made free from suffering. But there is good news—nothing in creation will rot or die after God raises us from the dead. And our resurrection will apparently be the means by which all creation will be restored to its former glory, and go beyond it.
I think there’s every reason to believe that “all creation” that longs for deliverance includes the animals. At the time when God’s people are raised from the dead, creation will experience what it longs for. It will be “set free from its bondage to decay” (Romans 8:21, ESV).
Romans 8 hints that some of the animals that lived and suffered and died on this old Earth will be the same ones restored to life in God’s earthly kingdom that’s to come. They suffered because of our sin, so their bodies will be freed when we receive our new bodies. They will then live in a world where they will never hurt each other or people or be hurt by anyone.
So here’s the question: If any animals on this old Earth will experience life without suffering on the New Earth, won’t some of those animals probably be our pets?
It seems to me God could do one of three things on the New Earth: (1) create entirely new animals; (2) bring back to life animals that have suffered in our present world, giving them new bodies that will last forever; (3) create some animals brand-new and bring back to life some old ones. Only God knows for sure what he plans to do. But Romans 8 leads me to believe that on the New Earth we will likely live again with some of the pets we have loved.
Randy Alcorn and Linda Washington, Heaven for Kids (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Kids, 2012).