A better question would be, “Will there be animals on the new earth?” (forgive me for being a stickler). You see, the eternal home of those reconciled to God isn’t heaven – as is widely thought – but a new earth. (1)
Getting back to our question, the short answer is that, frankly, we don’t know. But there may be possible clues. Some claim that chapters eleven and sixty-five in Isaiah give us evidence for the presence of animals. Those passages describe the peaceful coexistence of predator and prey, such as wolf and lamb or leopard and goat. But there are problems with using these texts as proof. Chapter eleven references the time when Christ will rule on this earth and restore our present planet to what it should have been. The second passage is also problematic because there are different opinions about whether it refers to Christ’s earthly reign or to the new heaven and earth.
Revelation nineteen is sometimes mentioned as likely proof positive for animals being present in eternity. Jesus rides out of heaven on a white horse. The problem is that this image could be symbolic, so we cannot be dogmatic one way or the other.
In conclusion, although we don’t know for sure, it’s not unreasonable to think that since there will be a new earth, there will also be animals. I believe that the Isaiah sixty-five passage could point to that. But God is very tight-lipped about this new world – he probably wants to surprise us. And frankly, even if he tried to tell us, we would probably lack the vocabulary to understand.
I like the way Dr. Billy Graham once answered this question. When asked about dogs in heaven, he said, “God will provide us with everything we need to be happy in Heaven – and if animals are necessary to make us completely happy there, you can be confident he will arrange for them to be with us.”
If there are animals – as I’m inclined to believe – this leads to another question: where will they come from? The Bible is silent on this issue, so any answer is pure speculation. There can only be two possibilities: either God creates new animals, or he somehow brings those from this planet to the new earth. Every pet owner hopes that the second option is true. I certainly do. I would love to play fetch again with my childhood dog, Lady.
(1) Revelation 21:1-3, 2 Peter 3:13
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Carol, you think about Tabasco too:-). Wonderful text. Alina