Read Isaiah 11:6-9
6 In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
and a little child will lead them all.
7 The cow will graze near the bear.
The cub and the calf will lie down together.
The lion will eat hay like a cow.
8 The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
9 Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
for as the waters fill the sea,
so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord. (NLT)
It is a common concern of children that their pet rabbit or much loved cat will be in heaven after they die. But it is also an important question for grown-ups. Not only because we too get attached to domestic pets, but because it causes us to think more realistically about life after death.
Our text today suggests that the new heavens and new earth will include animal creation. Albeit with the danger inherent in some animals removed. Even if we understand this passage as being highly symbolic, there are other reasons to suggest that heavenly life will involve animal life.
God made creation good, and that included animal life. The biblical vision of heaven is not some out-of-the-way spiritualised corner of the universe but a renovation of our present good but spoiled world. Human beings might be the pinnacle of God’s creation and have a unique relationship with him, but that doesn’t mean animals don’t matter to him. He made them and it seems he gave us them to care for. A dog might not be made in the image of God, but the dog is a much loved companion of one who is made in God’s image.
Animals, whether wild or domesticated, seem to have value inasmuch as they are part of God’s creation. Domesticated animals have that extra value as ones who provide humans with companionship and pleasure. So we dare not dismiss them.
So when I say that a pet guinea pig will be in heaven, I can say it with some confidence. It has no need to repent in order to be saved! However, if I am wrong, then I can believe with the same confidence that if the guinea pig isn’t there, something much better will be.