Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Animals do not go to Heaven

This article came about because a sister, whose pet dog died recently, has wanted to believe that animals do get resurrected to Heaven; and has asked that I spent some time to consider the matter. These are my findings:

1. Clearly, the understanding from Genesis is that animals are bi-partite, body and soul. Man, on the other hand, is tri-partite, body, soul and spirit. The spirit part makes all the difference. Only spirited soul could ever hope to be resurrected to Heaven, for Kingdom of Heaven living. From this standpoint alone, animals (and plants, likewise) will not be able to make it up to Heaven by resurrection.

2. Following from point 1, if there are animals and plants in Heaven, they are not the same animals (like her pet dog) and plants that were resurrected to Heaven. If there are, indeed, exact animals (which I do not know if there are, and I am not saying that there cannot be any), they are created by God, and are not those same ones which used to be living on earth!

3. It is clearly unthinkable to have animals (and plants) resurrected to Heaven. If one animal, like her pet dog, is resurrected, shouldn’t other animals like the chicken, duck, fish, monkey, snake, and what have you {even lice and germs!}, be also entitled to be resurrected? Now, we eat many of these animals (and plants too); how are we going to face the accusation of all these animals against us when we go up to Heaven? We do not ask for God’s forgiveness for eating any of them, do we? How are we going to clear the Judgment Day then? Well, it is regardless that the Bible was written only for Man (as the sister said, fallen Man). Even if animals cannot read the Bible, you and I can, and so, God could have easily included in it, a statement that we cannot eat animals, just like we obviously, cannot kill to eat another man, for that would be sin against that man (and God). On the contrary, the fact that there were Old Testament scriptures which talked about certain animals or animals under certain conditions (like how they died, etc) should not be consumed, we can assume that there was and is no total prohibition to eat animals (Those who argue that believers should presently be totally vegetarians are not of line).

4. Scripture is very clear that Jesus died for Man, even Satan and the fallen angels were not included, meaning only men are able to appropriate the propitiation of sin provided by Jesus.

5. As to her being given Revelation 22:15, as support, in which “dogs” were mentioned there, we really have to interpret it within the context.

14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Rev 22:14-15 KJV)

Now, this is how it should be interpreted: Obviously, verse 14 is referring to Man. Blessed are the believers who do God’s commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life (which presumably sustains life, keeping us in eternal life), and may enter in, through the gates, of Heaven, into the City, the Heavenly Jerusalem. Now, leaving “dogs” aside, every other one mentioned in verse 15 is a Man. Logical interpretation will point us to say that the “dogs” there must be referring to Man, and not a lone isolated animal, a dog. The “dogs” here must be interpreted as referring to “undesirable” men of the same class as sorcerers, whoremongers, murderers and idolaters, and whosoever who love lies and lied.

This is what has been said of the use of dogs on men (i.e. calling someone a dog!):

“It is a wide cross-cultural practice to use 'dog' as some sort of derogatory term," says John Archibald, head of the University of Calgary's linguistics department.

The English term “bitch” {female dog} has long been derogatory - Lawrence Paros, author of Bawdy Language.

Of course, generally speaking in cultures of the Middle East, there were aspects connected with dogs being “unclean”. Under Judaism (the belief of the Jews, before the Messiah’s 1st coming), dogs were said to be “unclean” by characteristics under Levitical laws.

Our Senior Pastor, in the last weekend sermon, also expressed that the “dogs” in Rev 22:15 above, were referring to people and not animals.

6. She was also given by others, Isaiah 65:25, in support of the argument that animals do make it to Heaven; I believe no convincing verdict can be drawn from the text:

The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD. (Isaiah 65:25)

Firstly, this verse merely painted that there are animals at this particular time period. And during this time period, the animals are at peace and living harmoniously, indeed. My interpretation of Isaiah 65 is that, the time period in question or the place, is not necessarily referring to the time after death (life after this life or next age) or Heaven. At most, and it could possibly be correct, the time period was referring to the Millennium Rule of Jesus on earth recorded for us in the Book of Revelation. Of course, to explain how the conclusion is reached that Heaven was not being referred to, would necessitate me to dish out my entire commentary on Isaiah 65; which I am not going to, here.

Secondly, even if indeed, the place was in Heaven, it still did not say anything of whether or not, the animals were the ones once living on earth, and got resurrected to Heaven; it only painted a picture of animals being there, living in harmony and peacefully. As I have said in point 2 above, I am not saying that Heaven cannot have any animals, but what I am saying is that, such, if any, would NOT be the same ones previously living on earth like us, and got resurrected to Heaven.

For a moment, even if we can assume that, from earth an animal got to Heaven, it obviously did not get there by the same manner we are getting there, i.e. by believing in Jesus Christ by grace, through faith; and so, if what was not revealed in Scripture, even if we got it right, that animals do get to Heaven, it is guesswork!

7. There are jokes out there on the internet, etc, about dogs or animals having died, and people wanting to do the “wake” to send them on their way to Heaven. In fact, our Senior Pastor shared one in his sermon last weekend. Here, is one question asked by a Jew concerning the same, on the internet; and an real Rabbi answered the question:

Question: Does Judaism provide any prayers we can say when burying our beloved pet dog?

Answer: Kaddish and real prayers are a bit more complicated. While
these prayers have meaning for human beings reaching out to the Divine, it is possible that reciting these prayers for animals is inappropriate and desecrates Jewish worship.

Clearly, those who relied solely on the Old Testament did not believe that there could possibly be any possibility of animals making it up to Heaven.

I am sorry for the sister’s loss, of her pet dog, which she obviously loved very much. I have lost pet dogs before, as well. In fact, when I was still a boy, my pet dog ran after me when I crossed the road to take my school transport to go to school. I only knew it was run over by a bus after I got home from school. It did not die immediately; I had to care for it for a few days before it passed away. It was so sad, and today I can still picture the dog resting on an old zinc sheet before it died. But there is nothing we can do about it. It is all part of life. Who knows, if God does allow dogs in Heaven, maybe He might indulge us with replica (not the same dogs) of our pet dogs! Ha Ha!

Anthony Chia – That which God has not revealed; right or wrong, it is guesswork, and it counts not, but what God has revealed, we must lay hold of it.

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