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One of the most exciting anticipations of Christians is going to heaven.
Heaven is the ultimate reward for a righteous life. It’s also where Christians hope to be reunited with their loved ones.
But can Christians also look forward to meeting their beloved pups there? Or is heaven strictly out of bounds for our furry four-legged friends?
Read on to discover if heavenly bliss awaits your departed dog.
First Things First, Who Qualifies For Heaven?
The bible gives information about who is fit to go to heaven. In particular, the famous John 3:16 states: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
So, believing and accepting Jesus as your savior makes you eligible for heaven.
But alas, dogs can’t believe in Jesus or become saved! So, how do they go to heaven?
Lacking a Soul or the Image of God Could Be a Barrier
Another thing that destines one for heaven is being made in the image of God.
Humans are the only creatures who were made in the image of God. This means they have a soul which is widely believed to be what survives the death of the body and gets transmitted to heaven or hell.
Since dogs along with other animals are considered to have no souls, they don’t go to heaven at death.
But this begs the question: will they then go to hell?
Dogs as Unclean and Outcasts
Several Bible verses suggest that dogs are unclean or unholy.
For example, in Matthew 7:6 we read: “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
As heaven or paradise is holy, this verse suggests that dogs along with pigs can’t go to paradise.
Elsewhere, the book of Revelations reveals who will be allowed into the holy city (New Jerusalem) and who won’t based on the state of their cleanliness.
(The New Jerusalem is the holy city that will descend down to earth to be the earthly paradise and home of the saved.)
Revelation 22:13-16: “I (Jesus) am the First and the Last. I am the beginning and the end. Those who wash their clothes clean are happy (who are washed by the blood of the Lamb). They will have the right to go into the city through the gates. They will have the right to eat the fruit of the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs. They are people who follow witchcraft and those who do sex sins and those who kill other people and those who worship false gods and those who like lies.”
Taken literally, dogs here are denied entry along with other rank sinners.
However, before we write off the dog as eternally doomed let’s look at some additional verses that spark some hope.
Same Fate for Man and Beast
The bible suggests that animals and humans share the same fate in the afterlife.
For example, Ecclesiastes 3:19-22 says:
“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. All go to one place.”
Although this verse says nothing about going to heaven, it suggests that the possibilities that are open to people can also be open to animals.
So, it’s not farfetched to assume that if people will go to heaven so will animals.
God Has Saved Dogs Before So He Will Again
When God destroyed the world through the flood, he made a new covenant with Noah not to destroy the world again by flood.
He didn’t just do this covenant with people but also with all animals which included dogs.
Genesis 9:9-10: “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth.”
This act of salvation of animals suggests that God may do it again by allowing animals into heaven.
The Bible pictures the whole creation as awaiting redemption. This creation includes all of nature including dogs and all animals.
In its current state, creation is fallen. No wonder, it is laden with sorrow, hardship and death.
Romans 8:21-22: “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. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
This gloomy situation will be reversed according to Revelation 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”
All Animals Will Live Harmoniously Together In Paradise
Paradise is presented as a place where true harmony will exist between animals, according to Isaiah 11:6-9:
“The wolf will live with the lamb, The leopard will lie down with the goat, The calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together, and a little child will lead them.7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
This verse gives a picture of what paradise would be like. Animals will be present too including those that were prey or predators to each other.
Furthermore, the most reviled animal in the bible is the serpent. It symbolizes Satan, God’s arch-enemy.
It is the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve to sin and was cursed by God above all.
Yet the serpent too will be in paradise as mentioned by the words: “The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest”( Isaiah 11:8)
So, all animals including the dog will enter paradise.
There’s no definite answer to whether dogs will go to heaven or not.
Ask one theologian about it and you are just as likely to get a different answer from the next.
The only sure way to know is to get to heaven yourself—if you will qualify to be there.
One thing remains certain though: animals (including our beloved canine friends) will be present in heaven except that we don’t know if they will be the exact animals we have in this life.