Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him,9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 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. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” – Genesis 9:8-17
Gertie was a wonderful dog…most of the time. She was a mostly-German Shepherd dog birthday gift to me and I managed to train her to some degree. But I couldn’t get her to stop barking…until one fateful morning. My history teacher lived next door to us and had complained to me more than once. “Your dog woke me up very early again this morning. Too early.”
Sometime later I heard Gertie barking. My bedroom was on the second floor with a small balcony that was right over Gertie’s doghouse. I opened the door and yelled, “Gertie! Shut up.” She was quiet for a moment or two. I went back to bed only to hear her barking again. I opened the door – after grabbing a shoe – and yelled, again, “Gertie, shut up!” At the very time I yelled, I threw the shoe toward the entrance to Gertie’s doghouse. Gertie’s entrance and my shoe were perfectly timed. It hit her on the rear just as she went in. Her yelp was the final early morning disturbance we had to deal with.
Gertie was a wonderful dog. JoJo was not. JoJo was dumb. And afraid of storms. Those were the only two dogs that I have had any extended ownership experience. There have, however, been granddogs: Mobie, Gus, Max, Leah, Lillie, Peyton, and -each with their own personalities and lovability quotient. Dog lovers can be a very special breed themselves. And when their pet dies, it can be traumatic.
Children have asked me over the years, “Will my pet be in heaven?”
I don’t have an absolute answer to that question. But I do have an absolute and strong opinion. I believe dogs, cats (yikes!), and all manner of animals will be part of the new heaven and the new earth. And the basis for this opinion is partly founded on the phrase in this passage. God says, “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.” And so it is that God makes a covenant not only with Noah and his family, and all future generations, but he includes in that covenant also every living creature of all flesh.
In other places there is reference to animals in heaven. “The lion will lie down with the lamb,” says Isaiah (Isaiah 11:6–10; Romans 8:18-22). God saved the world from an animal-less existence. And while I do not wish to bind anyone’s faith by this opinion, I do hold it strongly. Imagine a perfectly balanced creation. No sin. No death. No predators. No prey. Just beautiful symmetry. Synergy in all of creation and for all of creation. Only perfect equanimity. Imagine the heart of God as large enough to include animals. Then remember that his heart is large enough to include you as well.
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