~The views and opinions expressed here are of the blog author and not necessarily of CCAPSG as a whole~
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Do animals have an afterlife?
Bryony's dog "Thea"
It's a question that a lot of people think about but rarely ask?
Do animals have an afterlife?
Many cultures revere animals, believe that we can become reincarnated as them or lift them up as gods.
What does the bible say on this subject?
Not a lot. But then again, an ancient middle eastern society didn't keep animals as pets in the same way we do, they either co-existed with them or used them as service providers, for food, hide or hair by products or as sacrificial offerings of atonement. It wasn't as up for disucssion or in the minds of the writers of the bible as it is for us today, in a country where our pets eat better than most families in Africa.
So how does God view animals?
The bible tells us in the stories of genesis of God creating animals and the first man naming them individually but not finding a suitable partner among them - hence the creation of the first woman!! After the animals were created, they were deemed 'good' just like the rest of creation.
It shows He saved them in the flood story, not just for food or burnt offerings but so they may live and multiply over the earth. Animals play a huge part in God's creation. Numerically a part far bigger and more expansive than ours.
God gave voice to a donkey so that it could rebuke the oracle Balaam, which saved him from being killed by an angel standing on the path. God uses animals in ways that we least expect. Ever hear the stories about animals sensing something and saving the life of a person from a house fire, accident, intruder or other animal? They truly have a 'sixth sense' whether that is purely practical (ie instinctive or functional) or partially 'spiritual' whether from God or part of their spiritual make up.
But what about when they die? Do animals go to heaven? Can their spirits roam the earth? What of stories like Black Shuck, the red eyed demon dog in the UK - is that the spirit of an animal?
It kind of depends on your theology of heaven. And according to most books by Fortean author Nick Redfern on the matter, Black Shuck is highly likely to be something other than the spirit of a mistreated hound - but that's for another blog and you can buy Mr Redferns books via Amazon (Three Men Seeking Monsters is the starter).
When we die, do we literally go to a place called heaven or hell, or is there a judgement day after which God makes a literal new heaven and earth for those entering the kingdom? If it is the latter will there be animals in it like on earth? Will they be the same animals or will we get to ride dinosaurs and co-exist with creatures that we never got to see!!!
Check out this verse from Old Testament book of Isaiah in chapter 11 as it speaks of the kingdom of God coming through Jesus. After it discusses the coming of the Lord in the flesh, the coming of the Lord in His Holy spirit and His justice and righteousness coming to all the earth it mentions "The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow and the bear will graze, their young ones will lie down together; and the the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobras hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the vipers den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
It then goes on to talk about the bringing in of the gentiles (non-Jews) to the Kingdom and the destruction of those who oppose His people.
So if we were going to look at that verse, we firstly understand it as a restorative process, which subverts all we know about death and hostility in Gods Kingdom. The whole chapter is about Gods plan to 'fix the earth' from all the evil that exists in it.
But it begs the question to be asked - is it indicative that in the coming of the completeness of Gods work at the end of the age as we know it, that there are literally animals and humans interacting in a new Kingdom, a restored heaven and earth and universe in a new way.
Personally I hope so, because we have lots of pets and those pets teach us a lot about Gods love and care. We learn about birth, life, death and love.
We also go hunting from time to time and experience Gods provision as food through animals. We would never consider taking the life of an animal for purely sport purposes. I believe this is abhorrent to God, even though it is mentioned in the Old Testament as part of what Kings did, we are clearly told that the earth is under our stewardship and we are to be good, merciful and loving custodians and not to bring cruelty or injustice or greed to any part of that creation.
So will Kokoe the wonderdog be in heaven, a new earth or walk the earth like Black Shuck, terrorising the local postmen for all eternity.
I can't say for sure. But I know God is good and I know He made the animals in all their forms and functions. They belong to Him and He has asked us to care for them and the planet they live on.
But if you have any thoughts, idea's or animal 'ghost stories' we'd love you to post them so we can discuss the subject in community.
God bless you this week - Pastor Baz.
From Bryony: Pastor Baz has written all the points I would have made regarding this subject. The bible doesn't have a yes/no answer regarding pets but I think there will be animals in heaven (the new earth), and that on this current earth we are living in right now we are to be the caretakers of animals and the earth. In regards to animals in heaven, In the book of revelation there is talk of horses in heaven. I personally can't imagine heaven without animals. They are an AMAZING part of God's creation. So, if there are animals in heaven, why would they not be the animals we treasure so much on earth?
In regards to the spirits of animals haunting the earth, I have heard many stories of people who feel or have seen the presence of their deceased pet. What about you? What do you think?