Will We See Our Pets in Heaven?

968DD525-EE14-4CA2-93A1-39E759D7DB4FToday’s tough question:

“Will we be re-united with our pets in heaven?”

As a big-time dog lover, I sure hope so!

From my research, the Bible doesn’t discuss the immaterial/non-physical part of our pets after death. I’d be overjoyed to arrive in heaven and find my dogs sitting next to the Master. Certainly, the heart longs for such things.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the only way to heaven. How that would work for pets, I’m not sure. Let me put it this way: When we reach heaven, we will see that God is perfectly just and righteous in all of His decisions. We will have no objections to what we encounter in heaven. None whatsoever.

Rather than tell us about how we are to view animals after they die, God’s Word tells us how to treat animals while they’re alive. This verse is wonderful: “The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10 NIV)

God entrusted His animal kingdom to our care. “Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on earth.” (Genesis 1:28 ESV) We are stewards of all creation, including animals. When you’re a loving master to a pet, you’re obeying the Lord’s command in Genesis 1, exercising proper dominion.

The Bible tells us that God pays attention to animals. No animal is too small or too numerous to escape his notice. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

When the Bible depicts a new earth after Jesus’ second coming, the description includes animals. Previewing God’s perfect kingdom, Isaiah wrote, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.” (Isaiah 11:6-7)

Behind today’s tough question lies another question: How do I grieve for a pet? This can be an awkward question. You may not feel that you’re supposed to grieve over an animal the way you do over a human.

Tell that to the tears and heartache! “Supposed to” and reality don’t always match up. Some of the most intense emotions I’ve ever experienced were feelings of grief over the death of my family’s dogs.

Allowing yourself to grieve is the healthiest way to process sadness. And losing a pet is sad. Grief has its own timetable. You grieve as long as you grieve. In the middle of the grief, you can thank God for the years He gave you with your pet.

In all grief, God is our comfort. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

Eventually, as time brings a measure of healing, we embrace a new season. Our journey continues. In His kindness, God will bring new joys, new opportunities, maybe even a new furry friend that you can enjoy.

Previous tough question: Was God Less Merciful in the Old Testament?

Was God Less Merciful in the Old Testament?

ArmorToday’s tough question:

“In the Old Testament we read many times the killing of so many without seeing mercy offered first, and sometimes the killing is too swift, it seems. So why is there such a distinct difference from the Old Testament for showing mercy opposed to in the New Testament where that seems to be so prevalent?”

Violence in the Old Testament is a difficult theological dilemma. We see violence on the news or in movies, and it’s more than enough for our eyes. It doesn’t seem to belong in the Holy Bible. But there it is – ordered in Leviticus, described in Joshua, detailed in the books of Kings and Chronicles.

Was God less merciful in Old Testament times? The Old Testament may record more instances of killings – and swift killings – but the character of God remains unchanged. He “is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

One reason we find more killing in the Old Testament is its time frame and cultural setting. In the Old Testament, you have conquests, wars, and a more tribal culture. In the New Testament, the Jewish people had been established in their homeland for centuries and were under the civilized rule of Rome.

I imagine that rulers and military leaders in New Testament times were just as likely to authorize killings as were kings in Old Testament times. Jesus, the 12 Disciples, and Paul occupied very different social positions than King David, for instance. David was protecting his throne, enlarging his kingdom, and playing by the rules of his day. By complete contrast, Jesus came to establish God’s Kingdom by His own death, not by killing others. Because of Jesus’ unique mission and message, the New Testament has a different feel to it in many ways.

What about mercy in the Old Testament? The words “mercy” or “merciful” appear 184 times in the Bible. About two-thirds (122) of those appearances are in the Old Testament. Psalm 25:6 celebrates the ancient roots of God’s mercy: “Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.”

The Old Testament contains many stories of God being merciful. Perhaps the best example is the story of Jonah. God sent Jonah to warn the wicked city of Nineveh that His wrath soon would be poured out on it. After running away, being tossed into the sea, and spending three nights in a giant fish, Jonah finally got his act together and preached to the citizens of Nineveh. The people heeded his message and repented.

And Jonah was upset about it! Jonah wanted to see God pour down fire and brimstone. Jonah wanted to see the bad guys get what their evil deeds deserved. God was much kinder to Nineveh than Jonah desired.

Afterward, Jonah complained, “That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Jonah 4:2)

What a complaint! God – the God of the Old and New Testaments – is too merciful! Jonah is saying: Lord, I can’t stand how merciful You are!

In all times, God is gracious and merciful. Often He’s more merciful than we would ever be. Thank the Lord that He doesn’t repay us as our deeds deserve but shows us mercy – eternal mercy through the cross of Jesus!

Am I Obligated to Seek Justice for Others?

9B6370C5-2166-4F9D-A46E-3402B80560EFToday’s tough question:

“As Christians, what’s our responsibility to seeking justice for oppression, racial inequality, women’s rights, immigration, and gay rights?”

Where to start with this one? The question contains several of the hot topics of our day.

Let’s start with the premise. Do we in fact have a responsibility to others? The Bible says, “Yes.” Genesis 4 includes Cain’s infamous question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) The rest of the Bible provides the answer: “Yes, each of us has a duty toward others.”

Jesus told us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) He taught about being a good neighbor in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. God’s Word teaches in Romans 15:1, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” The Bible teaches us to care for widows and orphans. God is our Defender, and He wants us to help those who need our help.

But how about some of the categories in the question?

In thinking of universal rights of all people, the preamble to the Declaration comes to mind: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

All people in our nation are endowed with rights including:

  • Life – Everyone should feel safe.
  • Liberty – All citizens should be able to enjoy every freedom that our Constitution declares.
  • Pursuit of happiness – Everyone should have an opportunity to succeed.

We owe it to our fellow citizens to protect their rights with the means available to us.

However, we are not required to promote agendas that violate our beliefs and consciences. All people deserve justice, but not all movements deserve our backing. Supporting fundamental human rights and advancing a particular social position are two different things.

I encourage you to read Romans chapters 12-15. These chapters are enormously helpful guides on our duties to our fellow human beings. Romans 12 is a turning point in the book, shifting from grand, sweeping theology to day-to-day practical application. The second verse of Romans 12 reads, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The verses and chapters that follow are overflowing with timely wisdom.

We can’t let the world dictate to us what positions to support. Many issues are debatable. The human beings involved in those issues, however, are undeniably valuable to God.

We can, and should, defend human rights, especially those rights guaranteed by our constitution and laws. We can, and should, advocate for the expansion of rights and privileges related to causes that fit our values. We are not obligated to support causes that violate our values.

To serve God well, it’s a good idea to give careful thought to your values. Before applying your beliefs to specific situations, you first have to know what you believe. Take an honest inventory of your core convictions, and then see how God moves you to act on your beliefs for the sake of others.