New Heaven and Dogs

During two summers in college I worked for the University of Missouri as a maintenance tech for the college of engineering. I did jobs ranging from helping at auctions, driving big trucks, demolition, and painting, with numerous other jobs thrown in there. During one job I was interacting with a young guy who grew up in Columbia. We were chatting and it turns out he was at one point a Lutheran, but had converted to the Episcopal Church. I inquired as to why he converted. His answer: my pastor told me my dog wouldn’t be in heaven.

Silence. That’s all I could muster at that point. I love my two dogs that are living with my family back in MO. I loved my dogs that have died (a number of beagles and black labs). They were wonderful companions for our whole family. However, they are dogs. I was certainly sad about their death and always felt bad when they were in pain. However, I state again, they are dogs. They are not humans. I talked more with the kid, but couldn’t get anywhere with him. I think his concerns were far more complex than just his “dog not getting into heaven.”

I never gave this much more thought until I had a class with Dr. Louis Brighton, author of the Concordia Commentary on Revelation available from CPH. We were discussing the “things to come,” specifically the new heaven and new earth spoken of in Revelation 21:1. He proposed that in fact we might find animals in the new earth. He comments on what is to come in his commentary on Revelation by referencing Isaiah 65:25, “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox.” Brighton points out that, “by way of the messianic reign here on earth, (this) is a typological picture of life in the new heaven and new earth after the judgment and resurrection at this present world’s end” (Brighton, 591). 

Undoubtedly there is still grief over loosing one’s pet. However, I think examining what has been described to us in the book of Revelation, we find comfort knowing that God will provide for a new creation, more peaceful than one can ever imagine and with more provisions than can ever be understood.

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