Romans 8 may be my favorite chapter in the entire Bible, for a number of reasons – not the least of which is this intriguing passage, which I believe offers us animal-lovers some encouragement that our pets will be joining us in heaven.
Consider: “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
“Delivered” means to be “liberated,” “exempted from,” “made free.” And “corruption” is another word for “decay.” So here the apostle Paul is telling us that the creation – which surely includes animals – will be freed from the bonds of decay.
What’s more, the creation will be delivered from bondage into “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” It doesn’t say “into the glorious liberty that is something like that of the children of God.” It’s definite: the creation will be delivered into OUR liberty. Sounds like the same place or state to me.
Consider, too, that “the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God,” per verse 19. “Sons of God” is rendered “children of God” in other translations, so I don’t think we have to worry about this being a reference to the mysterious and possibly creepy “sons of God” in Genesis 6. It just means us – those who have repented of our sin and trusted in Jesus Christ to have paid for it on the cross.
So tell me – why would the creation earnestly expect or eagerly wait for our revealing, if it was not to be a part of what follows?
Some will say, “Well, sure, we know there’ll be animals in heaven, but not OUR animals – they don’t have souls, after all.” To which I would respond, “not so fast.” In the original Hebrew, the bible calls both man and vertebrate animals “nephesh chayyah.” It was the translators who rendered this phrase “living soul” for man, but “living creature” for animals. In other words, Moses called both men and animals “living souls.” And really, shouldn’t we listen to him rather than the scholars?
Okay, so maybe I’m all wrong about this, and I’m sure I’ll be charged with wishful thinking for even bringing this subject up again. But check out my beloved Thumper’s Shadow and Tiger (above), whom we buried in 2011 and 2008, respectively; they are just two of almost a dozen dear pets who’ve already gone on ahead, with four more on deck.
I personally think they'll both be there, along with all the rest, and I ask the Lord regularly to please make it happen. And why not? After all, “with God, all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27)
Really, the only remaining question seems to be whether we will be there to join them. But that's the easy part, because Jesus has already paid our way.