May God’s love fill and enrich your life! God’s mercy and love are infinite and mysterious. In today’s sermon, I will preach on the topic of animals, with a particular focus on our cherished pets.
Have you ever wondered what the Bible reveals about the final destination of animals’ lives? Do you find yourself questioning what happens to them after they pass away? Do they simply vanish into dust after they die? Why does God create animals? Furthermore, how does God desire us to live harmoniously with the animals that surround us?
Around seven years ago, a dear elderly believer approached me with a heartfelt question. “Pastor, I have a truly beloved pet whom I hold dear to my heart. Our bond has grown strong over the years, and it saddens me to acknowledge that my pet’s time on Earth is drawing near its end. Throughout my old age, we have shared countless moments of joy and happiness. As I contemplate his passing, I wonder what awaits him beyond death’s veil. Can my cherished companion find eternal life alongside me in heaven? The mere thought of him not being there fills me with profound sorrow. When I miss my pet too much, I won’t feel that I am in paradise.”
In response to the elderly gentleman’s inquiry, I assured him, “Your beloved pet will be eagerly awaiting your arrival in heaven.” Although I did not possess a comprehensive understanding of the exact workings of this divine reunion, I held firm to the belief that it was possible, as the restoration of all creation is vividly portrayed in the Bible (Acts 3:21, Rom 8:19-21, Rev. 21:5). Also, besides that, I was filled with the conviction that God, who is full of love, was planning something special for the pious elderly believer, God’s beloved child.
Sometimes the Bible doesn’t answer our questions in such detail. Acts 3:21, Rom 8:19-21, Rev. 21:5 speaks of the restoration of all things. Acts 3:21 says, “God promised long ago through his holy prophets about the final restoration of all things.” Romans 8:21 says, “The creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” In the book of Revelation 21:5, Jesus said, “Look, I am making everything new.”
The Bible seems to be saying that something good will happen after Jesus comes, although it is not specific. The Bible speaks of restoration at the end of the age. It says that we will put on a resurrected body and that all living creatures will return to their perfect state as when the Garden of Eden was created. Isaiah 11:6 prophecies that all creatures will be restored as a perfect condition like the Garden of Eden.
A similar prophecy is found in Isaiah 65. God says, “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.” (Isaiah 65:17)
And in Isaiah 65, one of the events that will happen in the world that will be created the new heaven and earth is as follows: “The wolf and the lamb will feed together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. But the snakes will eat dust. In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Isaiah 65:25)
Of course, when the prophet Isaiah was active, his intention would have been a literary expression of a peaceful state in which all wars ceased. The wild animals must have symbolically represented gentiles. However, according to the explanation of the Holy Spirit, the prophecy can be interpreted in various ways, and according to it, we can expect that the perfect harmonious life of all creatures, animals, and plants of nature, will take place.
One day, as I prayed and blessed my furry daughter, Willow, the Holy Spirit made this promise. “My son, John, when you are in heaven, Willow will be with you and your family in heaven.” I was overjoyed and grateful to hear that promise, but my rational thinking raises a fundamental question. I asked myself: “How do animals get to heaven? There is no record in the Bible that animals were created with souls. Jesus died on the cross for Willow, and did Willow accept it by faith?”
When I was confused by these questions, the Holy Spirit cleared my curiosity. According to his explanation, there are animals in heaven too. When all the believers die, their beloved pets will be with them. It is God’s grace and love toward His children. Of course, no living being can be in heaven without a soul. Animals on this earth do not have souls. However, when God’s children enter His kingdom, the pets they cherished during their time on Earth will be reconstituted in Heaven.
In this renewed state, our pets will possess souls, enabling them to communicate with us and live with us throughout eternity. All the precious memories shared with our beloved pets shall be relived, and the profound bonds of love forged on Earth will endure in the heavenly abode.
As God promised, all creation will be restored to integrity on the last day of the world. God’s blessing to us in these promises is that the friendships we have with our pets on earth will not be the last. Our companionship with our furry friends on earth will be forever.
Also, there is another message that the event of the restoration of creation that will take place in the last days gives us. God expects us to love and care for His creation. Regrettably, throughout our lengthy history, humans have often abused our natural environments and all living creatures.
As we have greater strength and wisdom compared to other creatures, we are entrusted with the responsibility of stewarding the delicate balance of animals and plants in our midst. Our purpose is to live in harmonious coexistence with them. Having formed deep bonds of love with God’s creatures, including animals and plants, we shall experience the fullness of that love on the day of resurrection—a day when new earth and heaven are brought forth in glorious recreation. On this day, the union of love between humankind and the rest of creation will be fully realized and enjoyed.
Let’s live on this land, love all the creatures around us, and build beautiful memories with them. As we envision the future day when God’s love restores and renews all of creation, I offer you my heartfelt blessing in the name of God. May His divine grace guide and sustain you on this journey of love and harmony.
6th Sunday after Pentecost, July 9th, 2023, Isaiah 11:6-9
Pastor John Kim, Lakeridge Lutheran Church