The child-heart wants to know, “Will there be animals in heaven?” and the calloused grown-up heart dismisses the question as theologically unworthy. May I point out that the whole debate ends when you realize that heaven comes to earth; our home is right here on a renewed planet. How could our creative God renew his precious earth and not fill it with a renewed animal kingdom? That would be like a school without children, a village without people. The sheer barrenness and bleakness of the thought is utterly abhorrent to the child-heart of God and his love for the animals, his precious creations.
We know there are horses, for Jesus and his company return on horseback:
Then I saw Heaven open wide — and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. ...The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. (Revelation 19:11–14 THE MESSAGE)
I wonder what Jesus named his horse. Does he come to his whistle? Does he need a saddle? I bet he rides bareback like the American Indians did. I’ve seen those horses, the cavalry of heaven, several times now. It happened as we brought the gospel on mission into foreign territory. We would be in a time of worship and suddenly I would “see” the front line of mounted horsemen spreading out before me like the Rohirrim before Gondor in The Lord of the Rings, pennants waving, row upon row of horse and rider behind, lifted spears like a forest. Oh yes — there are horses in the kingdom.
The wolf will romp with the lamb,
the leopard sleep with the kid.
Calf and lion will eat from the same trough,
and a little child will tend them.
Cow and bear will graze the same pasture,
their calves and cubs grow up together,
and the lion eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens,
the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent.
Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
on my holy mountain.
The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive,
a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.
(Isaiah 11:6–9 THE MESSAGE)
Now, unless you want to dismiss this as completely allegorical, we have wolves, lambs, leopards, goats, cows, lions, and bears in the kingdom as well. The passage is clearly describing the kingdom of God operating in its fullness on earth — the renewal of all things. And animals are clearly a part of it, praise our loving Father.
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