Most Christians have not thought clearly about the question of “animals in Heaven.” The death of a pet brings the question to the surface, but human sorrow rarely turns into a study of the topic. The cherubim will help you understand things more clearly.
Today’s blog cannot answer the deeper question of “will my pet be in Heaven?” in any detail. But we can take the first step by asking a much simpler question: are there animals in Heaven now?
The knee-jerk reaction that most Christians have to the question, “are there animals in Heaven?” is “No, of course not. The Bible doesn’t say animals go to Heaven. Only humans go to Heaven.”
Wrong. They have been reading their Bibles for years yet not seeing the obvious. We all have a “worldview” or “angle” on how we look at things. When we read Bible verses we start seeing what we expect to see. If you read the Bible often, however, the Holy Spirit may illumine your mind. You may find the ability to look with a fresh perspective. As Sherlock Holmes often told Doctor Watson, “you see but you do not observe.”
More than a century ago, a Plymouth Brethren preacher, George Walker Pember wrote a small book called “Animals: Their Past and Future.” He opened my eyes to this new thought, about the Cherubim. Here is a link to it:
We use the word “angels” rather loosely, at least compared to the Bible’s usage. We tend to think of angels as any non-human being that lives in Heaven with God. So all the beings in Heaven are angels, we think. But there are different kinds of angelic beings, and not all are called angels in the Bible. In Revelation, in fact, there are a few different kinds in one verse!
Revelation 5:11, “Then I looked, and I heard the sound of many angels surrounding the throne, the living creatures, and the elders. They numbered in the millions – thousands upon thousands.“
In Revelation 5:6 we are told about the four living creatures. In 5Revelation 5:10 John saw twenty four elders. So it seems that the millions of voices he heard were the angels, aside from the 4 creatures and the 24 elders. John is careful to distinguish between these three kinds.
The “living creatures” are the animal angels, if you please, of which I speak. They appear many times in the Bible, and they are always called “cherubim” or “living creatures.” The “living creatures” is exactly the same word used throughout Genesis for animals: regular, earthly critters. The word cherubim is a bit more confusing, but it seems that the word “cherub” means “bull.” That is rather funny in a modern sense. We dote over silly little baby infant angels with wings, calling them cherubs. Cherubs are, in reality, rather scary hybrid beings!
Revelation 4:6-8 gives a good summary of what Living Creatures look like.
“Something like a glass sea, like crystal, was in front of the throne. In the center, by the throne, were four living creatures encircling the throne. These creatures were covered with eyes on the front and the back. The first living creature was like a lion. The second living creature was like an ox. The third living creature had a face like a human being. And the fourth living creature was like an eagle in flight. Each of the four living creatures had six wings, and each was covered all around and on the inside with eyes. They never rest day or night, but keep on sayingm ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almight, who was and is and is coming.’“
In Ezekiel we find a couple of interesting details that John does not mention: they each have four human hands, and feet that look human on top but like calf hooves on the bottom (Ezekiel 1:6-8). They have eyes on every part of their bodies, including the wings and hands (Ezekiel 10:12).
There are at least four beings in Heaven that are more animal than human. We can call them angelic beings, because they apparently live forever. They existed in Genesis, since God put them at the entrance of the Garden of Eden with flaming swords to keep Adam and Eve from trying to come back in (Genesis 3:24).
God ordered Moses to have curtains made for the Tabernacle with cherubim woven into the cloth, visible from inside the place of worship (Exodus 25-26). Solomon put statues of cherubim in the Temple (I Kings 6-7).
Ezekiel 28, which seems to be a remembrance of the fall of Satan, refers to Satan as a cherub or winged creature twice in verses 14-16. Perhaps there were five cherubim, four carrying God’s throne, and Satan covering the throne from above, until he was cast down?
Obviously, the Cherubim are not exactly earthly animals. They live in God’s presence, and are a hybrid including a human, lion, bull, and eagle. What is this supposed to mean? Historically, the Jews and most commentators agree that these four creatures represent the four major animal kingdoms on Earth. Lion is the “king of the beasts.” A bull was the main “domestic” animal. An eagle is the chief bird. Man has dominion over all of these.
The frequent and very good question about Cherubim is: “why only these four? Why not include the fish, and the creeping things?” In Genesis God made 6 types of creatures, and two are not here represented. Why these four?
All five kinds of non-human creatures: the birds, fish, creepers, cattle, and wild beasts, are named in man’s list of dominion (Genesis 1:26). So it cannot be that fish and bugs are outside our purview.
On the other hand, fish and bugs are NOT mentioned in one key passage of Genesis chapter two. God brings animals for Adam to name. God said “It is not good for the man to be alone” so He brings creatures for Adam to examine. God only brings three types: wild animals, livestock, and birds (Genesis 2:18-20). Adam learned this way that he had no perfect helper, like him, and God then made Eve for him.
So what is it about livestock, wild beasts, and birds, that is good for Adam’s show of dominion in naming, that is lacking in the fish and the creeping things? It seems that bugs and fish were not made to be helpers for humans. Of course, bees and butterflies are helpful pollinators. Yes, dolphins and sea lions can be trained and helpful, but I think of them as wild animals, not fish: they are mammals like domestics and wild creatures.
But, by in large, you cannot train fish and bugs to help out. They do what they do naturally, and humans have no real control over them as individuals. In a manner of speaking, bugs and fish are swarmers and creepers that work and live together… not as individuals so much.
My theory is this, then. The four representative animal kingdoms of the cherubim faces indicate the four types of earth creatures that carry God’s throne in heaven and would bring about God’s kingdom on Earth. Humans would use birds, wild beasts, and domestic animals to improve the Earth . Satan messed things up, so Jesus had to bring redemption for the world. Soon, that redemption will apply to all the Earth, including humans and animals. The New Heavens and New Earth will be restored into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8).
The main point is that God already has animals, of a sort, in Heaven. So, the idea that God has no animals in Heaven is an error. In fact, they are carrying His throne around, and worshiping from a closer distance than any other angels.
The new logo that you see on the God’s Animals Living Abundantly website was designed by Ellen Warren who acts as the web page maker. You can see the four faces of the cherubim: man, bull, eagle, and lion, and the wings. The two semi-circles represent the crown of thorns of Jesus, whom the cherubim serve as Lord. The Cherubim are the best symbol of abundant life for animals. Earthly animals have a purpose, less glorious than the fiery stations of the Cherubs, but no less a part of God’s plans for this planet.