by Rev. Barbara Henderson
I was always an animal lover, but I was about 45 years old when I bought my first rat. Truly, I had no idea what I had; I just thought it would be “cool” to have one. Very soon I was head over tails in love with her! But Terry died early—even for her species—because I knew nothing about her proper health care. And there I was: a raw, grieving, open wound of a human being, wondering with fear and trembling where she was. I knew where her body was, and I couldn’t look at it. But I was mourning for her soul, the thing that made her an individual capable of such a sweet, meaningful relationship with me. She could not just not exist! Sadly, I had been taught the arrogant but common error that animals don’t have souls and certainly not eternal life. But I couldn’t accept the lie this time. Terry was just too wonderful a creature, and God, whom I knew to be compassionate and loving, would never simply dispose of her little “person”ality. So I hoped…but I wasn’t sure.
I was in Bible college at the time, studying for my minister’s license, and I had an Old Testament class that night. I was in no emotional condition to go, but I couldn’t bear to be alone either. So, coming straight from having my loved one euthanized, I arrived at school early. My teacher (Dr. Judy Phillips, now my treasured friend for 17 years) is a true biblical theologian and a woman of great wisdom and compassion, yet with a “get to the point” kind of approach. As I sobbed and choked out my pain, she spoke clearly to me, “What do you need to know to feel better?” And I cried, “Tell me where my rat is!” She didn’t even blink. “Well, she’s in Heaven of course!” Suddenly, my head came up off my desk and I began to learn the REAL truth about animals, and especially rats! Let me summarize for you what Judy taught me that night:
Many ill-educated theologians deny the immortality of animals, claiming as proof a few isolated scriptures that have been proven to be mistranslated in many English versions of the Bible. But the Bible clearly states that we and animals have the same fate. Indeed, the same Hebrew word used of the souls of Adam and Eve, “nephesh”—the breath of life, was also consistently used of the animals He created. They are repeatedly described by the exact same word. They have the breath of life and will indeed live forever, according to God Himself!
No living thing that God created was intended by Him to die. Nothing that breathes will ever be annihilated. God does not un-create. He loves what He has made, enough to die for it, and He makes that clear in the Bible.
Ecclesiastes says, “I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so men will revere him.” And -20 goes on to say, “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal…All go to the same place;” (NIV translation)
Another indication that God treats humans and animals equally is the covenant between God and Noah in Genesis 9:8-10: “Then God said to Noah, and to his sons with him: ‘I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth.’”
Revelation tells us there will be horses in heaven, and verse says, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing....”
We humans who believe in Jesus and accept His death on the cross as payment for our sins are completely cleansed and forgiven, and will join Him in Heaven for eternal life. And we will be restored to our perfected eternal bodies...along with our animals! I will see Terry—and all my other rats—again!
If you have questions about this topic, or about Christianity, contact Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 899-0605.
For Debbie “The Rat Lady’s” Testimony, click here.
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