Do you ever wonder if there will be animals in the new heavens and the new earth? What will the animals be like? How will we interact with them? Does God tell us about animals in the new world?
In Isaiah 11:6-9 we read that "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together, and the little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain."
We learn three truths in these verses about animals in the new world.
1) Animals will no longer kill each other.
Predators will no longer hunt prey. Wolves will not hunt for lambs. Animals that were enemies will now be at peace. Lions and zebras will play together. The distinction between prey and predator will be gone. The peace that come from Christ's rule will be extended into the animal kingdom.
2) People and animals will no longer be afraid of each other.
Children, who are weak and often targeted by predators, will be able to take care of bears and lions. A child will lead them out to graze. Infants will play by the hole of formerly dangerous snakes and Moms won't be afraid because the snakes will be tame. People won't kill animals and animals won't kill people. The fear between animals and people will be gone. After the flood, God told Noah that, "The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hands are they delivered." Genesis 9:2. This fear and dread will be gone. The relationship between animals and people will be restored to what it was before the flood.
3) Carnivores will now be herbivores.
Bears and lions will graze on grass. They will no longer eat the meat of other animals. No more hunting and killing. It is a bit hard to imagine, but lions will eat hay like a cow. Bears will enjoy green grass just as much as a horse. I suppose that there might be some physical changes in some of these animals. But that is not surprising since there will be great changes in us and the world.
The big question is when does this happen? Isaiah 65:25 quotes part of the passage we are looking at. In that passage Isaiah speaks of a new heavens and a new earth but also says there still will be death and the bearing of children, both of which won't happen in the eternal heavens and earth. Part of the challenge of prophecy is that often there are events that are compressed together without explaining the time line of those events. Often first advent details are given along with second advent details. It is only after some or all the details have come to pass that we see the timeline clearly. There are difficulties in prophecy that only time will make clear. So considering both Isaiah 11 and 65, I believe that this change will begin in the Millennial kingdom, when Christ shall rule from Jerusalem over the entire world, which will not be yet be perfect, and continue on into the completely perfect new heavens and the new earth, which will be without sin and death. I think we all can be confident that we will enjoy a peaceful existence with animals.
Sin come into the world and ruined many things. People abuse and mistreat animals. Animals kill and maim people. While we are allowed to eat meat and animals are made to hunt each other for food, this will not continue in a perfect world. God is making all things new. We will be made new. The world will be made new. Even animals will be made new. Jesus Christ did not come only to accomplish salvation and take sinners to heaven with Him. No Jesus will "reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven." Col 1:20. The entire universe will be transformed into the perfect paradise. And wonder upon wonder is that you and I who have been reconciled to God though Christ will get to enjoy this forever. On this resurrection Sunday, let us rejoice that Christ has risen. For His resurrection is our hope and confidence of our resurrection into this glorious paradise that God has prepared for His redeemed.
I like animals and am looking forward to this aspect of future glory, when I can get up close with all the wonderful animals God has created.