In Genesis 2:7 it says, “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” So God breathes into our bodies and that is what brings us to life. Describing what happens at death, Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the life’s breath returns to God who gave it.” In other words, at death the life that animates us returns to God. Animals too are described as having this same breath when it says in Genesis 7:15, “Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark.” So if God’s breath is what animates humans and animals alike and it says this breath returns to God upon our death, I see no reason why the fate of animals is any different than the fate of humans. Ecclesiastes 3:19 confirms this when it says, “Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals.” As our neighbors and fellowship partners, animals have the same hope and promise we do!
God also makes covenant promises to animals (Genesis 9:15, Hosea 2:18); animals are depicted praising God (Revelation 5:13, 4:8); some bible stories depict animals as heroes (Numbers 22:1-39); some fulfill prophecy (John 12:14-15). Most importantly, however, animals have been part of God’s plan for Creation from the beginning (Genesis 1:20-25) and are part of God’s promised plan for the restored kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9).
It is also worth mentioning that some bible translations obscure otherwise clear depictions of animals in heaven. For instance, Revelation 4:8 is often translated as “beasts” or “living creatures” when the same exact word is translated as “animals” elsewhere in the same translation. The idea that animals sit at the throne of God praising and worshiping God would seriously call into question our traditions that involve eating animals. Yet that’s exactly what the bible tells us happens!