Animals in Heaven, part III: How Noah changed our
relationship with animals.|
The Bible presents us with a series of Covenants, or contracts, if you
would, between God and man. These contracts are set in the sweep of the
history of Israel and her peoples, ending with the covenant of Christ and
the successful spread of Christ's salvation, from the Jewish nation, to all
To discuss a plan this grand would take volumes of books. So, I will only
look at specific examples where animals are mentioned. This means I will be
glossing over many important points about these covenants, and I wanted to
remind you all of this.
The first covenant is found in Genesis 1:26-30. We find that dominion is
given for man to rule over the animal kingdom. God creates man in His
image, and there are several mainstream interpretations of this fact. In
verse 28, man's responsibilities are outlined... in any covenant, there is
God's part, and man's part. God gives us the gift of dominion, which sets
us apart from the animals, and we, in return, take on some responsibilities
to be fruitful, multiply, fill and subdue the earth, and rule over the
animals... not a bad deal!
In the next part of the contract, God says (verse 29), "Behold, I have given
you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and
every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you..." Note
that meat-eating is not given. Stop for a minute, and think about why it is
It is my belief that in the garden of Eden, before the fall of man, there
was no death. That means no meat-eating. It means no carnivores. It means
no carrion beetles, no flies feeding on spoiled flesh, no mold or bacteria
to break down dead organic material. No disease. The entire environment
would be different... no death... stop for a minute or two and think about
Now, I believe some of us have a memory left in us - a distant one of Eden,
in our souls, if you will. A longing to return. I believe this memory is
in the Animal Rights Activist who refuses to eat or wear animal products.
Who refuses to accept the fact that even when well cared-for, animals do
die. Are they correct? No. We live in THIS world, not Eden. We have the
promise of heaven, even heaven on earth, in which all of this is set
straight again. Without this promise, the ARA tries to set it straight
through humanistic effort. They deserve our compassion, our prayers, and
our witness, while we fight them to prevent them from acheiving their goal
of eliminating the human-animal bond. They feel something is amiss, and
they are right, but their solution is without God, and against God.
In Genesis 1:30, plants are given to the animals as food. Note that when
the plants are given to the animals or to man, for food, there is no
corresponding responsibility... they are just given as a gift. The end
result of the covenant is that while animals are tied in to man's covenant
in some pretty specific ways, they are not given any responsibilities or
rights, just the gifts. Meanwhile, man bears some responsibilities for both.
We move on then, to Genesis 2:16 and 17. Without quibbling over various
interpretations of these verses, please do note that when God gave man food,
he also made some rules about that gift. There are no rules given to the
animals, only to man.
Move on to verses 18 - 20. God sets out to find a helper for Adam, and
creates the animals, but none are suitable as a mate. The original language
actually says none of them "corresponded" to Adam. The animals are
considered as possible "helpers". This means they have that capacity - to
be helpers and companions - otherwise, why consider them?
No let's go on to Genesis 3:14. We probably all remember the part the
Serpent played in Adam's demise... and we all remember that the Serpent is
cursed. However, how many of you missed this phrase?
"Cursed are you (Serpent) MORE THAN ALL THE CATTLE, AND MORE THAN EVERY
BEAST OF THE FIELD..."
Why are the animals cursed? Because in the first covenant, man is in charge
of them, has dominion over them, is responsible for them... and somehow,
this ties them into the curse of the serpent? Is it because a snake allowed
himself to be used to tempt Eve? I will not argue either of these points,
but speculate on them, and wish to point out that for whatever reason, God
curses the animals along with the Serpent, Adam, and Eve.
When Adam disobeyed, the whole environment changed. Death entered in,
affecting not only mankind, but all the animals as well. Adam is thrown out
of Eden, where lions grazed, where mosquitos drank plant sap (as the males
of the species still do), and where nothing decayed. In verse 18, you see
that even the plants are affected. With death as a possible result of being
eaten, plants now grow protections. Death is now a fact of life. The
animals did not sin, but their fate is our fate.
Now, for comic relief, imagine this: Adam leaves Eden and gets his first
COLD. What a bummer! ;-)
Now, we move on to the next covenant. In Genesis 6:5-8, we see that the
fall of man has brought man to new depths. God is sorrowful about the
creation of mankind. Does he decide to send a plague to wipe evil mankind
from the earth? No. He decides to "...blot out man whom I have created
from the face of the land, from man TO ANIMALS TO CREEPING THINGS, AND TO
BIRDS OF THE SKY; for I am sorry that I have made them. But Noah found
favor in the eyes of the Lord."
This idea is repeated in verses 17 - 19.
Probably, all of you know the basic story of Noah and the Ark. Note that in
Genesis 7: 2 - 4, God not only orders "two of every kind", but also orders
"seven of every clean animal". Why?
Now look at Genesis 8: 17, 10-22. Noah's first act, upon setting foot on
dry land, is to sacrifice one of every clean animal. Perhaps it was not
Noah's behavior that set him apart from the other people who were condemned
to the flood... perhaps it was the fact that he was "righteous by the blood"
of sacrificed animals. Noah is certainly not portrayed as sinless, yet he
pleased God. Hmmm....?
Now, in Genesis 9: 1 - 5, God makes His covenant with Noah. In verse 1, He
reminds Noah of elements of the covenant with Adam. This new covenant does
not replace the old, but augments it. Then, in verse 2, He does something
that may seem strange. "And the fear of you and the terror of you shall be
on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything
that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they
are given." You see, up to now, animals were NOT wild. They were unafraid
of man. This is the reverse of what we were taught - that wild animals were
tamed and domesticated... but it seems that first, it was the other way.
This is the second reason the Animal Rights Activist is wrong... they want
to revert all animals to the wild state - a step in the wrong direction!
In verse 3, God institutes meat-eating. Now, here is the reason the animals
needed to fear man... and also the reason there were SEVEN of the clean
animals. Man will now eat the clean animals, and sacrifice them to God, and
more were needed, so that they could survive and reproduce.
Verses 5 - 6 establish that those who commit murder are required to die, and
this goes for animals that kill man, also.
Now, after the Covenant has been defined, God states WITH WHOM the covenant
( vs 9 & 10) "Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and
with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with
you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all
that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth."
Again, the fate of the animals is one and the same as the fate of mankind.
The principle of God, saving a remnant, found in the promise of the rainbow,
will be repeated time and time again in the Bible, from now on.
Here, we will stop. The important fact that carries into part 4, is that
through Adam, all were subject to death, even the animals. (2 Cor. 5: 14 -
15) Through Noah, the animals were saved along side the humans. In each
covenant, the animals are carried along with what has happened to man. Our
fate determines theirs.