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 the world.

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 not mentioned.

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 that.

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.

Moving on...

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?


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 is made... ( 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.

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