In man’s arrogance, he has written in, not only his own personal concoction of history, he has written interpretations of the most revered book since the beginning of man; The Bible. Interpretation lays language down in these pages. We find such words as “dark” meaning either “nothing” or “invisible”. The reader chooses. We find such words as “dominion” or “stewardship”, meaning either exploitation or a deep sense of caring. Man, in general chooses his own arrogance and rules over the animals in our domain. Some buy and sell dogs through breeding in spite of the fact that other homeless companions are euthenized with the woes of overpoplulation. Some even slaughter and broil or grill the beloved creatures that we were meant to care for.
In The Word, we are called upon to care for, not exploit the creatures that walk the earth alongside of us. Pure conscience would put a foot down and delcare “enough”! when witness to some of the cruelty animals face in our time and before. What is God’s take on it? Research has shown that there are as many opinons as there are religions and “men of God”. It doesn’t take much contemplation to realize that animals suffer. They have a nervous system. Just going to the zoo and looking they eyes of any one of the inhabitants reveals the undeniable conclusion that there is a soul inside of those eyes, beautiful eyes that they are. Life is saturated with the unknown energy source in the power of consciousness. Humans may relish in the use of thumbs and the intelligence it fuels on the way to invention and complexity of intellect, but they have no hold on the entire world’s experience with soul or feelings. We share that with anything that has a connective brain to the chemistry of fear and loyalty. It is not something we can claim alone.
In fact, the Hebrew term, nephesh chayah means, literally, “soul”. In the Bible, this refers to both mankind and animals. Compare Genesis 2:7 to Genesis 1:30.
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…Genesis 2:7
And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so…Genesis 130
In other plain words, the world isn’t just for us.
Ruach, is the Hebrew word of “spirit” and/or “breath”. This is the indicator of life. Reading Ecclesiastes 3:21, Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
If soul is spirit and breath, then animals are rewarded with the same as humans.
C.S. Lewis interprets that man ascends on God’s terms as we have purity of sin through Jesus Christ. Animals ascend on the terms of man, and ascend through him to the higher. In The Problem of Pain, Lewis declares that animals ascend into heaven through their relationship with humans. In The Great Divorce, Lewis says, that perhaps when we name animals, they “become themselves” and our salvation “flows over into them.”
Isaiah, 11:6 declares, The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat…and a little child will lead them.” In this, we can be assured that animals are a beautiful rendition of God’s pallet and their place in Heaven through their innocense and their service is guaranteed. If only we could all take a lesson from them.
In Biblical context, the most difficult book to read is that of Leviticus. The slaughter of innocent animals is the main idea of this piece. Detailed instruction aside, one must wonder why this book is revered enough to lay alongside of other more compassionate words of the same literature. However, no one can completely understand the Word without putting it in context. Naturally, Genesis, as a piece written to a civilization thousands of years old, could not make sense out of interdimensional string theory to consider multi dimensional living with consciousness. It also could not make sense out of the earth’s surrender to the gravitational pull of objects that have massive density or the expansion of the universe from the product of the Big Bang. Therefore, in talking to a less scientifically advanced society, one might consider that the following would do to comprehend the divine.
He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing…Job 26:7 Isn’t this basically a truth of today’s science spoken to the minds of ancients before Hubble and everything that follows and flows through the times of scientific discovery, including our intimate relationship with the math of the universe?
That said, consider where the culture was at the time. Sacrifice was so ingrained in the mindset, there were children and infants thrown into the fire lapping at idols such as Baal. Sacrifice was a big deal, almost the fuel that ran every survival challenge of man. It turned the seasons, spawned the harvest, and kept danger and death from the throes of everything sacred. Baal was the Pagan god that seethed with the highest demands. The concept of God through Jewish intellect managed to survive the treachery of Pagan religion, and lives on to this day. In a society drenched in the need to sacrifice, the God of Abraham would relate to those in this world in the only way to bring about ultimate good and the psychological destruction of Baal. The God of Abraham related to His people in the only way they would understand Him; through sacrifice. It was what was valued in the day. The suffering, slaughter, and rituals of animal sacrifice were more of a settlement with people saturated in the curse of it all through other religions and beliefs.
Many don’t realize that the coming of Jesus Christ was a blessing of the world, not just man. Of course He came as savior to God’s people. What many don’t realize is that at the crucifixion, the event was so huge, it put an end to the sacrifice of animals as well. Christians believe that, as the ultimate sacrificial substitute, Christ’s death ended the need for all sacrifices on animals.
This reverence for the creatures of the Earth is reflected in the incident recorded about the overturned tables in the temple. He becomes enraged and frees the doves penned to be sold in sacrifice. In the process of spilling the coins, releasing animals was an event worth significant contemplation. This very event, the disruption of the bartering that was in process, spilling of the coins, and setting the animals free from their captivity was a most significant event that led to Christ’s final arrest and crucifixtion.
In the Old Testament, we were instructed into stewardship of the innocence of this earth, not exploitation. We are to care for the animals, not overrun and use them for our gain. Consideration should be for our guardianship over them, not our conscienceless exploitation.