Since posting ‘Seven Words From The Cross’ and reading Kathy’s wonderful posts on ‘The Book Of Jonah’, various thoughts have come to mind about what God may be saying to His people; and I will endeavour to share them here.
As Kathy has previously said (click here for note at bottom of post), “Animals suffer astronomically in factory farms, vivisection labs, fur farms etc., and we turn a blind eye. We don’t listen to their screams; or watch the undercover videos of their suffering; or speak out about it. … There is a whole mission field, a harvest, waiting for the Church to come into, of people who want nothing to do with Christianity (and thus Jesus), because of the Church’s general view of the animal kingdom. … I see the need for us as Jesus followers to shower all of suffering creation with His love – humans, animals, planet; we are to be active participants in bringing about the Peaceable Kingdom.”
And, as I mentioned in a previous post, Isaiah 11 v 1-9 tells us that when by Jesus, the love of God reigns all over the earth, then the whole creation will live as God first planned, in perfect harmony, in His Peaceable Kingdom. According to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Ch 1 v 9-10), God’s plan is to bring all creation together with Christ Himself as head. Meanwhile, Paul says in his letter to the Romans (Ch 8 v 18-25), that animals are waiting for mankind’s transformation into the knowledge and love of God in Jesus, before this can happen. Waiting for us to, by word and by deed, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16 v 15).
The God Of The Second Chance
“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time” (Jonah 3 v 1).
God always gives us a second chance to obey Him. He gave Jonah a second chance and this time Jonah obeyed Him and went to Nineveh.
Obedience reverses what happened in the Garden of Eden. God gave us dominion of His animal creation, not to use and abuse them but, in His image, to care for them. This was our first mandate (Genesis 1 v 26-31). The first human pair disobeyed God and their sin introduced chaos into His perfect world. (Genesis 3) When we obey God we do the opposite and enable God to work out His purposes.
God always enables us to carry out the task He asks us to do. Jonah had a huge task ahead of him, but all he had to do was to speak the words; God’s Spirit then took over and applied the message to the hearts of the people.
When we Christians demonstrate to the world our sincere repentance for the sin of closing our eyes to gross commercial and social animal exploitation, when we decide that we will take a lead in this matter and be at the forefront of speaking out about the horrific suffering of animals, then we will, I believe, see a tremendous move of the Spirit of God across the world.
God seeks to persuade us, but He never forces us. He went as far as He could in persuading Jonah to obey Him, but respects our right to say “No”.
The story of Jonah shows that God loves not just humans, but His animals too. And, along with the book of Revelation, it also shows us that, although judgment is within the love of Christ, responsibility to share the Gospel is ours, “Then I was told, ‘Once again you must proclaim God’s message about many nations, races, languages and kings'” (Revelation 10 v 10).
What Is The Spirit Saying To The Churches?
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2 v 7).
In the book of Revelation, God is speaking to the 1st century Church, but He could well be saying basically the same things to the 21st century Church.
Those who read the prophecy and heed its words are guaranteed a special Blessing (Revelation 1 v 3). It’s one thing to read what God says to us about caring for His creation, but how many of us actually heed His words?
The book begins by describing itself as “The revelation of Jesus Christ” and this revelation was given by God to John, who was told to write it down and send it to the churches.
In His letter to the church in Laodicea, Christ presents Himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation” (Revelation 3 v 14), meaning He is God, the originator of the whole creation, “He is the image of the invisible God … for by Him all things were created” (Colossians 1 v 15-16).
His message to the church is “… because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth ” (Revelation 3 v 16). Jesus would prefer His people to be either frozen or on fire. There is no in-between. He says that if we are not going to be hot, then He would prefer us to be cold, and not lukewarm (Revelation 3 v 15).
A mere lukewarm appreciation of Christ being the Lord and Saviour of the whole creation and of His death and resurrection, simply detracts from their real meaning, and confuses those who look on. Better icy indifference or even active opposition than to insult Him by saying we believe in His cause, and yet live out lives that, by their indifference, nauseate Him.
Enthusiasm is an essential and important part of Christianity, and without it the Christian faith becomes dry and mechanical. Perhaps if we lived nearer to the heart of our faith we too might be accused, as were the early disciples, of being “drunk and mad”! Although we Christian animal welfarists are often said to come pretty close to this!!
Jesus has the right to issue a strong command, but instead He tenderly appeals to them to hearken to His words; “I counsel you.” It is because He loves us that He rebukes us (Revelation 3 v 19).
In the blog post, ‘Seven Words From The Cross’, I used Warner Sallman’s painting, ‘Christ At Hearts Door’, to illustrate Revelation 3 v 20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” The picture shows the Risen Jesus knocking at the door of our heart. Christ likens the human heart to a dwelling. Each one of us has the right, if we so wish, to refuse admission to the very God who made us. He will not break down the door. He will stand and knock … and knock again, appealing for our permission to enter. This could perhaps be used to represent the heart of the secular animal welfarist, who doesn’t understand in whose name he/she carries the cross they bear!
Another possibility is that the passage could represent the Risen Jesus knocking at the door of His Church with a self-satisfied lukewarm congregation that doesn’t notice that He has left! Is there any picture more compelling than Christ standing at the door of His own Church seeking re-admittance (Revelation 3 v 20)?
But then I was given yet another mental picture – this time of the Risen Jesus knocking at the door of His Church with a human-centred congregation, who are so taken up with the concerns and comforts of our own kind, they are indifferent to the suffering of His animal creation! Most fail to seek out cruelty-free or free-range products and many just don’t want to know about legalised animal abuse, thus limiting His Lordship to that of humankind only.
To be half-hearted and not proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of the whole creation is to be so distasteful to Christ that it nauseates Him. As Selwyn Hughes, author of the Bible commentaries, ‘Every Day With Jesus’, once said, “We must either throw the door of our lives wide open to Him or firmly slam it shut in His face. There must be no prevarication.”
At the end of each of His messages to the churches Christ exhorts them to hear what the Spirit is saying. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”(Revelation 3 v 22). This need to pay attention is emphasised because we are such bad listeners. We hear the words but don’t get the point. To hear what the Spirit says and not apply it to ourselves is one of the greatest tragedies that can befall us in this age. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen!
Thank you for reading! Your thoughts are welcome! Part Two, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, to follow shortly!! ~Ros
*NOTE: For those wanting to read the conversations referred to at the beginning of this post, click here and here, and see the sermon comments section under the sermon video – great sermons to watch, too.