Shepherding All God’s Creatures has a sister page, Animal Christian Concern. ACC’s work in the United Kingdom began in 1985, founded by May Tripp and Co-founded by Roslyne Smith, one of the partners of Shepherding All God’s Creatures Blog and Prayer Group (see more under “About us, About the Authors”). You can also purchase Roslyne’s book, Animal Welfare: Through The Cross, A Collection of Animal Christian Concern Articles here (a link to the book is also on the blog page under “Feature Book”) – all proceeds go to animal sanctuaries and humane research. The book is a “comprehensive collection of thought-provoking and heart-felt articles, exploring the relationship between Christianity and animal welfare.” We invite you to learn more about ACC and the book here.
Today’s post brings you Part One of an article from Roslyne’s book. We hope that you enjoy it and get much from it. Please do share the message with others. Together, we carry the message of Christ, for Christ, and for ALL Creation, that He is LORD over all, and one day is returning to fully redeem the entire created world for Himself and will be “All in All” – and we will enjoy peace together, people and animals, under his Lordship. Praise God!
THE BIBLE AND ANIMALS
Are Animals created to be our companions?
“And the Lord God said, “It isn’t good for man to be alone; I will make a companion for him. A helper suited to his needs. ”
So the Lord God formed from the soil every kind of animal and bird, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them …” – Genesis 2:18-19
Animals were created as companions to ease Adam’s loneliness; as friends to share the beauty and wonder of Eden. The word helper used to describe them is the Hebrew word ezer meaning to help, assist, aid. This word never denotes an inferior. Throughout the Psalms, it is used to describe God in His role as Saviour of Israel as in “Our soul waiteth for the Lord, He is our help and our shield.” (Psalm 33:20)
Throughout the bible, the Trinity, people, and angels are identified with animals.
JESUS – THE LION AND THE LAMB; the Holy Spirit – the Dove; God told David of the protection of His feathers and His wings. Jesus referred to His beloved followers as sheep.
In 2 Kings 6:17 angelic-beings are seen as horses. In Zechariah 6:1-8 angels are also seen as horses and described as . . . “the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.” In separate instances both Ezekiel and the Apostle John see and describe the Cherubim as an Ox, Lion, Man and Eagle. (Ezekiel 38 and Revelation 4)
The only description we have of what Jesus was like comes from Jesus Himself in Matthew 11:29. He describes himself as “meek” and “lowly”, qualities we attribute to animals. Then there is something else. There are three crucial junctures in Christ’s earthly life: His birth, the beginning of His ministry, and the final week that leads to His death. At each juncture He is in the presence of and identifies with the meekness and humility of His animal creation:
- He is born in a stable (in the presence of animals). (Luke 2:7)
- After his baptism, before starting His ministry. He is in communion/fellowship with the wild beasts. (Mark 1:13)
- He begins His final week on the back of an unbroken colt (Luke 19:30). This event is significant because it shows that the untamed colt recognised that the one riding him was his Creator; the colt would not have permitted anyone else to ride him.
Additionally, when as a victorious Christ/Lamb He returns to earth, He and His ‘army’ are on the backs of white horses from Heaven. (Revelation 19:11-14)
When Christ Jesus assumes His Lordship in Heaven, HE IS CALLED, ‘THE LION’, AND, ‘THE LAMB’, and as the whole redeemed creation worships God, Christ is once again in the presence of animals, the angelic cherubim. (Revelation Ch.5)
Do animals have souls/spirits?
“In Whose hand [speaking of God] is the soul of every living thing.” – Job 12:10
In the Old Testament – the first nine times the word “creature” is written, the Hebrew word nephesh or nepes is used, it is the same Hebrew that is also used for soul over 400 subsequent times beginning in Genesis 2:7. This word pertains to all living things. No distinction is made in the Bible between the nephesh-soul of people or animals. The very first time this word nephesh is used, it is used concerning animals (Genesis 1:24).
“When You send forth Your Spirit and give them breath they are created.” – Psalm 104:30
“Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!” – Psalm 150:6
“For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again . . . Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” – Ecclesiastes 3:19-20, 12:7
We praise God with our soul-spirit – therefore, to praise Him a soul-spirit is required. The Hebrew word Ruah that is translated spirit and breath pertains equally to humans and animals throughout Scripture – as does nephesh-soul.
Again, the Bible makes no distinction between the spirit-ruah of people or animals. Psalm 104:30 clearly states animals are created from God’s spirit – which is ETERNAL.
Thank you for following and reading our blog, we hope you are blessed by it! Stay tuned for Part Two.
Please consider reminding your Church leaders of their Biblical Responsibilities to animals; the Gospel’s message is intended to be preached to and for the whole creation! Thank you ~ Kathy