LIGHT AND RESPONSIBILITY
The Bible presents what is essentially a dynamic view of righteousness. We are shown an initial ideal in the first two chapters of Genesis and are later presented with the long journey back to that harmony and perfection which is reached in the last two chapters of Revelation. One consistent theme in the Scriptures is that as light and understanding increase so do God’s standards. God is willing to meet people where they are for a season, accommodating to their ignorance and weakness, but he is always leading them forward towards his ideal. What may have been good in the past is sometimes no longer acceptable a few years later: we are told for example that Noah was a righteous man for the period in which he lived, and that he was ‘blameless among the people of his time’. In a similar way Abraham was considered righteous among the people of his day on account of his faith. Compared to the standards of the gospel Abraham would not be considered righteous today; he was a polygamist, he owned slaves, he was married to his half-sister, and yet Abraham was a shining light compared to the people of his time. Abraham acted according to the light he had in an age of great spiritual darkness, he probably possessed none of the Scriptures, and he came out of a polytheistic pagan culture. Likewise, at the end of the book of Daniel, the prophet despite the incredible revelations granted to him confesses his own lack of understanding: ‘I heard, but I did not understand.’
Christ tells us that greater light and understanding increases our responsibility and also the possibility of judgment:
‘If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.’
And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.
The path of righteousness should shine ever brighter as time passes: ‘But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.’
We now live in an epoch of comparatively great understanding, where vast amounts of information can be accessed effortlessly. In terms of animals never before has so much literature and knowledge on the subject been so readily available. Above all, we live in the post-resurrection era in which Jesus’ triumph over death signals a new phase in time. In this sense the in-breaking of Messianic time into the world should be accompanied by a new vision of personal behaviour that goes beyond the lower standards of the Mosaic covenant and typical religious accommodations. Christ himself tells us that the bar has been raised by an order of magnitude: ‘Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.’
The Apostle Paul underlined how the coming of Christ, the ultimate manifestation of Messianic time, has ushered in a new period in human history that requires a radically different response, ‘business as usual’ is no longer possible:
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.
Stay tuned for Part Four coming soon! For those who would like to read the entire article: Messianic Time and Animals.
 Genesis 6:9
 Genesis 15:6
 Daniel 12:8
 John 15:22
 Matthew 11:23
 Proverbs 4:18
 Matthew 11:11
 Acts 17:30-31
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