Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
Authored By :
Published On :
June 30, 1997
Last Updated :
July 11, 2012
Dedicated To Our Beloved Pets, Animal Lovers, And Vegetarians
Some time ago, one of the members of our now-defunct EDGE mailing list made the following short comment:
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"True, but there is a big difference between humans with a spirit and plants and animals without."
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Although brief, the above remark immediately caught my attention. I have never really given much thought to the spiritual nature of or salvation of animals, but I have always assumed that there will be animals in Heaven. After all, there is extensive mention of animals throughout the Bible. Of course, some of it is symbolic in nature. For example, we have Pharaoh, king of Egypt, being referred to as a dragon. We have Satan being referred to as a dragon and a serpent. In the prophecies of Daniel we find kings and empires being represented by a lion, a bear, a leopard, a ram and a he-goat.
Likewise, in the Gospels Jesus refers to King Herod as a fox. We also find Him accusing the Jewish religious elders of being a generation of vipers. Jesus also told us that He is our Shepherd and that we are His sheep. He likewise warned His disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves because He was sending them forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. When Jesus received the baptism of John, it was also reported that the Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. Jesus also warned us not to give that which is holy unto dogs or to cast our pearls before swine. John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God, the same title used by John in the book of Revelation.
In the book of Revelation, we find the Beast and the False Prophet also being represented by two great horned beasts which rise up out of the Earth and sea. And of course we have the four beasts which surround the Throne of God as well as the visions of the prophet Ezekiel. Jesus is also referred to as the root of the Lion of Judah. In the six chapter of Revelation we find the four horses which represent different spiritual forces working on the Earth. These are just some of the many examples of animal symbolism used throughout the Bible.
However, in addition to the above, there are also examples here and there which imply that there will be animals in Heaven; that is, animals which will likewise have spiritual resurrected bodies similar to our own. Consider for example the Prophet Elijah's last minutes on Earth:
"And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces."
2 Kings 2:11-12, KJV
Was this just a figure of speech, or perhaps the author's best attempt at describing something he was totally unfamiliar with? It certainly doesn't sound like it. Some have considered that this might be a reference to some type of celestial craft, what are commonly known as UFOs. While this is possible, the writer's description does sound quite literal. This is not the only place in the Bible where we find the mention of celestial horses. In the book of Revelation, we find that just as Elijah was taken up by a chariot and horses of fire, so too, when Jesus returns with the Host of Heaven for the battle of Armageddon, they will be riding their trusty white steeds:
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean."
Revelation 19:11-14, KJV
How similar this sounds to other ancient legends of mighty godlike beings who rode upon winged horses. Even in the field of astronomy, one constellation has been given the name of Pegasus. Are these accounts in the Bible -- as well as other ancient myths -- just highly exaggerated stories of something more mundane; or is it possible that the authors described and wrote exactly what they saw? If these things be true, then what an encouragement they should be for those of us who have lost pets due to old age or other tragedies. After all, if there are horses in Heaven, why can't there be other creatures as well? Perhaps someday we will meet our beloved pets again, either in the Halls Of Heaven, or on the surface of the New Earth, or maybe romping in the streets of the New Jerusalem. But let's back up a minute to the beginning of our story. From what I understand from the Scriptures, animals have spirits just as much as we humans do. Stop and think about this for a minute: The Lord made Adam from the dust of the Earth. When he was first created, Adam was just a lifeless mass of flesh:
"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
Genesis 2:7, KJV
Adam didn't become a living soul, a living container, until God breathed into him His life-giving Spirit, His life force, a spark of energy from the Eternal. It is then that Adam became a self-aware, conscious, thinking, fully-functioning, living being. Now let's consider the creation of other animals. First, it is important to note that they were made before man. This tells us something interesting: When God formed Adam from the ground, just like from a mold, He must have been repeating a process and method which He had already used previously to create animal life. If not from the ground, then from where else did animal life originate? The Lord didn't just zap them into existence. They came from the very same place as Adam; they came forth from the ground. Everything was made from the minerals of the Earth:
"And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so."
Genesis 1:11, KJV
"And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven."
Genesis 1:20, KJV
"And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so."
Genesis 1:24, KJV
"And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof."
Genesis 2:19, KJV
Everything, both man and beast, came forth, was created from, the ground. In that respect, they are equal. In the case of marine life, perhaps they were formed from the mud in the bottom of the worldwide ocean. Of course, being God, He could also have created them on dry land and then transported them, still unconscious, to the water where He then proceeded to breath the Spirit of life into them. The exact step-by-step mechanics is not important. What is important is the overall process; and that is that similar to Adam, the animals must have likewise had God's life force, His Spirit, placed in them in order to make them alive. So then, what we have seen is that inasmuch as creation itself is concerned, man and beast are equals because they were created by the very same process and originated from the very same place, the ground.
Therefore, based upon the manner of creation, man is no better than animals. In fact, he was the very last thing created; and as I will explain shortly, I believe the Lord may have had a good reason for doing things that way. If we really stop to think about it, in a physical sense, the animal kingdom outdoes man in many regards: in speed, in the ability to jump, or to swim, or to fly, in strength, in natural defense mechanisms, in beauty, in the ability to camouflage, in navigational systems, in sensual perception, in reproduction, etc.
The truth is, that in order to match or better any of these qualities that we find in the animal kingdom, man has had to resort upon his intelligence and artificial means, without which, he really isn't such a fantastic being after all. That can be quite a blow to our human pride and vanity? I will be delving deeper into this point momentarily.
Just think for a moment of what the world must have been like many years ago before we had all of our modern technology. As a matter of fact, go all the way back to Eden and consider some of the impressions and ideas which may have passed through Adam's mind and heart when the Lord first made him a conscious being. Naturally, he must have been overwhelmed with the beauty of the place: the vibrant life, the wonderful colors, the peace, the love he must have felt from and towards his Creator. It must have been a very powerful experience for him. Undoubtedly, it will be much the same for us when we finally meet the Lord face to face and see the beautiful Heavenly City, New Jerusalem, which He has prepared for us. We will be breathless! We will be speechless! We will be totally floored! We will be awed out of our wits!
Sometime after God had created Adam, He gave him the responsibility of naming all of the animals. Think for a minute on what Adam may have experienced as he explored this wonderful new world and gazed upon the myriad of lifeforms which the Lord brought to him to name. Aside from the wonder of it all, is it possible that Adam may have begun to realize his own human limitations? As he gazed upon the eagle soaring way above his head in the clouds, is it possible that he thought to himself, "Wow, I wish I could fly like that!"? Or when he saw the male peacock, or the beautiful butterflies, "Gee, I wish I had colors like that!"? Or when he saw the speed and grace of the gazelle, or the cheetah, "Oh, if only I could run like that!"?
With each new animal, it seems likely that he may have discovered a new limitation of his own. Perhaps he began to become conscious of his own shortcomings as a human being. Maybe he began to see his own lacks and needs. Surely he must have begun to realize that he was not the strongest or the most powerful of God's creatures. He knew that there were many things which the other creatures could do which he could not do. It is my belief that this may be part of the reason why the Lord made Adam last and then brought all of the other creatures to him. He wanted Adam to understand his rightful place in this new world. He wanted to make sure that Adam had the proper attitude and respect for the rest of creation, that is, a humble attitude. As Peter tells us:
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."
1 Peter 5:3, KJV
While the above verse applies to shepherds and their spiritual flocks, I believe it can also be applied to the kind of relationship that the Lord wanted Adam, and wants us, to have with His other creations. In our day and age we have such a high and mighty opinion of ourselves, it is really sickening. But take away all of our false trappings of modern technology, and we become rather weak and helpless. We like to think we are so much better than the rest of creation because of our intelligence, but are we really? A brief look at our history of wars, at our destruction of the environment, and at worldwide poverty and famine due to greed and unscrupulous politics, will quickly confirm to any open-minded individual that we are the most violence-prone, destructive, wasteful creatures upon the face of the planet! If it were not for the fact that we are made in God's image, that is, with two arms, two legs, a head, a torso, two feet, etc., plus a higher intelligence, we would be exactly the same as the rest of creation. Just like them, we eat, we sleep, we play, we fight, we kill, we teach and protect our young, and we live socially. At least some of us do! In fact, we are learning more each day how each animal species has a language of its own with which it communicates with its peers. We are also learning how some of these creatures are much more intelligent that we at first realized. They learn from their experiences. They know how to make decisions. They have emotions. Whether we be human, or other mammal, reptile, fish, or amphibian, we all share some of these same common traits. Even the insect world shares many of these characteristics. We are all part of the same vast web of life; and just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so too, the web of life is only as strong as its weakest strand. Could it be that we are that weak strand, the one chosen by God to support and dominate the entire web?
In spite of the fact that Adam was created by the very hands of God, we know that he was every bit as human as the rest of us today. He possessed the same pride and self image that we all possess. I wonder if things would have been any different if the Lord had created Adam BEFORE all of the other animals? So then, after allowing Adam's pride and vanity to be humbled a bit by the greatness and beauty of the other creatures, after Adam had come to understand his own true nature, that is when we are told that the Lord made Eve. As we read in Genesis:
"And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
Genesis 2:20-23, KJV
Adam must have been a bit depressed after having come to the realization that, up until that point, he was the only one of his kind. There was no other creature exactly like him in the entire Garden. Everyone had a mate but him. Coupled with the realization of his own limitations compared to the abilities of some of the rest of the creatures, the Lord must have gotten him in the right frame of mind so that when Eve was finally presented to him, he must have been extremely overjoyed and appreciative.
Imagine the thoughts that may have run through Adam's head: "Wow! She looks just like me! Well, almost! Man is she gorgeous! What a knockout!" Please notice also that Eve was made from Adam's side, to be an equal, a co-partner in creation, and not someone over whom he was to be a lord. She wasn't made from an arm, or a leg, or a foot bone, but rather from a rib near to his heart. We are then told that the Lord made Adam and Eve to have dominion over the rest His creation, as we see by these verses:
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."
Genesis 1:26-28, KJV
After having made Adam aware of his proper relationship with his fellow creatures, the Lord made him and Eve the stewards of creation. As the above verses indicate, even before He had actually created them, the Lord knew exactly what He had planned for them. In spite of the fact that they weren't the biggest, or the fastest, or the most powerful, the Lord chose them from before the foundation of the world to become the dominant species on this planet; to rule over the rest of His creatures. Adam and Eve were ordained by the Lord to be the King and Queen of the first creation. However, as I have already pointed out, they were both human, and not gods. They had the ability to choose between good and evil; and I don't doubt that evil was working in their hearts way before their fateful encounter with Satan.
As I said earlier, I believe that it is possible that Adam's pride and vanity were already working against him the minute he came into contact with the other creatures and saw that they could do things which he couldn't. Considering the apparent size of the Garden of Eden, doesn't it make you wonder how it just so happened that Adam and Eve were near to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil on that fateful day? By this time, Satan had apparently already accomplished his rebellion against God and was already at work to foil the plans of creation. In Genesis chapter three we read:
"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"
Genesis 3:1, KJV
And there comes the first part of his attack, causing Eve to doubt God's Word. Satan already knew the answer to the question, but he had to begin slowly by making Eve stop to think on her own, instead of continuing to trust in the Lord. As Paul wrote to the Romans:
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
Romans 8:7, KJV
Instead of just ignoring Satan, and running the other way, Eve invited him to "pull up a chair" and have a conversation with her, as we see here:
"And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die."
Genesis 3:2-3, KJV
So once Eve had explained what Satan already knew in the first place, Satan then tells her an outright lie:
"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
Genesis 3:4-5, KJV
And there it is, a direct hit on Eve's womanly pride and vanity. "Hey Eve, baby! You won't die, honey! You will be just like Him! You'll be a goddess!" Maybe the conversation is a bit imaginative here, but Satan must have really been lusting after her. After all, having been made by the very hands of God, maybe even modelled after one of His angelic entities, Eve must have been a dream! She must have made ole Satan's heart go pitter-patter. And there are those who actually believe that there is much more to the seduction story than what we currently find in our Bibles! Some of the angelic beings definitely longed for human women as is related a bit later in this article, as well as in my articles regarding the book of Enoch. But to continue, doesn't it seem strange that this is all it took, only three verses in the whole Bible, and Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan's lies? The very next verse tells us:
"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."
Genesis 3:6, KJV
Without a second thought, Eve, and then Adam -- who just happened to be right next to her -- took of the forbidden fruit and caused the downfall of man. Due to their pride and vanity, which must have been steeping for some time prior to the event, they ignored the Lord's warning and turned their backs on the wonderful relationship they had with Him, and the blessing of living in the Garden of Eden. Towards the very end of the Bible, the Apostle John tells us exactly what Adam and Eve fell for:
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
1 John 2:16, KJV
Notice how similar the above verse is to Genesis 3:6. The exact same three elements are present in both verses: the lust of the flesh -- "the tree was good for food" -- the lust of the eyes -- "it was pleasant to the eyes" -- and the pride of life -- "a tree to be desired to make one wise". Satan knew exactly how to lead Adam and Eve into sin, breaking God's law, His Word.
What is important to our discussion regarding the salvation of animals, is that The Fall didn't just affect Adam and Eve; it affected all of creation including the animal kingdom. It threw everything out of balance. For example, prior to The Fall, Genesis indicates that both man and beast were vegetarians:
"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so."
Genesis 1:29-30, KJV
Animals did not kill each other for food, and man did not kill animals for food. As explained in another one of my articles, the first clear reference we find where the Lord permits the eating of meat, is after the Great Deluge which occurred in Noah's day. Some Bible students, such as myself, believe that it was the removal of the aqueous canopy around the Earth which contributed to the acceleration of the aging process due to the sudden increase in intensity of ultraviolet rays upon the world. It seems that it thus became necessary for our bodies to absorb more protein in order to counteract this harmful affect upon our frail human flesh. Following the Flood, we find the Lord saying to Noah:
"And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."
Genesis 9:1-6, KJV
Notice that it is at this point that animals first become afraid of man because the Lord lets them know that they are now fair game to be caught, killed and eaten by humankind. Before The Fall, this was not so. Adam and Eve lived in communion with the animals. They were friends. Who knows, maybe they could even talk to each other! Is that too wild of a speculation for you? Well, what if that serpent in the Garden really was a serpent and not symbolic of something else as some of us like to think? The main point to consider here is that the disobedience by Adam and Eve caused a major breach in Creation. They totally upset the applecart. They threw things off balance; and the Lord has been working ever since to repair the damage.
Notice that in the above pronouncement to Noah and his family, the Lord sets three conditions: First, they must remove the blood from the meat before consuming it. Second, any animal which kills a human will be held accountable by God. Third, any man who kills another man will be held accountable by God. So again, because of the original transgression which had been committed by Adam and Eve due to their pride and vanity, all of Creation has been put at our mercy. All animals have been and will remain under our subjection until God grants them freedom from bondage and their full salvation, just as He will do with us. Until then, we will continue to go to the grocery store without a second thought or feeling of guilt and buy our pound of ground beef, or our hot dogs, or our roasted chicken, or our steak, or our spare ribs, or whatever it is that appeals to our taste. One thing we all need to remember, whether we be meat eaters or vegetarians, is that God receives us all by our faith in His Son, and not by what we put into our mouths. As Jesus said:
"There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man . . . Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? . . . That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."
Mark 7:15, 18-23, KJV
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the disciples at Rome also expounded upon this topic. In Romans chapter fourteen, Paul says in part:
"For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him . . . Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind . . . Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean . . . Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
Romans 14:2-3, 5b, 13-14, 22-23, KJV
Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .