If you love animals, I hope you’ll read what God thinks about animals and the care they should receive.
Laws for Animal Care
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1), but later, “God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:21). Since what God created was declared good, we should treat God’s creation in a good way, including the fact that we should “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds” (Prov 27:23). Scripture says a lot about loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves, but we’re also commanded to show loving care to God’s creatures, and especially those who are under our care. Scripture declares that “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel” (Prov 12:10). The Old Testament laws provided for humane care for animals. Laws like, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain” (Deut 25:4), and “You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother” (Duet 22:1). God even provided a Sabbath rest for man and animal, as it says in Exodus 23:12, “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.” After being criticized for healing someone on the Sabbath, Jesus referred to the Old Testament laws that showed mercy and compassion toward animals, even on the Sabbath, so why not mankind as well. Jesus “said to them, Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out” (Luke 14:5)? Probably none of them could answer that honestly.
God is concerned even with the minutest of creatures in nature. Deuteronomy 22:6-7 says that “If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.” The humane care of animals is so important that God commands, “If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him” (Ex 23:5). It doesn’t matter if it’s your enemy or not…you cannot treat an animal cruelly, regardless of who owns it. The creatures of the earth are under our stewardship since the Scriptures say that “every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine” (Psalm 50:10-12). The point is when God commands, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain” (Duet 25:4; 1 Tim 5:18), He shows His care and compassion for His creatures and He expects us to show the same kind of care, just as my wife shows stay cats wh0’ve been abandoned.
Clearly, God cares for His creatures, both great and small. Jesus said, “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds” (Luke 12:24). Of course, God values us more since we’re created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27), but this doesn’t mean He neglects the tiniest of creatures, like sparrows. The psalmist writes, “He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry” (Psalm 147:9). Not even a tine sparrow “will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matt 10:29b) knowing it. Jesus may have looked upward at the sky while He said, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they” (Matt 6:26)? Over and over again, we see God’s concern for His creation. We read that “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:15-16), and when “The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God” (Psalm 104:21), He provides for them, and God causes “the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth” (Psalm 104:14).
Change in Nature
Someday, perhaps soon, the nature of the creation will be changed. Not only will there be no more tears, sorrow, pain, or death (Rev 21:4), but even the nature of animals will be changed. Isaiah 65:25 prophesied that “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.” In the coming kingdom, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6-9).
God does not miss anything, like “five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God” (Luke 12:6). If God keeps an account of even the sparrows, you know He doesn’t miss how we treat our animals. The way we treat animals reveals a lot about us, and it is undoubtedly true that “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel” (Prov 12:10).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is a Pastor and Prison Minister in the State of Kansas. Jack is also a writer at Christian Quotes and Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.