The Bible’s Viewpoint
Does God Care About Animals?
ANIMAL life is in peril. Many scientists believe extinction of animal species is taking place at an accelerated rate. Animals are suffering the devastating consequences of human encroachment. Industrial food production, cruel blood sports, and callous abandonment of pets add to this grim picture.
Some feel, however, that such a picture is the inevitable price of human progress. But is that what God intended? Has he abandoned animal creation to suffer at the hands of humans? How do we know that God cares about animals?
Care Evident From the Start
After God’s creation of fish, birds, and land animals, God was pleased. The Bible says that he “got to see that it was good.” (Genesis 1:21, 25) All those creatures, from the smallest to the largest, had the Creator’s loving concern. God not only created them “instinctively wise” but also made provisions for them to flourish in their environment. As a Bible writer aptly stated: “All of them—for you they keep waiting to give them their food in its season. What you give them they pick up. You open your hand—they get satisfied with good things.”—Proverbs 30:24; Psalm 104:24, 25, 27, 28.
True, God made animals subject to the first man, Adam. They were not designed with reasoning ability or the capacity for spirituality. (2 Peter 2:12; Jude 19) In contrast, Adam was a higher life-form, created “in God’s image.” He was able to reflect the personality of his Creator, Jehovah. (Genesis 1:27; Psalm 83:18) But this did not give humans license to exercise authority over animals independent of their Creator.
For example, Adam began naming the animals because Jehovah extended that privilege to him. Moreover, Jehovah assisted Adam by “bringing [the animals] to the man to see what he would call each one.” (Genesis 2:19) Only by working under his Creator’s direction could man be successful in caring for the animals.
God Really Does Care!
Sadly, Adam rebelled against his Creator. His rebellion brought devastating consequences to the human family and to all life on earth. The Creator, however, made clear how animals were to be treated. Although man was eventually permitted to use them for food and other practical purposes, God never sanctioned cruel treatment of them. The Bible says: “The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal, but the mercies of the wicked ones are cruel.”—Proverbs 12:10.
God even gave the ancient nation of Israel laws that addressed the welfare of animals. The arrangement for a Sabbath, a day of complete rest each week, benefited the Israelites’ animals in that they too could rest. (Exodus 23:12) Significantly, although no work was allowed on this sacred day, people were to come to the aid of a distressed animal. (Luke 14:5) God further directed that cattle were not to be deprived of food while they worked, and animals were not to be put under an extreme burden. (Exodus 23:5; Deuteronomy 25:4) Yoking a bull and a donkey together was prohibited, preventing injury to either animal. (Deuteronomy 22:10) Clearly, the Bible teaches that animals were to be treated with propriety, respect, and compassion!
Though many people focus on their own concerns and ignore any consequences to animals, God compassionately considers them. When the prophet Jonah reacted unmercifully when the inhabitants of Nineveh repented and were spared God’s judgment, Jehovah stated: “For my part, ought I not to feel sorry for Nineveh the great city, in which there exist more than one hundred and twenty thousand men who do not at all know the difference between their right hand and their left, besides many domestic animals?” (Jonah 4:11) Yes, the Creator felt pity even for the animals!
Future Care Is Assured
Clearly, God is not insensitive to how animals are treated. His beloved Son, Jesus, even said that a single sparrow does not fall to the ground without his Father’s knowledge. (Matthew 10:29) In contrast, even with the best of intentions, humans do not fully understand how their actions influence the environment. Managing human society in a way that shows regard for wildlife requires a change in mankind’s thinking.
Happily, the Bible describes the time when under God’s Kingdom rule, “the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 11:9) Such knowledge will provide obedient humans with the education and training they need to manage the earth properly. The Creator’s influence will then ensure that harmony prevails between man and beast, thus restoring the conditions on earth that God originally purposed.
The Bible describes the transformation that will then take place, explaining: “The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand.” What a glorious prospect to contemplate!—Isaiah 11:6-8.
HAVE YOU WONDERED?
● Is complete harmony between man and animals possible?—Isaiah 11:6-9.
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Showing regard for wildlife requires a change in mankind’s thinking
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La Voz de Galicia/Fotógrafo: Víctor Mejuto