THOUGHTS ABOUT ANIMALS

But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you… Job 12:7 (NIV)
As an animal lover, I’ve always been intrigued by the many references to animals in the Bible. From the time my brother and I were small we had turtles, birds, fish, dogs, and cats, and my children had many of the same varieties including white mice. Now my daily companions are two sweet mismatched dogs.
A donkey was used to deliver God’s message to a stubborn prophet (Numbers 22); every species was saved during the Flood (Genesis 6:19); cows were a sign of the times to Pharaoh (Genesis 41); another donkey carried Jesus into Jerusalem (Mark 11); doves were symbolic throughout the Bible; a big fish transported Jonah (1:17); and the lamb portrays our loving Savior in many passages. In fact, nearly 100 different animals (including fish, birds, land creatures, and insects) are mentioned in God’s Word.
In the United States 65% of American households have pets, and the majority of those people consider their pets family members. (My vet told me that most of his clients refer to themselves as Mom and Dad when speaking of their animals.) If we are not among the 65%, we can still understand why, in our fractured society, people here enjoy pets. In fact, pets have become so necessary to us that we spend over $1 billion every year caring for them, feeding, and entertaining them. And then we grieve for them when they leave us.
After the deaths of two of my well-loved pets, Victoria and Albert, I began researching to learn what the Bible says about animals. Apparently, animals can teach us a thing or two (see Job 12:7 above), as most pet owners will attest. For example, I’ve learned a lot about loyalty, attentiveness, and unconditional love from my pets. But the really hard part about loving pets (and people) is when they leave.
Along with my research, I began doing interviews: Do you think pets go to heaven? I asked numbers of people. My favorite answer came from my clergy friend David. David asked me a simple question, Do pets sin? I did some pondering, and then David told me, If pets didn’t sin in the garden or throughout history, they lived under grace and didn’t need a Savior. Therefore, they will have a home in heaven. Really thought provoking.
And I’ve looked at all the ways God used animals throughout the Bible: doves, dogs, bears, bees, camels, flies, frogs, goats, gnats, etc. They certainly have been his instruments for millennia. I am not a theologian, but David has given me something to think about. In the meantime, I’m grateful for all the loving animals God has given me.
Father, every good gift comes from you. Thank you for all the sweet animals that have enriched my life. And thank you for the way you teach us through those special messengers. I am grateful. AMEN.

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