Well I have never really taken the time to think about what the Bible says about animals, and I think it is important that we should study every nook and cranny of the Bible that we possibly can. Animals definitely have a big role throughout different parts of scripture especially as being sacrifices in the Old Testament. But they play a significant role in other areas as well, such as prophecies and God’s intervention. Here is a look at what the Bible says about animals!
Animal Sacrifices Of The Old Testament
Animals played a huge role in the Old Testament  in 2 specific ways. They were used to atone for the sins of the people and more importantly they were pointing the way to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus paid on the cross for us all.
The Old Testament is filled with many verses that deal with people’s sins and how to repent of them. Sacrificing an animal was one of the ways that God allowed the people to be cleansed of their sin. Leviticus 17:27-30 is a perfect example of this: “And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire. And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins.” Why did God use animals for this purpose? Animals were without sin. A perfect sacrifice had to be made to atone for sin. A creature with sin could not be used as a sacrifice to atone for sin.
Animal sacrifices set in motion the plan for the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus for us all. John the Baptist said this very clearly in John 1:29, “The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” John understood the importance of Jesus. He knew that Jesus was the key to salvation. Only through Jesus could our sin finally be atoned for. Isaiah 53:7-12 was a prophecy about Jesus’ death for us. Here are verses 7,9 and 12: “He (Jesus) was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not his mouth…And they made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in His mouth…Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the many, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”
Unique Instances Of God
Animals were also used in specific instances in the Bible by God for various purposes. One instance is Jonah  and the giant fish. In the book of Jonah, Jonah refuses to go to Nineveh to preach the word that God had given him. So, “The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17) After Jonah prays to God in distress, “The Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.” (Jonah 2:10) This shows God’s complete control over His creation. Another instance is Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22. “Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, ‘what have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?’” (Numbers 22:28) At the end of their conversation Balaam realizes his sin and follows what the angel of the Lord tells him to do.
Animals are used as symbolism in the Bible in numerous places. Here are a few examples:
- Jesus – The Lion Of Judah (Revelation 5:5)
- Jesus – The Lamb (John 1:29)
- Satan – The serpent (Genesis 3:1)
- Satan – A lion (1 Peter 5:8)
- Followers of Jesus – Sheep (John 10:11)
- People going to Heaven – Sheep (Matthew 25:33-34)
- People going to Hell – Goats (Matthew 25:33, 41)
Animals have many key roles in the Bible and these are just a few examples of many. May you increase in learning like I did in writing this article! I am always amazed at what God teaches me when reading through the Bible  and hopefully you are learning a lot too! May God bless you as you continue to live a life worthy of the calling!
Read more about animals here: Do Animals or Pets Go to Heaven? 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.