What Does the Bible Say About the Care of Animals?

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by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What does the Bible say about the care of animals, even those in the wild?

And it Was Good

What does the Bible say about the care of animals, even those in the wild?  In the beginning, God created everything and declared it good, and that must have included the creatures He created. Did you realize that most of the creatures He created were for our benefit? That should make our approach of the care and treatment of animals more reverential or respectful because God created them for a purpose. Every creature ever created by God is doing what God created them for. Only man has failed to live up to his true purpose for being created and that is to glorify God and be with Him forever. What God declares good (including His creatures), we must deem good and try to preserve their lives as much as possible. The way we treat animals says a lot about people. I remember thinking about anyone who ever dated my daughter about these three things; how do they react around children; how do they treat their parents; and how do they treat animals? Those three factors say a lot about a person’s character.

Part of the Family

Most pet owners consider their pets as part of their family… Pets have a unique relationship with their owners, sometimes being extremely close, and as such, many take the loss of a beloved pet like the loss of a family member. Pets have a love that’s different from that of people and they have a love that is very similar to that of people. One thing most pets have is a love that is unconditional. They don’t care if you’re hair’s a mess, you’re putting on weight, or whether you’re hot, tired or sweaty (or all of the above).  They just love seeing you, no matter what. Even after you discipline your pet, it seems they quickly forget about it and they’re ready to jump back into your lap for some love and affection.

Pets to Heaven?

Solomon wrote, “For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth” (Eccl 3:19-21)? Since the wisest man on earth at the time didn’t know whether the spirit of man or the spirit of the beast goes up or down, he is not sure where man’s final destiny will be. We cannot prove from Scripture that our beloved pets will be in heaven. I wish it were so, but until I am convinced by Scripture, I must say I just don’t know. We do know that in God’s “hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10). Revelation 19:11-14 is often used as evidence that there will be animals in heaven because Jesus is riding a white horse, but this is no natural horse! It’s symbolic of the beginning of His righteous reign and He is seen as coming as Commander of the Universe to take back His Kingdom from the dominion of darkness that Satan has so long ago established (Matt 4:8-9).

God’s Covenant

God preserved His creatures before the coming great flood of Noah’s day. It was two by two that God brought the animals into the ark to spare their life from the coming flood, and for Noah to have animals for sacrificing to God and for sustenance (Gen 6:19-22). After the flood, God made an interesting covenant with Noah, but also with His own creatures. God said to Noah, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth” (Gen 9:9-10). God’s covenant was with Noah and with His creatures and that covenant was to never again destroy life on earth with a flood.  Noah and mankind has God’s reminder, written in the sky with the beautiful rainbow (Gen 9:16). That rainbow is also a promise to His creatures!

Caring for Animals

My wife has cared for abandoned animals and I know her heart is bent toward caring for such creatures. That’s when this Bible verse came to mind: “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel” (Prov 12:10). God has regard for even the beasts of burden, as does my wife. God even regarded the ox, commanding Israel, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain” (Deut 25:4). Even a tiny sparrow, among the smallest offerings the poor could make was not out of God’s care, as Jesus said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God” (Luke 12:6).

New Natures

Isaiah the Prophet wrote of the day when God’s Kingdom will be established throughout the earth, as “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” (Isaiah 11:8-9a). In the coming Kingdom of Heaven, God will change the very nature of His creatures. Hosea the Prophet foretold of the day when “…I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety” (Hosea 2:16). Again, Isaiah writes about the coming day when “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” (Isaiah 11:6). Even more remarkable, “The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 11:7).

Conclusion

If you have never trusted in Christ, then you will face God’s judgment someday. Either after death (Heb 9:27) or after His return (Dan 12:2-3; Rev 20:12-15), so my advice to the unsaved who are reading this is from Scripture: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Heb 13:5). Make that decision today, right now, while it is still called today (2 Cor 6:2). Tomorrow is not guaranteed, but Jesus’ coming judgment is.

Here is some related reading for you: What Does the Bible Say About Animals – A Christian Study

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.





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