A Biblical View of Animals

Today my dog died, and in reflecting on his death I thought I would briefly deal with a subject on the minds of many pet owners, namely concerning to what degree God values animals and what happens to them after they die.

It is interesting that in symbolizing the death of His One and Only Son God utilizes animals. We note for example the in substitution for the sacrifice of Isaac God provided a ram, representing Christ. Likewise under the Mosaic law it was not human sacrifice which cover sin, but animal sacrifice. And who can enter the Most Holy Place? Only the high priests once a year, but not without the blood of an animal. And likewise in Revelation Christ is portrayed as a lion in one case (Rev 5:5) and as a lamb in the other (Rev 5:6).

Animals have a noble calling, whether it be as a source of food, or as a innocent sacrifice, as a work animal, or as a companion. I recall a story the prophet Nathan told King David in 2Samuel 12

The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him." David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity."

David had grown up a shepherd and experienced the compassion many pet owners feel. Pets are an object of grace. We all need objects of grace to exercise that attribute of graciousness characteristic of God, having been made in the image of God. Dogs are good in portraying humility, obedience and faithfulness. And likewise each animal can teach us something, which is why Solomon writes, "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise" Pr 6:6

As for what happens to animals after they die the Bible is largely silent. For Bible is not about animals. It's not about alot of things. The Bible is about man's relationship with God. However there is an interesting verse in Ecc 3:21 "Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?" So while the Bible doesn't tell us what happens to them, it does seem to indicate that they do have a spirit which goes somewhere after death.

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