Animals are frequently mentioned throughout the scriptures and have played an important role in the story of salvation. First of all they are God’s creations. God created the fish of the sea, the fowls of the air, the beasts of the field and every thing that creeps upon the face of the earth (Gen. 1:20-25). While they are not on the same moral level as man, man has been given stewardship of them along with the rest of creation (Gen. 1:28; Psalm 8:6-8).
Like everything else that God created, animals were made to reproduce only after their own kind (Gen. 1:25). Animals were given the ability to adapt to the varied environments that occur on the face of the earth, but their adaptation occurs within the confines of their baramin, or created kind. No creature has ever or ever will cross that line of demarcation between kinds.
Animals were not made in the image of God as was man (Gen. 1:26). For this cause, no animal could ever satisfy man’s need for companionship, however lovable and cuddly they might be (Gen. 2:18-20). However, God did command the use of animals as a substitute offering in place of man’s life when man violated the law of God and God’s justice demanded a payment of blood (Gen. 2:16,17; 3:21; Heb. 9:22; 10:1-19; etc.).
Besides all this, there are spiritual lessons to be learned from the animals. The first specific animal that is mentioned in the Bible is the serpent (Gen. 3:1). Our adversary, the devil, employed the serpent, perhaps because it was the most subtle of the beasts of the field, to tempt our first parents. It is likely that the serpent had legs initially because it’s curse was to go upon it’s belly all the days of it’s life (Gen. 3:14,15). John calls it “that old serpent” and describes it as a dragon in the book of Revelation (12:9).
The adversary of man is also described as a roaring lion, seeking to devour those who are unsuspecting of his wiles (I Pet. 5:8). Therefore, the devil can be both subtle and roaring in his attempts on our salvation but we should not be ignorant of his devices (II Cor. 2:11). But we can resist him no matter what form he may take in his attack upon us (James 4:7).
Those who serve the adversary of man are described as another vicious beast, a wolf. Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15). False teachers pretend to be something that they are not. They infiltrate the flock to spread their deadly doctrine. Paul stated, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). Christians, on the other hand, are described by the Lord as “sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matt. 10:16). We live in a world filled with dangerous wolfs that will not spare the innocent sheep.
Other creatures teach more simple lessons. The wise man reminds the sluggard to go to the ant and consider her ways so that he might be wise and industrious (Prov. 6:6). Jesus uses the fowls of the air as a lesson in trusting in God’s providence (Matt. 6:26). James uses all animals to show that they can be tamed, but the tongue cannot be (James 3:7). There are lessons to be learned from conies, locusts, spiders and other creatures created by God (Prov. 30:24-28).
Perhaps the most important creature made by God is the lamb. Jesus is described as the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter and the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Is. 53:7).
These are a few of the lessons to be learned from the animals in the Bible.
Eric L. Padgett