Another issue that has become political is that of the Animal Rights movement. All of our lives we have heard of the SPCA, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They have been often applauded for their care of unwanted animals.
More recently we have heard of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They have been at the forefront of promoting that animals have certain “rights.”
Again, our study is on what the Bible says about this subject.
A “right” is a “just claim, title or privilege” such as the right to vote. Does an animal have a just claim? Does an animal have an entitlement or privilege guaranteed to them because they simply exist? Are they equal to mankind in just claims, titles or privilege? Do they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? The right to bear arms? The right to own property? Just what rights do they have? These need to be spelled out clearly so we know what they are talking about. In the mean time let us look at the Scriptures.
1. We are taught to care for our animals.
Proverbs 12:10, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
“His beast”—man owns the beast. He is to regard the life of the beast. He is to take care of the animal.
2. Animals were created by God.
Genesis 1:24-25, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
3. Animals fell under the curse of man’s sin.
Romans 8:19-22, “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”
As a result, animals die, get sick, diseased and often wildly murder each other. Even the ground is cursed for man’s sake (plants die and get diseased).
Before man sinned animals appear to have been tame (Genesis 2:19).
4. Man was told to have dominion over the animals.
Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
So man has been given dominion over all animals. We are not equals. Dominion means “supreme authority, rule or control.”
5. Man has been able to tame the animals.
James 3:7, “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:”
6. God killed animals to make clothes for Adam and Eve.
Genesis 3:21, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”
Obviously an animal has to be killed to make a coat out of its skin. The first physical death among God’s creation was that of animals to clothe man.
7. Others used animals for clothing.
Matthew 3:4, “And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”
Genesis 27:15-16, “And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son: And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck:”
8. God allowed animals to be used for sacrifices.
Multitudes of Scriptures could be quoted here. Here are just a few:
Leviticus 1:10-17, “And if his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish. And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar. And he shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat: and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the LORD be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons. And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar: And he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes: And he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.”
Genesis 8:20, “And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”
Genesis 22:13, “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”
Exodus 24:5, “And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD.”
9. God allowed animals to be used for food.
Leviticus 7:2,6, “In the place where they kill the burnt offering shall they kill the trespass offering: and the blood thereof shall he sprinkle round about upon the altar. Every male among the priests shall eat thereof: it shall be eaten in the holy place: it is most holy.”
Leviticus 11:2-23, “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you. These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you. And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the osprey, And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; Every raven after his kind; And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.”
Acts 11:5-10, “I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.”
I Timothy 4:1-5, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
Romans 14:2-3, “For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.”
It is obvious that God created animals for man to have dominion over. They do not have rights but should not be abused. Animals are used for helping man work (I Kings 19:19, plowing with yoke of oxen); travel (Jeremiah 17:25, riding horses); in battle (Proverbs 21:31, Jeremiah 8:6, Zechariah 10:3); clothing, sacrifices and food.
10. Animals will be a part of Heaven and Christ’s great Kingdom.
Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”
Revelation 19:14, “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
Only in false religions are animals worshipped. For example, in Exodus 32:3-4 it says, “And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”
There is a lot of sentiment today towards animals that is based on Eastern Mysticism, New Age Religion, Hinduism and Reincarnation (returning in other life forms). Much sentiment has also been fostered by countless Hollywood movies of animals. Ever since we watched a tear run down Bambi’s eye after his mother was gunned down by a hunter to Cruella DeVille’s desire to kill all the puppy-eyed dalmatians to make a coat, we have had trouble discerning reality from fantasy. (By the way - mammals do not have lacrymal glands that cry tears spurred on by emotions. Only humans do.)
Biblically, we should be kind and caring to our animals (Genesis 24:19-25,32; 42:27), but still they serve us and were made for us.
Animals are used to teach us many spiritual lessons as well as down-to-earth lessons:
Proverbs 30:24-28 “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” (Prudence, Diligence, Wisdom)
Matthew 6:26, “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Faith, Quietness)
Luke 5:9-11, “For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” (Evangelism)
John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (Redemption through Christ’s Sacrifice)
Matthew 18:12, “How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?” (We are lost sheep)
Luke 17:37, “And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” (The Resurrection of the Redeemed)
I Peter 5:2, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;” (Pastoral Care)
There are many ways that animals benefit mankind. There is no indication in Scripture that they have certain rights, though.