4 Things The Bible Teaches Us Using Animals

The Bible has many references to animals, most of which are quite fascinating. Yet we often read these passages without stoping to meditate on what they might be revealing to us about the ancient author’s beliefs about animals. Here is a quick look at four things the Bible says about animals that you may not be aware of:

raven1. Animals Cry Out to God

Job 38.41:

“Who provides for the raven
When his young cry out to God
And wander about without food?”

The Israelites clearly believed that wild animals are dependent on God for provisions such a food, and like we see in Job 38.41, some passages suggest that animals cry out to God when they are hungry.

Stupid ostrich Job 39.132. Ostriches are Cruel and Stupid

The Bible has some strong things to say about the ostrich.

Job 39.13-17:

“The wing of the ostrich beats joyously;
Are her pinions and plumage like the stork’s?
She leaves her eggs on the ground,
Letting them warm in the dirt,
Forgetting they may be crushed underfoot,
Or trampled by a wild beast.
Her young are curly abandoned as if they were not hers;
Her labor is in vain for lack of concern.
For God deprived her of wisdom,
Gave her no share of understanding,
Else she would soar on high,
Scoffing at the horse and its rider.”

Lamentation 4.3b:

“My poor people has turned cruel,
Like ostriches of the desert.”

As you can see, ostriches were proverbially characterized as creatures who ruthlessly abandon their young. Some think this proverb came about because of the observation that some ostriches make their nests in the sand and abandon their eggs part of the day, only returning to incubate them at night. Others contend that it is because ostrich eggs are sometimes found excluded from the nest. Whatever the reason for this proverb, I think we can conclude that not too many animals would have coveted the ostrich’s reputation.

lastman pieter jonah and the whale3. God Talks to a Fish

Jonah 2.11:

“The LORD commanded the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon dry land.”

There isn’t much commentary needed for this one. The Hebrew word employed here (אמר) makes clear that the fish is being spoken to, and not simply reacting to a belly ache.

noah with dove4. God Doesn’t Exclude Animals from His Covenants

When God makes covenants in the Bible, he usually has the well being of a particular human or group of humans in mind. But there is clear evidence that mankind is not always his only concern. This is most clearly seen in the covenant in Genesis chapter 9.8ff (sometimes called the ‘Noahic Covenant’):

“And God said to Noah and his sons with him, ‘I now establish My covenant with you and your offspring to come, and with every living thing that is with you – birds, cattle, and every wild beast as well – all that have come out of the ark, every living thing on earth.'”

When we think of animals in relation to covenants, we typically think of them being prepared as the covenant meal (i.e., slaughtered). Yet even here in the context of a covenant, we see a God who cares for the welfare of all his creatures.

(All quotations taken from The JPS Bible)



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