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A light-hearted look at the animals of the Bible, from those of Noah's ark to sacrificial bulls, and what their stories reveal about God and our relationship with Him.
AND GOD CREATED ANIMALS
Why did God create animals? The Bible says, "Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11, KJV). Everything that exists is here to give God pleasure. So animals please God. He thinks they're cool. That's why they're here.
You've heard of the Animal Kingdom, right? Do you know who was the first king of the beasts? Not some lion. It was Adam. God told him, "Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground" (Genesis 1:28).
Ruling over animals does not mean being a dictator. God wants us to be kind to animals. Proverbs 12:10 says, "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal." In Isaiah 40:11 God described a good shepherd: "He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." In fact, when the Israelites rested on the Sabbath, God insisted they give the animals a day off too (Deuteronomy 5:14). Time out, ox! Siesta, donkey!
But you can't take that too far. When someone insists, "Animals are people too," they're saying that animals have as many rights as people and you should only eat vegetables-because to eat meat you need to kill animals. God said in Genesis 9:3, "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."
See, some people think animals are just as important as people. Animals are very important and God cares for them, but they were not created to be God's very own children like we were. But God did create them to help his children. They help keep the world working, they keep us company, help us get around, help us enjoy God's creation and provide us with food. That's important stuff. Don't set a place at the table for your dog, but treat him well and enjoy him a lot.
NOAH'S ARK-FLOATING ZOO
When you talk Bible animals there's one story that always goes right to the head of the line: Noah and the ark. You've probably seen dozens of different Noah books ever since you were old enough to chew on them, but here are some facts you're only now ready for.
First of all, artists almost always draw the ark wrong. You've probably got this picture stuck in your head of an elephant and a giraffe smiling as they stand on top of some curvy little boat. Bwaaaaappp! Wrong! The ark was a huge rectangular box 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high (Genesis 6:15). The animals were not up on the deck and they were not smiling. At least Noah wasn't smiling. You'll see why in a minute.
Before the gross stuff, this announcement: animals have a purpose on earth. God cares for them. If he didn't care, he wouldn't have had Noah work 120 years to build an ark to save them. He'd have just told Noah to get on a houseboat with a bunch of chickens. "There, that'll do ya." But no, God told him to bring two of all living creatures into the ark. This included critters like skunks, vultures and howler monkeys that Noah might have been tempted to leave behind. Noah also brought seven of every clean animal (Genesis 6:19; 7:2).
The ark was divided into three levels, lower, middle and upper decks (Genesis 6:16). Probably heavy animals like elephants and hippos were on the bottom deck so the boat wouldn't tip over. The sheep, deer and middle-sized animals were on the middle deck and the birds and rabbits and skunks and termites and ants were on the top deck.
Now for gross facts:
Fact one: Noise! Every day, all day long was like being trapped in an old Tarzan movie with the volume turned up high. (There were howler monkeys.) For one full year it was feeding time at the zoo. With all those cramped, small rooms the echo must have been maddening.
Fact two: It was dark. Maybe Noah had a grating system that let in light from above, but it was still dim. Electric lights hadn't been invented so Noah couldn't just flip a switch if he wanted to inspect the basement of the ark. Plus, he had to be careful with lamps or he'd burn the ark down. (It was made of pitch-covered wood, remember?) Shem: "Dad, are we in the carnivore section yet?" Noah: "Oh yeah. Look at all them glowing, light-bulb eyes."
Fact three: The ark stunk-and I mean really, really stunk! It was raining non-stop so God told Noah to build one super-long window 18 inches high that ran along the whole top of the ark (Genesis 6:16). An overhanging roof kept the rain out. The window let in air,
Excerpted from Creepy Creatures & Bizarre Beasts From the Bible by Rick Osborne Ed Strauss Copyright © 2004 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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