“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
For as long as I can remember I have been a pet owner. From the time I was very young I always had either a dog or a cat (or both!). As I write this devotional, I am looking at the latest addition to our crazy household, a 12 week shepherd-cross named Gunner. When I consider these creatures it is hard to resist the idea that they actually think and make decisions. There is much more going on behind their eyes than electro-chemical reactions. Though they are of a different order than man, they are still far more than stimulus-response mechanisms. Those that believe in Darwinian evolution insist that all creatures, including man, are reducible to molecules in motion, that we are all just bags of biochemical stuff. Even so, many of these same people see nothing wrong with responsible pet ownership though they balk at the idea of human slavery, insisting it is morally abominable for humans to own other humans. Here we see yet another example of how non-believers “oppose themselves” in their basic faith commitments (2 Timothy 2:25). Today’s verse passage reminds us that our treatment of our animals is a good indicator of our heart position. This is another reason why I cannot support the idea that God used the evolutionary process to create the world. That process, apart from being totally incongruent with Scripture, involves millions of years of animal suffering and death. We know that death only entered the created order after Adam sinned (Romans 5:12) and that the God Who is Love (1 John 4:8) would hardly pronounce a world wracked with bloodshed, suffering, and death, as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). When Nathan the prophet confronted David on his sin, he spoke a parable about two men, one a rich man, the other very poor. Concerning the latter he stated that he “had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter” (2 Samuel 12:3). When David was told that the ewe had been stolen and slaughtered, he was enraged, and declared that the guilty man would be put to death. The love of animals was not thought strange or bizarre in Bible times, especially not to David, himself a good shepherd and a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). As we care for and enjoy the animals God has entrusted to us, let us keep God’s value system in mind. Though in God’s economy animals certainly have value, man is of infinitely greater value in His eyes (Matthew 10:31; 12:12; 1 Corinthians 9:9-10). Man is God’s unique image-bearer in the created order. For those who love and trust Savior, there remains the promise of admittance into a new heavens and earth (Revelation 21-22). What amazing animal kinds will we see there?