Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:24-25
This month during our Creation Club meeting, I asked the children, "Why did God make animals?" It is actually something that I had been mulling over for the last several weeks. I know, the answer should be pretty obvious ... if you want to have an egg and ham omlette with a glass of milk, we need some animal participants in the process. But, as much as I might miss my traditional breakfast favorites, we could be vegans! There are plenty of vegans who seem to be thriving (although they might be a little sad about not having an In-N-Out double-double). In fact, most Bible scholars believe, when animals were first created, humans were vegetarians and possibly even vegans. So that brings me back to my original question ... why did God make animals? I have found when I am struggling over a tough
question like this it is best to ask the children to share what they think about it. I was not disappointed. The first answer I received from an young club member was "when you are sad they cheer you up." How very true! That's why dogs are called "man's best friend". They just want to love and be loved. No questions asked. No monologue or lecture about how I shouldn't be feeling this way. No hidden agenda (unless it involves a scratch or a treat), No judgemental attitude. Other animals can also cheer us up. Over the years I have received comfort from guinea pigs, horses, sheep, cats (although I really do believe cats have judgemental attitudes!), and, yes, even chickens. When entering Jerusalem during the week of His death, in Matthew 23:37, Jesus compared Himself to a mother hen wanting to bring His people Israel under His wings to be comforted and protected. But sadly, they refused His offer.
Another child said that animals were created to help us. She illustrated her point by talking about seeing eye dogs which help their blind owners be able to safely go places. Again, a very insightful observation! Not until only about 100 years ago, did the phrase "beast of burden" start to lose its relevance in our North American society. For the vast part of human history, animals played a huge part in helping us to accomplish things. Whether that was a trip to town, pulling heavy loads, plowing farm fields, or grinding wheat, animals made it possible. Although the industrial revolution changed much of that, animals still help us today to accomplish things that might be too difficult or dangerous for humans to do. Dogs are trained to use their keen sense of smell and hearing to not only find dangerous criminals, drugs, and explosives; but they are also used to find lost people, and can even help detect for COVID-19 infections and, in some cases, cancer. This child's answer made me remember that God is our help. He helps us with jobs too big or difficult to take on ourselves. Jesus in making a reference to a beast of burden said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Implied in this verse is that a yoke is for two. He asks us to get in the yoke, but it will be Jesus himself doing the most of the pulling making it "easy" for us on the other side of the yoke!
One young club member (one of my up and coming scientists) stated animals help to keep the world in balance and in good health. This young man stated the animals eat other animals so that there is not an inbalance; and that they will eat things that might hurt humans or make us sick. Another way of putting this is that animals were created by God for our protection. Our farm dogs help keep coyotes or other wild animals away from our sheep, chickens, and property by barking and sounding the alarm. The barn cats and the owl couple that calls our place home, help to keep the rodent population in check. This literally can protect our family from diseases like rabies, hanta virus, and plague. The County's Vector Control staff use fish to help control and erradicate mosquitos and mosquito-borne diseases such as Encephalitis, West Nile virus, Zika, and Dengue Fever. In 1 Peter 5:8 it says, "your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." But in 1 John 4:4 it says, "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." We have a more powerful protector, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).
Those were all good and insightful answers from the club members. However, I think my favorite answer to the question "why did God create animals" was a club member who said, "they teach us about God." Another club member said she believes that every animal can teach us a certain aspect about God. Indeed, God uses animals to teach us about Him. It is actually difficult to find a book of the Bible that does not contain at least one reference to an animal. When God was wanting to comfort and enlighted the afflicted and conflicted Job, He did so with a four-chapter long lesson using twelve different animals (see if you can identify them all in Job 38 - 41), to which Job replied, "I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me."
But the greatest of all animal lessons God gave us is that of a lamb and the story of redemption. It is woven throughout the entire extent of scripture from Genesis to Revelation—from the first animal sacrifice to clothe sinful Adam and Eve, to the forshaddowing Passover event when the Children of Israel were about to leave Eygpt, the giving of the Mosaic Law, and the establishment of worship in the Tabernacle, and the Temple. The lessons include prophecies of David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and many of the other prophets. Scripture ends with the Lamb of God seated on the throne for all of eternity. For after all, the lesson of the lamb is the story of the Creator, Jesus Christ, who as John the Baptist declared, "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Have you experienced the saving work of the Lamb in your life? To do so you just admit you need Him, believe that His sacrafice paid the penalty of your sins, and ask Him to be in charge of your life.