God throughout Scripture uses animals to communicate his message to us. The condition of our animals reveals our own state. One strikingly example is found in the blessings and curses of the law: “If you do not obey the Lord your God…the fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herd and the lambs of your flocks” (Deu. 28:15, 18, NIV). In Leviticus the Lord declares: “If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me…I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted” (Lev. 26:21-22, NIV). The opposite applies if Israel obeys the Lord, “I will remove savage beasts from the land” (Lev. 26:4). Later in Deuteronomy Yahweh says, “If you fully obey…the fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flock” (Deu. 28:1, 4, NIV). In these verses, and in many others, we see that animals serve as God’s sign to man—they make known whether we are living in obedience to God.
Recent revivals testified about God transforming not only the people but also the land. Vanuatu has seen gigantic yams and carrots after people have returned to the Lord. Fish that have long left the waters were restored. In one province all the mosquitos and rats (which were a major pest that destroyed crops) miraculously disappeared.
The Transformation videos produced by George Barna relates the same kinds of things. One example was taken from South America. After God’s people were revived the land that was infertile suddenly became fertile. Consequently, the region became a major exporter of fruits and crops. These are modern day examples teaching us that when we repent everything under our care is blessed. The best way for us to take care of the animals is not merely through activism but through repentance and obedience.
God uses animals as signs. In Ezekiel and Revelation we see a peculiar vision involving the faces of animals. Both Ezekiel and John see the four living creatures that surround God’s throne. What do they look like? They have, at the same time, faces of animals and man. Particularly we see the face of a man, lion, ox and eagle (Eze. 1:10; Rev. 4:7). What is the meaning behind these living creatures? This is a profound mystery, but it seems that these faces are signs. Some Biblical teachers tell us that they are signs of the nature of the Messiah who became man. He is the “lion of Judah,” the suffering servant typified in the ox and the eagle who is “from above.” These animals also typify the means in which God rules over creation. Man rules over all the works of his hand, lions reign over the wild animals, the oxen are chief of the livestock and eagles soar above the birds and sea.
Before we conclude this section a strong warning must be given regarding the animals: we are not to worship the creation above the creator. There is something very alluring about the animals and almost all ancient cultures (who were more in touch with creation) idolized them. Egypt worshipped serpents, frogs and bulls (as well as many other creatures). Israel fell into glorifying a golden calf. The Philistines even used rats to appease God. Today there has been a revival of interest in animals that has taken the form of obsession. We need to remember Paul’s warning:
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles…They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen” (Rom. 1:21-23).