Significance of animals

Although we are created in the image of God and can think and reason, animals have a significance in God's eyes. Jesus is symbolized as a lion and a lamb(Rev. 5:5-6). He also rode on a donkey into Jerusalem to represent humility(Matt. 21:1-9).

The Bible has instances where animals are used for judgment and punishment. When Pharaoh refused to free the Israelite slaves, some of 10 plagues of Egypt God sent involved animals. These are frogs(Exo. 8:1-15), gnats(Exo. 8:16-19), flies(Exo. 8:20-31) and locusts(Exo. 10:3-19). God made these plagues appear just as quickly as He made them disappear.

When God flooded the Earth because of man's corruption, the land animals on Earth were killed. However, animals of all species were saved in Noah's Ark(Gen. 6:19-22). After the flood God's covenant was not only with Noah but also animals(Gen. 9:9-10, 16).

The Fall of Man

Animals existed in the Garden of Eden before the Fall of Man and have the "breath of life"(Gen. 1:30; 6:17; 7:15, 22). On day 5 of creation, the living creatures of the seas and birds were created(Gen. 1:20-23). On day 6, land animals, livestock, creeping things and beasts were created(Gen. 1:24-25). In both instances, God saw the sea creatures, birds and land animals were "good", meaning they were not plagued by the curse.

Were animals smarter before the Fall of Man? We have some indication they were. The serpent in the Garden of Eden was described as being craftier than the other animals of the garden(Gen. 3:1). This implies other animals were crafty. Also, there is no indication Adam and Eve were surprised by a talking serpent.

God gave man dominion over animals(Gen. 1:26; Psa. 8:6-8). Adam was the first zoologist and named them(Gen. 2:19-20). When Adam and Eve sinned and were cursed, so were the animals of the earth.

Animals in Present Heaven

The Bible mentions animals in the present Heaven, one of the most prominent mentioned is horses. The prophet Elijah is taken up by a chariot and horses(2 Kings 2:11), horses are used by warriors in Heaven(Rev. 19:14) and the 4 horsemen are used as part of judgment in the end of times(Rev 6:2-8). Rev. 8:13 mentions an eagle flying through the midst of Heaven, though some manuscripts say an angel. In addition, every creature in Heaven and on Earth praises God(Rev. 5:13).

The book of Revelation also describes 4 living creatures, 3 of which have animal faces: a lion, ox and an eagle(Rev. 4:7). These living creatures are Cherubim(Eze. 10:14-15), a high class of angels, and not actual animals. The fact they have animal faces could symbolize aspects of God with the lion representing power, the ox faithfulness and the eagle sovereignty.

Animals in Eternal Heaven

Will animals be in eternity and on New Earth? We have every reason to believe they will be. When the earth is restored, all things will be new(Rev. 21:5). The words "all things" logically would include animals.

The Millennium is described as having animals that co-exist peacefully. A wolf is mentioned as dwelling with a lamb, a leopard with a kid and a calf and young lion with a child leading them(Isa. 11:6). Another verse describes a cow and a bear feeding and their young lying together(Isa. 11:7). Interestingly, the lion will eat straw like an ox(Isa. 11:7). They apparently become vegetarians and no longer eat other animals. The same chapter of Isaiah describes an infant playing near the den of a cobra(Isa. 11:8).

Although the above passages are talking about the Millennium, some of the same ideas are mentioned again when Isaiah talks about the eternal Kingdom. The wolf and lamb feeding together and the lion eating straw are mentioned again(Isa. 65:25) when God creates the New Heaven and New Earth(Isa. 65:17). Animals will coexist peacefully with each other and with humans.

Last updated 4/21/2011