This “blog” constitutes the first step in the planned creation of a non-profit organization to be called “God’s Animals Living Abundantly.” It will be an on-going process: gradually growing.
The name was chosen for two reasons. God’s Animals is the title of the non-fiction book I have nearly finished writing. God’s Animals Living Abundantly is both a summary of my hope for the future of animals on Earth, and a pleasant acronym of GALA.
First and foremost, the key element is that all animals belong to God. More specifically, for Christians, they belong to Jesus Christ. He created the world and will receive it again as a gift from the Father at the end. As the New Testament quotes often from Psalm 8, “all things” will be put under His feet.
The animals belong to God, not to Satan, nor to humanity.
A common and mistaken Christian view is that God and Satan played a cosmic card game in the Garden of Eden. The deal was, purportedly, winner take all. If Adam sticks with God, then God keeps the universe. If Adam and Eve sin, then Satan takes possession of the world. They think that the Devil became the ruler of this universe, and God is working to win it back.
That is nonsense. Satan is only referred to as “the god of this world” in the sense of the human world. He rules that because the human souls are dead in sin. Satan does not control the weather, or command the animals, or claim ownership of the Earth. The fallen angel is still under the complete control of God. When Satan wants to do anything important he must grovel in Heaven for permission to do so. The animals, and the world, are not under the control of the Devil.
Finally, the more pernicious doctrine is beloved of modern industrialists, and greedy consumers. They wish to believe that God created the Earth for our appetites and desires. Using a false understanding of “dominion” from Genesis 1, and Psalm 8, they claim that God has ceded ownership of the world to humans. They see the Earth as a giant pinata full of goodies, and we must blast the planet to get the goodies out. These people claim that animals are of no importance to God: He intended for us to exploit them for our needs and wants without restriction.
This is not nonsense. This is blasphemy.
God did not cede the world to humanity for domination. Dominion was never intended to be absolute tyranny. God established rules, laws, principles, and examples of the proper care of His animals in the Bible. God never ceded control of the Earth. The Earth is the Lord’s and all it contains! Humans are granted a kind of ownership; the kind of ownership we call stewardship. Animals are on loan from God for our careful use, with restrictions.
Cruelty at a personal and societal level are based on the blasphemous notions that we ourselves own the animals rather than God. If people had the correct notion, and lived by recognizing that God owns the animals and Earth, our planet would be a far nicer place to live.
So, “God’s Animals” refers to the true owner of all creatures: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Christian God.
The rest of the sentence, “Living Abundantly,” is the intention of God for His creatures, which His people should be promoting on Earth. It was the original plan of God,. He intends for Christians to work toward implementing that plan now and in the future.
In Genesis, in Eden, God wanted the animals of air and water and land to teem, populate, spread, and fill the Earth. Jesus did not plan for a planet overflowing with people with a few animals here and there. Abundance is the word, in quantity of living creatures. Psalm 104 celebrates the provision of God for various creatures in many different habitats. Some places on Earth were created by God specifically for certain kinds of animals to live in. Not every corner of the Earth is to be claimed by humans. People may share and visit, but not monopolize the whole planet.
At the end of Job, God brags about his many creatures, even the ones now extinct or unknown to humans, like Behemoth and Leviathan. Where in the Bible were humans told that the animals should be exterminated? When God gave the Israelites the land of Judea, He ordered that the people should leave some food in the fields. Why? For the poor humans and the wild animals to eat. Baby birds and its mother were not to be captured or killed together.
Abundant living must not only be considered in quantity of animals, but also in the individual animal’s quality of life. A life can be abundant in the sense of enjoyment. Living creatures can go beyond basic needs. They can have a surplus of life, wherein it can be joyous. You have probably seen the You Tube videos of baby animals frolicking…goats hopping and puppies rolling and kittens tumbling and birds bathing. A life blessed by God is a happy life. Of course, sinful humans have difficulty finding joy because sin is a tremendous downer. But animals are not sinners. Animal hardships are part of “the Curse” wherein human sin brought pain and death and travail into the world.
Christ is the conqueror of Death. Though death is the last enemy, Jesus gives life to many humans by saving them and restoring their ability to enjoy life. Jesus wants His disciples, including us, to spread this good news throughout the Earth. The good news transforms human lives. Then humans also transform their relationships with each other and the Earth. Christians should be improving the Earth along with evangelism, because the Good News includes the complete restoration of the Earth.
Romans 8:19-21, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Although the glories of the New Earth will not be complete until Christ removes the Curse and death, should not His people be active in healing what parts of the living world can be healed?