- THE TAMING OF MAN
I would like to thank all those who kindly replied to my Wellspring 36, “Lions eating Grass.” The responses divided into two groups, those who were pleased to recognise the Scriptural figures of speech, and those who wished to correct my assertion by saying that carnivorous animals will be restored to the Edenic standard, where all animals were graminivorous. I felt that the volume of responses required a few more words on my part, hence this posting.
First of all let me say there can be no doubt at all about the figurative use of animalian characters to describe the savage nature of mankind in his fallen condition. And the long process of “The Taming of Man” by the Lord is set forth in the Bible both historically and prophetically. God is in the business of reclaiming that which has gone astray, and the central theme of the Passion of Christ shows how His love and compassion have provided the groundwork necessary for man’s salvation. Those who have already recognized their sinful natures and have “clung to the old rugged cross”, expect to “exchange it one day for a crown.” Such is the basic message, the “Good News” of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But some of my correspondents made no reference to this important theology, needing only to focus on the nature of animals, both now and in the Millennial Age of the Kingdom. It is this aspect that needs more attention, and after spending time today considering the issue I have the following to add. Under no circumstances do I wish to be contentious. I do not have “all the answers” to this or other matters of exegesis, but only wish to share so that further thought may be given to a most interesting matter, namely the suggestion that God will change the nature of animals in a coming day, and whether this will accord with what they were like when living in the Garden of Eden.
My first point comes from Genesis 1:29-31. And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”
So, is this the whole answer? I feel it is very easy to propound a theology based on a few words. On the surface it does seem that all creatures were designed to have a vegetarian diet. But if this was so, why was there mention of “clean and unclean beasts” taken into Noah’s Ark? And why, after Adam was evicted from the Garden did God establish the Cherubim to block the entrance? What were the characteristics of those Cherubim? Are we not told that their four-fold nature consisted of Lion, Ox, Man, and Eagle? So right at the start, whether or not we can comprehend the nature and purpose of the Cherubim, we know that two of these Beings were carnivorous, the Lion and the Eagle. If the Cherubim were part of the initial heavenly creation, and if God intended for all creatures to be vegetarian, why did He design two of the Cherubim this way?
Once again this year my South African friends have visited me, and set up their nests in the porch. I am speaking of the swallows of course, and I marvel at their aeronautical ability, more amazing than the Red Arrows. These birds rely entirely on a carnivorous diet of insects caught on the wing. Are we to assume that such delightful creatures were absent from the Garden of Eden, or on the other hand, if there, they partook of a vegetarian diet? If so, then what use would there have been for the superb flight characteristics? Would they not have been better off behaving more like sparrows? I use this example because it is with me each year, rather than referring to lions, bears, tigers. The principle is the same.
One correspondent wondered whether there were lions in the Garden, or before the Flood. But if the fossil record is anything to go by, we are presented with a vast array of pre-flood predators far more savage than lions. Here again is another problem difficult to solve, and I cannot present a conclusive answer, though I have given it much thought. Biblical scientists say that the antediluvial earth was without Antarctic ice. If so, does that mean Emperor Penguins were created after the Flood?
The Lord gave Job a natural history lesson, in which He spoke about some of His creatures. “And God said, “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions?” “Who provides food for the raven, when its young ones cry to God?” (Job 38:39, 39:4) “Does the eagle mount up at your command, and make its nest on high? On the rocks it dwells and resides, on the crag of the rock and the stronghold. From there it spies out the prey; its eyes observe from afar. Its young ones suck up blood.” (Job 39:28-30) And what about Leviathan, that crocodile-like creature? “Lay your hand on him; remember the battle — Never do it again! Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false; shall one not be overwhelmed even at the sight of him? No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up.”
Are we to assume that the evident pride with which God spoke about His creation related only to creatures that had been changed according to circumstance? Had the Lord done a genetic engineering job on quite the majority of His creatures, whilst intending to reverse the process in a future day? Forgive me, but the language doesn’t seem to convey those possibilities.
I’ll leave it at that, and hope for further suggestions. I’ll conclude by quoting two references which I found useful for the TW36 exposition.
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan.” Revelation 12:9