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Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion

Animals, Religion and the Environment
The Bible’s Teachings on Protecting Animals and Nature
by Lewis Regenstein

Part 11: Into Your Hand Are They Delivered

The Bible contains numerous strictures against the wanton or cruel killing of wildlife and domestic animals. The view that mankind's fate depends on protecting and preserving the earth's life-support systems – the Environment – can be found in Ecclesiastes 3:19-21, which stresses that if wildlife perishes, humans will not long survive: “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other, yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast.... All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?”

In numerous places in the Bible, the Lord acts toward humans and animals in an equitable way. When God saved Noah and his family from destruction, He treated the animals in a similar manner: “And God remembered Noah and every living thing, and all the cattle that were with him in the ark” (Genesis 8:1).

Genesis 9:8-10 points out at some length that after the waters of the great flood receded, God promised there would never again be a flood to destroy the earth. The Almighty made this covenant not only with Noah and his descendants but also with "every living creature that is with you, the fowl, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that go out of the ark, even every beast of the earth." Indeed, God makes no distinction between people and animals in establishing His covenant "between me and the earth" (Genesis 9:12-17).

The book of Genesis clearly spells out mankind's stewardship responsibilities toward the animals delivered into our care after the great flood. Chapter nine of Genesis begins with the Lord commanding Noah and his sons to "replenish the earth," saying of the world's wildlife, "into your hand are they delivered.”

Go on to Part 12: Religion and Protection of Animals
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