One of the books in the "Let's Study God's Word Together" series
with: Frank L. Hoffman
This Biblical study book seeks to answer the question, "Do animals have souls and spirits?"
Besides the story of Balaam and his donkey, there are several other references to the way God deals with both man and animals in similar manner.
In 1 Kings 17 we see both man and animals commanded by God to provide for the prophet Elijah.
In verse 4:
4. "And it shall be that you shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there."
We see the ravens commanded to provide for Elijah. But what could a bird provide for a human? Note what we are told in verse 6:
6. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.
We see that the ravens actually brought both bread and meat in the morning and in the evening. This is totally contrary to their nature when it comes to their interrelationship with humans. Usually it is we who feed the birds. The Birds are behaving towards Elijah in the same way as they would normally take care of their own young children, by bringing these same food items back to the nest.
Whether or not the Lord had someone prepare the bread and the meat for the ravens to bring to Elijah, or whether the Lord Himself made it, we are not told. And, it does not matter as far as God's word is concerned. Perhaps it was neither of these two choices.
It is obvious that the ravens did not make the bread. Perhaps they brought grain to the prophet, for the Hebrew word for "bread" (lekh-em) also means grain. The Hebrew word of "meat" (baw-sawr) literally means "flesh". Perhaps the meat was locusts, just as John the Baptist ate, which were considered clean. For it was in the power of the created being of the raven to pick up both the grain and the locust in its beak and carry them to the prophet, as they would to their young.
The most important thing to remember is that the ravens heard the call of the Lord and responded. Scripture also does not indicate that they ate any on the way to deliver the food to Elijah, we are just told that they brought it to him.
Observe the comparison with the command given to the woman in verses 9-16:
9. Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."
10. So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, "Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink."
11. And as she was going to get it he called to her and said, "Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand."
12. But she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die."
13. Then Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first, and bring it out to me, and afterwards you may make one for yourself and for your son.
14. "For thus says the Lord God of Israel, "The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.
15. So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days.
16. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah.
The Lord uses the same word, "commanded", in the description of His order to the ravens and the widow. The ravens apparently just went and gathered as the Lord had commanded. The woman, on the other hand, questions the command of God as being impossible. Yet, at the urgings of the prophet, she complies and is rewarded.
Does this example indicate a "childlike faith" of animals toward the commands of God? Is the Spirit of God speaking to the animals' spirit as He does to ours?
Is not the story of Jonah also similar? Here the prophet of God rebels against the word of God. There is also no doubt that Jonah knew what God wanted him to do. Yet, he fled from the presence of the Lord.
And what about the great fish? Note Jonah 1:17:
17. And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.
A very simple matter-of-fact statement. God appointed the fish to a task, and it did as directed. And again in verse 2:10:
10. Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.
The Lord commanded, and again the fish did as directed. There is no indication of doubt, or of complaint, just simple obedience to the Master.
I just can't help but think if the situation had been reversed, the fish would have said that: Jonah was too large, or he couldn't possibly taste good, or when commanded to vomit up Jonah, "Why he's probably dead already."
The great fish did none of these. In "childlike faith" it did all that was commanded, because the Lord said to do it, and for no other apparent reason. If only we could learn to respond in a similar way!
Note also the attitude of God in the relationship to sexual immorality between man and animals as written in Leviticus 20:15-16:
15. "If there is a man who lies with an animal, surely he shall be put to death; you shall also kill the animal.
16. "If there is a woman who approaches any animal to mate with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.
Observe that the animals also have bloodguiltiness, and that they shall also suffer the same penalty as man. Somewhere within them, God apparently lets them also know that they shall mate with their own kind only. Is not this kind of understanding brought about by the Spirit? To me, at least, there seems to be an explicit meaning, in these and other similar verses, that God does communicate with the animals in ways we do not understand, and are even more reluctant to accept. However, if we accept the fact of animals having bodies, souls, and spirits as we do, then all this becomes understandable.
What about the creatures of heaven who are about the throne of God. Look at Revelation 4:5-11:
5. And from the throne proceed flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
6 and before the throne there was, as it were, a sea of glass like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.
7. And the first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle,
8. And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say,
"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.
9. And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever,
10. the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11. "Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created."
Note that when the four living creatures praise the Lord, that the elders "will fall down...and worship Him". Does not this scene in heaven depict the same behavior of all creatures, both beast and man? Even if these are specially created creatures, isn't it curious how they look? Note also the living creatures of Ezekiel 1 and 10.
In Isaiah 11:6-9 we also see the prophecy of the end condition of animals and man:
6. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
7. Also the cow and the bear will graze;
Their young will lie down together;
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand in the viper's den.
9. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
Does not this also show that animals will be in the Lord's kingdom? Does this not also indicate that there will be no killing for food? Does it not also show that the fear of man, installed in animals by God in Genesis 9:3, is removed? Will not all "be full of the knowledge of the Lord"? Shouldn't we, right now, also seek first the kingdom of heaven? If we are going to see the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, we must!