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Ask the Animals

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Ask the Animals
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
29 September 2013
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Job 12:7-8
Psalm 91:1-12
Jeremiah 32:1-15
Matthew 23:37-39
Luke 16:14-31
1 Timothy 6:3-19

No matter how many things went wrong in Job’s life, he always had his eyes on God and knew about the wonders of God’s creation, so he told people to “ask the animals,” for he knew that we could learn from them.
 
Job 12:7-8

7. "But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
 
8. or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you.
NIV

If Job knew these truths some 4,000 years ago, and his message to us could be plainly seen in the pages of the Bible ever since it was put together, then why do most people ignore the animals’ role in God’s creation today?
 
Because killing and eating animals is proof that people don’t understand that we can still ask the animals and learn from them.
 
So, today as we look at the Bible passages before us, we are going to look at them from the perspective of the animals.
 
Let’s begin by looking at Psalm 91:1-12.

1. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
 
2. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!"
 
3. For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper,
And from the deadly pestilence.

Surely, we can easily understand that the animals are not being delivered from the snares of the trappers or from the deadly pestilence of factory farms, slaughterhouses, and laboratories, where over 50 billion animals suffer and die every year.
 
We need to put ourselves in the animals’ position, and ask the animals how they feel about being put in this situation by human beings.
 
There should be no doubt in our minds that the animals desperately want to be freed from this corruption, just as God commanded us to do when He created us and the animals.
 
God wants to protect us and the animals just as a hen protects her babies, and He has given us the task of protecting the animals.

4. He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

If we ask the animals and truly listen, we will stop corrupting creation and live peacefully eating only plant foods as God originally intended and as it is in His heavenly will.
 
And when we learn to do this, then both we and the animals will know what the psalmist understands.
 
This is very similar to what Jesus said in Matthew 23:37-39.

37. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
 
38. "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!
 
39. "For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ' Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
NASB

Instead of following the Lord, the world is following the devil, and until we change, we will not have this kind of protection from the Lord.
 
But when we do change…

5. You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
 
6. Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
 
7. A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not approach you.

Ask the animals how they feel about seeing the ones before them dying in terror in the slaughterhouses.

8. You will only look on with your eyes,
And see the recompense of the wicked.

When we have learned from the animals, and do everything in our power to end their suffering in a peaceful manner, then we will also see the judgment of the Lord upon the wicked, who cause so much suffering and death,

9. For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
 
10. No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
 
11. For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
 
12. They will bear you up in their hands,
Lest you strike your foot against a stone.
NASB

This is the way that God wants things to be for both us and the other animals.
 
Let’s go on and look at Jeremiah 32:1-15.

1. The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar.
 
2. Now at that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard, which was in the house of the king of Judah,
 
3. because Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, "Why do you prophesy, saying, 'Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I am about to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will take it;
 
4. and Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but he shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with him face to face, and see him eye to eye;
 
5. and he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and he shall be there until I visit him," declares the LORD. "If you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed" '?" 

If we remember the story of Daniel, we know that Daniel and his three friends who were vegetarians also were taken to Babylon at this time, and they prospered.
 
We believe that part of the reason why they prospered was that they truly respected God and didn’t harm any of His beautiful creation.
 
It is obvious that the people of Jerusalem were not being obedient to God, and that their punishment was their being sent into exile; but what about the animals, particularly the farmed and companion animals?
 
They didn’t do anything against God.
 
They were just being the placid animals that God created them to be, unless they were forced to live otherwise.
 
If we really put ourselves in the place of the animals, which is almost the same as if we ask the animals, we come to understand that they feel unfairly treated, because even to this very day, innocent animals are forcibly held in captivity, where they suffer horribly and are killed.
 
We most likely deserve God’s punishment, but the animals don’t deserve the suffering that we human beings cause them, which makes it wrong in the eyes of God.

6. And Jeremiah said, "The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
 
7. 'Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle is coming to you, saying, "Buy for yourself my field which is at Anathoth, for you have the right of redemption to buy it." '
 
8. "Then Hanamel my uncle's son came to me in the court of the guard according to the word of the LORD, and said to me, 'Buy my field, please, that is at Anathoth, which is in the land of Benjamin; for you have the right of possession and the redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.' Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.
 
9. "And I bought the field which was at Anathoth from Hanamel my uncle's son, and I weighed out the silver for him, seventeen shekels of silver.
 
10. "And I signed and sealed the deed, and called in witnesses, and weighed out the silver on the scales.

If we ask the animals how they would feel under these circumstances, we come to understand that they neither own nor can they buy any land, for God gave them the use of all of His creation without any fences or boundaries.
 
It is only we humans who claim portions of God’s creation, and restrict the animals from it or force them to live on it in unnatural and most often cruel ways.
 
Let’s return to our Bible passage and see what Jeremiah does.

11. "Then I took the deeds of purchase, both the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy;
 
12. and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the sight of Hanamel my uncle's son, and in the sight of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, before all the Jews who were sitting in the court of the guard.
 
13. "And I commanded Baruch in their presence, saying,
 
14. 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, "Take these deeds, this sealed deed of purchase, and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, that they may last a long time."
 
15. 'For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, "Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land." '
NASB

We believe that Jeremiah knew that he would never get to see or use this land in his lifetime, so he had the ownership of it preserved for future generations.
 
And again, we need to remember that animals are never given such choices or opportunities.
 
As we look at Luke 16:14-31, we need to keep in mind how the corruption of our human society has led to the corruption of the whole of creation, and causing millions of our fellow human beings and billions of animals to suffer and die every year.

14. Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him.

Jesus was trying to end the corruption of creation and turn people back to living in the heavenly will of God, and the Pharisees mocked Him for it because they loved money more than God.

15. And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

God knows the intent of the heart, no matter what we human beings may say, so our evil intent is only an attempt to fool ourselves and others.
 
So Jesus starts to cite a few of their evil ways.

16. "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one is forcing his way into it.

And, we cannot force our way into heaven. It is a gift of God to those who seek to live in His heavenly will, where there is no pain or suffering or death.

17. "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.
 
18. "Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.

So Jesus tells them a story.

19. "Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.
 
20. "And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,
 
21. and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.

We all need to understand that no human being was trying to heal this man’s sores; the dogs were the only ones who had enough compassion to try to heal him.
 
Thus, if we ask the animals, they will teach us to have compassion on everyone.

22. "Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.
 
23. "And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.
 
24. "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'
 
25. "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.
 
26. 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.'

So Jesus tells us about the fate that awaits those who scoff at the heavenly will of God and those who try to teach it.

27. "And he said, 'Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father's house –
 
28. for I have five brothers - that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'
 
29. "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them,'

Jesus is telling us that the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), without the distortions and corruptions of the religious leaders, will teach us to live in the heavenly will of God, just as we have talked about for many years.
 
So Jesus goes on…

30. "But he said, 'No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!'
 
31. "But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.' "
NASB

This is the problem with the whole world today; most people don’t want to hear the truth; they like living in this corrupt world and adding to its corruption.
 
They don’t care about the suffering of others, particularly the animals.
 
If you don’t believe me, ask the animals and they will teach you the truth.
 
Paul picks up on this theme in his letter to Timothy as we can see in 1 Timothy 6:3-19.

3. If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,

This is exactly what we were looking at in Luke.
 
So, if someone does not agree with these things…

4. he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions,
 
5. and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

Let’s pause for a moment and look at these things as they apply to the way animals are treated.
 
There is no financial gain in caring about animals unless it’s from using and exploiting them.
 
Only depraved people deliberately harm animals, and don’t want to know the truth about what is happening to them on factory farms, in slaughterhouses, and in laboratories.
 
Strife almost always arises from those who abuse animals, and since there is no strife, or pain, or suffering in heaven, all abuse to animals is ungodly.

6. But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.
 
7. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
 
8. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

This is what most people say they want, but relatively few of them actually turn away from the ways of the world with all its pain, suffering and bloodshed.

9. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
 
10. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.

In our opinion, this is a trap set by the devil to turn us away from the heavenly will of God.

11. But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
 
12. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
 
13. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
 
14. that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
 
15. which He will bring about at the proper time — He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords;
 
16. who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

This is what Christianity should be all about, but unfortunately in most cases it falls way short of the goal.
 
If you don’t believe me, ask the animals.

17. Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

And this should be true for the animals, too.

18. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
 
19. storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
NASB

Ask the animals, particularly those who are raised for food or for other exploitive purposes, if they are being treated with love and kindness.
 
If we are to take hold of that which is life, we cannot take hold of any animal products for they are only death.
 
Wake up to the truth; ask the animals, and they will teach us.
 
Amen.