SermonEmpathy Saves Animals
An all-creatures Bible Message

Empathy Saves Animals
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
27 January 2019
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References

Nehemiah 8:1-12
Luke 4:14-21
1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Empathy saves animals, because without true empathy we would just go about our own business and enjoy whatever we want without caring about the harm we may be causing as long as it doesnít affect us.
 
But with true empathy, we care about every other human being, all the animals, and the environment we all live in, and we would do everything in our power to avoid causing any harm; in fact, we would most likely peacefully do everything in our power to prevent others from doing any harm.
 
So today, weíre going to take a look at a few Bible passages and see if they contain the empathy that we so desperately need in this corrupt world.
 
In Nehemiah 8:1-12, we read a recording of the religious leaders and officials addressing the people to bring them comfort.

1. And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel.
 
2. Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.
 
3. And he read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

Those who could understand most likely meant the children who were old enough to understand.
 
These religious teaching are important, but if they donít teach that we should have empathy for the whole of Godís creation, they are omitting a very vital aspect of Godís heavenly will, and unfortunately, very little is written in the Hebrew text.
 
However, if we are to love the Lord our God with every part of our being as we are told in Deuteronomy 6:5, then having empathy for Godís creation should be part of that love.

4. And Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand.

Personally, I donít see any importance to mentioning all of these people in the text, except for the fact that most people seem to want to be recognized as having been there.

5. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
 
6. Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
 
7. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people remained in their place.

This is just more historical fact, but there is so far no mention of what is being read.

8. And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.

And from the way people lived, and the animals they slaughtered and sacrificed, we seriously doubt that any of their translations included any mention of empathy for anyone other than some human beings.

9. Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.

People make holidays and dedications instead of actually living in the heavenly will of God and helping to free creation from its present corruption.

10. Then he said to them, "Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

The wording in this statement is a problem because ďeat of the fatĒ generally meant eating of the best cuts of animal flesh.
 
If we are going to be empathetic, we need to say and mean that we should eat of all the bountiful plant foods that God created for us to eat and enjoy, and they can be seasoned and prepared to perfection without causing any animals to suffer or die.
 
Remember, only empathy saves animals.

11. So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved."

Why were the people grieved?
 
Were they grieved because they werenít following the Law?
 
Probably, but we doubt that they were grieved that they were causing animals to suffer and die, and were not trying to end the corruption of creation.

12. And all the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.
NASB

But it is doubtful that very many of them know that empathy saves animals, just as relatively few people know it today.
 
And this is the problem with most religious teachings today; it teaches the written word, but fails to teach underlying love, compassion, and empathy that would make us into true children of God who would strive to free creation from its present corruption, and in the process prevent millions of humans and billions of animals from suffering and dying every year.
 
In Luke 4:14-21, we are hearing Jesus proclaiming a new era where everyone can have a personal relationship with the Lord their God.

14. And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit; and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.

If we are truly born again, then we can also have this same power of the Spirit, for the same Holy Spirit that dwelt in Jesus can dwell in us if we receive Him.

15. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.

Like most people today, they heard the truth and were joyful for only a short while, but they didnít internalize Jesusí message, because in a few years many of them turned on Jesus and called for Him to be crucified.
 
This is the problem with most religious people today; they know the words, but donít have the heart and soul to go with it, for they fail to recognize that only empathy saves animals and the rest of creation.

16. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
 
17. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written,
 
18. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are downtrodden,
 
19. To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." 
 
20. And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him.
 
21 And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
NASB

The people recognized that there was something special about Jesus, but because they knew Him, they didnít internalize what He read and said to them.
 
Jesus wanted the people to see and hear beyond the written word to the glory of heaven, just as I do today.
 
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, we hear Paul telling the people of Corinth about the body of Christ, the church, but is his message complete?

12. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.

In other words, all the believers who make up the church have a purpose that helps the church fulfill its mission, but all too often, we hear of churches who donít want to accept empathetic people who are vegans and care about animals.
 
These people are in the church to show the other members that there is no limit to love, compassion, and empathy; they extend to the whole of Godís creation.
 
When we try to exclude people who are true believers, we are not receiving all of Godís messages for us.

13. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
 
14. For the body is not one member, but many.

This emphasizes what we are talking about, and we should also expand Paulís description of people to include people of various colors and lifestyles.

15. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.

And so it is with every believing member of the congregation.

16. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.
 
17. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

If we are not united into on empathetic body in the heavenly will of God, and feel the pain and suffering of every aspect of Godís creation, we are not really a church of God or of Jesus Christ, or of the Holy Spirit, for as they are one, so are we to be.

18. But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.
 
19. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
 
20. But now there are many members, but one body.

Think about it, one vegan makes a statement of a compassionate and empathetic living, and their loving lifestyle is noticed by many, but if the whole church were vegan, we could change the world.
 
This is why we should understand that empathy saves animals.

21. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
 
22. On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;
 
23. and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness,

And so it should be with all loving, compassionate, and empathetic people.

24. whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked,
 
25. that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

And when we live this way, we have a greater care for the whole of Godís creation: every other human being, every animal, and the environment we all live in.
 
Then and only then will we truly know that empathy saves animals, because we will be a vital part of their lives as we are for ourselves.

26. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

And not just in our own congregations, but in all of Godís creation.

27. Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.

And as part of Christís body, we need to remember that He taught us to live in the heavenly will of God and bring that will to earth as it is in heaven.

28. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
 
29. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?
 
30. All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
 
31. But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
And I show you a still more excellent way.
NASB

And the greatest gift is to have the mind of Christ, and live in Godís heavenly will and feel the pain and suffering of the whole of His creation.
 
Having this kind of empathy saves animals and people and our environment.
 
We can and should make a difference.
 
Amen?
 
Amen.

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