Ronny Graham, noting that animals often serve to symbolically represent human traits, points out that Jacob referred to some of his offspring in Genesis 49 as having animal characteristics: Benjamin as a ravenous wolf, Naphtali as a peaceful deer, Dan as a wily serpent, Issachar as a burden-bearing donkey, and Judah as a lion's whelp, symbolizing the protective fierceness of a mother lion. The lion, the king of the beasts, symbolizes the coming King of Kings, who will appear as a terrifying lion to end all human wars and forms of government, sitting on God's throne, bringing peace, righteousness, and harmony under God's government, enforcing God's laws.
Ronny Graham, reviewing the fifth and sixth days of Creation, when God created the sea-and land-animals, points out the symbolic traits many have come to associate with some animals: Snakes trigger fear; the sloth connotes laziness, and the ant represents industry. We are familiar with the clean and unclean distinction in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, where God commands His People to shun eating unclean meat or touching the carcasses of dead animals, this last being a wise health precaution as exampled by people contracting leprosy via contact with armadillos. Historically, in Middle Eastern cultures, the dog has a bad reputation. As people began to domesticate animals, they removed many disparaging stigmas, even to the point that, today, they promote some animals to the status of family members, sometimes according them equal legal footing with humans. Some have even dared to domesticate Pit Bulls, only to have loved ones mauled to death. All this points to the lack of balance exhibited by many in Western society.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting upon the Middle East connotations casting disdain upon dogs, points out that the grounds of comparison may be their inclination to be sneaky, groveling scavengers feeding on the refuse of humanity, including human flesh. God's Word describes the ritual harlot and the sodomite as disgusting, vile dogs on the lowest echelon of humanity. The wages of a harlot or sodomite would defile any offering. God expects offering to Him to be undefiled, meeting His standards. An example is the Passover lamb, which was to be without blemish. The Israelites were not allowed to use livestock or produce from Gentiles or foreigners as offerings because they were contaminated. The very land metaphorically vomited them out. Consequently, the offerings we produce should emanate from the work of our own hands and not from any ill-gotten gains. When we give an offering, it should come from pure unsullied motives.
John Ritenbaugh focuses on God's meticulous management of all living creatures, including insects, animals, humans, angelic and demonic beings. All conform to His ultimate spiritual purpose-which overrides all other concerns. A converted person, accepting God's sovereignty, accepting that He takes specific care with His children, realizes that both blessings and curses, prosperity and deprivation, should be considered tools in the Creator's workshop, crafting out a magnificent spiritual purpose. This insight, not available to everyone, should instill a deep profound peace, trust, and faith.
Prophecy tells us that one of the plagues of the end time concerns attacks by wild beasts. Ronny Graham, an avid sportsman, relates how this may be coming to pass.
John Ritenbaugh reminds us that mankind, created after the Godkind, has been given dominion or responsibility for the care of animal life, preserving and embellishing their environment, as God would take care of them. Our well-being is inextricably connected to our care of animals (Proverbs 12:20). By having Adam name the animals, God evidently wanted him to become acquainted with their characteristics, enabling him to learn commonsense wisdom from observing their behavior and traits, either for the purpose of emulating particular behaviors, such as diligence and self-discipline from the ant (Proverbs 6:6), affection and motherliness from a deer (Proverbs 5:19), or avoiding negative behaviors such as gossip or slander by observing the behavior of an adder or asp (Psalm 140), aimless willfulness or stubbornness, as in a wild ass (Jeremiah 2:24) or a goat (Matthew 25:32).
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