Bible Animals – Man, the Apex or Ex-Ape

For the past few weeks, I have been writing on the topic of Bible Animals, starting with the Ant, the Bee, the Caterpillar … all the way to the Wolf. I could not find any animal mentioned in the Bible, with a name that started with the letter ‘X’, ‘Y’ or ‘Z’. So in concluding this series, I feel it is only appropriate to complete it with the most priceless creature in all of God’s creation and that is “Man”.

The man who was created by God was called Adam, which simply means “the man”. ‘The Man’ was created in God’s image (imago Dei), and of all Bible Animals, ‘The Man’ was the only one created in the image of the creator, making ‘The Man’ to be the Apex of all creation. Man was given dominion and authority over plants and other animals that God created. However, many a times we (‘The Man’) act as an ex-Ape and not the Apex.

Next time, we find ourselves musing over, who we are and if we feel discouraged, remember that we are made in the image of God. i.e., if God was to look into a mirror, he would be seeing us.

Don’t be discouraged, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made, we are made the Apex of God’s creation.

Psalm 139: 13-18 (KJV)
For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Lesson from the Wolf – cognizant of God’s omnipresence

WolfThe Bible in the Old Testament refers the Wolf to be a ravenous and fierce animal, one that is set out to kill and destroy (Ezekiel 22:27, Jeremiah 5:6). In the New Testament, the Wolf is used as symbolic of those who mislead (false prophets) and deceive (wolf in sheep’s clothing) as recorded in Matthew 7:15.

Interestingly in Matthew 10:16, Jesus, The Good Shepherd, does not tell us (His sheep), to stay away from the wolves, but instead informs us, that He is sending us amongst wolves. This, to the common mind, may seem unnatural. He even cautions His sheep to be on guard at all times, lest they are deceived, counseling them to be wise as serpents, yet harmless as doves.

So, why would a good shepherd send his sheep amongst wolves? I think, just as a sheep that knows that as long as the shepherd is with him/her, he/she need not be afraid of the wolves i.e., he/she can be in perfect peace. The same principle applies to us. As long as we know that Jesus is with us, we have no reason to be afraid of anyone or anything. In fact, a time will come when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6) , epitomizing perfect peace and until then, let us stay on guard, wise as serpents, harmless as doves, always cognizant that The Good Shepherd is with us, protecting us from those ravenous around us.

Matthew 10:16 (KJV)
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)
3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Lessons from the Viper – venom/anti-venom

ViperVipers are snakes that inject poison into the body by their bite. They are specifically called out in the Bible.

I vividly remember the time, when my brother, Remo Paul was bitten by a saw-scaled viper. Remo was at a scripture union camp and had ventured a little deeper into the dark to find a solitary place for prayer, when he was bitten. I remember going from pharmacy to pharmacy in search of anti-venom as the hospital was running low, but believe, that it was purely due to God’s miraculous intervention that his life was spared. Another Paul that I know, whose life was spared from a viper’s bite is the Apostle Paul in the Bible. The Bible accounts for God’s miraculous intervention in saving the life of Apostle Paul, when he was bitten by a viper (Acts 28:1-6).  This demonstrates that He (God) that is in us, is greater than he (anyone or anything) that is in the world.

Venom acts by destroying the blood (tissue) or the central nervous system. Anti-venom acts by strengthening the defenses of the body against the effect of venom, nullifying it. In a similar manner, sin (spiritual venom) acts to kill (for the wages of sin is death), but the blood of Jesus (spiritual anti-venom) cleanses us from all the poison of sin, and gives us life; life, not just abundantly but eternal (the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ).

1 Peter 1:18-19 (KJV)
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Lessons from an Unicorn – a great God

UnicornSome discount the Bible to be untrue and filled with fairy tales, because it makes references to animals such as dragons and unicorns. Yes, you read right. The Bible does mention the “unicorn” amongst other animals and birds that live today such as the goats, donkeys, peacocks, ostriches, horses, etc. Job 39:9 makes a specific reference to the unicorn as an illustration of strength, in order to exemplify God’s greatness.

However, to the human mind, it seems far-fetched to imagine an unicorn since none of us have seen a horse with a horn on its forehead (which is what unicorn pictures illustrate). But the question, I have to pose is, has anyone seen a living Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex) in real life? We still know that the T-Rex did exist. So it is not unlikely that the unicorn existed, as did the T-Rex. In fact, archaeological evidence indicate that the fossils of the elasmotherium, which was a horned creature with equine (horse-like) features,  were that of an unicorn. Or the unicorn reference may have been to that of a modern day, Rhinoceros*. Look at Rhinoceros or the Narwhal today and reflect on God’s greatness and creativity in creating such strong and powerful, yet diverse creatures and praise him that of all his creations, He chose you and me, to be his most priceless of all creation.

No matter what, we must not be distracted, trying to determine the verity of the existence of the unicorn, but instead from the unicorn, we can learn that
1. God is not illogical
God’s word is infallible
We are God’s most priceless creation.

*A margin note on Isaiah 34:7 placed in the King James Version in 1769 mentions this possible identity, and the Latin Vulgate translates the same Hebrew word as “unicorn” in some contexts and “rhinoceros” in others.

Job 39:9 (KJV)
9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?

Lessons from a Turtledove – acceptable offering

Turtle DoveThe turtledove is one of the few birds that is listed as a clean bird that can be used as a burnt offering (Leviticus 1:14). For more information on offerings, see What’s with all the offerings in Leviticus?

One of the definitions in the dictionary for the word “turtledove” interestingly is  “a sweetheart or beloved mate“. God’s servant and King of Israel, David in Psalm 74:19 requests God, not to forsake the soul of His turtledove (sweetheart or beloved mate) to the multitude of the wicked. Some may feel that David was comparing himself to be the turtledove (God’s beloved), which is quite possible as He was a man after God’s own heart, but other commentaries state that the turtledove reference is to the church (God’s elect).

The church of God is made up of those who believe that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world. If you and I have accepted, believed and confessed Jesus Christ to be God, we make up the church. The Bible calls the Church of God to be the bride of the lamb (Jesus Christ). We are Jesus’ beloved mate; His sweetheart. We are God’s turtledove.

Now the question is, if we are God’s turtledove, are we living our life in such a manner, that Jesus, the High Priest can present us as an offering before God, one that God will willingly accept? Think about it!

Psalm 74:19 (KJV)
19 O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever.

Leviticus 1:14 (KJV)
14 And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the LORD be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.

Lessons from the Spider – a hypocrite’s hope

Spider'sWebThe spider is mentioned a few times in the Bible. In one account, it is listed as a creature that is found in the palaces of kings (as may be evident by their cobwebs), but there is one reference to the spider in the Bible which needs special attention. It is found in Job 8:13-14   which states that the hope of hypocrites and the path of those who forget God is akin to a hope that is as frail as a spider’s web.

Think about that for a moment. It is not a question of where our hope lies but who we are as we hope.
Question 1 – Are we those who have forgotten God?
While many of us may not fall into this category, the lives we live, many times seem to be like those who have forgotten God.
Question 2 – Are we hypocrites?
Before you get upset at me for asking that question, please be assured that I am asking myself that same question and sadly, the answer is not something that I can be proud of.  Many a times, we profess to be followers of Christ Jesus but deny that claim with the way we live.

Now if we are like those that have forgotten God or we are hypocritical, then lets remind ourselves that our hope is as if we have trusted ourselves on the strength of a spider’s web. Not very strong, huh? The image in this post is of a picture I shot in India. See how frail the spider’s web is.

The spider (and its web) reminds us that we should not forgot God or that we should not live hypocritical lives. It reminds us that we should trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding and in all our ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6). Would you trust in something as frail as a spider’s web or would you rather trust in God (you decide …).

Job 8:13-14 (KJV)
So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish:
14Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider’s web.

Lessons from the Raven – delivery beings, cared for, not blinded

RavenThe Bible records a fascinating story in1 Kings 17, as to of how God’s prophet, Elijah, was sustained by God’s provisions and fed bread and meat, two times a day. He probably drank from the brook in the place where God’s had asked him to stay. What is really interesting is that those who brought him, his food were ravens!

The first time, the Bible records about ravens is in the time of Noah, where Noah sends a raven out to see if there was dry land after 40 days and nights of rain. This time the earth was filled with water and the raven was sent on a mission (first missionary after the rains). The Bible also records ravens as the delivery beings of God’s life giving bread and meat to his servant Elijah. This time there was drought (not a drop of water), except the one in the brook where God had asked his servant to be and the raven was sent on a mission. Hmmm, interesting, isn’t it? Furthermore, when God answers job with a question, he uses the raven as an example, when he says “Who gives the ravens and their young that cry, their food?” (Job 38:41). The Bible also lists the raven as a bird that will be used for executing God’s judgments, against those who break his fifth commandment. The fifth of the ten commandments (and the only commandment of the ten with a promise) is that you shall honor your father and mother, for it shall bring you long life. Proverbs 30:17 lists the ravens to be the bird that will pluck the eyes of the one who mocks his father or despises to obey his mother.

So what can we learn from the ravens?

  1. Can we be trusted as the ravens were by God, during Elijah’s times, to be delivery boys and girls, men and women, to deliver God’s good news of his son, Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life and Living Water to those who are hungry and thirsty?
  2. Let us not forget that the God who cares for the ravens (Job 38:41) cares even more for us and will provide us and our children our needs. Remember, Jesus said Look at the birds (ravens) of the air
  3. Let us not be blinded by what our culture and society tells us about honoring our parents and remember that we are commanded in the Holy Scriptures to honor our parents (father and mother).

1 Kings 17:1-6 (KJV)
And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.