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.

Lessons from the Quail – be content, not greedy

QuailThe bird “Quail” is explicitly mentioned in the Bible. When God promised the Israelites, provisions in the wilderness to satisfy and sustain them, in addition to man’-na (bread), he sent them “quails” as meat (Exodus 16:13). The Israelites gathered this daily as anything leftover toward the next day was spoilt, signifying in a sense, God’s daily provisions.

Interestingly, the same account of God provisions are recorded in the Book of Numbers as well, in Numbers 11:31-35, but with a little more information. This time, the Bible records that as the people were eating the quails (while it was still on their teeth), God smote the people with a plague and those who lusted (who were greedy and not satisfied for the food, gathering it for themselves, constantly grumbling against God and his servant, Moses) died and were buried. (Numbers 11:33,34).

Hmm, what can we really learn from these two accounts, in which the Quail is mentioned?

  1. God provides our daily needs. His name is Jehovah Ji-reh (God, our provider)
  2. We must not grumble against God and his people and must learn to be content and satisfied with what God has given us, thanking Him for His provisions, giving Him the glory
  3. We must not be greedy, storing up for ourselves but trust that God will meet our needs according to His riches in glory. Giving is the antidote to Greed.

Exodus 16:3,4,13 (KJV)
And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.

Numbers 11: 31-34 (KJV)
And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day’s journey on this side, and as it were a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth.
And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp.
And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.
And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.

Lessons from the Pig – set apart and committed

PigFor a moment, think about a pig. Now think of a pig wearing a nose ring of Gold. Even the very image in our mind is pretty unappealing, isn’t it?
The Bible compares in Proverbs 11:22, that a woman without discretion is like a gold ring (jewel) in a pig’s snout. This I dont believe, is a warning just to the female (woman) gender, but to all mankind. As the bride of the Lamb, it includes all of us, who trust and believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior of the world. I don’t think, anyone will question me, if I was to state that we can ALL (male and female) be without discretion.

We see nose rings being worn even today in many parts of the world. You can certainly see them on women from the Indian sub-continent. This practice is however an age old practice. Although, today it is primarily worn  prevalent to adorn or accentuate one’s beauty, the origin of the practice and the reasons as to why it was worn in ancient times has far greater significance.  A nose ring was symbolic of being set apart and of commitment.

When Abraham sought a wife for his son Isaac, and commanded his servant to look for a daughter-in-law among his own people, interestingly the first thing that the servant does when he finds Rebekah by the well is he puts a  nose ring on her (Genesis 24:47) as a indication of setting her apart for his master’s son, after finding out who she was. To Rebekah, this would mean that she would need to be thenceforth committed to Isaac. Likewise, the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 16:12, paints the imagery that God put a nose ring on Israel and all of God’s chosen people who trust and believe in Jesus Christ, adorning us, while at the same time, setting us apart for his Son (Jesus Christ). This to us means that we should be committed to Jesus.

Any other way would mean, that we are like a woman without discretion, as a pig wearing a golden nose ring. Not very appealing, is it?

Point(s) to ponder:

  1. Let us remember that we are are set apart for God
  2. Let us remain faithful and committed to God
  3. Let us not be pigs wearing nose rings 🙂

Proverbs 11:22 (Bible in Basic English)
Like a ring of gold in the nose of a pig, is a beautiful woman who has no sense.

Lessons from the Ox – leadership antithesis

WhiteOxEzekiel 1 records a fascinating account of the prophet of God on whom God’s hand was (verse 3), seeing a thrilling vision with the heavens being opened (verse 1)
He describes the four living creatures, he sees, with precise details. While each aspect of his description can be expanded upon in volumes, I want to focus on a few important aspects as it pertains to the Ox (a Bible animal).

Ezekiel describes the likeness of the faces of the living creatures was as follows – each had four faces, one was that of a man, the second was that of a lion, the third was that of an ox and the fourth was that of an eagle (verse 10). This is another testament to Colossians 1:16-17, which records that it is by Jesus and for Jesus, that all things have been created and do exist. Let me explain
Jesus –
in Matthew is described as a king, the Lion of Judah (face of a lion)
in Mark is described as a servant (face of an ox – an ox is animal of burden signifying servanthood)
in Luke is described as the son of Man (face of a man)
in John is described as the Son of God (face of an eagle representing habitation on high and divinity)

So what can we learn from the Ox?
Servanthood. Jesus said he came to serve and not to be served. He not only took the form of a man, but humbled himself as a servant (Philippians 2), even to the point of death. Imagine that, the creator serving his creation – an antithesis to all we know of a master/servant or leadership relationship.

Likewise we will be commended to follow in Jesus’ example – as diligent as an Ox serving its master. Remember, the final accolade will be (for those who serve), “Well done, my good and faithful SERVANT“.

Ezekiel 1: 1,3,5,6,10,11
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.
And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.
And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

Colossians 1:16-17
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.