FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
December 19, 2014
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER TWO – Part XV
HOW MANY CLASSES OF ANIMALS ARE THERE?- Part I
Sounds trivial? Why ask this question at such a critical time when we ought to be focusing more sharply on the crucial issues of the closing events of earth’s history? Simply because it’s part of them, as we shall see.
First this: Pope Francis was recently quoted as saying that animals, particularly our beloved pets, have souls that go to heaven. Later they say that he was misquoted. See follow up story December 13, “Did Pope Francis really say all animals go to heaven?” by Brandon Ambrosino: www.vox.com). Rick Gladstone of the New York Times, December 14, (www.bostonglobe.com.) wrote (words in italics mine):
“Pope Francis has given hope to gays, unmarried couples and advocates of the Big Bang theory. Now, he has endeared himself to dog lovers, animal-rights activists and vegans. . . . Charles Camosy, an author and professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University, said it was difficult to know precisely what Francis meant, since he spoke in ‘pastoral language that is not really meant to be dissected by academics.’ But asked if the remarks had caused a new debate on whether animals have souls, suffer andgo to heaven, Camosy said, ‘In a word: Absolutely.’
In his relatively short tenure as leader or the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics since taking over from Benedict XVI, Francis, 77, has repeatedly caused a stir among conservatives in the church. He has suggested more lenient positions than his predecessor on issues like homosexuality, single motherhood, unwed couples and evolution. So to some extent, it was not a surprise that Francis, an Argentine Jesuit who took his papal name from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saints of animals, would suggest to a saddened child that his lost pet had a place in the afterlife.
Citing biblical passages that assert that animals not only go to heaven, but get along with one another when they get there, Francis was quoted by the Italian news media as saying: ‘One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.’ . . .
The question of whether animals go to heaven has been emotionally debated for much of the church’s history [i.e., the Roman Catholic Church]. Pope Pius IX, who led the church from 1846 to 1878, longer than any pope, strongly supported the doctrine that dogs and other animals have no consciousness. He even sought to thwart the founding of an Italian chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Pope John Paul II appeared to reverse Pius in 1990 when he proclaimed that animals do have souls and are as ‘near to God as men are.’ But the Vatican did not widely publicize his assertion, perhaps because it so directly contradicted Pius, who was the first to declare the doctrine of the papal infallibility in 1854.
John Paul’s successor, Benedict, seemed to emphatically reject his view in a 2008 sermon in which he asserted that when an animal dies, it ‘just means the end of existence on earth. . . . . Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said in an email, ‘They certainly do not mean that slaughtering and eating animals is a sin.’ Warner quoted passages from Genesis that say man is given ‘dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on earth.’
Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion and environmental studies at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and an expert on the history of dog-human interaction, said she believed that there would be a backlash from religious conservatives, but that it would take time. ‘Historically, the Catholic Church has never been clear on this question; its all over the place, because it begs so many other questions,’ she said. ‘Where do mosquitoes go, for God’s sake?’” (end of quote)
Paul says, “God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” 1 Cor. 14: 33. Who are His saints on earth? Those that patiently keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Rev. 14: 12. The Bible is clear to those who take it as God’s Word versus “the traditions, commandments, and sayings of man.” Dave Warner was referring to Gen. 1: 28, and strangely, though predictably as spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council—skipped the verses preceding and immediately following it, clearly specifying what the Creator designed both man and beast to eat—certainly not each other—and worst of all, swine’s flesh. He was invoking the Bible and so to the same Bible authority we turn to. What does it say?
Swine, the pig, or pork, is classified with the unclean animals, Lev. 11: 7, 8; eating of it is abominable, Isa 65: 4; raising it as a degradation, Luke 15: 16. When Jesus cast out the demons from two violently possessed men in Gergenses, the demons begged of Jesus, “If you cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine’. Jesus said, “Go.’ They went into the swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.” Matt. 8: 28-34, NKJV.
On Pope Francis recent statements likewise invoking selected passages of the Bible that revives the long-standing debate on the changing papal positions on whether animals have souls that go to heaven–puzzled queries on readers’ comments posted elsewhere were along these lines: What about crocodiles, lions, pitbulls that maul children to death, etc.? My question is, what about all the beef, chicken, pork, fish, crabs, shrimp, oysters, etc., that are being wolfed down daily, globally? Do they have souls and go to heaven, too? Of beef alone, how many tons of are eaten annually by Americans? “Billions,” Eliza Barclay of NPR wrote.
“Americans eat about 270.2 pounds of meat yearly per person – more per person than in almost any country in the planet. As beef consumption began to decline in the 1970s, poultry began to rise quickly. A couple of years ago, chicken surpassed beef as our No. 1 meat of choice. Our consumption of pork has also risen slightly over the years.”- A Nation of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up,” NPR, June 27, 2012. Do we know how these poor dumb animals are raised and rendered before they end up as canned corned beef or tender veal or all kinds of juicy cuts of steak featured in fancy, high end restaurants or on our tables? Do we care at all?
Talk about infallibility, inconsistency, contradiction, and confusion—the latter being the root word of “babel.” Jesus said in Luke 11: 17, ‘a kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.” Luke 11: 17.
The alleged “apparent biblical passages that assert that animals not only go to heaven, but get along with one another when they get there” and that “paradise is open to all of God’s creatures” do not:
(1) refer to heaven, the home of God and the angels but to the earth made new, the heavenly Canaan, which both the gospel prophet in the Old and John in the last book of the Bible were shown in vision and wrote about as the promised inheritance of Jacob to the overcomers, after the Biblical millenium. See Isa. 65: 17-25; Rev. 21: 1-8; 22: 1-6.
(2) Indeed, “heaven is open to all creatures,” that is, those created in the image of God but who have all “fallen and come short of the glory of God” yet have, by faith, accepted the all-efficacious atoning blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God for the forgiveness of sins repented of and forsaken, and His intercessory work at His ascension as merciful High Priest, Mediator, and Advocate to the Father in the heavenly sanctuary in their behalf. Jesus promised His disciples then and in all ages following till the close of time, “In My Father’s house are many mansions . . . I go to prepare a place for you . . . I will come again to receive you to Myself that where I am there you may also be.”John 14: 1-3.
However, not all who profess Jesus Christ as their “Lord” will enter the pearly gates. See Matt. 7: 20-23. In Revelation John says: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake of fire which burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death.” Rev. 21: 7, 8. Compare to Rev. 20: 6, 14; 21: 8.
Heaven is the home of God and the angels. Jesus calls it “my Father’s house.” In contrast, the earth was specifically created by God as the kingdom of Adam, created in the image and likeness of God, who was to rule, as the Creator’s surrogate, all the creatures, with Eve. The Garden of Eden was specially made to be their home and was to be replicated by their progeny “until the earth was fully “replenished.”
But when Adam in his yet-sinless state yielded to Satan’s beguiling temptation, sadly, through Eve’s solicitation, he ceded his kingship over the earth to Satan, who then claimed it as his own kingdom and headquarters. Indeed, “the central power of earth is a demon.” Jesus calls Satan, the fallen Lucifer, “the prince of this world.”John 12: 31; 14: 30. In the Wilderness of temptation Satan, this time disguised as an angel of light, using certain misapplied Scripture passages also, offered the kingdoms of the world to Jesus if He would bow down and worship him, powerfully tempting His weakened human nature due to His 40-day fast to be spared the unspeakable agony of all His sufferings culminating at Calvary.
Christ won the battle again by countering all the temptations with, “It is written.” Matt. 4: 1-11. So should we. Paul describes Satan as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” Eph. 2: 2. John identifies him as “the great dragon, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan who deceives the whole world.” Rev. 12: 7-9. (To be continued next week).