Proverbs 12:10

Proverbs 12:10 "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."
Proverbs 12:10 Bible Church Buffalo NY
Animals are a massive part of life on Earth.  When God created our world, He created animals of all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors and intended them to cover the planet with life.  The Creation account possesses some key details that reveal the heart of God towards the animals He put in our world.  The first relevant detail is the DURATION of God’s creation of animals as He spent two days creating the animal kingdom.  By spending that amount of time creating all of the animals, we can safely deduce that God put a lot of thought and effort into their design.  When it comes to animals in our world, scientists estimate that there are MILLIONS of species.  Going to the zoo to see a few dozen species is enough to appreciate the substantial diversity of animals in our world.  Some crawl, some swim, some fly, some hop, some slither and some climb.  Some are solid colors, some are striped, some are spotted, some are gradient and some are even transparent.  God took His time creating the animal kingdom which means animals matter substantially to God.  They are His handiwork.

The second relevant detail is the TIMING of God’s creation of animals as He made them before He made man.  He wanted man to wake from the dust seeing them already in existence.  He wanted man to see this world as their world as much as his.  He didn’t want man treating animals as aliens, pushing them into extinction.
 
The third relevant detail is the NAMING of God’s created animals as He had Adam name them.  This implies that the Creator of man and animals wanted them to have a relationship.  By having Adam name the animals, there would be a relationship between the two with man taking a sense of ownership and responsibility over the animal kingdom.

The fourth relevant detail is the AUTHORITY God gave man over the animals.  He told man to have “dominion” over the animal kingdom, which means he was and is to manage their place in this world.  God gave man the authority to manage the animal kingdom but only after He impressed on man the value animals have in God’s sight because they are His handiwork.

Animals and man cohabited the Earth just fine without any incident until Genesis 3 when man broke God’s commandment by listening to an animal, the Serpent.  Instead of having dominion over the animals in the Garden of Eden, one particular animal deceived mankind.  The consequence was deadly for both man and animal.  Man’s hearkening unto an animal led to death for mankind and for an animal as God clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of an animal.  From that point on, the relationship between man and animal became and has remained painful.  Countless animals have died and continue to die at the hands of other animals because of sin’s curse on the Earth.  Countless animals have died and surely continue to die at the hands of priests who sacrifice them to their gods.  Countless animals have accidently died and continue to accidently die at the hands of vehicles and other manmade equipment.  Countless animals have died and will definitely continue to die at the hands of farmers and hunters for both food as well as to protect food.  This is just one part of a post-Genesis 3-world.  God didn’t intend for this to be the relationship between animals and man but it is the consequence of Adam’s decision in the Garden of Eden.

It is painful for God to watch and it is supposed to painful for man to watch so that He appreciates the gravity of sin.  It’s not supposed to be fun to watch animals losing their lives either by animal, by vehicle, by weapon or by machine.  In nature, it is unavoidable.  In Judaism, it was necessary.  In many communities and on many farms, it is essential.  To both avoid animal overpopulation and to sustain human population, it is critical.  Death is a part of life for all animals, but it isn’t supposed to be an enjoyable part of life for all of mankind.  God wants us to see His Handiwork in the beauty and marvel of the animal kingdom, not just an opportunity for food or for the thrill of the hunt.  Loss of life in an animal is meant to be sobering, no matter the reason.  Loss of life in an animal is meant to be meaningful, no matter the necessity for it.  Death is the consequence of sin.  God gives life and whenever it is lost or taken, it is supposed to be a reminder of the gravity of sin.  When an animal loses its life for any reason, God takes note as the Life-Giver.  Jesus said as such in Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”  In the same breath, Jesus reminds us that humans are much more valuable in God’s sight than animals but we need to take note that animals matter dearly to God because they are His handiwork.

Solomon was not an animal-rights activist; He was a Creationist.  He taught what His Maker inspired him to teach.  He wrote what His Creator moved him to write.  A righteous man regards the life of his beast because he regards the giver of life of that beast.  A righteous man treats his beast with its Maker in mind.  A righteous man reveres the care his Creator has for life and in particular, for the life of a beast that is under his care.  Because God has given us the authority to rule the animal kingdom, both domestically and in the wild, He is holding us accountable for how we rule all animals.  A man or woman who has little to no respect for the life of an animal has little to no respect for the Giver of life.  A person who disregards the Creator’s handiwork is a person with no respect for God.  A person with no respect for God will be an unrighteous and an evil person.  This is why Solomon describes the “tender mercies of the wicked” as CRUEL.  A wicked person is cruel to animals when they’re being “nice” to animals.  Solomon is making sure his readers knew that there is a direct connection between our level of morality and our treatment of animals.  Animal Cruelty is Human Immorality.

History highlights the clear line the Bible draws between animal cruelty and human immorality.  Data clearly demonstrates a connection between animal cruelty and societal violence.  Jeffrey Dahmer, who is notoriously known for killing and dismembering 17 people three decades ago, first practiced his unthinkable crimes on dogs and cats.  Ian Brady, who tortured and murdered five children in the 1960’s, killed his first cat when he was 10 years of age. He went on to burn another cat alive, stone dogs and cut off rabbits’ heads before going on to target human beings.  Recent research from Teesside University in England involving teenagers in Romania have found a connection between animal cruelty and self-violence.  Because tens of thousands of dogs live on the streets in Romania, the dogs are routinely rounded up and killed under a government “law of slaughter” to control their numbers.  The research found that 86.3% of Romanian teens thought it was “normal” to see homeless animals being abused or killed with most of them witnessing dogs in a noose, poisoned or hanged.  It just so happens that Romanian teens have a much higher propensity towards self-harm and suicidal tendencies than other teens who don’t see animal cruelty.  Researchers have also drawn a connection between abusing and killing these stray dogs to domestic violence in Romanian society.  Malcolm Plant, the author of, Making the Link, says that "put together Romania’s street dog culling, violence rates and the study’s findings demonstrate a clear point: witnessing brutality to animals desensitizes young people and makes them prone to aggression for life."  He would go on to say, “It’s highly likely that an animal abuser will also be abusing humans. We found not only have most animal abusers been exposed to violence and abuse, but that this has resulted in reduced empathy and a normalization of aggression. So there is a high likelihood that this violence will be enacted against spouse, children and within society against people and property.”

These findings are very believable because they are very Biblical.  When a person assigns little to no value for the life of a creature, that person has no care for the Creator.  When a person is not concerned with his Maker, he will not be concerned with standing before His Maker.  When a person is not at all concerned about standing before his Maker, he will be void of virtue and full of cruelty.  This proverb unapologetically teaches that a person’s view of Creation will determine that person’s morality.  A disregard for the animal kingdom will result in a disregard for the kingdom of God.
 
Dear Christian, do not overlook the care God has for the animals He took the tremendous time to create.  Do not miss the care God demonstrates in Scripture for the animals that He has given the gift of life to.  In Judaism, God commanded His people, “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn” so that he could eat while working (Deut. 25:4).  Twice in the New Testament, Paul the Apostle references that commandment in connection to compensating ministers (1 Cor. 9 and 1 Tim. 5).  In so doing, God inspired Paul to tell believers to treat pastors like the Jewish people were to treat their oxen – the kind of treatment that was dictated by a reverence for God.  In Numbers 22, the mighty angel of the Lord rebuked Balaam for hitting his donkey three times.  How we treat animals matters to God.  How we treat animals reveals either a reverence or an irreverence for our Maker.  Finally, how we treat animals often reveals how we’ll end up treating God’s greatest creation – mankind.  Ladies especially, don’t get involved with a man who treats animals cruelly as he will eventually treat you cruelly.  Animal Cruelty is Human Immorality.

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