When God created the world, He made it not just with purpose and functionality but also with divine creativity and diversity. From the non-living things like Sun, Moon and Stars and to the living creatures such as the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, He created it with so much creativity where one can look back and say “It is good”. God made sure that our world does not only have the right temperature, weather, composition and other living conditions, but also that it is extremely awesome and beautiful. When we created the world, He made sure that it can, collectively, display and reflect His glory to a certain extent. It makes you think… what animal represents God?
In the early days of creation, everything reflected and represented God perfectly but ever since the fall of man, all of God’s creation came along and experienced the corruption brought by sin. But despite the creation’s fallenness, it is undeniable that it still has the imprint of a powerful, wise and creative Creator. For the sake of discussion, we will try to look into whether an animal represents God or not.
Just a simple reminder though, animals do not represent God the way man represents Him. While it is true that everything in all creation shouts the glory of God, He gave the honor and privilege of having His image only to mankind.
Creation and Creator
It is undeniable that the world that we live in today was brilliantly designed by a perfect being. When one examines the uniqueness of each creature, one cannot deny that it was designed by a divine Artist. If you look at its functionality and how it works, you will realize that it was designed by a divine Architect and Engineer. Wherever you look, creation presents a simple yet often overlooked truth: There is a Creator behind the creation.
The Almighty Creator left an imprint in every part of His creation. One can say that He left a bit of Himself in every creation, living and nonliving. Of course, the Bible does not give an exhaustive teaching about how each animal represents God but it does give a handful of examples where we can see God’s character and representation. Let us look at some of these great and small creatures and attempt to see God’s representation.
Behemoth and Leviathan: Symbols of God’s Absolute Power and Control
The Behemoth and Leviathan are great and massive creatures of the earth and sea. Some Bible scholars suggest that they are symbols rather than real creatures but the evidence and narrative claim otherwise. Much of what we know about these two great creatures are found in the Book of Job. A Behemoth is a massive animal that walks the face of the earth. It is likened to a hippopotamus, elephant or rhinoceros. A Leviathan is a giant creature that rules the sea with its snake-like features and monstrous strength. Both are considered untamable and rulers of their respective territories.
The Bible writers do not liken God to a Behemoth or a Leviathan but they surely use them as a symbol to display God’s unmatched power and strength. In an account where God spoke to Job, He described the strength of a Behemoth and asked Job a question:
24 Can one take him by his eyes, or pierce his nose with a snare?
God does it again in the next chapter but uses the Leviathan as an object lesson of His unmatched power:
1 “Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook or press down his tongue with a cord?
2 Can you put a rope in his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook?
Whoever wrote Job was convinced that the pinnacle of beastly strength and power in the land and in the sea were the Behemoth and Leviathan. And he used this common understanding in the ancient times as a symbol of God’s absolute power and control over all creation.
Lion: A symbol of Strength, Royalty and Glory
Lions are renowned for their power, beauty, and bravery. In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the Lion of Judah, while the lion has been considered the king of the creatures and the king of the jungle (Revelation 5:5). The lion symbolism broadens our comprehension of the infant Jesus in the manger and the crucified Savior, presenting Jesus as the victorious King of kings, a roaring lion exacting revenge on His adversaries. Scripture makes reference to lions in a variety of contexts, sometimes in a positive way to describe God and other times in a negative one to represent evil and devastation. Lions roar to mark their territory and to show off their strength.
A lion represents God as a strong, powerful and glorious King. If you have seen a lion in person, you will notice that the way it walks is like a flawless and dignified king.
Dove: A symbol of purity, gentleness and holiness
In one of the few instances recorded in the Bible, the Holy Spirit manifested physically, assumed a visible form, and was probably observed by the people. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove to expose Himself to the populace. The dove is regarded as a symbol of holiness and innocence (Matthew 10:16), and its appearance during Jesus’ baptism indicated that the Spirit with which Jesus was blessed was one of holiness and innocence. However, there is no clear explanation for why God employed the dove.
Lamb: A symbol of perfect and ultimate sacrifice
In John 1:29 and John 1:36, Jesus is referred to be the Lamb of God, which denotes that He is the ideal and ideal offering for sin. The Old Testament, which contains predictions about the coming of Christ as a “guilt offering,” is where one must start in order to comprehend who Christ was and what He accomplished (Isaiah 53:10). The entire sacrificial system that God constructed in the Old Testament actually prepared the way for the arrival of Jesus Christ, who is the ideal sacrifice God would offer as atonement for the sins of His people.
The daily sacrifice in the temple in Jerusalem is another factor contributing to the Lamb’s association with sin sacrifice. A lamb was offered in the temple each morning and evening as a sacrifice for the people’s sins. These daily offerings, like all others, served only to draw attention to the supreme offering made by Christ on the cross. The Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah, who foretold the arrival of One who would be brought “like a lamb led to the slaughter” (Jeremiah 11:19; Isaiah 53:7) and whose suffering and sacrifice would give redemption for Israel, would also have been known to the Jews at that time.
The God who revealed Himself
What can we get from the truth that God indeed allowed Himself to be represented by a few selected animals? What effect does this have on our faith? It is simply this: The God of creation chose to reveal Himself to us. He did not hide in the shadows nor led His creation in confusion, rather He made it clear to His creation that there is only one God and He graciously revealed Himself through His creation.
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