"On the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family. ... All the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight." Exodus 12:3, 6
When coal miners took canary birds with them into the deep underground, the idea was not to hear them sing. The birds were to give them warning. If they died, the miners knew that a deadly gas was seeping into that area of the mine.
Animal-rights advocates do not approve of any misuse of God's lesser creatures. But what about using human beings to one's advantage, even taking their lives to enhance one's own position? That is exactly what King Herod did when he ordered the little boys of Bethlehem killed. He hoped to dispose of the newborn King of the Jews whom the Wise Men came to worship. To maintain his throne, Herod believed, the toddlers had to die (see Matthew 2:1-18).
Some 33 years later the high priest Caiaphas and his colleagues were afraid of losing their position to the same Jesus. They said, "If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation" (John 11:48). So from their viewpoint, they sent Jesus to the cross for their own lives and livelihood.
But God had the last word. By His overriding will, Jesus was the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of the whole world. This truth was anticipated throughout the Old Testament. Animals, including birds, were brought as offerings. These sacrifices, of course, did not have the power in themselves to atone for sin, for the epistle to the Hebrews clearly states, "It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). It was always true, then as now, that the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, cleanses us from sin. The sacrifices that Old Testament believers brought derived their forgiving power from what Christ was to do.
Canary birds in coal mines undoubtedly saved human lives. The virgin Mary at her purification had the choice of offering "a pair of doves or two young pigeons" (Luke 2:24). In brief, animals, including birds, have played parts in the overall unfolding of God's plan for our salvation.
PRAYER: Lord God, sharpen my consciousness with regard to the treatment of Your lesser creatures. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)
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