With the advent of Social Media like YouTube and Facebook, and cable shows like Animal Planet, I’ve noticed an increasing amount of evidence for the truth of the millennial estate as pictured in Isaiah. Many of my Facebook friends are animal lovers and post much empathic support — through words, pictures and videos . There is also just as much media of rescues, not just by people, farms, and organizations, but rescues by other animals of fellow-animals!
I grew up with cats and dogs, love them both, and they always got along. I also grew up on Mary Baker Eddy’s spiritual observation that “all creatures, moving in the harmony of Science [God’s creation], are harmless, useful, and indestructible.” Now, I’m not ready to sleep in a pit of poisonous snakes, but I have always had an eye out for evidence of the realm of nature that God created, not the Darwinian nature that man has observed, and the subsequent classifications within which we have been taught to frame nature. Just as a flower finds its way through cement, just as jazz and blues was an impossible herald for a rich, artistic culture that continues to bless and identify all mankind, just as these things have undeniably and truthfully happened, so is the millenial estate depicted in Isaiah poking its peaceful head through the din of survival of the fittest.
Aside from the loving and good nature of plants and animals that I’ve witnessed as I’ve grown up (I grew up on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom), I’ve seen videos and pictures posted of dogs saving dogs from the middle of traffic; cats, dogs, horses, neglected horribly, nurtured to health and happiness; killer whales avoiding humans; dolphins rescuing drowning dogs; humans disentangling whales from nets, and sharks from nets, with both the whales and sharks showing visible gratitude; a lioness nurturing a forlorn baby gazelle; an elephant and a dog; a male ape and a cat; an ape protecting a human baby; an adult gazelle escaping the perilous clutches of a lioness and a crocodile; and so on and so on.
I believe this is the millennial estate as pictured in Isaiah poking through the false kingdom as observed by man over the centuries. The tide is slowly turning in favor of the way God created everything in Genesis 1, and when He was done, He looked at everything, “and behold, it was very good.” There are many examples in the Bible that confirm the true nature of nature. And, there are many examples of nature appearing not to be this way, but in accordance with man’s suspicions of nature: mean, violent, hungry, competitive. This is how it began erroneously in Genesis 2, when God took Adam around to “name” all the creatures He had made. That’s like some father taking his five-year-old to an aquarium full of sharks and saying to the child, “Tell me what you think of these, and that’s how they’ll be!”
The story of Daniel and the lions’ den exemplifies my thought about animals. They coexisted for a night with Daniel, without harming him. Through the lens of the millennial estate, we see the true picture of why animals were made. For man to express his full manhood in the image and likeness of God, he has to both coexist and steward something. As we continue to uncover the true nature of nature that surrounds us, and we understand the definition of dominion, then this coexistence and stewardship is aligned with the love that God has, that is expressed through us.
The story of Paul and the viper also demonstrates the millennial estate, regardless of the fact that the viper actually bit him. Paul didn’t know it was there. Maybe the viper was trying to protect itself — who knows why it actually bit him. But Paul was able to demonstrate that the viper was harmless. The superstition of the people was brought out. They did not think Paul would “escape” from God. The fact that the viper’s so-called venom did not harm Paul debunked the superstition of the people and the label that vipers are harmful. If it was true for one person, then there is no reason why it cannot be true for every person. That is the nature of Truth.
Why were the animals saved on Noah’s ark? Because they are innocent. It gave man the opportunity to coexist and steward the lesser ideas of God’s creation. Humans are not animals. God gave us dominion, which doesn’t mean abuse, but good stewardship. We have the intelligence to see “might, immortality, and goodness” packaged in various animals.
Everything was created for a reason. Everything is good and has its place and its supply. I am not going to go wading through an African river to test my theory. But it does inspire me to have more compassion and be less competitive, and to gravitate away from the physical sense of everything. This vision is through spiritual sense, not material sense — through Genesis 1, not Genesis 2. The true nature of God’s creation is non-carnivorous and harmonious.
The dilemma is, if you’re going to throw everything from Adam and Eve on out the window, then you have to be careful in how you use any of those stories. You can’t use them literally, but they are useful as lessons. Like a parable. Use them as microcosms of your own life. Noah and the Flood can be used as a symbol of wiping the slate clean and starting all over. What are the things I want to hold on to? Clear the table of everything else. But if you treat the flood as having really happened, you run into all kinds of questions, like Why these two animals and not those? Why start eating them now, when you didn’t before? There are a lot of things you have to account for. The Adam and Eve story teaches us, like Mrs. Eddy says, never to believe a lie.