By Martin Cisneros
I wanted to write something brief that would be a short abridgement of my lengthier articles on the Hosea 2:18 covenant that while being an abridgement wouldn't lack any of the essential details for those who might find my much lengthier articles a very difficult read.
I figure that if I can give it to you in a nutshell that that might help some readers to go back and work their way through my more tediously detailed articles. After all, a lot of people have very busy lives and while at an earlier time in their lives they might have had more time to consider everything that I've said on this website point by point, right now with their jobs, kids, financial woes, obligations, and planning, and other matters that take up so much mental and emotional energy, it can be a real challenge to draw them into a tedious study. Phones are ringing, kids are screaming, dinner's burning in the oven - the lives of so many people give them very little free time for in-depth Biblical or philosophical inquiry. People even go to church with an unintentional attitude of "give it to me quick!" This will hopefully help to meet that kind of need for a lot of people, that even if they never have time to ever read through my whole website - they can still "get it" - all of it - by a carefully planned "Reader's Digest" version of it.
First of all, in your Bible, in the book of Hosea in chapter 2, verse 18 it is promised that God would include animals in His redemptive covenant with mankind.
Romans 8:21 and Mark 4:30-32 are verses that indicate that this covenant would come to the forefront of Christianity when the Body of Christ was starting to reach maturity in the milk of God's Word and Kingdom purposes.
I see in taking Mark 5:1-13 as an allegory and in an obscure prophetic passage in Isaiah 30:23-26 a further implication on the timing of what you might call the inauguration of this covenant as happening within this particular first decade of the 21st century.
For those who would try to make animals in prophetic promise Scriptures out to be a type and shadow of God's redemptive work in the lives of Gentiles, the book of Jeremiah 31:27-28 - in the same general context as the New Testament is being outlined - promises that God would sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of both man and beast. So, the Scripture here indicates that in addition to adding the rest of mankind to the covenant provision, that a redemptive "way" would be opened for animals.
Psalm 104, Joel 1:20 and other passages express a reliance upon God on the part of animals and enough of an "awareness" of Him to where they cry out to Him. Jonah chapter 3 and the Levitical law of the Old Testament indicate a limited, but genuinely present accountability of animals to God: if an animal killed a man, it was to be put to death; clean animals were to atone for unclean animals, etc. Many passages in the Bible refer to animals in a way where some theologians have been led to believe that God was strictly using them as an allegory for His dealings with fallen man, but many if not all of these passages can be taken quite literally in talking about redemptive compassions and mercies on the part of the Lord towards animals.
When the plain sense of a text makes sense and isn't contrary to the character of God, even if it humbles or humiliates mankind, it may well be looked to in it's literal sense. There are ancient Christian interpretations of the Levitical food laws, such as is documented in the General Epistle of Barnabas, that allegorize the so-called "food laws" and they relate the Levitical dietary requirements where animals are concerned to the types of people that one would fellowship with or abstain from the general, common company of. It's a pretty intricate allegory that was deduced from such Levitical passages that are worthy of your most careful and prolonged investigation and consideration.
The animal covenant honors God and Jesus Christ. Covenants take precedence over historical precedence. As an example, if two feuding families had been at each other's throats for innumerable generations, a marriage between representatives of those two families would still be regarded as valid, regardless of all previous [and perhaps ongoing] family "bad blood." Covenants renegotiate priorities and establish the value of individuals as well as priveleges. The Biblical history of covenants shows us that God's Covenants can be dishonored but not invalidated by unbelievers. Though the foundation was laid for the completion of our redemption through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and the interpretations of the Apostle Paul, it is not necessary to interpret Paul's comments on the eating of meat as necessarily the Lord's expressed will against this Hosea 2:18 covenant.
Had St. Paul openly opposed the eating of flesh, it would have put him in the same sort of predicament as if he'd opposed human slavery deliberately, directly, and forthrightly. Persecution against Christians would have been increased to the tenth power, creating a blood bath that Christ didn't want to see happen on the scale that it would have indeed happened. But the seeds of compassion and suggestiveness were laid nonetheless in Paul's writings for the abolishment of slavery and the liberation of animals from their exploitation and consumption by human kind.
The same St. Paul that on a surface level reading of some of his writings seems to call vegetarianism demonic can also be lightly and superficially interpreted as having endorsed human slavery. But if one were to take St. Paul's writings in a very strict sense on the basis of how they're presented to us in the King James Bible, it would still be clear that though his views on human slavery might have been potentially questionable that wouldn't have made a culturally based unconscious observation or difference to the practice the express will of Jesus Christ. The same can be said of so-called proof texts of St. Paul's against the Hosea 2:18 covenant that the Holy Spirit is bringing to light in this hour.
The whole Bible should be interpreted consistently with Jesus Christ as it's Personification. As illuminating as St. Paul is - perhaps more than any other writer in the New Testament - in Philippians 3 and other passages in his Corinthian letters, he expresses an awareness of not knowing all of the mysteries of Christ and the plan of God. He was still being transformed from glory to glory as much as anyone that he was writing to and preaching to was or would ever be through the Work of the High Priestly Ministry of Jesus Christ through the Biblical texts that are addressed to each of our hearts. Therefore, we may freely look to the rest of the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit for anything consistent with the glory of God and the finished work of the Cross that Paul may not have written letters to the Church expressing the spiritual fullness of.
It should satisfy us to take notice of Romans 8:21 and to conclude that Paul either didn't recognize the full depth of what the Holy Spirit was revealing through him in that passage or that he may have chosen to cloak his insights into this behind the veil of his comments on Christ reconciling all things in the heavens and in the earth in 1Corinthians 15:22-28, Ephesians 1:8-10, Philippians 3:21, and Colossians 1:15-20.
Again, not every Gospel dispensation could be fully expressed with clarity at the time because of Christian immaturity (1Corinthians 3:1-3, Galatians 4:19, Ephesians 4:14, Hebrews 5:11-14) and because of the intolerant political and religious climate that would have multiplied persecutions without end had he boldly opposed slavery, subjugation of women, and other things nullified by the Cross of Christ. It was enough for him to drop hints in his writings of a fuller plan of redemption than would ever, in that life time, be embraced by the Judaizers or many of the political leaders of his day.
When judgments and great tribulation are mentioned in the context of God's mercy towards animals, then we may freely conclude, as in the cases of Isaiah chapter 11, Psalm 104, and other passages that the specific wickedness of harming animals is being mentioned in the context of the Lord's harsh dealings with the wicked. The context for the Lord's judgments should always be sought in the passages that mention judgments. This is especially true when we're talking about the glad tidings of great joy which is for all animals. There isn't a doctrine of the Scriptures that doesn't at first glance have so-called proof texts from the same Scriptures that are thought by someone somewhere to speak very emphatically to the contrary. Many Bible teachers wrestle to understand and to present the proper Biblical balance, and sometimes on what they consider to be a proper Biblical tension, on a great many subjects. Four examples of their difficulties on harmonizing other areas of Biblical truth would be:
1. Biblical law verses God's grace in the Scriptures are repeatedly thought to be in irreconcilable conflict by scholars;
2. a spiritual faith and grace that's independent of a works system for justification and good fruits seems to be held up by the same Scriptures with a faith that emphatically works out things in the natural realm with good old "elbow grease" and godly "fear." This seems to indicate a form of justification by faith through a kind of self motivated means of obtaining God's grace, in the minds of some scholars;
3. in the case of free will verses predestination, again, this is thought to be in conflict, in doubt, or in a deliberate state of paradox by some scholars, as these subjects are presented to us in the Bible;
4. and in the case of very clear passages of the final, ultimate annulling of all sinners from God's Creation. God's judgments are thought by some to nullify or amend [and abridge] God's promises of universal salvation through Jesus Christ for all of Creation.
There are [apparent] doctrinal tensions when trying to harmonize the whole Bible on most any subject. These can be a matter of context; translational issues; semantics, dogmatics, cultural issues, and punctuation; or merely present light or lack of it on the subject in question.
Previous allowances on the part of God because of the particular hardness of heart in the people that God was initially addressing regarding certain matters, or because at the given season God had other primary things in mind that He was seeking to address or remedy is not an indication that God was setting those allowances for the hardness of the human heart in stone.
God saw fit to bring great harm and tragedy into the lives of countless Gentiles in Old Testament times in the behalf of His Jewish nation. But that didn't keep Him from promising through the Jewish prophets that He was going to eventually enter into a different relationship with the Gentiles as a result of the sacrificial work and mediation ministry of Jesus Christ. Animals receiving God's mercies tend to be in the minds of many modern Bible teachers the same stumbling block that the Gentiles receiving God's mercies was to the first century Jewish theological mind.
Though it is set clearly in Scripture there are countless traditions of interpretation and cultural baggage that are opposed to it, and not a short supply of books calling it a doctrine of demons. Therefore, each person must make up their own minds as to how faithful they'll remain to the Holy Spirit of the Scriptures and to new light that He would seek to bring forth from the very same exact Scriptures to remedy deeper parts of the hardness of man's heart and to bring greater manifestations of His mercies to light to the Glory of God the Father in Christ Jesus our Lord!
New Biblical light isn't necessarily suspicious if it proceeds from the Holy Spirit and it's aims are clearly the glory of God, the glory of the Blood of Christ, and the restoration and wholeness of God's Creation.
The right questions for potential critics to bare in mind about this aren't about it's apparent novelty, but about whether or not there's a segment of mankind that would find it to be Good News of God's Goodness in Christ and a motivation to repentance, sanctification, and good works. People aren't the worse for believing that God's love and provisions in Christ extend beyond themselves. On the contrary, this multiplies glory to God in the Highest and is a tremendous basis for peace and good will towards [and among] mankind.
There's been such a debate on the means and methods of our salvation that too many Christians haven't thought enough upon the sense of orderliness that St. Paul indicates that our salvation flows to us through in terms of God's timing for the salvation of each of us. 1Corinthians 15:22-28 is one such passage among others that indicates what Jesus said about the growth of the Word of God:
"first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear."
As redemption is promised but not immediately [beneficially and tangibly] incorporated into every life at once, we may safely assume that not all of God's purposes have fully come to light yet - though they're each contained in the Scriptures of the Judeo-Christian Bible. And we may each receive each new step from the Holy Spirit through the Holy Bible when it's time for each new step in God's grace.
The same Biblical methodologies that have been used by many for inheriting the Biblical promises of health, prosperity, wisdom, wholeness, and intimacy with God - through the atoning work of Jesus Christ - are the same steps to be taken upon these exceeding great and precious promises by which the Creation enters into the liberties of the children of God. Faith and prayer that's grounded and settled through careful consideration, in-depth study, and meditation growing from the hope inspired by these promises of God's Word [properly] expressed through compassion, giving, fasting, and serving as an ambassador of Jesus Christ and of His Gospel will bring to light many marvelous signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit for the benefit of animals everywhere.
Our "dominion" as the book of Genesis puts it, over the rest of the Creation is manifested/revealed spiritually and not through exertions of the flesh. We are the gate keepers that inherit the promises of God for all of Creation and that manifest God's provisions through the power of the Holy Spirit in the behalf of all life everywhere. Genuine Biblically sanctioned "dominion" functions through our lives as we understand the plan of God for our lives and flow in the particular age of God's grace that we've been birthed into. We have to obey the Holy Spirit in our day and not drown ourselves in pointless considerations of previous epochs that we don't have complete knowledge or understanding of, and that are totally irrelevant to God's purposes in Jesus Christ for our day.
The lifestyle of love, courage, and bold declaration of these promises of the Gospel once the heart is properly illuminated by these particular promises by sincere prolonged time with God over these sacred truths will bring great acts of deliverance from the Hand of the Lord just the same as meditation, submission, obedience, worship and open declaration of any other Biblical Gospel Truth will bring it's marvelous spiritual provisions, flavors of wisdom, and powers of deliverance and sanctification to light. There is no such thing as spending too much time in any particular Biblical truth so long as the heart's been pricked and convinced that God wants you to devote yourself to the in-depth knowledge, application, and consolation of the particular promises of God's Word that are involved.
If it's Biblically based, Cross of Christ centered, to the glory of Jesus Christ, and works towards a denial of self while ministering wholeness to someone else or something else, then on what basis would God oppose it?