How People Compare To Wild Animals
June 20, 2019
The extent of God’s sovereign control and providential care is often hard to understand. So often, we as people have such limited perspective and are easily consumed by small things that we forget the bigness of this world. There are so many things happening in this planet and in our universe, most of which we don’t have any consideration for simply because we assume that things will continue to be as they’ve always been. Since those things didn’t have any direct impact on our lives yesterday, why should they today, and why should we spend any time thinking about them? However, that doesn’t mean that, because many things escape our consideration that they just cease existing. Life and the functionality of the universe goes on whether we are thinking about it or not, which goes to show that the factors of life don’t need us to keep going. The lives and provision of wild animals might not be on the forefront of our minds, and yet they continue to live because they are on the forefront of God’s mind – just like everything else. The world works the way it does because of God’s wisdom, power, control, and care – not ours. When we stop and consider how much wisdom He has to understand how to care for every unique creature, it is amazing! When we consider the extent of God’s reach to nurture and enable every creature at all times, it is mind-boggling! When we consider that God has been doing all of this since the beginning without requiring our counsel or help, it’s humbling.
When God sought to humble Job in Job 39:1-12, He reminded Job about the extent of work He has been doing for wild animals, since the beginning. There, God not only provided compelling examples of His supreme control and perfect planning, but also mentions certain things about certain creatures that provide intense spiritual lessons to people. God not only created wild animals, but used their existence to teach people at the same time! Can people do such a thing? God’s point is still the same to Job, even at this point in His remarks against him. Since God is clearly supremely wise, able, and faithful, who are we to criticize the manner of His work in our lives or despise the ways God does things that we don’t like?
In Job 39:1-12 God spoke of just two creatures. God spoke of the wild donkey and also the wild ox. That which these creatures have in common is that they are wild. God was not referring to domesticated and trained versions of these same animals. God referred to different kinds; donkeys and oxen that cannot be trained because of their nature and habits. When God spoke of the wild donkey, He first discussed the manner in which many wild creatures are born. They are born in the wilderness. It might seem like an obvious and common-sense statement, but this is one of those things that we as people never consider, and as a result, fail to recognize the supreme control and providential care that God shows through these animals. Do people track every moment a wild goat is born? God does. Do people aid wild deer when they are in labor to give birth? God does. These creatures are hidden in the hills, mountains, and forests and they are able to give birth without the intervention of human hands. They don’t require frequent check-ups during pregnancy. They don’t require teams of people and loads of equipment to ensure successful delivery. They rely on God, and since we see the wilderness populated with goats, deer, and donkeys, it is clear and obvious that God knows what He’s doing and doesn’t need our help. He is able to provide ability, comfort, and safety for each creature so that their existence in this planet can continue to thrive in the manner He appoints. Can mankind compare to this quality of wisdom, power, and nurturing ability?
God also referenced the life-cycle of these animals. Though they are wild creatures, they have purpose. They give birth. They raise up their offspring to health. They gain in strength and ability according to their nature and God-ordained purpose. They depart from their parents when they come of age, and then the cycle begins again. This cycle continues because God enables it. Yet, this cycle is difficult for people to manage for their own lives, let alone for the lives of all wild creatures. For example, raising a healthy child is a challenge for many people, whether they live in trying environments or not. Unfortunately, some people don’t even have care or concern for their children to make the attempt to raise their children to health. The wild donkey and deer know to do this job and do it well. In this way, many people can’t even measure up to the wisdom and ability of a wild animal, yet many undertake the liberty to criticize God. Wild animals know what to do to grow in strength in order to fulfill the next phase of their lives. As people, we often don’t know how to properly nourish ourselves and cause more harm than good when we try. Many people suffer greatly because of medical issues caused by irresponsible eating and exercise habits. Thus, many people are unable to grow up as God original intended – strong and able to carry on in the next phase of life. The wild animal knows when it is time to leave its parents, relieving them of the stress of their duty. Often times, people will feed off of their parents for an entire lifetime, never relieving them of labor or the stress of providing. Many wild animals excel above people in these regards, but it is people who shake their fist at God – the One who equips all these wild creatures to do it right.
When God started speaking specifically about the wild donkey, He focused on the wild and untrainable nature of the donkey. These sorts of animals cannot be taught and harnessed for helpful labor like other animals. They won’t listen. They don’t follow instructions. They seem to enjoy being on their own, doing whatever they want, and refuse to let other influences affect their individual desires. When a person yells at a wild donkey, the wild donkey doesn’t care or pay attention. When a person tries to teach a wild donkey by discipline and striking it, the wild donkey will just take the abuse and carry on in their own way. It is nearly impossible for a person to get a wild donkey to do something humanly productive. People obviously don’t have the wisdom or ability to control them. How is it then that we as people shake our fist at God when we don’t like how things are going? How can we make suggestions to God in our “wisdom” if we don’t have the wisdom to control such a simple animal like a wild donkey? How can we expect God to give us what we want as if we’ve earned it if we don’t even have the ability to train and teach a wild donkey? How impressed do we think God is with our “works?”
The truth is, as stubborn as the wild donkey is, it manages just fine on its own. It is able to eat and survive. It dwells in the mountains and finds pasture there. These creatures are not dependent on our provision, guidance, wisdom, or help to survive. Though God created these creatures to be stubborn towards us, by His mercy, He provided the means for such a simple creature to survive by some means. The same is true of the wild ox. God also referred to this creature in the same manner. There are oxen that serve human needs well, and seem to enjoy doing so. Some oxen are so tame and good that even a child can lead them to their work, and then the ox does the work on its own. Then, there are wild oxen who, like the wild donkey, cannot be trained, tamed, or taught. They won’t serve human needs as servants. They only serve their own needs. They won’t be managed or taught. They are too strong to bind with ropes. A wise farmer will not put a plow behind a wild ox, lest their crops be totally trampled and destroyed by the brute foolishness of the creature. We might call these creatures dumb, but they are able to live, and have done so for quite some time. How? The wisdom, supreme control, ability, and providential care of the LORD God Almighty!
There is a spiritual lesson that God teaches within the first lesson. While the wild donkey and oxen are able to survive, it is important to consider the manner of their survival. Their existence is on account of the immeasurable mercy of God, which serves to illustrate the quality of mercy God shows to mankind. Consider the parallels that people have to wild donkeys and oxen. How many people express the stubbornness of wild donkeys? How many people are untrainable and set in their ways? How many people refuse to receive instruction? How many people would rather be on their own? How many people desire to feed themselves rather than serve the needs of others? How many are determined to go about life by their own foolish brute strength rather than submit to better wisdom?
The Bible mentions wild donkeys often. Many times, the mentions of these creatures are in comparison to God’s people! Though the children of Israel are God’s “special treasure” and “the apple of His eye,” they too are like sheep, have gone astray, and are frequently called “stiff-necked.” God often criticizes the nature of His people being stubborn, selfish, foolish, and miserable. Yet, God has not departed from His people – Jews or Gentiles. Like the wild donkey and oxen, God has continued to enable them by His mercy, not because of their valuable merits. Still, God has found a way to pull value out of wild creatures like donkeys and oxen – providing warnings to those who see the despair of living this way. A wild donkey and ox might be able to survive, but their dwelling is in isolation, in the mountains, spending their lives searching for food to consume to be satisfied just for a moment, then off to the next place to do the same. This is a pitiful existence. The trained donkey and ox on the other hand, have it quite nice. They are willing to labor in learning through disciplined subjection to its master. As a result, they are rewarded with a much better life. The domesticated donkey and ox don’t have to live in wilderness, but gets to live in the comfort of the master’s home, safely and securely. The domesticated animal doesn’t have to wander and search for provision and satisfaction; they are well fed by their master. Likewise, those who are willing to labor for the LORD God Most High as our Master, being subject to His authority, His wisdom, His control, His power, and His grace, are able to live with the same spiritual comfort. Those who are trust in the goodness of God as our Master are able to receive the goodness of God’s spiritual security, eternal provision and protection.
Those who want to live their own way like the wild animals, may do so, but only have God’s mercy for a time. When that time is over, the difference between the wild animal and the self-righteous/self-entitled person will be made evident. The wild donkey and ox won’t have to give an account to God. The self-righteous and self-entitled person will. Thus, God showed love to Job by reminding him of these basic things of His own nature to humble Job, protecting him from that which could condemn his soul. Job wanted to criticize God and felt he knew better than God about certain things. Clearly, he was wrong. Thankfully, God was merciful to show him.