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Is God Cruel?
By: Robert Berendt (published April 24, 2014)

All things were created by God and nothing exists that He did not create (John 1:3). All animals, insects, birds and fish as well as this earth we live on and the universe we live in. History teaches us that living things are quite cruel. What we call the dinosaur age reveals creatures that preyed on others much like today. Creatures that were vegetarians became food for meat - eaters. We humans experience the stings of wasps or mosquitoes and we observe the constant hunting for prey by eagles, owls, lions, wolves and an array of killers. There is a huge insect world that is just as wonderfully created, but that has hunter and prey throughout it. God created man with the ability to eat meat and vegetables. Our bodies require some of the ingredients of meat. We raise vast herds of cattle, fowl and fish that we then kill in order to feed ourselves. This great food chain has mankind placed on top - the most capable killer.

We can witness each detail of His creating ability in every species on earth. As we realize the perfection of each feature of the creatures and plants that God designed on earth we may wonder if God is cruel. Such things as tooth design, strength of the jaws, talons or claws are all tools designed to hunt and kill. Is that which we observe cruelty? If cruel creatures were designed and created by Him - does that make Him cruel? Does God have a cruel streak? Does the creation of violent animals mean God is violent? Was there any other way that God could fulfill His plan - that would not reveal a world of competition and frequent violent death? Anyone witnessing the migrant herds of wildebeest through crocodile infested waters and through lands of waiting predators, sees what seems like a very dangerous and violent world. Something is badly wrong with our concept of God - or with our understanding of this world. Is there a reason God created living things as He did. What are we to learn from what we see? We are constantly amazed at the intricacy of the creation and the perfection and beauty that exists everywhere - though we may be left with questions. After the explanation of creation in Genesis, God said all He made was very good (Gen. 1:31). We can take that to mean that it was to His liking - but we realize all we see is what God declared to be very good - therefore it is as He wanted it to be. God revealed His greatness to Job by describing what He had created and that included prey for animals. It is obvious that God designed animals that eat grass and animals that prey on those animals. The hunter and quarry extends into the bird and fish areas of living things. Some interesting verses are Job 38:39,41,26-30.

We should pause and consider what cruel means. How does that word apply to anyone or to any creature - and does it apply to God Himself? Does it apply to Jesus Christ who will come as the Prince of Peace and at the same time as a frighteningly powerful warrior? (Isa. 9:6,2:10,19). Webster's dictionary defines cruel as: "deliberately seeking to inflict pain and suffering; enjoying others' suffering; without mercy or pity." Cruelty implies indifference to the suffering of others. That does not describe God!

Jesus said not a sparrow falls out of the sky without Him knowing it (Matt. 10:29). We can know that every living thing - plants, animals, birds, fish or humans are very closely observed by God. The Bible also shows us that each animal has a spirit that God has given (Eccl. 3:21). Unlike the spirit of man which goes back to God at the death of the person, the spirit of an animal goes downward indicating it does not continue. Nothing is said in the Bible about plants having a "spirit" from God, but plants to have a living force and are incredible living things - just as creatures are incredible. We see in the scriptures, descriptions of the nature of God that state He does not take pleasure in wickedness and He abhors the bloodthirsty (Psalm 5:4-6). God must control evil and He has great wrath and anger when needed, but He prefers that the wicked change and turn from their ways (Ezek. 18:23). God does not enjoy bringing about death and suffering, but He is the only One who can take control (Ezek. 18:31,32). We are still left with the fact that God created all living things and there is killing and cruelty in what we see - so we still ask how God who is so merciful and tender hearted could stand by and watch suffering take place or how He could create creatures this way. We may make the mistake of thinking that animals think and feel as we humans do. History proves, however, that there are no animals which can commit acts of cruelty like we humans can. Animals who hunt others kill for a reason such as for food, generally do so quickly. It seems only humans can intentionally inflict pain, torture and inflict suffering in a callous and ongoing manner.

The Bible notes a coming period of time where God will change the nature of the animals. It seems there will no longer be predators (Isa. 11:6-9). Nothing is noted about the insect world or that of the birds. We can see that tremendous changes would have to take place - a virtual upheaval of all things. In the initial stages of the Kingdom of God, it seems animals will be eaten. They will also be sacrificed. When we think of the huge number of animals that were sacrificed during the time of the temple, it is clear that there was blood everywhere and animals were to be killed by letting their blood run onto the ground (Ezek. 46:1-6). Ezekiel was describing the beginning of the thousand years after Satan is bound (Rev. 20:2-5). As a boy I once cut the head off a chicken - which was a manly thing to do I thought - but it disturbed me greatly to see this headless chicken running around, flapping its wings and falling all over with blood spurting from the neck and with legs flailing until finally it was dead. That was an amazing experience though it died quickly. On the other hand, I have no hesitation to kill a fish and prepare it for the table. Any mosquito that lands on my skin gets the death sentence. When God walked on the earth in the flesh, He too took part in the capture, killing and cooking of fish (John 21:9,10). Jesus ate the Passover lamb each year (Matt. 26:18-21).

There are many acts of God in the Old Testament that seem fierce and harsh. Allowing Cain to murder Abel without intervening, or causing the flood in Noah's day. (Gen. 7:21,22). Every generation knew the intervention of God in some form that seemed cruel. All living things suffered from the plagues, drought, famines and such.

What is there that we humans do not understand about God? Could it be that He hates the things He has been forced to do - like punishing the wicked (Ezek. 18:23,32, 33:11)? Could it be that Satan who had control over much of this world and who is more intelligent that any human, also had the ability to disrupt the gene code for animals? Is what we see still part of the result of the sin of Lucifer? Were creatures created as they now are in the Garden of Eden or was that a later development? Adam and Eve did not seem to be bothered with the hordes of insects that attack humans during the night. They were without clothes - something was different.

We are left with questions that may seem hard to answer. We know that God is merciful, slow to anger, gentle and kind - and that He does everything He can do to help mankind - including sending Christ to die for us. Because He is God, we are the ones who lack wisdom and understanding. We need to trust in Him and not contend with Him (Job 40:2). Praise the Lord our Creator - and believe in Him (Psalm 148).

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