God, Redemption, and Animal Rescues

There are powerful spiritual lessons to be learned from these videos:

The Bible is full of stories, and Jesus of course so often made use of them as he taught. Simply referring to everyday situations, such as farming or fishing or other common stance realities, Jesus could really drive home a point and make his teachings fully relevant and applicable.

There are so many illustrations and stories and analogies used in the Bible about redemption and salvation for example. Consider the parable of the lost sheep. Everyone back in Jesus’ day knew about sheep, and about how they could easily get lost.

So Jesus used this very familiar reality to drive home the point of his deep, deep love for lost sinners. It is told in Matthew 18:10-14 and Luke 15:1-7. Here is the version found in Luke’s gospel:

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

And the Bible refers to animals so very often, be it the large fish in the book of Jonah, the locusts in Joel, the donkey that Jesus rode on, or the dogs eating the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table. Speaking of dogs, I must say that I seem to be getting all rather sappy and sentimental as I age.

If you spend any amount of time on the social media, you will come across some of the many short videos posted of animals being rescued, especially dogs, and even puppies. They can be real tearjerkers – at least they are for me. They show forsaken, abandoned, abused and neglected animals being rescued and loved.

And that of course is a picture of what God does for us lost sinners – he rescues us and loves us and makes us a part of his family. We are adopted into the heavenly family and given a new life, just as these poor animals are adopted by human owners and given a whole new way to live for the rest of their days.

There are so many of these videos out there. While some of them are clearly staged, real deal animal vids can be found on sites such as the dodo. They can be so heartwarming and can easily bring one to tears. Here is just one such example of a scared, terrified shelter animal being taken and loved after being penned up for so long: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng2XjYt5elg

Other sites have these videos. Here is just one of many featuring an abandoned dog at a shelter who finally gets his own loving home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7yOO4oKMVc

And here is a very moving and powerful short video from another site involving an abandoned and mistreated dog who finally gets to know some real love and acceptance: https://www.facebook.com/reel/856827699803093

I do not know about you, but I cannot help but be moved to tears when I watch these. In most of these videos the real highlight is the utter transformation that takes place. An unloved and unwanted dog (or some other animal) is living in fear and panic and has little or no trust of humans. To protect themselves from more cruelty and abuse, all they can do is lash out at any human who comes their way.

So it often takes quite a while to earn their trust, to allay their fears, and to give them real comfort. Eventually the animal is completely transformed. In place of great fear and terror there is now joy, trust and peace. The animal has bonded with his human, and it is as if the animal has been born again. The old life is gone, and the new life has begun.

It should go without saying that all this is such a good picture of what Jesus does for us. We are all living lives abandoned by God – although in this case it is we, and not God, who walked away. And the consequences that follow are catastrophic.

We live in fear, in insecurity, in anger, in resentment. We do not trust others and we find it hard to properly get along with people – even with ourselves. As in many of these videos where an animal is trapped in a drainage ditch, or stuck in some narrow crevice, or in a raging river, we too as sinners are completely trapped and without hope.

Unless someone else comes along to rescue us, we are doomed. We cannot undo the mess we find ourselves in. Our bondage is too great for us to free ourselves. Our situation is far too dire, and only an outsider can save us. That is what Jesus does for lost sinners.

But it does not end there of course. In this regard let me share a story that I have used before (not original to me however). As I wrote in an article 14 years ago:

A boy on a remote farm is repeatedly told by his father not to go to a dangerous part of the property. There is a deep and dangerous ravine in one corner of his land, and he does not want his young son endangering himself by playing in the area. Yet as young boys often do, he disobeyed his father, and spent some time exploring this ravine.


And sure enough, the next thing he knew was that he was at the bottom of the ravine, trapped and without hope of getting out. As the day drew to a close, with no sign of his son, the farmer went looking for his missing son. He figured the ravine would be the first place to investigate.


And there he was. The son cried out in desperation, “I’m sorry, dad, I’m sorry! I should not have gone here. I should have obeyed you!” His father replied, “That’s OK son. I forgive you”. And with that, he walked back to the farmhouse.


Now what is wrong with that story? Would any father really do this? Of course not. The father would not only forgive his wayward son, but would rescue him, deliver him, set him free from his predicament. That is also true in the spiritual realm.


Christian forgiveness does not just entail divine forgiveness. It also involves a divine rescue plan. God does not want to leave us in our desperate entrapped condition. He wants to set us free, to deliver us from the pit we are in. Forgiveness is just one aspect of biblical salvation.


Praise God that Jesus does not just forgive us when we come to him in faith and repentance. He delivers us from the pit we are in, he transforms us, he invites us into his forever family, and he exchanges our old rags for glorious gowns. He gives us beauty for ashes. As we read in Isaiah 61:1-3:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

The Ron Kenoly worship song “Beauty for Ashes” is worth listening to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2arqZ5CKcLk

More can be said about these emotional animal rescue videos. We all should be concerned about animal abuse and neglect. But some folks have a heart for animals, but not so much for humans. I wish more people would be involved in helping our suffering and tormented animals, but I also wish more people would be concerned about helping suffering and abused humans, including rescuing unborn babies being led to their slaughter.

But my point remains: these videos and stories about animals being saved and given new life certainly make for a good picture of what God does for us lost and needy sinners. What a wonderful rescue it is. Thank you Jesus for your care for us, and how you go out of your way to rescue us.

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2 Replies to “God, Redemption, and Animal Rescues”

  1. I do know some people who are dedicated to both saving afflicted animals and the human unborn. They’re mostly Catholic and followers of Franciscan spirituality and tradition. But you’re right, Bill, giving vulnerable and injured a new chance is a wonderful metaphor for God’s salvific grace and bounty to ourselves as sinners.

  2. I have absolutely no doubt that God’s love of justice and mercy extends to animals even if He has put them under our authority.

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son” – speaks of not only love for mankind but all creation which groans and awaits redemption. Not even a common bird falls without the Father.

    I used to believe that when Jesus says “Behold I have made all things new” that He was saying He has made all new things. I no longer believe that.

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