Faith News

A message from St George parish church


All God’s Creatures

Introduction

Last year I presented a series on the trees of the Bible which ran all through the season of Trinity or Ordinary Time. This year we will engage with the members of the animal kingdom that appear in the Bible.

In this occasional series I may suggest that you to do some additional reading and investigation for yourself and I may not use the most obvious texts.

The list of animals in the account of Creation in Genesis chapter 1 is very familiar but there are other descriptions of creation in different books of the Bible and many more animals appear throughout the text. I will take a very broad approach including living creatures from smallest to largest; virus and gnat to elephant and whale; vertebrates and invertebrates; and various borderline cases. Texts are from the New Revised Standard Version, Anglicized Edition, with the Apocrypha and Deutero Canonical Books. The collection of animals included in this series is not exhaustive and the names for some creatures may differ in other translations.

Do take some time to look at our creation window: the great west rose window in St George’s.

Consider the variety and beauty of the creatures depicted there.

In the song of praise sung by the three young men, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, who were thrown into the burning fiery furnace we find:

The three with one voice praised and glorified and blessed God in the furnace:
“Blessed are you, O Lord, God of our ancestors,
and to be praised and highly exalted for ever.

Bless the Lord, you whales and all that swim in the waters;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all birds of the air;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all wild animals and cattle;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

All who worship the Lord, bless the God of gods,
Sing praise to him and give thanks to him,
For his mercy endures for ever.

                                           [Prayer of Azariah. 28, 29, 57 – 59, 68 (Apocrypha)]

Ravens

In Genesis we read of the Flood [Gen 6 11 …]. Noah obeys God and collects together his family and the animals into the ark. The rains come, as God has predicted, but eventually they seem to ease. Then, since it had not rained for 150 days, Noah thinks that the flood may have abated. The waters do seem to be going down. He decides to send out a bird, the raven, and wait and see the result [Gen 8. 7]. The raven may have been chosen because it is a bird of prey and will feed on carrion which might be available if there is dry land. The raven does not return and this gives Noah hope that the flood is coming to an end. A week later Noah sends out the dove which returns with a fresh olive leaf indicating that small trees are beginning to grow and there is dry land.

Later, in the Holiness Code, the raven is referred to in the lists of clean and unclean food. The raven is one of those named as unclean [Lev 11. 15] and along with the raven is probably included crows, jackdaws and rooks. These unclean birds are birds of prey and marsh birds.

Elijah, the prophet, was a very significant figure in the history of the Israelites. Living at a time when the people are worshipping other gods, particularly Baal, he predicts a drought.  Elijah is kept alive by God who sends him to hide and to live beside a stream so that he will have water to drink. Food, bread and meat, is brought to him by ravens every morning and evening [1 Kings 17. 1 – 6].

 

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
Maker of all living creatures:
fish in the sea, birds in the air,
and animals on the land.
May we always praise you
for all your beauty in creation.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
in all your creatures.
Amen