Christ would not have any pain in his kingdom; he would not have even an ass suffer by him, and if the foal had been taken away from its mother, there would have been the poor mother in the stable at home, thinking of its foal, like those oxen that the Philistines used when they took back the ark, and which went lowing as they went, because their calves were at home. Wondrous kingdom of Christ, in which the very beast shall have its share! ‘For the creature was made subject to vanity’ by our sin. It was the beast that suffered because we sinned, and Christ intends that his kingdom should bring back the beast to its own pristine happiness. ‘The lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.’ Old Eden’s peacefulness, and the familiarity between man and the lower creatures, shall come back once more. And even now, wherever the gospel is fully known in man’s heart, man begins to recognise that he has no right wantonly to kill a sparrow or a worm, because it is in Christ’s dominion; and he who would not ride a foal without having its mother by its side, that it might be at peace and happy, would not have any of his disciples think lightly of the meanest creature that his hands have made. Blessed kingdom this which considers even the beasts! Does God care for oxen? Yes, he does; and for the very ass itself, that heir of toil, he cares.
For meditation: God spent two days of creation on animals and told Noah to build an ark as big as a liner rather than a lifeboat. Why? Because He cares for animals (Genesis 8:1). Animals have their own ‘fear not’ (Joel 2:22). The way you treat them says something about you (Proverbs 12:10). However, while showing love to animals, we must have more love for people and most love for God. The Israelites were commanded to treat animals properly (Deuteronomy 22:1–4; 25:4), but often had to sacrifice them in their greater love for God.