A few weeks before the Feast last year, I pulled out of my driveway along with my son and daughter. I saw a snake slithering across the road and stopped the car, pointing it out to the kids. Immediately, they jumped out of the car and ran toward the creature. My son was the first one to encounter the serpent. And as he approached from behind, the snake raised its head off the ground and flattened its neck!
I was first paralyzed with fear. I was screaming for my son to stop, and simultaneously baffled: Since when did Oklahoma become the natural habitat for cobras?
As it turns out, there are no deadly cobras in Oklahoma. The snake looked big and dangerous, but it was a harmless hognose, the kind whose raised snout resembles a pig. Still, I suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, at our house, we forewarn our children:
When you see snakes, don’t pick them up. When you re-stack the woodpile, check first for fire ants and brown recluses. When you come in from working outside, examine yourself for ticks. When you’re about to trim limbs and shrubs, douse yourself with apple cider vinegar to repel chiggers. I may be exaggerating the dangers we face living on faculty row on the college campus just a little bit. There are much more fearsome and deadly creatures on Earth today.
But God’s Word tells us that these dangers will evaporate in the new world God will set up on this Earth! In fact, many of the deadliest creatures on Earth today will, in the Millennium, be some of our most common household pets!
One of the most vivid and memorable descriptions of life in the World Tomorrow is found in Isaiah 11:6: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” The Prophet Isaiah said that fierce animals will dwell with docile ones. And a little child will lead and play with these formerly ferocious beasts as if they were house pets! Won’t it be wonderful in the World Tomorrow when the innocent curiosity of little children will no longer be repressed by constant warnings of lurking danger?
In Verse 7 says the cow and bear will eat together, not that the bear will eat the cow. It says the lion will no longer eat meat, but “straw like the ox.” Even snakes will be safe to play with. “And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den” (verse 8). God will actually change the nature of ferocious animals during the World Tomorrow. Even some of their biological makeup will have to be miraculously changed—like the teeth and the digestive tract of animals that kill and eat flesh today. Babies will be unharmed as they play with the deadliest snakes!
Animals will not be killing one another for food. And in verse 9 it says the whole Earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord. Human beings will no longer be hurting and killing one another either! Just as God will miraculously change a lion’s ferocious nature to be peaceful—even to the point of making miraculous biological changes so it will feast on vegetation instead of flesh—so too will God miraculously change mankind’s hostile nature.
In the Beginning
Let’s go back to where it all began. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26). God set out to reproduce Himself through man, and He intended to give man dominion “over all the earth.” That word “dominion” means rule or authority.
God brought all the different kinds of animals to Adam for him to name (Genesis 2:19). This indicates that the number of “kinds” were few enough that Adam was able to easily give them each a name.
By giving Adam the responsibility of naming the animals, God was reinforcing the fact that man was to have dominion over the animals.
“And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field” (verse 20). Two things to note here: First, Adam showed no trace of hostility toward God—no rebellious spirit. He followed God’s instructions without question. That doesn’t mean his mind was filled with the
Spirit of God—it wasn’t—but neither was it automatically hostile against God. Second, Adam named all the animals without worry or thought that some of these animals might attack and kill him.
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1).
Revelation 12:9 reveals that the “serpent” here mentioned is actually Satan the devil.
“And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:2). There is no indication here that Eve was frightened or repulsed by the appearance of the serpent. And since God changed the appearance of the serpent in verse 14, we might deduce from this account that originally, the serpent was rather stunning in its appearance. Lange’s Commentary says “the serpent presented to Eve the appearance of a trusty domestic animal ….”
Eve took the serpent’s advice and ate it, then she shared it with Adam (verse 6). Immediately, something happened to their minds—“the eyes of them both were opened” (verse 7). Their minds were opened to the spirit and attitude of rebellion and wickedness. But God did not make Adam and Eve that way. Neither are babies born with a rebellious spirit. It comes from Satan the devil—not God! This is the curse Jeremiah and Paul both wrote about (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 8:7). John also wrote that by this satanic broadcast, the whole world is deceived (Revelation 12:9).
There were other curses too. “And the lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life” (Genesis 3:14). “Because you have done this”—because of their sin— certain changes would be made. God cursed the serpent “above all cattle.” While the curse here is primarily referring to what God pronounced on Satan, the indication is that within the animal kingdom, serpents would bear the heaviest weight of the curse God brought upon wild animals. For one, evidently the serpent was transformed from an appealing creature with legs to the slithering, creeping creature we know it to be today. And the fact that Scripture says the serpent was cursed above and beyond indicates that certain other beasts had God ordained changes in their nature.
“And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thysake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life” (verse 17). Getting things to grow, competing with weeds and pests, keeping a steady food supply—everything became much more difficult.
“Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (verses 18-19).
“Thus the first human beings, because of believing Satan instead of their Creator, lost the right to live on in peace, happiness and good health. How different it could have been if they had obeyed God and then have eaten the fruit of the tree of life. They would have lived happily forever!” (The Bible Story, Volume 1).
Before sin entered the world, God designed Earth’s environment to function together in total harmony and peace! And for mankind to function together in harmony and peace, God offered His Holy Spirit—His mind—which mankind rejected.
As a result, the very first human being ever born murdered his own brother. Jealous because God accepted Abel’s offering over his own, Cain burned with anger. “And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?” (Genesis 4:6). These attitudes of competition, strife, greed and selfish desire ultimately led to murder!
“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (verse 7, Revised Standard Version). You have to exercise dominion over sin, or else it will master you. And when it masters you, it results in an angry, hostile, murderous spirit.
“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” (verses 8-9). And so it was every man for himself— not unlike the way it is out in the animal kingdom!
Instructions About Wild Animals
After the Flood, mankind was again told to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the Earth. “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered” (Genesis 9:1-2). Here, though, God adds instruction about the nature of wild animals man would come into contact with.
In Exploring Ancient History—the history book used at Imperial Schools during the 1960s—Roy Shulz writes, “The implication of this verse is that animals before the Flood, and certainly at the very beginning in the garden in Eden, were not fierce and ferocious, that they were originally as they will be in the World Tomorrow—gentle and docile (Isaiah 11:6-9 and 65:25). … [I]n post-Flood times God, in effect, said that though wolves, lions and tigers would be hostile toward men, yet these same animals would have an innate fear of man allowing him to maintain control over them.” But the further man drifted from God, the more they feared these ferocious beasts.
“And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord” (Genesis 10:8-9). Animals were more populous than the people at that time. And so Nimrod huddled the people together into cities in order to be protected from the animals. He put up walls around cities that were originally intended to keep wild animals out.
But given Satan’s deceptive power and influence, Nimrod’s exceptional hunting skills were not limited to the animal kingdom alone. He also became a hunter of men! He wanted to dominate menin the same way he had learned to dominate ferocious animals! And with man now cramming into cities—with great walls surrounding these city-states—the murderous nature of man reached another despicable low point.
Murderous city-states now waged war against their city-state neighbors. “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages, “This was mankind’s first act of open rebellion against God after the Flood—they thought they had placed themselves out of God’s reach if they wished to disobey Him. They, like Satan, thought that if they could ‘ascend above the heights of the clouds,’ they could ‘be like the most High’ (Isaiah 14:14).”
The civilization that sprung from these city-states, originally established to protect innocent civilians from ferocious beasts, soon became much more violent and bloody than anything you see in the animal kingdom!
Mankind began treating one another like brute beasts! (Jude 10). That’s the curse of a human mind void of God’s Spirit.
Animals, you see, act according to their inborn natural instinct. Human beings, left to their own devices,act in accordance with their natural carnality.
In man’s 6,000-year history, there have been approximately 15,000 wars—an average of 2½ every year! During the last 65 years, under the careful watch of the United Nations, there have been 250 armed conflicts between nations—an average of more than four per year!
It is this wild animal-like spirit that God promises to change during the World Tomorrow.
“For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:11-12). God is saying here that this whole modern age, with its system of competition, greed and selfishness, is based on the spirit of murder!
Spiritually, God is saying, if we don’t look after our brother, being his keeper—meaning to guard and preserve, to care for and honor—then we are guilty of murder! This is how God sees it when we don’t love each other. Without God’s nature in us, we will simply flow right along in the spirit of competition, strife and murder.
“Unless there does exist the supreme Creator God of love and total power who is about to step in and intervene in world affairs, who has power to, and will change human nature, who will by supernatural divine power reveal Himself to a doubting, disbelieving and deceived world and set up the prophesied Kingdom of God on Earth—with supernatural divine power and force ruling all nations— then the whole world has had it!” (Herbert W. Armstrong, Plain Truth, December 1973).
God will not only change the nature of humans, He will miraculously change animal nature as well. Children will be able to play with lions, snakes, sharks and all kinds of creatures—because their nature will be miraculously changed. We’ll be able to ride lions, keep leopards as pets, feed crocodiles out of our hands. Birds will land near us and even let us pet their bright feathers.
But this beautiful scene also means something more. This change in the animals’ nature reflects a change that will be taking place in man’s nature. It will be a time when we live peacefully with the animals and with each other: the wonderful World Tomorrow!