There were good reasons why Israel’s conquest of the Holy Land took so long. Providentially speaking, the unbelief of the people and their many failures largely contributed to the fact. But behind these historical factors, God reveals that He was using them to bring about a benevolent purpose. And, in our day of political correctness, environmental extremism and animal “rights” assertions it is well for Christians to be aware of God’s words. Here is what He said,
I will not drive them [the peoples living in Canaan] out before you in a single year. That the land may not become desolate, and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.
Exodus 23:29; see also Deuteronomy 7:22
Recently, there was an account of the eleven-year-old child of a family camping in Utah that was dragged out of their tent and eaten by a bear. The bear, we are told, actually tore open the side of the tent in order to get to him. In a TV interview in which this incident was discussed, a naturalist attempted to make a case that this was the fault of human beings that must bear [no pun intended] the ultimate responsibility for what occurred. He contended—with some plausibility—that by bringing food into wilderness areas campers have conditioned bears to search for food where people are. That may, I say, be true. But the intimation in his remarks was that people should leave the bears to their own territory and not invade their space. In other words—get out and stay out.
Now, this attitude on the part of some environmentalists, and particularly those among the animal “rights” crowd, is not new. In many ways—from the issues over the snail darter to the introduction of wolves into the countryside—they have made their preference clear. Given the choice, they prefer animals to human being! Many of those who would go to great lengths to “save the whales” also may be found among the most vociferous advocates of “women’s rights.” The aborting of babies is preferred to the killing of animals.
But from the outset, God has shown us otherwise. In the Garden of Eden, it was He Who made garments of animal skin for Adam (Genesis 3:21). Had there been no sin, animal death might not have been necessary, but afterwards, in a fallen world, there would be the necessity of choosing between the animal creation and the creation of man. Man, who was created in the image of God at a separate creation that singled out his special nature among all of the creatures that God made (Genesis 1:26), was not only to occupy and fill the entire earth, but to subdue it (Genesis 1:28), thus bringing about an order in which he was to be God’s delegated ruler of the earth. Man, clearly, was to rule over the animals (Genesis 1:28).
Indeed, along with plague, famine and war, wild beasts attacking human beings is clearly specified by God as one of His “four severe judgments” upon man (Ezekiel 14:21). Unwittingly, modern activists welcome such judgment upon themselves—as well as the rest of us. Whenever man acts against God’s will, he brings judgment upon himself. In the modern reversal of biblically-stated values and order that pervades our godless, rebellious society (as evidenced in this man versus animal issue) we see again the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God at odds.
In the verses concerning the Israelite conquest of Canaan, God makes it clear that when it comes to a choice between man and beast as occupants of a particular territory, the wild animal must give way to man. The occupation was to take place gradually so that there would be less likelihood of events like that which occurred in Utah. Territory already cleared of wild animals should not be allowed to revert to once more become their domain. Plainly, such animals must give way to the migration and occupation of human beings. To allow them to multiply beyond reasonably safe limits, or to reintroduce them into territory that human beings already inhabit, is decidedly wrong. God, Himself, has made the choice—and it falls on the side of His special creation.
So, when your people inquire about such matters, as a pastor or elder you ought to be able to turn to such passages as those mentioned to help them acquire a perspective other than that which they are fed ad nauseum by pundits pontificating their godless values on television.