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God Watches the Rhinoceroses Play

Updated on March 21, 2018
Anna Watson profile image

Anna is a pastor, writer, and theologian who obtained her BA in religion in '06, Diploma of Ministry in '16, and Diploma of Divinity in '17.

Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron. He ranks first among the works of God.

Job 40:15-19

Humans and animals have the same destiny. One dies just like the other. All of them have the same breath of life. Humans have no advantage over the animals... All life goes to the same place. All of life comes from the ground, and all of it goes back to the ground.

— Ecclesiastes 3:19-20

In the Beginning, God Created the Rhinoceros

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. Out of the entire known universe, Earth is the only place capable of sustaining life. Not only is it inhabitable, its also beautiful. He could have made the Earth drab and dreary, but He didn’t. He made it wonderful. The universe is awe inspiring. Our bodies react to the Earth in such a way that being in nature has a net positive effect on our psychological and physical well-being. That was God's gift to us, and one of many.

Once God filled the Earth with abundant plant life, He filled it with all manner of animal life—everything from the Leafy Sea Dragon to the Little Red Flying Fox. The Old Testament often tells us that God delights in the animal life He created. The Psalms tell us that God delights in His creation and that His mercies extend to all His creatures. Animals are included in some Levitical laws, while others demand that we treat them well. In the Book of Job, God singles out untamed wildlife as proof that humans aren’t in control of the world: God is.

In Job 41:11 God reminds Job that everything under heaven belongs to Him. The animals exist because God loves them. It brings Him joy to see them frolic. Psalm 36:6 says that God cares for man and beast alike while Luke 12:6 tells us that even animals which we may regard as worthless have value to God. Colossians 1:16 says that “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on Earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him." God loves all life. Plants, humans, and animals all exist and only exist because we bring pleasure to God. The Bible is abundantly clear that God loves all of His creation, and right now, sadly, He mourns for it.

[God] provides the animals with their food, and the young ravens, what they cry for. He is not impressed by the strength of a Horse. He does not value the power of a man. The Lord values those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His faithful love.

— Psalm 147:9-11


20 March 2018, Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino passed away at the age of 45 from a severe leg infection. Until his death, Sudan was kept under armed guard, in a wildlife preserve in Kenya by people who took seriously God’s command that we watch over the Earth and its inhabitants. Tragically, far more people, and for far longer, have had a bigger interest in destroying what God created. Now scientists are working tirelessly to preserve Sudan's seed in the hopes that we may undo the damage that we have done. Time will tell if their efforts will be successful.

Volunteers and staff at the Oj Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia County, Kenya, where he lived, remembered Sudan as an affectionate rhinoceros who was quite spoiled to affection. In 2017 he even got his own Tinder Profile in the hopes that it would draw attention to the Northern White Rhino. At the conservancy, Sudan got to live as a rhino, free from the punishing hand of mankind, free from the warfare and poaching that helped accelerate the species decline. Sudan's life and death was tragic, but many people worked hard to ensure that he was happy. And it seems as though they succeeded. The world's last two remaining Northern White Rhinos live on that same preserve, and right now they're well cared for. Humanity has failed these rhinos, but they seem ignorant of that. They're fortunate. The two girls can live out their lives in peace.

Meanwhile, the very wealthy men of China and Vietnam who fund the illegal ivory trade, are continuing to wreak havoc on the remaining rhino populations as well as the elephant populations. Ivory was finally outlawed in China at the end of 2017, the black market for it still exists, but the ban was a giant step in the right direction. Ad interim, stateside, the current administration has lifted the ban on hunting trophies of endangered species. Naturally, this will further imperil the threatened species. Thankfully many people are working to reinstate the ban and help to save the rhinoceroses and elephants.

The righteous regard the needs of their animals, but even the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

— Proverbs 12:10

God Watches Over All His Creation

God is watching. The same God who doesn’t forget the five sparrows sold for two pennies, hasn’t forgotten the species that He has created. He hasn’t forgotten the rhinos, the dodos, the tortoises, or any of the other species that we’ve wiped off the face of the Earth. God created. Man destroyed. God surely weeps. God hasn’t forgotten these species, nor has He forgotten those who have destroyed them. But God also watches over those who have worked to save them. Many people have risked their life and limb in war-torn countries, fought malaria, and even been killed by poachers, as they dedicate their lives to act as guardians of the Earth. God bless those who have taken seriously God’s command that we watch over the Garden and tend the wildlife.

God sees what we do. He watches us, He cares for us, He has instructed us to have love and respect for all life, human and animal. Job 39 says that God watches the animals give birth. He counts the months until the time is right, and then watches over their labor. God watches the young as they thrive in the wild. He watches the animals play. God loves the inhabitants of the Earth, and right now He grieves. For one of the mightiest of His animals, the second largest land animal on the planet, has almost gone extinct. For his part, Sudan is now at peace. He need no longer to fear humanity, for today, he is with God.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care.

— Matthew 10:29

© 2018 Anna Watson


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