Deuteronomy 25:4 Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.
King Solomon makes reference to the sentiments of this instruction in Proverbs 12:10 – “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” The Lord Jesus spoke of God the Father’s care for the animal kingdom: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father” (Matthew 10:29). It is clear that, although in God’s creation plan, birds and animals were provided for us for sustenance (cf God’s miraculous provision of quail for Israel in the wilderness – Exodus 16:13, and the instruction given to Noah after the Flood – Genesis 9:3), nevertheless we have a responsibility to care for them for their own sake, and refrain from any acts of cruelty.
Moreover, the Apostle Paul quotes this instruction as a basis for church members caring for the needs of those who work hard in the service of God (1 Corinthians 9:9-10; 1 Timothy 5:17-18).
We can be grateful for the extent to which responsible farming is a characteristic of the rural community in our land.
But the other thing that we must remember in all this is the very high value the Creator places on human life and welfare (cf my comments on Deuteronomy 19:4-5). As our culture works hard to distance itself from God’s revealed truth in his Word, arrogantly and defiantly replacing it with its own humanistic ‘wisdom’, we need to be careful not to be caught up in this current tendency to give animal welfare a higher priority than human welfare. God lays out the created order in Genesis 1 & 2, and there are those who actively would like to see this order reversed in our thinking – a somewhat subtle way of shaking our fists in God’s face and saying, “We are not content with just being ‘like’ God, but wanting instead to ‘be’ God, ‘knowing’ good from evil, or deciding for ourselves what we will call ‘good’ and what we will call ‘evil’, even incorporating our definitions in our legislation! It may not be long before standing firm on God’s truth concerning human life, marriage relationships, etc, will attract a prison sentence.
– Bruce Christian