Does the command “thou shall not kill” apply to animals?

Certain people that promote animal rights and vegetarianism push the idea that killing animals is not allowed in the Bible according to the sixth commandment “thou shall not kill” (Exodus 20: 13). But this commandment does not apply to animals, it applies only to the unlawful murder of humans.

After the fall, God instituted the sacrificial system where people commanded to sacrifice animals to atone for their sins (Genesis 3:21). The death of animals pointed symbolically to the death of the Savior of mankind (Genesis 3:15). God Himself dressed Adam with the skins of the animals that were offered to atone for their original sin (Genesis 3:21). And Adam and Eve’s sons offered sacrifices before God (Genesis 4:2-4).

After the flood, Noah also offered sacrifices “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (8:20). God told Noah “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). In that passage the Lord made it clear that the human life was different than animal life.

Then, God allowed Noah to eat the flesh of animals (Genesis 9:1-6). This was not the original will of the Creator that His creatures should consume one another. He had given man plants for food (Genesis 1:29). But with the temporary destruction of all plant life during the Flood and the exhaustion of the food supplies that were taken into the ark, an emergency arose that God met by giving permission to eat the flesh of animals.

At the time of Moses, the Lord instructed His people again to offer sacrifices saying: “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year…. Then the whole assembly of the congregation shall kill it at twilight. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire…” (Exodus 12:5,7,8). Obviously, God’s injunction not to kill did not extend to any animal, but only to humans. And God Also sent quail for the Israelites to eat when they murmured asking for flesh meats instead of the manna (Exodus 16:8,13).

Vegetarianism is without doubt the ideal diet for man because it was God’s original diet which was given in Eden (Genesis 1:29). And science today has proved that its the best diet for optimum health. But to use the sixth commandment “thou shalt not kill” out of context and apply it to animal life to promote vegetarianism is not Biblical.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

 

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