What could these three have in common?
- My morning reading in Leviticus 26
- The distribution of predatory mammals in North America
- The Pale Rider of the Apocalypse
An unusual curse
In Leviticus 26, there's a blessing for God's people. If they obey.
It includes prosperity, national security, personal safety, and, of all things, protection from wild beasts! (Lev. 26:6)
Then there's a curse for God's people when they rebel, and continue to rebel.
Terror, sickness, sorrow, subjugation to enemies, hunger, plagues, and, you guessed it, wild beasts! (Lev. 26:22)
"I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate."
We've all been hardened to sci-fi, horror, and zombies, but to me that is creepy!
Deserted highways, human remains, quiet predators slinking around in the dark!
And it's real. Not human fiction! It's divine prophecy that came true for Israel in horrible detail.
A future fulfillment
Consider another divine prophecy, Revelation 6:8--the sixth seal/4th horseman.
Here we're again warned about wild beasts.
First the cataclysmic lead-up (verses 2-6):
- false peace (white horse rider)
- widespread war (red horse rider)
- economic collapse and hunger (black horse rider)
The pale rider represents Death--a personification, like the Grim Reaper.
The incredible destructive power wielded by Death, and his companion, Hell, is no less than the ability to kill one-fourth of the population of the earth! The population will have already been slashed by widespread war, hunger and crime. Try to imagine, of maybe 4 billion, the death of 1 BILLION souls by the following means:
- sword (violent acts with weapons, military or otherwise)
- hunger (brought on by the wars, economic collapse and chaos)
- death (not specified; maybe disease, poisoning, radiation, etc.?)
- beasts of the earth
"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."
A perfect storm
Before thinking about the wild beasts of the earth, imagine the dark days following the first three horsemen. As the remaining population staggers under the shock and stress, they'll try to muster their efforts toward survival. As meager food supplies fail, they'll forage and hunt for anything remotely passing for food. The best choices--farm animals, deer, small game, and pets--will be wiped out quickly. As pangs of hunger and the sense of desperation intensify, cannibalism will emerge as an option for some (especially considering the moral darkness already in place). For Israel, cannibalism was part of the prediction of Leviticus 26, and of it's fulfillment (2 Kings 6:28-29; Lam. 4:10).
What happens to predatory animals like bears and wolves during this time? Their natural prey becomes scarce, both from human competition and from other stresses to the food chain. Though attacks on man have always been rare, they do happen. They happen often enough to make our hair stand up and remind us that all is not well in the world.
We know that hunger increases the probability of such attacks. But here's the significant issue. God himself is warning people of a specific judgment on mankind. God, who normally maintains the order and restraint on such forces, can easily lift his restraint, allowing Death to devastate civilization. Maybe the conscience of wild animals will be turned off to match the corruption of the human conscience.
In our own back yard
At the beginning, I mentioned the distribution of predatory mammals in North America. I've been thinking about this, and doing a quick bit of research.
Grizzlies. Although endangered in the 1970s, population now estimated at 1,800 in lower 48, and in Alaska and Canada possibly 30,000.
Gray wolf. Once near extinction in the US. Probably 5,000 in lower 48, and 7,000 - 11,000 in Alaska (although those are 2013 numbers) (don't know about Canada).
Red wolf. Restoration efforts in North Carolina have been mostly unsuccessful. Only 45 individuals.
Black Bear. Wow, about 1,500 in the Smoky Mountains alone (at least before the Gatlinburg fire). Estimated 25,000 - 30,000 in California. Total in North America, est. 850,000 - 950,000!
Mountain Lion. Probably not an issue, although the numbers and distribution may be increasing.
Coyotes. No one knows. The only estimate I found is "millions." Most people are aware of their rapid increase in the eastern US and midwest. Many of us have coyotes in our back yard.
An unlikely suspect
Only a few years ago, calling a coyote a large predator would have been ridiculous. The ones we used to know in the west were small and harmless. But very rapidly, a new type, or types, have been quietly multiplying and spreading. Research has now determined that this slightly larger, stronger coyote is actually part wolf. Until recently, it was believed coyotes and wolves either could not or would not ever breed.
The eastern coyote, or coy wolf, is the fascinating subject of a PBS documentary "Meet the Coy Wolf." It ran for a long time on Netflix and is available on you tube. Another source of information is a New England researcher named Christine Schadler, website: http://chrisschadler.com/
Kathy Cleveland, citing Schadler in a publication called, Cabinet Press, says,
"Because the canines are swapping genes, some of their traits are swapped, too. Coyote have long been hunters of small prey, but a few years ago, researchers at Southern Ontario University reported four confirmed cases of adult moose killed by coyotes.
Coyotes are smaller, but in many ways they are sturdier. A trait called 'responsive reproduction' means they produce more cubs the more their existence is threatened. 'Wolves can be eradicated,' Schadler said, 'while coyotes are here to stay.' "article link
Because the jaw is stronger than that of a regular coyote, they are able to bring down a deer or moose. In 2009, a woman hiking in Nova Scotia was killed by coyotes. article link
Unlike most predators, which avoid civilization, the eastern coyotes are infiltrating populated areas including cities. Based on an Ohio State University study, Chicago has about 2,000. article link
These coyotes are quiet, unafraid of humans, and very intelligent. And they're getting to be everywhere!
A wake up callAll of this is very fascinating, but doesn't mean much in itself. Predators are ordinarily nothing to worry about if you don't put yourself in the wrong spot.
But it's a fact that God has used wild animals to judge people in the past. Future events predicted in scripture are also fact, even though they're future tense, and we don't always understand them.
Maybe, and I don't claim to know, but maybe there's a real issue of time here.
Some of us have been observing world political movements, the corruption of our culture, the pervasion of perversion, and a deluge of deception. We recognize those as "signs of the times," Mt 16:3.
Maybe there are signs in the animal kingdom as well!