I’m going in a different direction than I normally do in my Upward Trek posts. So I hope my friends will forgive me if they think I have lost my mind because I am tackling eternal veganism.
Most theologians, prophecy teachers, and creation apologists teach that men will be vegans in the kingdom and in eternity. They argue that animal death is a result of the fall and the curse and that the effects of the fall and the curse will be removed in the kingdom, so therefore there will be no more animal death. And if there is no animal death, there will be no meat eating because eating meat supposes the death of an animal.
This view of the meat question regards the giving of meat to man at the time of Noah as a temporary concession to man that will be removed in the kingdom. Man will then return to the veganism that he enjoyed in the purity of the garden of Eden.
While this position sounds plausible at first glance, it falls apart if we subject it to a broader examination of the subject and let the Bible cast its own light on the subject.
First of all, meat is the gift of God. In Gen. 9:3 we read, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.” Notice the little phrase “even as.” God gave man meat in the same spirit and for the same purpose that he gave him plants. Was the gift of plants holy and permanent? Yes. Then so was the gift of animals. And the gift once given cannot be taken back, for God is unchangeable (Mal. 3:6) and His gifts are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29).
Secondly, animals were made for man to use. In 2 Peter 2:12 we read that animals were “made for capture and destruction.” Theologians can fuss all they want, but this phrase means exactly what it states and implies. Animals were given to man for food, leather, sinew, wool, bone, ivory, and whatever other uses he might find. This is their created purpose. And it is beside the point if man wasn’t introduced to the use of animals until the time of Noah. As men grow from milk to meat in the physical realm and Christians grow from milk to meat in the spiritual realm, so mankind grew from plants to animals in a maturing process.
Thirdly, it seems out of place for the Lord to eat meat in his pre-incarnate body or in his resurrection body if eating meat was only a temporary concession on account of man’s weakness. Why would the angel of Jehovah eat veal with Abraham or the resurrected Jesus eat fish with the disciples if meat eating is unfit for heaven? Note that in neither of these instances was the Lord in a fallen human body touched by human weakness, so we can’t appeal to His earthly condescension. I see in these accounts a peek into the saints’s glorified state—the second Adam fellowshipping with the saints of the heavenly call over a campfire and food. Man will always be man. And man will always enjoy fire and food.
Fourthly, God doesn’t go backwards in his dealings with man. He only goes forward. We are not going back to Eden any more than we are going back to the law or back to the rule of informal judges. We are going forward to the kingdom, and every promise of God, every gift of God, and every advance in God’s relationship with mankind will be fully displayed in that wonderful time of blessing.
Fifthly, there are sacrifices, meat eating, and animal death in the kingdom. The sacrifices are mentioned numerous times in Ezekiel 40-48 in the portions describing the millennial temple and temple service. Ezekiel 42:13 explicitly states that the priests shall eat the offerings in the north and south chambers. Ezekiel 44:29 reiterates that the priests shall eat the sacrifices. Ezekiel 44:31 says that priests are not allowed to eat animals that died naturally or were torn. This is the plain statement of Scripture. And it is completely unreasonable for men who usually interpret prophecy literally to resort to figurative interpretation here. Moreover, Ezekiel 47:9-10 informs us that fisherman will line the bank of the Jordan River because it will be swarming with a wide variety of fish. This is not catch-and-release fishing for a hobby. This is fishing because fish taste good.
Lastly, there is meat eating at the wedding supper. In Isaiah 25:6 we read, “The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow.” This ought to warm the heart of every meat lover. There will be T-bone steaks and ribs at the wedding supper—cuts with fat and marrow.
But what about the Isaiah passage where the lion shall lie down with the lamb? I’m glad you brought that up. Examine this passage once again. Isaiah 11:6-9 neither teaches nor implies that man shall not eat meat in the kingdom. What it does teach is that wild animals will not harm man or his domesticated animals. Neither our bodies, nor our livelihood, nor our labors will be bothered by nature. No bug bites. No snake bites. No losses to wild animals like wolves, bears, and coyotes. And I think it is perfectly legitimate to extrapolate the principle to farming. No diseases or bugs or wild animals will damage our crops.
Now some will try to salvage their eternal veganism teaching by insisting that we must make a distinction between the kingdom and eternity. But there is no significant difference. The kingdom that Jesus establishes at His second coming is plainly stated to endure forever. See Micah 4:6-7, Isaiah 9:7, Daniel 2:44, Daniel 7:14, Daniel 7:27, and Revelation 11:5. The eternal kingdom is man’s place in eternity. What about the thousand years? The thousand years isn’t the length of the kingdom. It is simply the time allotted for mankind’s final period of testing—man’s final opportunity to be saved or lost. Now if the kingdom extends into eternity, then ALL the blessings of the kingdom extend into eternity. God can add to the blessings. He cannot subtract from them. So if there is meat eating in the coming kingdom during the thousand years, then there is meat eating in the coming kingdom for all eternity.
There you have it. Surely I have lost all my marbles. Small point? Perhaps. But challenge those who teach eternal veganism and find out how BIG the point really is in their minds. The bottom line is, I want to get my doctrine on the subject from the whole counsel of God, not from philosophical extrapolation on one passage of Scripture—the account of the fall and the curse. Truth be told, the eternal veganism position is more influenced by Mother Earth religion (and it’s anti-biblical elevation of animals) than the Bible. If we let the Bible decide the matter, animal death has two causes in the Bible: death as a result of the curse and death as a result of God gifting animals to man. When the former is removed, the latter will remain. And for that I am glad. Here’s to billions of years of bacon!
“Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire.”
Lee W. Brainard