Ask Now the Beasts
Background. An important principle of family responsibilities is given in Genesis 9:18-27. If the son of a family commits a public sin (e.g., breaking a window), the father is held responsible. Knowing this and following Ham’s mockery, Noah placed the blame for Ham’s sin upon Ham’s son, Canaan. This would ensure that Ham himself would then rightfully receive the disgrace that was due to him. However, by this same principle, God clearly foresaw the possibility that as “Adam’s Father” later generations might hold God Himself responsible for Adam’s sin. To avoid this possibility, God cursed the ground for Adam’s sake (Genesis 3:17-19). The result was that every generation of Man would eat their bread in the sweat of their face (Genesis 3:17-19). Bread and all other food comes from the cursed ground and, thus, little by little, man’s body became mortal (i.e., subject to death). However, the human soul does not consume food, is eternal and may only become immortal following the Judgment in heaven.
While the body and the brain are accessible to the tools of science and have been well studied, the soul is seemingly not accessible. It may never be so, and it is generally dismissed by academia as a figment of medieval imagination! What follows below is the thesis that the soul is the actual and eternal person responsible for all or most of our thoughts, some of which may be from evil sources, others from God Himself. We have convinced ourselves that our thoughts are from the brain but there is accumulating evidence to indicate that this is unlikely to be the case. Using Scripture as the foundation, it is proposed that it is the soul that is, in fact, who we are and what we do. The brain is likely a “sophisticated thermostat” to keep the body in proper running order. If this is indeed the case, then we should not be surprised to find that in His wisdom God has placed a “veil” over Man’s soul to limit its capability (i.e., ideas, evil intentions and communication, etc.).
As these words above were being written, Canada’s National Radio Broadcaster, CBC, was broadcasting the CBC Radio program, Think About It. On this occasion, the program consisted of an interview with top British neuro-scientist, Dr. Adrien Owen. In 2010 the Canadian government offered him $10 million to set up a neuro-research facility at Western University, Ontario. The introduction to the speaker included what were called “neural myths” (e.g., “We only use 10% of our brain”).
Owen described his research work and made the following statements: “Our IQ is a performance on a test, it is not related to the brain … Nobody knows what intelligence is, … No one thing, either biologically or intellectually, can tell us what intelligence is … Memory is one thing, reason is another and quite separate. Does intelligence show up in the brain? – No!”
The Veil in Scripture. Tired of Man’s evil activities with the fallen angels before the Flood, God reduced Man’s life expectancy from over 900 years to 100 years and at this time likely reduced his mental abilities by placing a “veil” over Man’s soul. However, since neither the soul nor the veil are physical entities, God instructed His people to make two actual symbolic veils for the Temple; the first was at the entrance
and the second placed around the Holy of Holies, that is, the Ark containing the ten commandments (Chaps. 26, 34, 36 and Hebrews 9: 2-5). The color of these veils was blue and purple and crimson (scarlet); this has great significance since it is found at least twenty times, mostly in the Book of Exodus. Then we find in Revelation 17:4-6 and throughout chapter 18, that these colors identify with “Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth” (18:5). Of passing interest, paintings of the Virgin Mary in the Roman Church employ these same colors. The veil placed about the human soul was also symbolized by the veil worn over the face of young ladies of marriagable age that they not present a temptation to men. The word ‘veil’ was first given in the old KJV version in the Book of Ruth but this is clearly incorrect and becomes ‘cloak’ in modern versions. Boaz had asked Ruth to carry six measures of barley seeds home to her mother. But clearly no veil could carry 50 lbs of seeds!
However, the full import of the veil is often missed when reading the account of Jacob’s marriage to Rachel (Genesis 29:10-30). Rachel was a shepherdess and evidently not wearing the veil when Jacob met her because he kissed her (v.11). She may have been only 12 years old at the time, but he vowed to marry her. After seven years labor for her, the long-awaited wedding day arrived and Jacob took his veiled bride to the huppah – that is, the small windowless room built especially for the consummation. Following this, he returned with his bride, still veiled, to her father, Laban, and the awaiting guests at the wedding supper. Laban then removed his daughter’s veil (Isaiah 25:7-8) and Jacob discovered that he had been given Leah, the not-so-pretty elder daughter, The account here describes the custom but does not mention the veil. Quite obviously, the bride must have been veiled for Jacob not to have known he had made his marriage covenant – a blood covenant – with the wrong girl! The importance of this account is that it relates to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9) that every Christian is looking forward to because it is here that our soul is finally set free of the veil. Matthew (27:51), Mark (15:38) and Luke (23:45) each describe how “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” at the moment Jesus died on the cross. With this understanding of the veil and our potential without it, Christians can look forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb and then, as an immortal soul (1 Corinthians 16:53-54), to be finally set free from the wretched veil.
Evidences for the veil. Often, what is not spelled-out in Scripture where it might be expected is a hint that we should search deeper into God’s creation. The account of the Fall of Man, Adam, in the first chapters of Genesis is familiar enough, but we might wonder about the animals: Did they also fall? There is no record that they did except for the serpent (Genesis 3:14-15), so it would seem that God would have no necessity to veil the souls of every other creature in His creation. Careful comparison of animal and human behaviour might then provide a valuable insight into the effects of the veil upon man (1 Corinthians 13:12, the KJV expresses it best: “through a glass darkly”). Indeed, Job 12:7-10 offers this very challenge: “But ask now the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air and they will tell you … And the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing (some translations give ‘living soul’) and the breath of all mankind?” This is presented as a challenge to carefully compare the activities in the animal kingdom with those of humanity. Fortunately, the animal kingdom has been well studied and cases relevant to our Christian inquiry reported. The following examples have been taken from Rupert Sheldrake’s 1999 edition of, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home. This non-Christian author is a well qualified Cambridge, (UK) scientist.
The dogs that know when their owners are coming home. Paraphrase page 29 ff. When Peter Edwards arrives home on his farm in Wickford, Essex (UK), his Irish Setters are nearly always at the gate to greet him. His wife reports that they often wait from ten to twenty minutes before he arrives; he works irregular hours in London and usually does not let her know when to expect him. The dogs responded regardless of which way the wind was blowing or the vehicle he was driving. The Irish Setter’s ability to know Peter’s return is typical of many dogs, and Dr. Sheldrake has collected more than 500 reports of this phenomena. He has conducted surveys and rigorous controlled experiments to film the dog’s responses on time-coded videotape. The results were analyzed statistically in order to remove any effect of huuman bias. What were these dogs responding to? Sheldrake suggests that it is some form of telepathy, but could it be that God is showing us that without the veil He could direct our souls as well as those dog-souls? The KJV has the better translation of 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see through a glass darkly but then face to face.”
The faithful-to-death dogs. Paraphrase page 103. Here Sheldrake records the now famous account of Tip, a sheepdog in Derbyshire, England; the event took place in 1954. The dog’s master was a retired gamekeeper, aged 81, who set off with Tip for a ramble over the hills. They did not return and search parties failed to find them; then snow covered the hills. Three and a half months later, they came across the dead body of Joseph Tagg with Tip beside it in piteous condition but still alive. The dog rapidly became a national heroine, and her final year was spent in luxury at the home of her master’s neice, who had to protect her from hosts of admiring visitors; Tip died a year or so later. We might ask, was the dog’s loyalty to his master’s body or soul, but more fundamentally, was God teaching us all loyalty through obedience?
The dogs that find their owner’s grave. Paraphrase page 223. Sultan was a watch-dog kept at the home-farm by the owner who was taken to hospital and died. A few days later, the man was buried in the local graveyard, five kilometers (3 miles) from the farm. Sultan had no record of ever straying, but several weeks later a former employee at the farm who lived near the cemetery reported seeing Sultan laying on the family grave. He had never been there before nor even to the fields, and there were no footprints to follow. How was it then possible for him to have found his master’s grave? The grave-reunion is typical of several accounts of this type reported by Sheldrake. Again, we ask, was the dog answering a call from his master’s soul or a call from God? The common belief has been that upon death, the living soul would hover over the supine body like a tethered boat for several days, then sink into the ground and “sleep” until the resurrection. Bearing in mind that we cannot know if the master’s soul was evident to the dog or was it in the ground attached to the body? The more likely answer is simply that the dog was being obedient to God’s calling. So often in Christian circles there is confusion regarding what follows after death. The problem is the Hebrew words: RUACH (breath, spirit or wind), NESHAMAH (breath, soul, or spirit) and NEPHESH (breath, soul, or life). Calvin has left a trail of confusion on this issue, and one popular US televangelist has interpreted “spirit” to mean “soul” and filled his idea of heaven with favorite pets from the time of Adam! However, Ecclesiastes 12:6-7 is more helpful: “Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed … then the dust will return to the earth … and the spirit of life (RUACH) will “…return to God Who gave it.” Put simply, God’s example here shows what it is to be obedient and the birds of the air will tell you (paraphrase page 193).
By Ian Taylor