In a comment on Biblegems #8, “The First Carnivores,” the question was raised: So does this mean there were no original carnivores?
The short answer is Yes… and No!
As was stated in Biblegems #8, carnivores such as lions, tigers and bears probably existed with the ability to eat other animals while Adam and Eve still inhabited the Garden of Eden, but they were commanded by God to eat only vegetation. The same would have been true of the first two humans as well. They had the physical capabilities necessary for eating meat but were restricted by God to a vegetarian diet until after the flood. Genesis 1:29-30 tells us:
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
The real question is, why? If God made people and animals with the ability to eat meat, and later gave His approval for eating meat, why was it not permitted in the early days of creation before the Fall of man?
The answer is that the death of living beings was not part of the original creation design. As normal as death seems to us now as part of the “circle of life,” it was not that way in the beginning. Death was introduced to the created realm by sin:
Rom. 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And in the New Heavens and New Earth, death will no longer be part of the universe:
Rev. 21:3-4: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
The “old order” referred to in Revelation 21 is the current order of man’s rebellion against God and the devastation that rebellion has brought into God’s beautiful creation throughout history. Before the Fall of man human beings were given the role and the authority to control the behavior of earth’s creatures:
Gen. 1:28: God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Since the Fall of man earth’s creatures no longer recognize man’s authority over them. The created realm exists in a state of turmoil and confusion, instinctively awaiting the day when mankind will be restored to a right relationship with his Creator and to his rightful place of authority in the universe:
Rom. 8:19-22: The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation… itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
That day will come with the return of Jesus Christ in glory, bringing with Him all those who have put their faith in Him during this time of sin, suffering and death. At that time Jesus will establish His kingdom and the sons and daughters of God will reign with Him forever (Rev. 5:10; 20:6; 22:5). And from that time on…
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea (Is. 11:9).