Weekly Pastoral Message prepared by Rev. Murray Adamthwaite
for Sunday 5th July 1998
From the Pastor: Animal Lessons IV
"And Babylon will become a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals." Jeremiah 51:37|
One familiar sound in the neighbourhood is the barking of dogs. Some
residents can keep their dogs under control, but with others the slightest
disturbance sets them off on an interminable "binge" of incessant barking.
However, one consolation is that domestic dogs at least make their
disturbance by barking, unlike wild dogs, such as wolves, coyotes, and
dingoes, which howl. One such howling hound is the jackal: his howling
changes key upward with each succeeding breath, usually three, His eating
habits are those of a scavenger: he will follow a lion or leopard and clean
up what they have left behind, but he will not kill prey himself.
The Egyptians deified the jackal: Anibus was in charge of the funery cult.
In the Bible, however, the jackal is synomynous with desolation: most of
the references in the Old Testament have to do with this theme. As the
prophets picture the fall of great nations such as Babylon, part of the
scene is the howling lament of the jackal and the hyena amongts the ruins
(see Isaiah 13:22; Jeremiah 50:39). Thant mournful cry announces that "the
Lord is a God of recompense" (Jeremiah 51:56), but not merely against an
ancient city and empire. The same vengance will come against the Babylon
of the New Testament, the apostate church, the harlot bride
(Revelation 17:1-5), and the great city of God-defying materialism
(Revelation 18), from which God's people are urged to withdraw
We may well wonder how long this world has to go. If the threefold howl
of the jackal is an indicator, have we passed the second already, with
only the last and highest-pitched wail still to go? In that situation it
is not enough to be like Lot, to vex our righteous soul about the wickedness
(2 Peter 2:8), but to testify against it by word and deed, and thereby call
people out before it is too late. It is not the barking of the dog which
should worry people, but the mournful howl of the jackal.