Burning Bright

Genesis 1:30

“And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”

In his famous poem about the tiger, William Blake begins:

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Blake has an appreciation of the nature of a tiger, which is both magnificent and frightening. It is the largest of the big cats, and only the lion approaches it in ferocity. Blake’s problem with the tiger, as a poet, is working out where it came from. Living in a time before Darwinian Evolution was a thing, he nevertheless is puzzled by how and why God could make such a deadly creature, that is yet so beautiful. In the fifth stanza, he muses:

When the stars threw down their spears

                                                                                                                         And water’d heaven with their tears:

                                                                                                                         Did he smile his work to see?

                                                                                                                         Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

The answer is straightforward. God did not make the tiger to tear flesh. Genesis 1:30 tells us that He created all animals to eat plants. Moreover, the tiger is part of the cat kind. So God made cat-like creatures, not tigers, and a pair of these were taken on the Ark. God had created in them all the variety of genes necessary to adapt to differing environments, so tigers, lions and other cats developed from the Ark pair after the Flood, and perhaps the pre-Flood cats had already begun to eat meat after Adam’s Fall. So it is completely biblical to admire the tiger’s magnificent appearance, and to fear his teeth and claws.   Author: Paul F. Taylor

 Prayer: Thank You for making wonderful animals like tigers. They remind us, Lord, both of the beauty of Your creation and the extent to which our sin has polluted that creation. Amen.

Ref: Blake, William, The Tiger, < http://www.famousliteraryworks.com/blake_the_tiger.htm >, accessed 10/31/2018. Image: Rahulsharma photography, CC BY-SA 4.0 International.