Frank Buck was a true adventurer. He lived in 1900’s and would travel all over the world bringing back all kinds of exotic animals. What set him apart from others in his profession was that he didn’t shoot the animals and bring back their stuffed skins. In Frank’s mind, anyone could gun them down, but who would dare bring back a lion or a rhino— alive?
Frank Buck probably didn’t know it, but he was very scriptural in his approach. Jesus sent us out to seek and to save the lost, not to destroy them. It seems as though some may have forgotten that key element. That infamous Wild West poster we see in movies reading, “WANTED! DEAD OR ALIVE” doesn’t fit the biblical model for evangelism.
Soul-winning is about leading others to Christ. It’s not about winning the argument or flexing our vast amounts of knowledge. It’s not about proving someone how ignorant and wrong they are. It’s not about showing others how impossible we are to defeat in the match of verbal fisticuffs. It’s about saving their souls. Jesus is looking for those gutsy followers. The ones who are willing to take action and get out there! The Greek word “ZOGREO” only appears twice in the New Testament, as far as I know. The word literally means, “to take alive.”
In Luke 5:10 the word is used to express one being taken alive for God. In 2 Timothy 2:26 Paul would us the word when talking about those who have been taken captive by the devil. These two verses remind us that all will be taken somehow. Some from life to death, others from death to life. Matthew 28 is the Great Commission, our permission to baptize people for the remission of their sins. You can be that gutsy follower since Jesus said He’s going to go out with us, “even to the end of the world.” Let’s get out there and bring ‘em back alive.
God created the animals on the sixth day (Gen. 1:24-25). From that time throughout the rest of the Bible, He mentions them for a variety of purposes. They feature prominently in various biblical accounts: the serpent in the garden (Gen. 3:1ff), the dove and the raven on the ark (Gen. 8:7-12), Israel’s quail (Ex. 16:13), Balaam’s donkey speaks (Num. 22:28), a great fish swallows Jonah (Jon. 1:17), the father’s fatted calf (Luke 15:23), Peter’s rooster (Mat. 26:75), and, of course, so many others. They are used in a figurative sense from cover to cover, too.
The devil is likened to a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8), a serpent and a dragon (Rev. 12:9).
The false teacher is likened to a wolf (John 10:12; Acts 20:29) and to dogs (Ph. 3:2; Rev. 22:15).
The apostate are likened to the leopard (Jer. 13:23) and the dog and sow (2 Pet. 2:20-22).
The wicked ruler (Herod) is likened to a fox (Luke 13:32).
Jesus is likened to both a lamb (1 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:12) and a lion (Rev. 5:5).
The saved are likened to sheep and the lost to goats (Mat. 25:31-34).
The patient, but weary, are likened to the eagle (Isa. 40:31).
The thirsty for God are likened to the deer (Psa. 42:1).
The divinely-provided for are likened to the birds of the air (Mat. 6:25; 10:29).
Whether for food (Gen. 9:3) or food for thought (Prov. 6:6), God provides the animal for us to consider. They depict the intimacy of marriage (Song 4:5; 7:3) and the ferocity of judgment (Hos. 13:7-9). They illustrate plenty (Ezek. 34:23) and desolation (Jer. 9:11). They picture joy (Isa. 35:6) and sorrow (Mic. 1:8).
There are great lessons to be learned upon the pages of inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16-17), messages that guide and influence our eternal destiny (John 12:48). There are facts to be instructed by, internalized, and interpreted. Yet, in addition, God has allowed the heavens to declare His handiwork (Psa. 19:1). Creation reveals a Creator who weaves lessons into the characteristics of His creatures. It is just one of the infinite marvels of our great God, endlessly complex and inexhaustibly incredible! How great is our creative God!