Man was created to have dominion over the animals. When animals rise up against man, they are guilty of rebellion, insurrection against the very image of God Himself: "And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man" (Gen. 9:5, 6). The fact that the animal is stoned in Exo. 21:28-32 indicates that the purpose of the law is not simply to rid the earth of a dangerous beast. Stoning in the Bible is the normal means of capital punishment for men. Its application to the animal here shows that animals are to be held accountable to some degree for their actions. It is also a visual sign of what happens when a clean covenant man (an ox is “clean” under OT dietary laws) rebels against authority and kills men. Stoning is usually understood to represent the judgment of God, since the Christ is "the rock" and the "stone" which threatens to fall upon men and destroy them (Matt. 21:44).
- James Jordan, The Law of the Covenant 123 (1984), at http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/: HTML, DjVu.