Bible Order: Genesis 11–13
Chronological Order: Job 1–3
New Testament Only: Matthew 4
Are You A Raven Or A Dove?
Well brothers, after reading today’s passage I thought I knew what I was going to write about until I started reading my commentaries. As usual my old friend J. Vernon McGee had something more insightful to say and so I will provide his comments instead of my own.
“I want you to see a great spiritual truth that we have here in the eighth chapter in this account of the raven and the dove. After Noah had spent over a year in the ark, he sent forth a raven, and the raven never came back. But the dove kept coming back and even brought in its beak a little bit of greenery, an olive leaf. I do not know why the dove and olive leaf have always been symbolic of peace, but they are. I cannot quite see that that is exactly the message of the dove’s second return. But when the dove did not return at all, that was the sign that the judgment was over and that peace had returned to the earth. But, of course, man going out of the ark is the same type of man that all the sons of Adam were who had provoked the Flood as a judgment from God in the first place. You are going to see that there is not too much improvement in man after the Flood; in fact, there is none whatsoever.
There is a great spiritual lesson here which I would not have you miss for anything in the world. Noah is engaged here in “bird-watching.” He sends out the raven, and the raven does not come back. Why didn’t that raven come back? You must recognize what that raven eats—it feeds on carrion. There was a whole lot of flesh of dead animals floating around after the Flood, and that was the kind of thing this old crow ate. He did not return to the ark because he was really going to a feast, and he was having a very wonderful time. The raven was classified as an unclean bird, by the way.
The dove is a clean bird and is so listed later on in Scripture. Remember that Noah took into the ark both the clean and the unclean animals. The dove brought back information: it was a regular homing pigeon. With the dove’s second trip, Noah was now a confirmed bird-watcher—and the dove brought back evidence that the dry land was appearing. The third time, the dove did not return, and Noah knew that the waters of judgment were gone.
I have said before that all great truths of the Bible are germane in Genesis. The Bible teaches that the believer has two natures, an old and a new nature: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
The clean and the unclean are together. You and I as believers have these two natures. Our Lord said: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). And Paul writes: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom. 7:18).
Paul spoke of a struggle between the two natures. And there is a struggle today between the old nature and the new nature of a believer.
The raven went out into a judged world, but he found a feast in the dead carcass because that is the thing he lived on. The bloated carcass of an elephant would have made him a banquet; I tell you, it would have been for him a bacchanalian orgy. Back and forth, he restlessly went up and down. May I say to you, that is the picture of the old nature; the old nature is like that raven. The old nature loves the things of the world and feasts on them. That is the reason so many people watch television on Sunday night and do not go to church. Don’t tell me that you have some good excuse for that. You do have an old nature, but that is no excuse because you ought not to be living in the old nature.
The dove went out into a judged world, but she found no rest, no satisfaction, and she returned to the ark. The dove represents the believer in the world. The old raven went out into the world and loved it. When he found that old carcass, he probably thought the millennium had arrived! You see, it is a matter of viewpoint. A professor said to me, “This matter of what’s right and wrong is relative.” He’s right; it is. It is what God says is right, and it is what the professor says is wrong—and he does not find very much that is wrong, by the way. What God says is wrong is wrong. The believer is told, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world …” (1 John 2:15). You and I are living in a judged world today. We are in the world, but not of it. We are to use it, but not to abuse it. We are not to fall in love with it, but we are to attempt to win the lost in this world and get out the Word of God. Our Lord told us, “… Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Let’s take care of our job down here and get out the Word of God—that is the important thing. The dove recognized what kind of a world she was in, and she found no rest. She found rest only in the ark, and that ark sets forth Christ if you please.
Let me ask you this very personal question: What kind of bird are you? Are you a raven or a dove? If you are a child of God, you have both natures—but which one are you living in today? Do you love the things of God, or don’t you?”
McGee, J. V. (1997). Thru the Bible commentary (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
P.S. I told you we would see Jesus in every book of the Old Testament. Here in Genesis He was referred to when God told Eve that the heel of her seed would be bruised by the serpent but that He would crush the serpents head. The seed to whom God was referring is Jesus Christ. We will see Christ in the Book of Genesis in many different ways. The Ark which saved a remnant of humanity from God’s wrath in the form of a flood is an analogy for Jesus Christ.