In the first part of our current series “The Birds of the Air”, we considered and compared two species of bird, the eagle and the sparrow. Similarly, in this, the second part of the series, we shall consider and compare a further two species… this time, the raven and the dove, both of which were sent out of the ark by Noah. (Gen 8:1-12)
The ark itself can be considered a ‘type’ of Christ, as those who are in Him are safely carried through the tumultuous waters of judgement and death which beat upon Him, rather than upon us, just as the ark transported Noah and his family through the great flood. Furthermore, the number of those transported in the ark was eight, the number of resurrection, indicating perhaps that those who are in Christ will be resurrected to eternal life in His glorious kingdom with Him.
Of course, in order to inherit the kingdom, it is necessary to be born again, without which it is impossible even to see the kingdom, let alone come into it. As Jesus says in John 3:3
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
And in John 3:5
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit".
Therefore, if we are ever to enter the kingdom of God, we can be assured that we must first be born of water and the Spirit, and I believe that in many ways, the raven and the dove sent out by Noah speak to us of this very thing.
A reading of Genesis 8:1-12 will reveal that in the first instance, it was a raven which Noah sent out, but the raven did not come back to the ark, but rather flew around until the waters dried up. You see, by its very nature, the raven chose as it were, a life for itself, independent from the ark. By its own strength it found its own way, independent from the ark, in the world. The dove on the other hand remained dependent on the ark and following the first occasion it was sent out, being that she found nowhere as a resting place for the sole of her foot, she returned.
Recognising that the raven did not return to the ark (which represents Christ), but the dove did, reveals something of the nature of these birds and also of those they represent. As we know, throughout the Bible and Christian teaching, the dove represents the Holy Spirit. But what of the raven? The self-sufficient raven is a carnivorous bird which feeds largely on carrion and no doubt found much to feast on as the flood waters receded. In this, the raven represents the natural man, the dove the spiritual man. One is of the world, which feeds on dead things, from carrion, which clearly represents a life dead in sins and transgressions. The other however, is of God, saved by Christ made alive in Him and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, having the divine nature.
In Sunday’s message (21st June 2020), I shall speak more about the account of Elijah at the Brook Cherith, where God used ravens to feed the prophet. For those who have yet to receive the Holy Spirit, in whose life He has found no resting place for the sole of His foot, still the Lord in His great love for man, sustains them through natural provision. However, after a time, the Brook Cherith dried up and the ravens ceased to come, indicating a time when natural provision will end.
And, if you know your Bible, when that happened, how did the Lord continue to sustain Elijah? He met a widow with a handful of flour in a bin and a little jar of oil. And from it the widow made small cakes, first for the prophet and then for herself and her son and the bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.
Here I believe is an allusion to the second occasion on which Noah sent forth the dove from the ark, seven days after the first, when this time as it returned, the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth. I wonder, what do you think the oil the widow had was made from? Olive oil do you think… and so, back to Noah, here comes the dove with a freshly plucked olive leaf. For Elijah, after the time of natural provision, came the time of supernatural provision. In time the brook dried up and the ravens stopped coming but listen… the oil of the Holy Spirit continued and continued and continued until the Lord sent rain on the earth again at last.
We all have needs and we are all in need, but the answer to our needs is not found in the natural, which is temporary… it is found in the spiritual which is eternal. Our need is not met by the world, but by the Spirit… and the answer to our need is found in Jesus Christ. Receive Him and be born again, for most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God