Monday, May 14, 2012

The Dove

In the book of Genesis we are told of the story of Noah and the flood. During Noah's time the world was filled with wickedness. Evil had consumed the world so much that God decided to drown all of mankind in a flood that would last a hundred and fifty days. God revealed to Noah that only his family would be spared, and so He gave Noah the tasks of building an ark and gathering a pair of each species of animals for the continuation of life.

After forty days of being trapped inside the ark, Noah did a curious thing to check if the waters had receded outside.

After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him. (Genesis 8:6-12 NIV)

One of the most popular symbols of world peace is a dove. Noah first sent out a raven and the bird kept flying around rather than report back to Noah! I remember having a good laugh with my Muslim friends about the raven's shrewdness. The dove, on the other hand, kept coming back until finally it disappeared. Where did it go?

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22 NIV)

Isn't it ironic that the Holy Spirit descended upon our Lord in the likeness of a dove? Peace itself would not become subject to man. Man often tries to send a dove of peace to his adversaries and in the process man tries to glorify himself. It is Jesus who is the real Prince of peace, without Him there can be no peace.

Theologians and historians may laugh at this explanation of why Jesus is the Prince of peace, but our God often catches the eye of the poet in our midst.

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