Genesis 8:6
The raven and the dove. While this passage has its natural, historical fitness, we cannot overlook its symbolical significance. It seems to set forth the two administrations of God, both of them going forth from the same center of his righteousness in which his people are kept safe. The one represented by the carrion bird, the raven, is THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUDGMENT, which goes forth to and fro until the waters are dried up from off the earth - finding a resting-place in the waters of destruction, though not a permanent rest; returning to the ark, as the beginning and the end of judgment is the righteousness of God. The dove is the emblem of DIVINE GRACE, spiritual life and peace. It cannot find rest in the waters of judgment until another seven days, another period of gracious manifestation, has prepared the world for it; then it brings with it the plucked-off olive leaf, emblem of retiring judgment and revealed mercy; and when yet another period of gracious manifestation has passed by, the dove shall return no more to the ark, for the ark itself is no more needed - the waters are abated from off the face of the earth. So we may say the raven dispensation was that which preceded Noah. Then followed the first sending forth of the dove unto the time of Moses, leading to a seven days' period of the ark life, waiting for another mission of grace. The dove brought back the olive leaf when the prophetic period of the old dispensation gave fuller promise of Divine mercy. But yet another period of seven days must transpire before the dove is sent forth and returns no more to the ark, but abides in the earth. After the two sacred intervals, the period of the law and the period of the prophets, which were both immediately connected with a special limited covenant such as is represented in the ark, there followed the world-wide mission of the Comforter. The waters were abated. The "Grace and Truth took possession of man's world, cursed by sin, redeemed by grace. - R.







Noah opened the window of the ark.
We observe:

I. THAT NOAH DID NOT EXHIBIT AN IMPETUOUS HASTE TO GET OUT OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH GOD HAD PLACED HIM.

1. We see that God does sometimes place men in unwelcome positions.

2. That when God does place men in unwelcome positions, it is that their own moral welfare may be enhanced.

3. That when men are placed in unwelcome positions they should not remove from them without a Divine intimation.

II. THAT NOAH WAS THOUGHTFUL AND JUDICIOUS IN ENDEAVOURING TO ASCERTAIN THE WILL OF GOD IN REFERENCE TO HIS POSITION IN ITS RELATION TO THE CHANGING CONDITION OF THINGS.

1. Noah felt that the time was advancing for a change in his position, and that it would be necessitated by the new facts of life.

2. Noah recognized the fact that the change in his position should be preceded by devout thought and precaution.

III. THAT NOAH EMPLOYED VARIED AND CONTINUOUS METHODS OF ASCERTAINING THE FACTS OF HIS POSITION AND HIS DUTY IN RELATION THERETO.

1. These methods were varied.

2. Continuous.

3. Appropriate.

IV. THAT NOAH YIELDED A PATIENT OBEDIENCE TO THE TEST OF CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH HE HAD EMPLOYED.

V. THAT INDICATIONS OF DUTY ARE ALWAYS GIVEN TO THOSE WHO SEEK THEM DEVOUTLY. The dove returned to Noah with the olive leaf. Men who seek prayerfully to know their duty in the events of life, will surely have given to them the plain indications of Providence. Lessons: —

1. That men should not trust their own reason alone to guide them in the events of life.

2. That men who wish to know the right path of life should employ the best talents God has given them.

3. That honest souls are divinely led.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

1. God in wisdom sometimes lengthens trials to the proof of the faith and patience of His saints.

2. Believing saints though God appear not, will stay contentedly forty days, that is, the time fit for His salvation.

3. Lawful means believers may use for their comfort, when there is no immediate appearance of God. Noah opens the window which God forbids not (ver. 6).

4. Visible experiments of the ceasing of God's wrath may be desired and used by His people where the Lord sets no bars.

5. Unclean, or the worst of creatures, may be of use sometimes to comfort the Church. As the ravens fed Elijah.

6. Instinct of creatures from God teach His people of His providences to them. (ver. 7).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

I. MESSENGERS SELECTED. After long floating, during which time Noah would know little of what was passing in the outer world, save that he heard the rain and tempest, the ark grounded. Doubtless he would often look forth on the waste of waters. The rapid evaporation, etc., would very much intercept a distant view. Fogs and mists, etc. Hence to know the state of things beyond the reach of his vision he would send forth messengers. Birds. Birds of swift and strong wing, and clear vision. Land birds. Aquatic birds would not have returned. Birds that may be domesticated and having local attachments. Hence they would return to the ark.

II. MESSENGERS SENT FORTH.

III. MESSENGERS RETURNING. Though Noah might not follow their far flight, they could see the huge ark, to which also their unerring instinct — perhaps supernaturally — would guide them. The joy of Noah on looking once more upon a branch of olive. One of the most beautiful and useful of trees also. Learn —

1. Gratitude for that reason which adapts means to ends.

2. God's creatures thus employed in the service of man.

3. The ark a type of Christ; and the dove and olive branch, of the soul hastening with peaceful feelings and first fruits to Jesus.

(J. C. Gray.)

Noah sent out the raven first, probably because it had been the most companionable bird and seemed the wisest, preferable to "the silly dove"; but it never came back with God's message. And so has one often found that an inquiry into God's will, the examination, for example, of some portion of Scripture, undertaken with a prospect of success and with good human helps, has failed, and has failed in this peculiar raven like way; the inquiry has settled down on some worthless point, on some rotting carcase, on some subject of passing interest or worldly learning, and brings back no message of God to us. On the other hand, the continued use, Sabbath after Sabbath, of God's appointed means, and the patient waiting for some message of God to come to us through what seems a most unlikely messenger, will often be rewarded. It may be but a single leaf plucked off that we get, but enough to convince us that God has been mindful of our need, and is preparing for us a habitable, world. Many a man is like the raven, feeding himself on the destruction of others, satisfied with knowing how God has dealt with others. He thinks he has done his part when he has found out who has been sinning and what been the result. But the dove will not settle on any such resting place, and is dissatisfied until for herself she can pluck off some token that God's anger is turned away and that now there is peace on earth. And if only you wait God's time and renew your endeavours to find such tokens, some assurance will be given you, some green and growing thing, some living part, however small, of the new creation which will certify you of your hope.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

A sailing vessel was driven before the hurricane — a white bird suddenly descended on the mast: the hearts of the crew were cheered; hope dawned...Such consolation may be always mine! One bright, holy, faithful thought is my dove upon the mast. However sadly I toss over the waves of this troublesome, weary world, that gentle bird of paradise revives and strengthens me. It tells me that the storm will soon be over and gone, and the green land, with the singing of birds, is come.

(Wilmott.)

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