The Raven and the Dove

Ernest J. Parish, Dereham, formerly of Bolivia

Under the same roof, these two birds, one considered by the Scriptures to be un­clean and the other clean, lived in close quarters for a considerable time, for they were both inmates of the ark, according to Genesis 8.

How they endured that long imprison­ment we do not know, but we can well imagine the dove to have been the more contented of the two. At last the day of freedom came, and then with restrictions removed, the characteristics of each were revealed. We can at least glean some inter­esting and important lessons as we medi­tate on this portion of God's Word.

The particular traits of each bird re­mained unaltered, and it would have been impossible to have instilled in the raven the gentle and tender manner of the dove, or to have ever wished the dove to change itself into a raven. This brings to mind the thought that a born-again person has a dual nature, spoken of in the Scriptures as "the old man" and "the new man", Eph. 4. 22-24. The Christian's old raven disposi­tion lives alongside the gentleness and docility of the dove, and it is not surprising that there should be considerable friction between the two. The Bible does not teach the possibility of the complete irradication of sin this side of eternity, but gracious promises are given whereby believers may be overcomers. The Lord in His early min­istry stated a fact of unalterable principle when He said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh ; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit", John 3. 6, and it would be foolish to pretend otherwise. Like the symbolic reference to oil and water, they will not mix, and it is a sign of spiritual mis­understanding when the attempt is made to do so.

It will be war to the end between these two principles, and a constant struggle for supremacy. Paul reminds us of this in Galatians 5. 17, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh". The Word of God does not leave us with a feeling of defeatism however, but reminds us that if we avail ourselves of the provision made for us in our Risen Lord, we can overcome. We shall have to be very ruthless with our raven nature, for it thrives on refuse and needs to be starved. On the other hand the new nature, like the dove, feeds on that which is suitable to its own peaceful development. Then we will be able to experience the blessing of the words of Romans 8. 37 (taken out of their immediate context), "we are more than conquerors through him that loved us".