INTRODUCTION: NOAH LEGENDS
Interestingly, many modern scientists try to discredit the idea of there being a global flood as a result of God’s judgment. But every single culture and every single continent has a flood story, about one family being rescued from the flood by building a large boat.
And of those 35 flood stories they examined ALL of them talk of humans being spared in the flood. 32 of them include a boat. 24 include an account of animals being spared.
At least 6 of them include references to a dove. Two of those included references to a raven (one to a hawk).
So you see, a long, long time ago, God did in fact save Noah’s family by instructing him to build the ark. When we get to our text for today, we see the raining that caused the flooding on the earth is finally done, and God remembers Noah and his family.
Genesis 8:1-4 (NLT) 8 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede. 2 The underground waters stopped flowing, and the torrential rains from the sky were stopped. 3 So the floodwaters gradually receded from the earth. After 150 days, 4 exactly five months from the time the flood began, the boat came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.
In the previous chapters we see that God called Noah to build a giant craft that was seaworthy because he was going to destroy the entire world in a flood. But what was the point of the flood? God destroyed the world because of a flood because of the wickedness of humanity. Unfortunately, 2, 000 years after the time of Noah, in the time of Jesus, human nature had not changed at all. And Jesus knew that even 2,000 years after him, human nature still would not change. So in the roughly 4,000 years after Noah’s flood, we are still prone to much evil and still need a Savior.
Luke 17:26-27 (NLT) 26 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 27 In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.
The point that Jesus is making and the point that I am making is that in Noah’s time people had no concern for spiritual matters. The question for you all today is whether or not you are looking for Christ Jesus, the Son of Man, to return. The question is whether you will enter the ark that is His Presence, will you listen to his messengers and prophets.
Run to the ark of safety that is Christ Jesus
When Christ was living on the Earth the first time, he was kind, gentle, patient, and went around teaching. But when he returns, he’s coming with a sword! Seek Him now and you will know Him as Savior, seek Him later and you’ll know Him as judge. Now at this point in the story, the waters continue to recede…so Noah conducts a series of tests to see if it’s cool for Him to get off the ark.
Genesis 8:5-8 (NLT) 5 Two and a half months later, as the waters continued to go down, other mountain peaks became visible.6 After another forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the boat 7 and released a raven. The bird flew back and forth until the floodwaters on the earth had dried up. 8 He also released a dove to see if the water had receded and it could find dry ground. Genesis 8:9 (NLT) 9 But the dove could find no place to land because the water still covered the ground. So it returned to the boat, and Noah held out his hand and drew the dove back inside.
This passage tells us that as time went on, the water got lower and lower. So Noah released a raven from the ark. It flew back and forth until the waters went down completely. Then Noah released a dove but the dove could find no place to land so it returned to the boat and Noah brought it back inside.
Has anyone seen this passage and became curious as to why the raven was sent out and why the dove was sent out?
There is some interesting symbolism expressed through the raven and the dove.
The raven is an unclean bird and is considered to be a symbol of evil.
In contrast, the dove is a clean bird and in Scripture is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
Notice the characteristics portrayed of the raven. The Scripture says that the raven went forth “to and fro” and never returned. Who else in Scripture is described as roaming the earth to and fro? None other than Satan himself. Second, the raven is a bird that feeds on the flesh of the dead. If the raven represents vice, and the dove represents virtue, we want to be like the dove.
Be like the dove, not the raven
Don’t be like the raven, who never returned to the ark of safety because he was comfortable in a destroyed world (Romans 12). The Spirit of God is gentle, he won’t force himself on anyone. He won’t force anyone to pray, fast, study the Word. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have power though!
Pastor Mark Patterson in his book, Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God says that the ancient Celtic (Old Irish) Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit? Geadh-Glas, or the Wild Goose. The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him (Isaiah 11:2). And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious, Mark says, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit through life.
So listen…the Spirit of God is gentle like a dove, but he can lead you on a Wild Goose Chase like the ancient Celtics used to say!
The raven in this story I believe represented everything vile and ugly that would point you away from God. I am reminded of this passage of scripture:
Galatians 5:19-23New Living Translation (NLT)
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
There is much more to the story of Noah than just a whole bunch of water and a big boat…and when you pursue the leading of the Dove, the Holy Spirit of God, you will draw people to the Christ they see in you. So the story of Noah is a story about Jesus and Jesus is still influential today, so his prophet Noah is still relevant for today’s time, people still want to talk about him:
Genesis 8:10-12 (NLT) 10 After waiting another seven days, Noah released the dove again. 11 This time the dove returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. Then Noah knew that the floodwaters were almost gone. 12 He waited another seven days and then released the dove again. This time it did not come back.
After a seven day period, Noah released the dove again and it had an olive branch in its mouth.
When the dove came back a second time, it had an olive tree leaf in it’s beak.
Christianity and Judaism both agree that the olive tree symbolizes peace.
The national emblem of the State of Israel is olive leaves cradled around a menorah.
The symbol for the Israel Defense Forces is a sword wrapped by an olive branch. The meaning being-“we seek peace but we are prepared to defend against our enemies”.
So this is what I personally believe…I am not saying this is from the Holy Spirit, but I just believe this. I believe that the first time Noah sent out the dove represented how the Holy Spirit operated in the Old Testament before Moses, before the Law. The physical decay of the world after the flood represented the spiritual decay of man. Secondly, I believe that the olive branch represented the formation of the nation of Israel, and all of the prophets prophesying the coming of the Messiah, how he would be both the root and offspring of David. And finally, I believe that the third time Noah let the dove out, and it did not return, I believe it represented our time now. The Earth was clean enough for the dove to find a place to permanently live, and permanently nest. The Blood of Christ permanently purifies His people, allowing the Spirit of God to permanently live in us. So now that the Presence of God is in us, we don’t have to be afraid.
We don’t have to be afraid of any floodwaters because of Christ
This time the dove is here to say and the Holy Spirit gives us everything we need to live lives pleasing to God.
So Noah’s family got off the boat. But he and his family continued to be sinful human beings who needed a Savior. Noah preached to the world about the righteousness of God, and we too cannot sugar coat our message:
2 Peter 2:5New Living Translation (NLT)
5 And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood.
But while we are remembering that we need to tell people of God’s judgment, we need to tell them of the hope that Christ provides. He has given us the story of Noah to remind us, and turn us to Him, to cause us to repent.
2 Peter 3:5-9 (NLT)
5 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. 6 Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. 7 And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.
8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
The Lord is calling all to repentance, and our message should be the same. This truth is that this entire world is in fact, dead, and its values and the things it finds important, are in fact drowned. Yet there is one Ark of Safety, that is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.