On Dove’s and Ravens

In Genesis after the flood Noah sent out a raven and a dove. Their behaviour is illustrative of spiritual truth. Ever wonder why the dove returned and the raven did not?

6  So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. 7  Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. 8  He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. 9  But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself. Genesis 8:6-9 (NKJV)

The context of the above passage is after many months in the Ark the waters began to recede and mountaintops could be seen. This is when Noah sent out the raven and the dove. If the raven could find a place to rest why couldn’t the dove find a ‘resting place for the soul of her foot?’ The simple answer is that ravens eat carrion and there would have been plenty of dead carcasses still floating around. The dead carcasses in spiritual terms speak of our flesh. The Holy Spirit will not rest upon and bless our flesh. We may protest that Acts 2 tells us otherwise. I will come to that.

  1. σρξ sarx noun

Flesh, human, mortal nature, physical life.

Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Sigma-Omega.

The Greek word sarx is used in the New Testament to refer to both our physical body and natural sinful propensities. Paul created this latter usage in his writing with numerous phrases such as the ones below.

4  that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:4 (NKJV) 16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

Here Paul extrapolates from the use of the term to refer to our physical body to have it refer to our natural sinful tendencies that are at odds with the desires of the Holy Spirit. Thus we can have Paul using the term the way he does above, with Luke writing in Acts and quoting Peter using it to refer to our natural physical body.

17  ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. Acts 2:17 (NKJV)

A very interesting side note here is that most people associate this outpouring of the Spirit upon humanity as tied to the release of spiritual gifts. Yet Peter was not making that connection – he was connecting the release of spiritual gifts with conversion! This may seem like a small point but it is crucial. We tend to see the release or development of spiritual gifts as a post conversion experience. Peter quoted Joel to explain what had happened to the 120 when the Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost and birthed the church. Peter then explicitly connected the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to conversion.

38  Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39  For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39 (NKJV)

So back to our dove. The dove represents the Holy Spirit here in Genesis and at Jesus baptism (please note that the dove is only one of a number of representations of the Holy Spirit). The dove will not rest upon carrion, If we want the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives He will come and impart new life, we will be born again and receive Jesus nature in our spirit. Yet the Holy Spirit will never be comfortable with our flesh, our sinful propensities. He is the third member of the Godhead and while He may release gifts through us He will not find a resting place for the sole of His feet as long as we choose carrion over Him. We may have moments of His presence but He desires a resting place.

I remember once hearing a story from a missionary. He and his wife were on the mission field and a dove kept coming to sit on their balcony. At the time they were going through some marital struggles and noticed that every time they argued the dove left. They liked the dove and concluded that the dove represented the Holy Spirit being with them. They also concluded that since the dove was not going to change if they wanted the dove’s presence they needed to change their behaviour, they did. Let Isaiah express Yahweh’s heart in this manner.

1  Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? 2  For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the LORD. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word. Isaiah 66:1-2 (NKJV)

Do we want to be His resting place?

PS – your comments on this or any other post are welcome. I think that creates a dialogue that helps us grow in Him and that is my goal in what I write.

What’s in the Mirror?

Ever have the experience of suddenly seeing a scripture in a new light? Like driving down a familiar street and seeing something and saying to yourself or someone else, “Is that new?” and discovering that in fact it has been there all the time. I had one of those experiences recently. I have taught on 2 Corinthians 3:18 many times and have read it numerous more times and quoted it to myself out loud and in my head many more times. If it sounds like I think this verse is important – the answer is yes. So there I was recently on vacation and I find my thinking often shifts when I allow myself to relax (how do I live like that every day?) and I saw this verse in a new way.

So what did I see? Glad you were wondering! Look at the verse below.

18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

Anything particularly remarkable in it? On the surface there isn’t. Yet we all know that if we look in a mirror we see ourselves. Yet this verse suggests that I can look in a mirror and see Jesus. How does this work?

23  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:23-25 (NKJV)

James, Jesus half-brother, said that if we want to see something different in the mirror we need to be intentional in our looking. This is an important point as mirrors in Paul’s time were made of polished metal, thus they did not provide a really clear reflection and you needed to look carefully in them. That is why Paul referred to seeing in a mirror ‘dimly’ (1 Cor. 13:12). So while we can behold Him the reflection is not clear but we can see Him in us. We can also know that as we choose to gaze at Him both in the word and in just sitting before Him that the Holy Spirit is changing us ‘from glory to glory.’

So let’s look at Him and remember what Paul said,

27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Colossians 1:27-28 (NKJV)

Paul believed that as we focused on Him we grew up in Him. I can focus on Him in a mirror because He is in me. It is also evident that what we focus on grows in our lives, whether good or bad, because we are sowing into the place and point of our focus. So let us look in the mirror and simultaneously gaze upon Jesus and see Him in us. We can do what David described.

5 They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. Psalm 34:5 (NKJV)

As a closing thought here is a song a good friend sent me that speaks to this post.

I’ve Seen I Am by Jonathan David Helser, the link is below.


What is Required?

Micah 6:8 has been said to be a summary of the ethical requirement of the entire law and prophets, that is, the Old Testament.

8  He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

Micah tells us that we have already been shown in the Old Testament what need to know to live a godly life. In the New Testament John reinforces this concept.

16  And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18  No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. John 1:16-18 (NKJV)

So we have what we need to know and know what we need to do. We are to act justly, be merciful and walk in humility. We may wonder what that looks like in practice. For example, one person may say allowing abortion is bringing justice and mercy to the mother who does not want an unborn child, though they would likely use the term ‘fetus’ because it is less personal and sounds more like tissue than a person. However, how is this just for the unborn child? It clearly isn’t. It is an act of unsanctified mercy, a term I will explore further later as it is very prevalent in our culture. First, seeing that living out Micah 6:8 requires a bit more examination let’s look at the key words – shown, justly, mercy, humbly.

The word shown in Hebrew is below.

  1. ‏ָנגַד‎ nāghadh, verb, to announce, to tell, to report, to explain

The primary meaning of this verb, attested principally in the Hiphil stem, is “to inform.” It can simply refer to disseminating previously unknown information (e.g., Ruth 3:16), or it can have the more emphatic nuance of “to announce” (e.g., Isa. 41:22) or “to proclaim” (42:12). An extension of this nuance is “to praise,” found in a number of Psalms (e.g., 30:9) and in Isaiah (48:20). Indeed, the heavens nonverbally proclaim the glory of Yahweh (Ps. 19:1). The participle can denote a herald (2 Sam 15:13). It can have the nuance of “to answer” questions (2 Chr. 9:2).

Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Nun-Ayin.

Some bibles translate this Hebrew word as shown in Micah 6:8 and some as told. The meaning in context is that what Yahweh requires is plain for all who want to know (see the first 3 chapters of Romans where Paul lays out all that has been shown particularly 1:18-20).

18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19  because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, Romans 1:18-20 (NKJV)

The meaning of justly is as follows.

  1. ‏מִשְׁפָּט‎ mishpāt noun, judgment, justice, ordinance

God’s kind of decisions are always just (Gen. 18:19, 25). Therefore, mishpāt involves dispensing justice and was a strong part of the prophets’ messages as they called the backslidden covenant people, and especially their leaders, back to his ways (Isa. 1:21; Amos 5:24; Mic. 3:1, 8; 6:8). It is a description of good government. Ultimately, the coming Servant of the Lord was to establish it in the earth (Isa. 42:3f). When God’s decisions, which reveal his character and deal with sin, are in the world, people learn righteousness (Isa. 26:9). Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Kaph-Mem.

In essence doing justly is walking according to Yahweh’s character, which is revealed in His laws and ordinances. However, rigidly following the law can make us into Pharisees. The term means ‘separated ones’ and the focus of the Pharisees was on what they were separated from. They sought to live pure and holy lives by focusing on what they weren’t rather than on who Yahweh called them to be. It is enlightening to see the change Paul highlighted in himself in Romans.

1  Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God Romans 1:1 (NKJV)


When Paul was converted from a Pharisee to a believer in Yeshua he shifted his focus from what he was separated from to who he was separated to! As Christians we can functionally be Pharisees if our focus is still on all the things we don’t do as believers rather than a focus on our relationship with Jesus.

Our next word from Micah is mercy.

  1. ‏חֶסֶד‎ chesedh noun, grace, steadfast love

One of the most important words in the Hebrew Bible is chesedh, meaning “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty” or “steadfast love.” When chesedh is used to describe an attribute of God, it becomes a key theological term for understanding the nature of God as presented in the OT, especially in relation to being faithful to covenants and true to his word. Chesedh is used by a wide variety of OT authors, occurring in twenty-eight of the thirty-nine OT Books. It occurs most frequently in the Psalms (127 times).

The fourth, and most important way that chesedh is used in the Hebrew Bible is in the theological context of describing a characteristic of God himself. In this area, chesedh is one of the most important theological terms in all of Scripture, giving an insight into the very essence of God. In the midst of tragedy, Lam. 3:22 proclaims that the chesedh of the Lord never ceases, that the Lord’s mercy is unending. The sense of chesedh here is of the inexhaustible quality of God’s “covenant fidelity” to his people.

Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Heth-Yodh.

In essence when Micah exhorts us to love mercy he is telling us we are to function like Yahweh. In the record of the Old Testament we can see numerous examples of His mercy to individuals and to Israel as a nation when He continually sent them prophets to warn them to change their ways and delayed judgment to give them time to repent. We are called to act in such a way toward others that we always seek to bring out the best in them and as part of enacting justice to remember that ‘mercy triumphs over judgment.’

13  For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13 (NKJV)


Justice and mercy are best walked out in humility.

7076. ‏צָנַע‎ tsānaʿ Verb to act humbly


Mic. 6:8 and to walk humbly with thy God?

The verb tsānaʿ occurs only in Mic. 6:8 and means “to act in a humble manner.”

Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Pe-Resh.

What is humility? I think a good scriptural description is in 1 John and Isaiah.

4  You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 (NKJV)

15  For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not, Isaiah 30:15 (NKJV)

John is communicating that our confidence needs to lie not in our abilities but in Christ in us. Isaiah expresses a similar thought. The returning and rest is returning to a place of trust and quiet confidence in His protection and enabling. So, humility is not a lack of confidence, it is a transfer of confidence from our abilities to Yahweh’s, pride is confidence in our ability to do things independent of Him in our own strength. When examining our gifts and abilities Paul encouraged us to do this in a humble manner.

3  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3 (NKJV)

10  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; Romans 12:10 (NKJV)

Lastly, I believe there is significance in the order of Micah 6:8. In the application of justice we need to apply mercy with humility, for example Jesus response to the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Jesus was merciful and a grave injustice there would have been to punish the woman according to the law when those who brought her claimed she had been caught in the ‘act’ but never brought the other guilty party, the man. In our application of mercy we need to be humble, knowing that under the right circumstances that may be us in need of mercy. As Paul said in Galatians 6.

1  Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Galatians 6:1 (NKJV)


So while we are to apply justice in mercy and humility we need to do it according to Yahweh’s standard. I referenced earlier the concept of unsanctified mercy. Let me clarify, our standards are not Jesus standards. We have a tendency in our culture of compromise and ‘tolerance’ to not want to challenge anything. Though as an interesting aside my experience has been in talking with those who promote tolerance that some of them are most intolerant people I have met, they will not tolerate me disagreeing with them. Our culture will not survive if we tolerate everything and we need to apply a standard in the administration of justice. However when we tolerate and support what the scriptures clearly say are wrong we are in opposition to Jesus, we are practicing an unsanctified or unholy mercy. We need to apply scriptural standards rather than cultural norms. Many times that requires both great courage and a great deal of prayer to do the right thing.

The other side of this coin is continuing to rightly apply the scriptures. A number of years ago a friend and I were invited to hear a guest speaker. It was a gathering of 30-50 people and the speaker was very serious and focused. In listening I could see that he was misusing the scriptures and was going to use select verses to prove that laughter and humour were ungodly and that we all needed to always be very serious and focused to be godly. At times we do, but that is not all there is to our faith. There was no evidence of joy or love in his talk so I interrupted and asked if I could ask a question. He said no, he would take questions at the end. Given where this was going I responded, “I might not be here at the end.” I wasn’t, there was no point in arguing with him as his mind was made up, wrongly so I am convinced. He at some level had some understanding of the law but was misapplying it and seemed to not grasp mercy or humility.

So let us endeavour to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Jesus, seeking to hear His heart in all situation and circumstances that we may continually re-present Him to a world that needs to know Him.

Meditate on These Things

Paul closes a teaching section with this exhortation.

8  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. 9  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (NKJV)

While this sounds very nice, how do we apply it in practice? Our first task is viewing the passage in context. My own experience, and that of many others, is that at times we try to apply some truth or principle in scripture and end in the place of frustration. If His word is true the often painful conclusion is that there is some problem at our end. So, let’s look at the context.

1  Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. 2  I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3  And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. 4  Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5  Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. 9  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:1-9 (NKJV)

Paul begins this short teaching by telling us to stand fast in Jesus. He then tells us how. Our first task is laid out in verse 2. We need to be in unity with those we fellowship with. There is no guarantee we will ever be fully in unity on all matters but we need to be united in heart in terms of our relationship with Jesus. Paul reminds us that even if we do not agree here, if we know Jesus our names are written in the Book of Life there. Our next step is cultivating a worshiping and thankful heart. A by product of a worshiping and thankful heart is a gentle spirit. When we cultivate a life and habit of thankfulness the fruit of the Spirit is manifest in our lives, one aspect of which is gentleness. Why can we be gentle? Because Jesus is there empowering us. Flowing from this Paul tells us to replace anxiety, yes anxiety is not a fruit of the Spirit, with intercession. That is, instead of worrying or praying the problem, focus on His heart. The need for specificity in prayer is highlighted in the Amplified bible.

6  Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. Philippians 4:6 (AMP)

We are to be definite in our prayer life and blend thanksgiving with our prayers. Lastly, we need to walk as Paul walked, in obedience to Jesus and His word. My experience over the years is that often we look for the harvest at the same time as we sow the seed. Any good farmer will tell you that after you sow you need to watch over the crop and water and weed before you receive a harvest. Paul doesn’t spell that out here, though he does elsewhere in Galatians 6.

8  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:8-9 (NKJV)

The key to all of this is biblical meditation. Our hearts and thoughts focused on that which is good, true, right etc. Verse 8 covers all aspects of what we should dwell on in our thinking. This is where the battle lies, training our minds to focus on what is good, true and right. One example of doing this is gently and continually throughout the day drawing our hearts back to verse 5, Jesus is at hand and if we focus on His presence we can experience Him throughout the day whenever we focus on Him. We may not always strongly sense His presence but we can encounter Him when we turn to Him. As further explanation, biblical meditation means to think deeply on or ponder something. We need not breathe or sit in a special way to meditate on truth, though frankly sitting in a relaxed focused state is very helpful in encountering Jesus on a regular basis. As David wrote.

10  Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)

To paraphrase David, we could say, ‘Be still and be intimate with Me.’ Engaging our minds to encounter Jesus is a series of right choices that produce a harvest over time. It is a relationship worth nurturing.