Summary: Why does Genesis tell us about Noah sending out a Raven and a Dove to see if the waters had receded from the face of the earth? Why bother? They're just a couple of insignificant birds... or are they?
OPEN: An old Aztec legend tells of a man named Tapi who was a very pious man. The legend says that the creator told Tapi to build a boat that he would live in. He was told that he should take his wife, a pair of every animal that was alive into this boat. Naturally everyone thought he was crazy.
But then the rain started and the flood came.
Men and animals tried to climb the mountains but the mountains became flooded as well.
Finally the rain ended. And Tapi decided that the water had dried up when he let a DOVE loose that did not return. (http://creationwiki.org/Flood_legends)
ILLUS:In China there’s an ancient temple, and on one wall there’s a painting shows boat owned by a man named Fuhi (the Chinese version of Noah) out upon raging waters.
Dolphins are swimming around the boat and a DOVE with an olive branch in its beak is flying toward it.
ILLUS: In an ancient Babylonian Epic the hero Gilgamesh gives his story about a flood:
“When the seventh day dawned I loosed a DOVE and let her go. She flew away, but finding no resting-place she returned. Then I loosed a swallow, and she flew away but finding no resting-place she returned. I loosed a RAVEN, she saw that the waters had retreated, she ate, she flew around, she cawed, and she did not come back. Then I threw everything open to the four winds, I made a sacrifice and poured out a libation on the mountain top.
One website I visited examined different flood stories from such diverse nations as
· East Africa
· Cuba (original natives)
· Egypt (Book of the Dead)
· New Zealand
· Russia- Vogul
· Vietnam- Bahnar
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).
Whenever archeologists encounter such similar stories like these from so many diverse peoples they tend to believe SOMETHING happened.
And of course… we know something happened. It was a flood for global proportions that destroyed all of mankind because of their wickedness.
In the midst of the Biblical account of the flood we read an intriguing story for the birds.
Two birds actually: A Raven and a Dove.
In Genesis, the Raven actually plays a fairly minor role in this play because all we’re told about it found in verses 6 and 7:
“After forty days Noah opened the 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.”
Now this isn’t the 40th day of the flood itself. Actually, the ark had been afloat for nearly 8 months now and the waters had begun to recede - so much so that they could see the tops of the mountains around them.
Noah released the raven 40 days after these mountaintops had appeared. And the bird never came back INTO the ark itself… it just kept flying around. Maybe it rested on the ark itself, maybe on the mountaintops in the distance.
But the raven never returned to the safety of the ark again.
Now the Dove gets a little more press.
It’s sent out from the ark 3 different times.
1. The first time, the bird finds no place to rest its feet … and so it returns to Noah and Ark.
2. The 2nd time, the dove returns with an olive branch in its beak (indicating something is growing).
3. And the 3rd time – it flies away and doesn’t return at all.
Now, the question that came into my mind as I read this story was this:
· Why are we even being told about these birds?
· Why waste the ink?
· Why would God care?
Now I begin every study of Scripture with one basic concept.
II Timothy 3:16-17 tells us
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
ALL Scripture – not just the parts I like. Not just the parts I agree with. Not just the parts that “speak to me.” ALL Scripture… including this story. Thus, if God put these two birds in the story it would seem that there would be a reason
So, allow me – this morning – to give you my understanding of the message from the birds.