Two Birds In One Ark

Noah Mosaic in Basilica di San Marco, Venice

“And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;” (Genesis 8:6-8)

After the rains had stopped, Noah sent two birds out of the Ark in order to see how much of the flood waters remained on the face of the Earth. He sent a raven and a dove. The response to what they found is very different between the two.

We are told that the raven went to and fro until the waters were abated (Genesis 8:7). But the dove, we see, returned to the Ark – finding no rest for the sole of her foot (v. 9). How is it that one was able to find rest and comfort in a world under judgment while the other could find no peace away from the Ark?

“Of all clean birds ye shall eat. But these are they which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage…and every raven after its kind.” (Deuteronomy 14:11,12,14 emphasis added)

“And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two [turtledoves], or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” (Leviticus 12:8)

The raven is an unclean bird while the dove is a clean bird. The raven is a scavenger who feeds off of anything it finds while the dove is more selective in its diet. The raven went out into a world filled with the dead and rotting flesh which had perished in the Flood and made a feast of what it found. The dove, however, could find no solace or comfort in a world under judgment. The raven was pleased to stay as far away from the Ark as she could, feeding on the things of this world; the dove rejected the dead things of this world and could only find joy in the safety of the Ark.

The reality is that the two birds are not an illustration of the unbeliever compared with the believer. Both birds were in the Ark which, as we considered before, is a picture of Christ. No, the two birds symbolize the believer’s old nature and the new – which both dwell within us. When we came to Christ, we received a new nature that can only find peace and joy in the things of God: the “dove”, if you please. But we still have the old “raven” nature dwelling within us even though we live now in the safety of the “Ark.”

We retain within us the old nature even after we come to faith in Christ, a nature that desires to continue to feast on the dead things of this world and “eat” anything that it can find. It is contented to gorge itself on dead and rotting things of the flesh. But now we have the ability to walk after the Spirit of God, and we are instructed to do so (Galatians 5:16). We have a “dove” nature that seeks to follow the Dove that is the Holy Spirit and can find no rest for the sole of its foot apart from Him. As did the dove which Noah sent forth, our “dove” nature beholds a world full of death and judgment and finds nothing to be desired in it. This nature can only find a place of rest and comfort within the “Ark” that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,


[This post was originally published October 28, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]


7 responses

  1. Hello Loren I really enjoy your writing you seem to make your words sing!!!! So much life ,heartfelt work in your writing,I did also enjoy this very much.
    Have a blessed night
    Love ya


  2. Thanks, Pat. I thank God for you, you always have a way of encouraging me just when I need it :)


  3. I too am enjoying this teaching on Noah and the Ark. I like to copy it over to my Palm Pilot to read it in bed. Good way to end the day.


  4. Thank you so much for reading it and taking the time to share your comments!


  5. I had never thought of it like this. I know that as redeemed people, our old nature still wars with our new nature. This will continue until the day we step out of this world and into eternity in the presence of our Redeemer. Even though we sometimes step out of the safety of the ark (our old nature — the raven), like the dove, we will return to the safety of the ark.

    I very much enjoyed reading this. Thanks!


  6. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and making reading and understanding the Bible so enjoyable.


  7. Thank you for reading this and for your words of encouragement!


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