Let’s start by reading Genesis 6:11-14, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark…”  In Genesis 6:14-7:3, the Lord gave Noah specific instructions and dimensions to build the ark that would serve to save him and his family from the flood that He was about to send upon the earth.  As you can see from the portion, the Lord also took steps to preserve the animal life that was on the earth.

We then read in Genesis 7:11-12, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.”  In the scriptures, numbers are very important.  The fact that it rained for forty days and nights is significant.  In looking at other events that involved forty (the Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years, the Lord Jesus was in the desert for forty days…), we can see that the number forty represents a trial.  Certainly Noah and his family were tried greatly by the tremendous burden of building the ark, and then enduring so much time in the ark, beginning with the flood.  Although the flood lasted forty days and night, Genesis 7:24 tells us, “And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.”  So, it took 150 days (5 months) before the flood waters subsided enough to see any land.

Genesis 8:4-6 tell us that it was another three months before the ark landed on Mt. Ararat.  Moses waited another 40 days before opening the window to the ark and looked to see if they could possibly leave the ark yet.  Let’s read Genesis 8:6-9, “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; But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.”  Noah sent out two different birds, a raven and a dove, to see if there was enough vegetation exposed that would support them.  In verses 8-12, we learn that after 7 days, Noah send the dove out again and it returned with an olive branch in its mouth, “so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.”  After 7 more days, Noah sent the dove out again, and it did not return.

Let’s go back and read verse 7 from Young’s Literal Translation, which may make it a little easier to understand.  That says, “and he sendeth forth the raven, and it goeth out, going out and turning back till the drying of the waters from off the earth.”  It appears that the raven returned to the ark after searching for food and finding none.  It is most likely that the raven did not enter again into the ark, but each day would leave its perched position and search for food.

Why two birds?  The raven is a scavenger.  It will eat not only healthy food, but will feast on the carcasses of dead animals or people.  It appears that it took several days for the raven to find enough food (carcasses) to live on, and when it did, it did not return.  The dove is a clean animal and would not eat the rotting flesh of an animal.  It was only when there was enough fresh vegetation found to support it that it did not return.  What do we learn from this?  It’s been said that the raven and the dove stand for the believer’s two natures: the “old man” satisfied with a world under judgment; the “new man” finding satisfaction only in the things of the new creation.  With that in mind, let’s consider the direction we get from Ephesians 4:24, “…put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”  As believers on the Lord Jesus Christ we have a ‘new man’, we are a ‘new creation’.  Let’s be careful that we ‘put on’ this new man and walk in righteousness and holiness.  Let’s not even try to be satisfied with the things pertaining to the ‘old man’, but may we strive to live according to this new man, seeking to serve and please our blessed savior.  (193.2)