Christian DovesThe Flood (see also How Big Was Noah's Ark?): "8:8 Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; 8:9 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. 8:10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; 8:11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. 8:12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more" (Genesis 8:8-12 KJV).
"And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him"
Doves are classified as clean birds (see Clean and Unclean). Doves and pigeons were the only birds used in The Lord's various prescribed sacrifices, such as this example after the birth of a child.
"12:6 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering [see Burnt Offerings], and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: 12:7 Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood.
After the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary brought a "pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" to the Temple, according to the sacrificial law quoted above.
"2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
The only recorded incident of Christ's human lifetime when He used force was when he drove "the moneychangers and the seats of them that sold doves" out of the Temple. While it was still then required to make the sacrifices of doves, the people were to obtain them before they entered the Temple area so that no buying or selling (and apparent dishonest dealing, since Christ called them "thieves") was done in the Holy area.
"21:12 And Jesus went into the temple of God [see Temples], and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 21:13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." (Matthew 21:12-13 KJV)
The baptism (see Baptism and The Origin of Baptism) of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist (see John's Last Days) is one of the most well-known symbolic references to a dove. It was a very obvious demonstration of how highly God thinks of doves - "the Spirit of God descending like a dove."
"3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan [see The Jordan River] unto John, to be baptized of him. 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
Some have interpretted the verse above that The Holy Spirit descended lightly or perhaps with some sort of dove-like sound, but Luke records the same event by saying that The Holy Spirit "descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him."
"3:22 And the Holy Ghost [see Ghost and Spirit: What's The Difference?] descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." (Luke 3:22 KJV)
Doves are peaceful and harmless birds (unless you are bothered by their beautiful cooing songs at night and in the early morning) - but not "wise" like other more "carnal" birds, such as crows and Ravens. When Christ sent His servants out in the world of "wolves," He warned them to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
"10:7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand [see The Gospel of The Kingdom of God]. 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead [see Resurrections], cast out Devils: freely ye have received, freely give. 10:9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, 10:10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.