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Christian Doves

There are numerous varieties of doves in the world (the photograph shows 3 domestic ringneck doves that the author has as pets; the name comes from the "ring" marking on the back of their necks). Doves have a long history in the Holy Scriptures, the earliest and one of the best-known references being found at the time of The 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.

Ringneck Doves

"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.

This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. 12:8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, 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 12:6-9 KJV)

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.

2:22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 2:23 As it is written in the law of the Lord [see also What Law Was 'Nailed To The Cross'?], Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord; 2:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." (Luke 2:21-24 KJV)

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?

3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw The Spirit Of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:13-17 KJV)

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.

10:11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. 10:12 And when ye come into an house, salute it [see Salutations]. 10:13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. 10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. 10:15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom [see Sodomites] and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep [see The Shepherd's Voice] in the midst of wolves [see The Warning About 'Grievous Wolves']: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 10:18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 10:20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you [see Spiritual Conception]." (Matthew 10:7-20 KJV)

Fact Finder: While surrounded by enemies, did King David (see also The Civil War and The United Kingdom) pray that he could be like a dove and "fly away, and be at rest" (KJV)?
Psalm 55:6

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