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Why the Dove?

I was watching our backyard bird feeder from my desk and noticed something very interesting about the Dove. We have a family of small Finches that frequents our bird feeder and bird bath. When the larger birds such as Cardinals, Blue Jays, and others come around the finches fly away. However, there is a Dove that comes to feed consistently and the finches stay, and even begin to gather around her.

Recently, I noticed the Dove was on the ground searching to find bits of bird seed that dropped to the ground from the feeder. When I looked again I saw that all around her were about 8 finches also on the ground. They flocked around the dove, for they knew they were safe. Some of those were little baby birds still learning to eat. The mama and daddy birds would feed their little ones with seed when they flapped their wings, teaching them how to feed themselves. The gentle Dove continued to slowly walk around, gather food from the ground, and not disturb others. She was in harmony with those she was close to.

This lasted quite a while and at no time were the small finches or their babies alarmed by the Dove’s presence, but it seemed to calm them. In John 3:22: “And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.’”

I often wonder why God detailed in the Bible that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove. We can learn a lot from God’s intention toward us from watching doves and studying their habits and attitudes. Doves mate for life, they are very gentle, you don’t see them fighting with other birds, they share food with others, they let other birds come near them when sitting on a fence or a wire, they do not easily fly off if you find them on their nest, and they take so much care to raise their young.

If the Lord had compared the Holy Spirit that descended upon Jesus like a hawk, buzzard, or wood pecker, then we would have cause for concern in how the Holy Spirit deals with us – in how he brings conviction, joy, peace, and works in us to will and do according to His good pleasure. But the Holy Spirit descended as a dove. Let that sink in as you meditate on God’s goodness, His details in our lives, and how He woos us to approach Him and walk with Him throughout our lives. Study the Holy Spirit throughout scripture and consider the dove to gain a fuller understanding of God’s ways toward us.

John 3: 1-22

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:”Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low;The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”

Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”

And with many other exhortations he preached to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison. When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”