To be like a dove is an analogy that most of us can connect to. Our first introduction to the dove is in Genesis 8 and in connection with the life of Noah. Noah had already built the ark to shelter his family and a cross-section of every species of animal on earth, both clean and unclean. At the command of God, the rains fell and the fountains of the deep opened up, flooding the Earth until every living thing that breathed died.
As the waters began to recede, Noah first sent out the raven and then the dove to help him determine the conditions of the flooding and the land. The raven flew back and forth over the water but disappeared. The dove, however, could not find a place to rest its feet and so returned to the ark (Gen. 8:9). A week later, it was sent out again. This time it returned to the ark with an olive branch, signaling that land was near, which meant that rest was near. On it’s third trek out, the dove didn’t return. The dove had found it’s resting place, and soon the ark would too.
In the “serpents and doves” passage in Matthew 10, Jesus instructs His disciples about what to do with their peace. We often equate the dove as a symbol of peace, making this instruction significant. “When you come into a house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you” (Matt. 10:12-13). Just like Noah sent out the dove to determine the conditions, the disciples could likewise send out their peace to determine the conditions. If their peace found a place to land, then they were supposed to be in that place. If it didn’t, they were to move on.
Where is the peace of God leading you (Col. 3:15)? Has the dove found a place to rest? We’ve all been given the general command to “Go and make disciples of all nations,” but it’s the peace of God that directs our hearts as to exactly where in the nations we are to rest our feet and bring the gospel of peace. His peace might lead you into the most chaotic situation, yet it’s His peace that makes the choice for you and not external circumstances.
Finally, Jesus tells His disciples that to be like the dove, they were also to be harmless. The word harmless in the Vines dictionary means to be unmixed, pure, guileless and discerning of what is evil. For the disciples, this meant they were to keep their actions and motives pure. These guys were walking in miracles, which attracts attention (human and demonic) and “options.” Therefore, they were not to be led by fame, money or power. They were to discern well, even their own hearts, and to be led by His peace.
The Dove of all doves is the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit took the form of a dove and descended upon Him (Matt. 3:16). Remember, the Holy Spirit is not a Dove, or the clouds, or anything like that. He took the form of a Dove. He (The Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove) had found His resting place! Soon after, this same Dove drove Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by Satan.
This same Dove led Jesus to the cross and this same Dove resurrected Jesus from the dead. This tells us clearly that peace is not passive. When wolves come to devour, it’s the dove that rises up. It’s the dove that rises up in the face of injustice and unrighteousness. It’s the dove that rises up to create peace so that your family, church, and nation can enter His rest.
It’s time to “Rise up, dove.” –Jesus