January 4 – Ravens, Doves, And Rainbows

When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth. (Genesis 9:16)

Read: Genesis 8:1-10:32, Matthew 4:12-25, Psalm 4:1-8, Proverbs 1:20-23

Relate: Let’s start out with a pop quiz.
Question: Who was the greatest financial planner in the Bible?
Answer: Noah. He was able to float his stock when the entire world was liquidated.

Now to the real devotional… In reading the story of Noah’s ark, did you ever wonder how that raven was able to manage? Think about it, the story would seem to make more sense if Noah first released a hawk or an eagle. I can picture an eagle soaring on the thermals for days at a time waiting for land to appear. Ravens don’t fly like that. I can picture a raven flying around for hours, but days? Noah didn’t get out of that boat for nine weeks after first releasing the raven and the dove. Neither bird is built for long term soaring and the dove returned but where was that raven for all that time?

Ravens were created to be carrion eaters. How many dead animals or people would have been floating around on the surface of the waters? It makes a much uglier picture, but I can easily picture a raven hopping from one floating dead body to another for days on end. It would be able to manage just fine. It brings back to the foreground a part of this story we would rather forget. Death, and that death a result of a global sin epidemic.

Sin and evil and wickedness had become so prevalent on the earth that everything was liquidated. It isn’t a pretty picture. It certainly was not the cute little picture painted on the walls of church nurseries everywhere. It was so ugly that Noah, consistently called one of the most righteous men in history, tried to cope by getting himself passed out drunk as quickly as possible.

React: God gave Noah a rainbow as a sign of the covenant He was making with the world. Never again would the world be destroyed in its entirety by a flood. He didn’t say the world would never again deserve such a judgment. He simply said His grace would triumph over His justice. Our sin is still catastrophic but rather than allowing the world to bear the brunt of God’s justice, He bore it Himself. How serious is my sin? It resulted in the death of God. To maintain His justice yet continue true to His covenant, God had to find another way. I am so glad He did. So when I see a rainbow today, wherever it might be waved, it reminds me of both the seriousness of all sin and also the amazing grace of our God.

Respond: 

Dear God,
Help me to understand with an ever deeper reality both the seriousness of my sin and the greatness of Your grace. It is easy for me to point self righteously at the sins of others even as I do my best to sweep my own under the rug or lock it up in the closet. For my lies and my pride and my apathy, God forgive me. For my gluttony and jealousy and my gossip, let Your grace wash over me. For my lust and impatience and for all those things I have not done which You called me to do, God I am so sorry. I deserve the flood of Your wrath but Your cross has given me the rainbow of Your grace instead. For that, I can never tell You how grateful I am.
Amen

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15 thoughts on “January 4 – Ravens, Doves, And Rainbows

  1. Such a good read. You brought to light the depth of Noah’s story which is often overlooked because of our innocent and childlike view of it. This story is truly a reminder of grace. Thanks for sharing your heart!

  2. Thanks for the reminder of the ugliness of death in a story we can so easily feel cuddly about. Thinking in terms of that raven, feasting on the extreme death, paints an amazing picture of what we deserve and the unlimited grace of God. Great food for thought,

  3. I was reading in Genesis yesterday and wondered about the raven. Even though I have read this many times over the raven caught my eye this time. The fact that it was gone for so long. Thank you for your insight on this. God’s amazing grace is shown so powerfully through this account of Noah and the rainbow.

  4. “Rather than allowing the world to bear the brunt of God’s justice, He bore it Himself.”

    This is a revelatory statement for skeptics who complain that God is not removing enough of the world’s suffering. The flood was what we deserved. Anything we experience is hard, but not up to that level. Thanks for the perspective!

    • I agree. Just read over that raven every time. Thanks, Beejai, for enlightening us! Great writing. You make me want to just pause and pray; to reflect rather than skip right over the prayer and move on. God bless you and your ministry.

  5. Regarding the raven, it seems like he or she is the forgotten bird or symbol in the Noah story – I’d certainly forgotten! The old bible stories are the best.

  6. Hadn’t considered that regarding the raven before. Was going to do a comic story about it to point out that the dove wasn’t the first out the door. Is the best thing about conversing with other Christians: seeing things from another perspective I hadn’t thought of before.

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