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The Raven & The Dove

Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on October 21, 1979
     
     “The dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo,
      In her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off. . .”
     Genesis 8:11
     
      THE MESSAGE THAT GOD IS STIRRING IN ME today is going to take God’s Spirit to help us understand and spiritual sight to see. It must catch that side of your mind and heart that reaches a little beyond mere words. Words can only go so far. That is why poetry or art can sometimes reach our hearts with a meaning that has an ineffable quality; you cannot really put it into words. I am a very logical preacher and do not normally deal in mysteries, but we touch a mystery when we touch God. Paul said, “Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face,” and there is nothing in God’s book that the eyes of the Spirit cannot enlighten.
     
      God’s image in us is like a little receiving device, and God’s Spirit is like a transmitter. In theology this is called “prevenient grace.” Prevenient grace enables God’s Spirit to find that receiver in us, which can receive what is being transmitted. You cannot just go out and buy any receiver and expect to be able to receive a signal. There has to be tuning between the transmitter and the receiver, and when those two are tuned to the same frequency, an image can come forth.
     
      God said, “Let us make man in our image.” When God formed a man out of the dust of the earth, the Scripture says He breathed the breath of life into man. He breathed into him a deposit of His own life and man became a living soul. Psalm 104 says, concerning death, that God “takest away their breath.” The Hebrew word is ruach. The same word is used when speaking of the Spirit of God in Genesis 1. It is what God put into man that makes man different from the rest of His creation.
     
      The soul lives eternally and it dwells in a house of flesh and blood, but the nature that comes from the life and breath of God makes man different. And no matter how bad a man is, until God takes him home or until God’s Spirit stops striving with him, he still has that receiver that can be touched by the essence of God’s life, which is the Spirit of God who comes to abide with us.
     
      God anticipated these concepts when He recorded the events of Genesis 6. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” The corruption had reached the point where Lucifer and his agents began to get involved. “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh.”
     
     Man has a two-sided nature. There is a residue of the spiritual receiver with which God’s Spirit can have affinity. But that Spirit will not always strive with man because he is also flesh. So God decreed that “his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” God looked at the warped creation, “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” God saw how warped man was and He grieved over it. “And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.”
     
     Even though God had put His image in man, corruption had taken over. And like a surgeon trying to spare what He could of the creation, He saw that amputation was necessary. He said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” But one man, Noah, “found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”
     
      “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”
     
     Then God told Noah, “Make thee an ark of gopher wood.” The words “gopher” and “gopher wood” come from a root word in the Hebrew that means “to cover.” In essence, God told Noah, “Make thee a covering,” in this case an ark, and “rooms shalt thou make in the ark.” The word in the Hebrew for “rooms” means “nests.” God was going to provide nests for the only ones left who were not corrupted.
     
      God told Noah to make an ark of covering, and He commanded him to “pitch it within and without with pitch.” The word “pitch” is linked, on some occasions, to God’s long-suffering, but it is from a Hebrew word that also means “covering.” So God told Noah to make an ark for a covering, and He also told him to cover it with an additional covering. God said, “And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it,” and He gave Noah the dimensions of the ark. Then Noah was commanded, “A window shalt thou make to the ark,” and here the word “window” means “to shine” as a light.
     
      Now go to Genesis 7:11. “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” Noah and his wife, and his three sons and their wives, went into the ark. Out of all of God’s creation into which He had put His image, only eight people are going to be spared. There is nothing accidental in this record. In Hebrew numerology, eight is the number that symbolizes a new beginning.
     
      The rains came and the fountains of the deep opened. “And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: all in whose nostrils was the breath of life.” The literal Hebrew says, “the breath of the spirit of lives,” which is the part that came from God. “All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth.” God could now withdraw His Spirit from that corrupt flesh, leaving nothing but the flesh to die and the human spirit to depart, bringing the soul into damnation. “And Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.”
     
     Genesis 8:6 says, “And it came to pass at the end of forty days . . .” Again there is nothing accidental in God’s book. The number forty is always the symbol of complete trial or chastisement. “It came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark.” The word used for “window” in this verse comes from a different root word that means “to pierce” or “to bore.” Now that judgment has come, the basis for God to deal with the new creation demands a piercing. We don’t know whether or not it was the same window that was mentioned in Genesis 6, but God is revealing a truth concerning the work of His Son. “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” opens up the way for us to start over.
     
     “Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: and he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.” Notice that we do not hear from that raven again. The raven did not return because he found a place to nest. Keep that in mind and we will return to that raven later. “Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; but the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot.” Underline those words in your Bible.
     
      The dove found no rest, “and she returned unto him into the ark.” The dove could not land, so she went back to Noah. Noah, in this case, typifies the presence of God. The dove returned to Noah in 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. And he stayed yet other seven days.” The number seven is another symbol of completion, but it is not a symbol of complete trial, rather it is a symbol of the completeness of God’s workings.
     
     “And again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; and the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off.” Circle those words in your Bible, because they are explosive in their meaning. “So Noah,” seeing that leaf in the mouth of the dove, “knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. And he stayed yet another seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him anymore.” The dove could now fly off and join in the new creation.
     
      I want God to help us understand what the raven, that dark bird, symbolizes. It has a double meaning: it symbolizes the dark side of the human heart, but more than that, it represents the dark side of the evil life that went forth from God’s presence. It symbolizes the dark side of heaven before man came on the scene, when Lucifer turned against God.
     
      You might ask, “Do you really mean that the dark side came from the presence of God?” Yes. Satan still has contact with God on some kind of limited basis. In the book of Job, the sons of God gathered and presented themselves before God, and satan was among them. We know that Job was not in the dimension of grace as we now know it; but Joshua, the high priest in Zechariah’s prophecy, certainly was. Joshua, representing all of God’s people, was clothed with filthy garments, and satan was there to accuse him. But the Lord silenced satan, saying, “The LORD rebuke thee!” We read in the book of Revelation that there will come a time when an angel will come down with a great chain in his hand and lay hold on “that old serpent, which is the devil, and satan,” to bind him a thousand years and cast him into the bottomless pit. He will be loosed again for a time to tempt those on the earth, and then once and for all will be cast into the lake burning with fire.
     
      I do not understand the mystery of the Godhead. I only know what Psalm 139 says: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? . . . if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” If I make my bed in hell, God is there. God and satan still have contact. That evil bird, the raven, lucifer, will identify with the evil side of our nature, which is the flesh capable of being corrupted and joined with satan. There are really only two forces that operate in this world. One leads to death and corruption, headed by lucifer, and one leads to life eternal, joy and sonship with God, headed by Christ through His Spirit.
     
      I want you to see that dark bird in our nature juxtaposed with an opportunity for a new creation. God has placed judgment on this earth. In the New Testament, the epistles of Jude and Peter clearly show us that the world today is in exactly the same state as it was in the days of Lot. This is why I am against the hypocrisy of preachers who would make the saints of God believe that the dying side of our nature, that raven in our nature, is gone forever. No it isn’t! We all have a dark side with which that dark bird from God’s presence, the raven of evil spirit, can identify. As there is an image of God in us, a receiver tuned to God’s nature, there is also a dark side of corruption, a dark supernatural force that lucifer can make contact with.
     
      Here is where my logical mind stumbles as I reach for the words to help us see what the darkness in us will do if it is given the chance. I will use a graphic illustration. As the raven goes forth from the ark, he sees the whole world is floating corruption. Everywhere he looks, he sees dead bodies starting to rot, flotsam and jetsam, the objects of judgment. The raven, which left the light and the warmth of the ark and the presence of Noah, should have been repulsed by the corruption, but he wasn’t, because his heart was tuned to it and he lived off of it. I want you to see that raven spot a rotting body and land on it. With beak and claws he tears off chunks of corrupt, rotting, judged flesh and he gorges himself. He sits there on that object of corruption and God’s judgment, and digs in his claws while he gorges and croaks.
     
      Now watch the white bird, the dove. She goes out once, sees the corruption and has no attraction to it. She does not stay and does not land. She cannot identify with it. She comes back to the ark, to the presence of God symbolized by Noah. After a little while she goes out again and finds a little olive leaf. Let me tell you that if the raven is looking for what the raven wants, there is plenty to be found. There are dead bodies everywhere. The raven can gorge himself and over-gorge himself and feed on corruption and death, but not that dove. As long as there is nothing she can identify with, she goes back home, because the new creation has not started yet. An olive tree is not the fastest-growing kind of tree.
     
      It is no accident that the dove comes back to the ark with a leaf from an olive tree. In the books of Exodus and Leviticus, God gave precise instructions to Moses when He told him to make the ark of the covenant and establish the worship practices that would typify the Christian life. God told Moses to make the tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern He had shown him on the mountain. He was to mix the anointing oil that would be used to anoint everything in the tabernacle. Oil would be used to fill the lamps of the candlestick, which typifies the church. It was the oil that enabled the candlestick to shine forth with light and power. In Psalm 133, we have the picture of the high priest Aaron being anointed with oil. There was only one kind of oil that God allowed: olive oil. Throughout God’s book, olive oil is the symbol of God’s Spirit, the life of God which is at war with the flesh. Of all the leaves on the earth, the dove finds an olive leaf and brings it back to God’s presence.
     
      I would like us to see the beauty of this picture. Try to visualize the Holy Spirit as a dove that does not settle down, does not find any rest for her feet until she can find something with which she can identify. I would also like us to see the Holy Spirit as the symbol of a servant. The dove would not just settle on the olive tree without taking the leaf back to the presence of God, so that God might see the evidence of the life He sought coming forth, the olive tree of the Spirit.
     
      The dark side of heaven’s forces, the prince of the power of the air, will only join with our dark side and feed on corruption. The Holy Spirit, whom God sent to abide, will find a place for His feet and bring forth a new creation that will fill the void left in heaven when satan was cast down. If there is no olive tree, the dove will not land. But when the olive leaf is found, it is as though the dove brings it back to confirm God’s approval so that Noah might see there is still hope.
     
      Let’s return to the analogy of transmitters and receivers. There is a transmitter from God and there is a receiver, the oil of the Holy Spirit. There is a measure of the Holy Spirit, the image of God, in every one of us. There is also a dark bird in every one of us, and it has in its heart a taste for corrupt flesh, for dying, judged, earthly things. If Paul could preach and worry that in preaching to others he might be a castaway, and if Paul could cry out and regard himself as the “chief” of sinners, then who are we? If that dark bird is given the opportunity, it will fly right through the pierced window and it will find some corrupt flesh and start tearing away at it and gorge itself to damnation.
     
      Now if that were the whole message, I would be so depressed that I would want to die. But that judged, corrupt earth had the seed of an olive tree in it. As long as God’s word, the beam of truth, can find a response, the Holy Spirit can take hold of it. The dove did not find a resting place for her foot when she went forth the first time. But when she went forth a second time, she found an olive tree, broke a leaf from it and showed it to Noah. She went forth a third time, and she landed and stayed.
     
      I pray to God, “Lord, help us beat the ravens off, and let Your Spirit find a resting place. Help us make this church a resting place where there is not taste for that which is corrupt and rotting, this world and its goods, and where Your Spirit, that dove, can take root and grow and fill us.” How many of you are tired of the raven dragging you around? Say we me, “Holy Spirit, come and rest in me.” Thank God there is a residue of His life, a little broken leaf. Let God do His cleansing work to burn out the dross and to put that raven in his place.
     
      Only God’s Spirit in us can fight that raven out of us. God’s promise is, “Greater is He that is in us, that he that is in the world.” Someone once asked me, “How do I get the Holy Spirit?” I answered, “You just ask Him to come in. The receiver is already there.” You have to say to God, “I want You to dominate me and have all of me.”
     
     May God baptize this church with His Spirit. You are either going to say “yes” to God or you are going to say “yes” to that dark bird of your nature. There is no middle ground. When you say “yes” to God, wherever you are, the dove of the Spirit is going to come and abide in you. Will you say it with me? “Come, Holy Spirit, and find a place to rest Your feet.” That is our prayer.
     
      Re-printed with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott.




Prayer Requests for March, 2015
For Mary (Oklahoma City), who has lost muscle movement in her legs and right shoulder.
For Isaac Douglas (Illinois), that he gets approved for work release soon.
For Dennis Martin (Lexington, OK) who is having more procedures done on his heart.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas), that he will be granted clemency from the parole board.
For Michael Small’s Mom, Suzanne (Illinois).
For Anthony Grayson (Elmira, New York), that he finds legal assistance.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Sister Ann & the Carmelite nuns in Little Rock.
For Robert Heffernan , Grady, Arkansas.
For Pastor Scott’s health; & her ministry in Los Angeles.
For Margaret, who is recovering from another Glaucoma surgery.
For Brian. He battles a lot of health issues. Also pray for Gail.
For all of us at Wingspread.




Excerpt from the Berean Call

From The Berean Call – October, 2014 issue:
Christianity Alone Requires Miracles

Christianity isn’t embarrassed by the recital of miracles in the Bible. On the contrary, Christianity is based upon the greatest miracle of all, the resurrection of Christ. Unlike Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, or any other religious leader, none of whom even dared to make such a claim, Jesus said He would rise from the dead. If He didn’t, He is a liar and Christianity is a fraud. Listen to Paul’s testimony: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel . . . how that Christ died for our sins . . . that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day. . . and that he was seen of Cephas (Peter), then of the twelve . . .”

“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ . . .” (1st Corinthians 15:1, 3-5, 14, 15)

Christianity doesn’t apologize for miracles or back away and shrug its shoulders as though it isn’t really important whether miracles happen or not. Christianity REQUIRES miracles. This is not the case with Buddhism or Hinduism or Islam or any other of the world’s religions, which get along quite well without miracles. Their leaders left a philosophy of life and certain rules to follow that have no bearing upon whether Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad, et al., are alive or dead or even lived at all. Not so with Christianity.

The Christian faith stands or falls upon the sinless life, the sacrificial death, and the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ – and all other miracles are minor occurrences in comparison to that one. If the resurrection actually happened, then for God to open blind eyes, heal any illness, make the lame walk, or even to open the Red Sea is obviously within the realm of possibility.




Dethroning Celebrity Pastors

Christianity.com 8/15/14 – “Dethroning Celebrity Pastors” [Excerpts]: The “celebrity pastor” is now a thing. Maybe it’s always been a thing (1 Cor. 1:10-17), but over the past few years it has become a source of concern and consternation for many. On the one hand I do see a problem, and on the other hand I can’t help but feel that some speak against popular preachers out of a sense of jealousy. I do not think that a pastor whose “platform” is large, influence is broad, and following is numerous is a celebrity pastor. At least, not in a bad way. The real problem is leadership that loses sight of the glory of Christ and focuses on the glory of man. Or, at least one man.

But celebrity pastors do not simply build themselves. They are built with the help of fans. It’s not wrong or idolatrous to get a photo with a person you admire. Nor is it dangerous to love the preaching or teaching of a particular leader. But at some point admiration turns into allegiance, and allegiance gives birth to adoration, and adoration, when it is full grown, produces idolatry. I am not sure exactly when the line is crossed – maybe when we start asking well-known pastors to sign our Bibles. Maybe. But the line is well behind us when a leader’s word is more valuable to us than God’s word and when they become our authority. (http://goo.gl/WkARiK)





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