Did you know that there are more than 25 different birds mentioned in the Bible? One of the most famous Scriptures in the New Testament involves the hen. Jesus laments over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Jesus is sad because He was not recognized by the majority of Jews as their Messiah. In Matthew 10 and in Luke 12 we see how the Lord watches out for the sparrow and how He feeds the raven. The point in those Scriptures is that if God watches over these small creatures and takes care of their needs, how much more will He take care of believers? After all, we are made in His image and the Holy Spirit lives within us.
Two of the most mentioned birds of the Bible are, in many ways, the opposite of each other. They are the eagle and the dove. It is interesting to contrast these two in much the same way that the lion and the lamb are contrasted as opposites, and yet both also are mentioned as representing God. God has many qualities and facets to His character, some of which are nobility, strength, power, justness, and fearlessness; much like the eagle and the lion. Then we have God’s gentler character traits which include humility, submissiveness, kindness, faithfulness, harmlessness, peacefulness, and meekness as demonstrated through the dove and the lamb. We see the strength and power of the eagle for those who wait on the Lord in Isaiah 40:31 “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” The dove also is mentioned in renewal when Noah sends a dove out of the ark, and the bird brings back an olive leaf, which traditionally stands for peace.
Just as the Almighty shows His character in His commanding strength and in His loving and peaceful nature, He wants us also to display these characteristics dependent upon the situations we find ourselves in. It is important that we show strength, courage, and perseverance in trials as we mature as Christians. It is equally important that we remain humble and loving while embracing peace as we relate to God and others as Christ’s witnesses. Jesus Himself tells the disciples in Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Jesus is essentially comparing His disciples to sheep and doves in the character they were to display to their Jewish brethren. They were to emulate Jesus in sharing the Good News with humility and kindness. We also should do the same when sharing our faith with others as the Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 “…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”