And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that 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. 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, and she returned unto him into 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; 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: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more. And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.(Genesis 8:7-13)
We were already told in Genesis 8:4, that the Ark “rested” on Mt Ararat. This is the second mention of rest in the Bible, (the first , of God resting after six days of Creation). The Ark came to rest on the mountain after five months of floating through the deluge and its aftermath. The ark is a type of Christ. Jesus also saved the world, and then “sat down at the Right hand of the Father”, entering into his rest.
But though the Ark had now set down on Mount Ararat, Noah and the inhabitants of the Ark could not yet leave the Ark, for the flood was yet draining from the earth. It would take two and a half months before the mountain tops appeared above the floodwaters.
After another Forty days , Noah opened the window at the top of the Ark, and released a Raven. This Raven was one of a set of two, an unclean bird which is a scavenger. The Raven flew from place to place, apparently able to perch on any rotten, bloated bodies of men or animals which yet floated on the surface of the waters.
One week later Noah released a Dove, a clean bird, one from a set of seven pairs. (The reason there were seven pairs of “clean animals” to one pair of each unclean animal, was because of the need for sacrifice). The Dove will not light upon anything dead or rotten. Therefore not yet finding any place to rest, the Dove returned.
There is a pun here in the Hebrew text , for the word for rest, is ‘manoah’, thus literally, the Dove “found no Manoah, so she returned”, to Noah.
One week later the Dove was again released, but returned this time with a fresh Olive leaf. This informed Noah that the waters had receded quite a bit, for Olive trees don’t grow at the higher altitudes of great mountains.
Seven days later the Dove was released, and didn’t return to Noah, proving that the waters had sufficiently abated to allow the Dove to nest. Thus the Dove’s mission was to verify that the judgment had ended, and that man could start all over again, through Noah and his family.
Centuries later, at the River Jordan, John the Baptist witnessed the descent of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a Holy Dove, which lit upon Jesus as he was being baptized. The voice of the Father spoke from Heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased”.
Eidersheim points out the typological significance of this beautifully, in his valuable “Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”,
It was as if, symbolically, in the words of St. Peter,(I Peter 3:21) that Baptism had been a new flood, and He Who now emerged from it, the Noah – or rest, and comfort-bringer – Who took into His Ark the dove bearing the olive-branch, indicative of a new life. Here, at these waters, was the Kingdom, into which Jesus had entered in the fulfilment of all righteousness; and from them he emerged as its Heaven-designated, Heaven-qualified, and Heaven-proclaimed King. As such he had received the fulness of the Spirit for His Messianic Work – a fulness abiding in Him – that out of it we might receive, and grace for grace. (Life and Times Of Jesus the Messiah, Eidersheim, Alford, Hendrickson Publishing)
Thus we see in Noah’s Ark, a foreshadowing of another ultimate, universal deliverance from God’s wrath, and a new Ark, in the form of a Saviour. This is the new Noah, the “rest bringer” upon whom the Holy Ghost of God can truly abide, and in whom all who seek refuge and cleansing from defilement , share in that same Spirit of Sanctification and truth.