6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
The raven flies, backwards and forwards, not returning to the ark. The dove, however, on finding no place to land, returns to the place of safety. When the seven days lapse are up, Noah sends it out again.
And it returns with an olive branch. An ‘olive branch’ today is seen as a ‘peace offering’, a desire for reconciliation, a reaching out in attempt to end hostility.
Here, the olive branch is a sign, showing proof of a future beyond the flood. It shows hope and it shows promise. Somewhere out there is an olive tree.
Seven more days, and the dove does not return at all. Its very absence shows the presence of land, of an ending and a beginning.
Image: He Qi