And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. (Genesis 8:10-11)
Having sent the dove out for a second time, it returns to Noah “in the evening” with a with an olive leaf freshly plucked from a tree — not picked up from off of the waters. This seemingly insignificant detail meant the world of difference to Noah because then He KNEW that the waters had receded. You see, olive trees do not grow very tall, so this confirmed to Noah that the trial of waters was coming to an end.
There is something prophetic implied in this story as well. Remember that the dove is emblematic of the Spirit of God and, if Judaism is correct in its interpretation, the dove can also represent God’s people. But have you ever wondered why it was an olive leaf? Have you ever wondered why the Bible was careful to express that the olive leaf was “freshly plucked”?
I have always found this to be fascinating for several reasons but chief among them is this — it hints at what Paul would write of later in Romans 11. In that chapter he spoke of a wild olive branch being “plucked” from a wild tree and then grafted into a cultivated olive tree. Paul’s point was to express that one day both the natural and wild branches — or as he relates it in Ephesians 2, “circumcision and uncircumcision” — will become one people. This will happen in the end days at a time that might be described as “evening” — which is to say, the time just before it becomes so dark that “no man can work.”
In other words, on the heels of an unprecedented time of judgment and destruction and just before Noah and his family were about to replenish the earth, something happened that would speak to those living at the end of days. God used the emblem for His Spirit and His people to demonstrate what He would do to make sure that His original plan for man would come to pass.
To underscore the point, consider that the word translated “plucked” is also translated as “torn” in Hosea 6 – critical prophecy describing the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.
“Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.” – Hosea 6:1-2
Not only does this prophecy describe what Paul spoke of in Romans 11 and Ephesians 2 but it also tell us when; it will be “on the third day.” Its been two thousand year (or two prophetic days) since the Messiah was crucified, buried and resurrected that you and I might be grafted into the family of faith. That means that we are coming into the prophetic Third Day when He will “raise us up that we may live in His sight.” Truly, this is an exciting time to be alive.
Blessings and Shalom,