June 6, 1995 & July 4, 1995
According to Michael McIntosh, author of an article about doves in “Wildlife Art,” male doves are the only males in the animal kingdom that excrete milk for their young. A few days before the eggs hatch, the walls of daddy dove’s crop thicken and his glands secrete liquid. It is whitish, creamy, and rich in calcium and vitamins A, B, and B1. The female doves also produce milk but not as much as the males. McIntosh does not explain it.
Research into the realm of living creatures reveals all kinds of perplexing oddities. Certain spiders that breathe oxygen can live underwater by taking a bubble of air down with them. Skunks are totally defenseless yet survive because of a powerful spray-on scent.
Even more novel is the platypus. It has a bill and webbed feet like a duck, a flat tail like a beaver, thick fur like a mammal and lays eggs like a reptile. This marsupial’s bill is not hard like a duck’s but soft and rubbery and used to feel around in the mud for food.
Getting back to the male dove, perhaps the Creator made this bird with the unique ability to produce milk because He intended to use it as a symbol for the Holy Spirit. The dove feeds his young with milk from its body; the Spirit feeds His newly-born children with truths that the Bible calls “milk.” 1 Peter 2:2 tells us, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”
Animal and plant life, and even inanimate natural objects, often illustrate spiritual truths that the Bible describes. God shelters the helpless under His wings or speaks with a roar like thunder. Little wonder David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” (Psalm 19)
All of creation bears the signature of the Creator. The psalmist says everyone can see His glory in what He has made and therefore concludes: “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard (that is, the voice of the heavens). Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
David recognized how God’s creation demonstrates that God can be known by openly observing what He has made, at least in some measure. The Apostle Paul agreed. At the beginning of the New Testament book of Romans, he wrote: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
That last phrase means we are accountable for what we can see in nature’s revelation. Paul says it should cause everyone to honor God as God and be thankful. This implies exalting Him. Whenever and whatever God speaks, we should listen and do what He says.
However, many people do not want to honor God as God, never mind obey Him. Our ingratitude and our sinful natures pull us away. Like Isaiah says, “We like sheep have gone astray. We have turned each to his own way.”
Unfortunately, just knowing there is a God by observing creation is not enough to turn us back. It may be easy to feel “spiritual” out in the great outdoors, but God says feeling spiritual will not satisfy Him. Instead, He asks that we look at and submit to One who is a greater revelation, His Son. Peter wrote of Jesus: “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”
Baby doves benefit more from dove’s milk than we do. For us, His use of a dove as a symbol for His Spirit is somewhat helpful, but God’s ultimate revelation goes beyond creatures, rocks, trees and even symbols. We get a fuller picture when we see Jesus.