Turtle doves in the Bible are significant as a sacrifice, a symbol for Israel, and a bird in season. This paper sets out to help us appreciate the sight and sound of these birds in spring. Archaeology and ornithology unsurprisingly corroborate what we read in the Scriptures. First, we will consider some of the benefits of watching and listening to birds. Then we will reflect on the disturbing consistency of the persecution of this bird from the Talmud in AD 200 to the present day in Europe. Ultimately, the final reference in Luke’s Gospel causes us to consider Jesus.
Why Should We Consider Birds?
1.) To instruct us.
We are very conscious of the suffering of God’s people in many parts of the world today. In the context of his own extreme trial, Job spoke the following: “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you” (Job 12:7).
2.) To reflect on how birds help us understand the invisible attributes of God from what we can clearly see.
Paul’s opening persuasion in his letter to the Roman church informs us, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Observing and listening to the turtle dove is one of the great joys of observational science—in this case, ornithology—helping us understand those attributes. So, recalling the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time,” we can see two of God’s attributes: namely, that he has given us beauty to observe, and his creation consistently demonstrates order.