Can Scripture explain why God’s Spirit appears as a dove at Jesus’ baptism?
- First, a quick word study shows no unique, explicit and direct association between God’s Spirit and a dove in the Old Testament.
- However… it turns out there is an implicit and indirect relationship to be found there.
And that comes down to the Flood being a replay of the original Creation event.
You see, after Genesis 1 begins with the world in an all water and no land state, God uses the Flood to purposefully return it to that original state again to – you guessed it – literally restart the world!
- But where as it is God’s Spirit that hovers above the waters before the original 7 days of Creation (see Gen. 1:2)…
- …It’s a dove that flies over the (re-creation) waters of the Flood not once but twice – just before two seven day periods (Gen. 8:8-11).
- 7 day periods during which God’s creation order is restored as the Flood waters recede making way for life to flourish again.
Now, having identifying the dove as a counterpart to God’s Spirit in the re-creation event of the Flood, we’ve found a unique association between God’s Spirit and the dove in the Old Testament. Hooray! …But there’s more.
If we now return to the New Testament and the life of Jesus, not only is this relationship revisited when God’s Spirit hovers above the waters (again) as a dove for Jesus’ baptism. But this same event foreshadows Jesus’ death and resurrection: the ultimately “new creation” event of the Christian biblical epic.
(This is also one of many examples of “composite fulfillment” in the Gospels.)