July 29, 2013
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Pelican and the Owl
I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the deserts.
In a display of remarkable grace, the Lord Jesus compared Himself to some of the smallest and lowliest of things: a corn of wheat, a serpent lifted on a pole, water, and bread. But the meditation which follows, contributed by Andrew Adams, shows another series of pictures the Lord used of Himself.
The pelican and the owl are both out of their natural environment. The pelican is a shore bird, feeding in the water, but it finds itself in the wilderness. The owl is a forest bird, but it finds itself in the deserts. So the Lord came “out of” His natural environment when He came into this world. In Leviticus 11:13-18 there is a list of twenty birds that are considered an abomination to the Lord in the lives of the children of Israel. These two birds are the seventh and the fifteenth in that list. The Lord, in leaving His natural environment and coming into our desert-like life, also identified Himself with our sin, that abomination in the sight of God.
Psalm 102:7: I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop.
The sparrow is a clean bird, but very gregarious. There are usually seen in pairs or groups. But this one is alone, and the Lord was alone when He took responsibility for our sins.
Leviticus 14:1-7: This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing … two birds alive and clean.
The type of bird required here is unspecified (although the Hebrew word would likely emphasize a sparrow). But one is to be killed over running water (and no more is said as to its use!). But the blood from the dead bird is to be sprinkled upon the living bird and then the priest “… shall let the living bird loose into the open field.” Once the cleansing from the sin of leprosy is effected by the shedding of the blood, the living bird is released back to its original environment. So the Lord, having accomplished redemption, has returned to where He came from, but always and eternally bearing the marks of His sacrifice upon Him. For the rest of its life, that bird was stained with blood, so the wounds of Calvary shall mark our blessed Lord for all eternity.
What a Savior that He should deign to portray Himself and His work so fully using such a simple illustration as a common bird, both the unclean and the clean.