Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), American author, critic, editor and poet, is well known for his short stories in the mystery and macabre genre. One of the poems that he is well known for is ‘The Raven’, first published in 1845, four years before his death in the Evening Mirror. The Raven is a poem about the a mysterious raven that visits a man who has just lost the love of his life, a lady name Lenore and for each question, he poses, the answer that the raven gives is “Nevermore” (meaning never again). Poe refers to the raven as an ominous bird of yore. Now, I must admit that I enjoyed reading the poem, despite its melancholy tone and sense of hopelessness undertone, because of its literary composition as a trochaic octameter (8 trochaic feet per line, with alternating stressed and unstressed syllables) and especially because of its references to Biblical words (Seraphim, Balm of Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22), and Aidenn (for Eden i.e., Paradise). However, I would be careful to not call one of God’s creation, ominous, for after God created the fowls of the air (the raven being one of them), he called it good (Genesis 1:21) and it was ravens that brought food to God’s servant, Elijah, to sustain him by the Cherith brook, before the Jordan river (1 Kings 17:1-6).

So there is something we can learn from the raven, as we can from any of the animals mentioned in the Bible.

The Raven was the first creature, after the flood of Noah, to be sent on a mission, most likely for the same reason, he sends out a dove subsequently in a weeks time, which is to determine the readiness of the earth for the inhabitants of the ark. However, the Bible records that the raven flew  to and fro (vacillating) until the waters were dried up from the earth, meaning that it did not return back to Noah. Though, the Bible does not explicitly state the reason for this behavior of the raven that was sent from the ark of Noah, the most plausible explanation is that the raven, an unclean bird (Leviticus 11:15), would have settled to gorge on the dead flesh from the flood, satisfying its appetite, possibly settling on the mountain tops that were seen (Genesis 8:5), instead of fulfilling its mission and returning to Noah. It was to “nevermore” (never again) return to Noah.

Points to ponder:
They that are after the flesh (like the raven that Noah sent out) do mind (commune with) the things of the flesh, which is death, but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit, which is life and peace (Romans 8:5-6). Let us not be like that of the raven, vacillating, nevermore!

Genesis 8:5-7 (KJV)
5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.
6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:
7 And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.

Romans 8:5-6 (KJV)
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Lessons from the Raven – delivery beings, cared for, not blinded

RavenThe Bible records a fascinating story in1 Kings 17, as to of how God’s prophet, Elijah, was sustained by God’s provisions and fed bread and meat, two times a day. He probably drank from the brook in the place where God’s had asked him to stay. What is really interesting is that those who brought him, his food were ravens!

The first time, the Bible records about ravens is in the time of Noah, where Noah sends a raven out to see if there was dry land after 40 days and nights of rain. This time the earth was filled with water and the raven was sent on a mission (first missionary after the rains). The Bible also records ravens as the delivery beings of God’s life giving bread and meat to his servant Elijah. This time there was drought (not a drop of water), except the one in the brook where God had asked his servant to be and the raven was sent on a mission. Hmmm, interesting, isn’t it? Furthermore, when God answers job with a question, he uses the raven as an example, when he says “Who gives the ravens and their young that cry, their food?” (Job 38:41). The Bible also lists the raven as a bird that will be used for executing God’s judgments, against those who break his fifth commandment. The fifth of the ten commandments (and the only commandment of the ten with a promise) is that you shall honor your father and mother, for it shall bring you long life. Proverbs 30:17 lists the ravens to be the bird that will pluck the eyes of the one who mocks his father or despises to obey his mother.

So what can we learn from the ravens?

  1. Can we be trusted as the ravens were by God, during Elijah’s times, to be delivery boys and girls, men and women, to deliver God’s good news of his son, Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life and Living Water to those who are hungry and thirsty?
  2. Let us not forget that the God who cares for the ravens (Job 38:41) cares even more for us and will provide us and our children our needs. Remember, Jesus said Look at the birds (ravens) of the air
  3. Let us not be blinded by what our culture and society tells us about honoring our parents and remember that we are commanded in the Holy Scriptures to honor our parents (father and mother).

1 Kings 17:1-6 (KJV)
And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.