Symbols from nature

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The Creation Concept





Sheep and shepherd



Jesus referred to himself as a vine

Lost sheep



Fig trees

Sheep & goats

Swine & dogs


Olive trees

Sheep & wolves


Ravens and Doves

Other trees

Sheep & lions




A lamb


Noisy birds

The harvest



Ravenous birds

Goat & ram


Righteous men are like trees



Trees as kingdoms



There was much in the design of the tabernacle, revealed to Moses, and in the details of the temple service, that was typical of things in the gospel. Some of this is explained in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament; besides, there are many scholarly books on the subject, such as Patrick Fairbairn's Typology of Scripture.

Animals that are symbolic in scripture include sheep, goat, horse, mule, ass, camel, ox, lion, bear, leopard, snake, locust, fish, eagle, dove, scorpion, gnat. They are discussed in more detail below. Plants mentioned in prophecy are the olive tree, grape vine, fig, cedar, thorn, fir, myrtle trees, and wheat. Trees are said to clap their hands. [Isa. 55:12]  Food such as bread, wine, and milk are types; incense is a type.

Heavenly bodies are also symbolic in prophecy; the sun, moon, stars are types. [Rev. 12:4] Day and night, and the seasons are also typical. [Zech. 14:8] Jesus said the harvest pictures the resurrection of the saints at the end of the world. [Matt. 13:39] The annual holy days of the law of Moses are related to the spring and fall harvest seasons. Clouds, rain, hail, snow, wind, light and dark, lamps, candles, oil, water, and gold, silver, brass, iron, clay, wood, rock, earth, pearls, precious stones, clothes, armour, weapons, such as swords, bows and arrows, spears, and shields, are all types and symbols in the scriptures.

To this list we can add chariots [Zech. 6:1]; highways [Isa. 40:3]; wings of eagles, fowl, and locusts [Dan. 7:4, 6; Rev. 9:9; 12:14]; tails [Isa. 9:15]; and human behaviour also provides many types: love, jealousy, marriage, conception, birth, motherhood, nursing infants, eating, sleep, death, whoredom, occupations, such as farmer, merchant, athlete, soldier, etc. Burying corpses is described symbolically in Ezek. 39:11-16.

Individuals were significant in prophecy too; Abraham and Sarah [Rom. 4:16, Gal. 4:26], Hagar [Gal. 4:24], Isaac [Gal. 4:28], Jacob and his family [Rev. 7:5-8], Joseph [Heb. 11:22], Moses [John 1:17], Pharoah, Joshua [Heb. 4:8], David, [Ezek. 34:23, Ezek. 37:24; Hos. 3:5; Amos 9:11 Zech. 12:8], Elijah [Mal. 4:5], Jonah [Matt. 16:4], Cyrus [Isa. 44:28], Zerubbabel [Zech. 4:9].

Scripture shows that major events in Israel's history are significant in prophecy, providing types and figures for the church, including Israel's bondage in Egypt [Jude 1:5; Rev. 11:8], the exodus [Acts 7:36]; their sojourn in the wilderness [1 Cor. 10:11]; wars, including the battles of the Israelites against the Canaanite nations under Joshua and others; the reign of David [1 Chr. 18:14], the apostasy of Israel under Ahab and Jezebel; the drought in the days of Elijah [Jam. 5:17]; a locust plague, [Joel 1-2]; earthquakes, [Zech. 14:5]; the exile in Babylon [Jer. 29:10]; the Jews' return from exile [Zech. 1:16]; the construction of the temple [Hag. 1:8]; the hellenization implemented by Antiochus IV, outlined in the prophecies of Daniel. All the above were the subjects of various prophecies.

Races of men are mentioned in a symbolic way in Scripture, such as Jew and Greek, circumcision and uncircumcision. [Col. 3:11] Zech. 14:21 refers to the Canaanite symbolically; one of the disciples of Jesus was a Canaanite [Mark 3:18].

Poverty, nakedness, and blindness are symbolic [Isa. 42:16; 1 John 2:11; Rev. 3:17]; Zechariah describes a symbolic plague, [Zech. 14:12] and diseases such as gangrine are symbolic [2 Tim. 2:17Jam. 5:3].

In view of the use of symbolic language in prophecy, what merit is there in saying that promises referring to the land must be taken as literal? Dispensationalists, and Zionists insist on it! But the prophets found spiritual significance in many aspects of the land that Israel was promised as a possession.

Among the geographical features that the prophets used symbolically in their messages are rivers, both real and imaginary; they include the Jordan River [Psa. 114:3], the Euphrates [Rev. 9:14, Rev. 16:12], and the Nile [Gen. 15:18]; an imaginary river is the stream of living water that flows from Jerusalem in Zech. 14:8, and from the temple in Ezek. 47:7-9, and Joel 3:18. Christians have traditionally understood this to represent the Spirit of God and the Gospel going to the world from the church.

Also symbolic in scripture are valleys, such as Gehenna, Meddigo, [Rev. 16:16] and the figurative valley formed in the Mount of Olives, when it is cleaved in the midst [Zech. 14:4]; seas, including the Red Sea, [1 Cor. 10:2] the Dead Sea which becomes healed by the water from the temple [Ezek 47:8]; cities; Jerusalem [Heb. 12:22], Sodom, [Rev. 11:8] Jericho [Heb. 11:30], Babylon [Isa. 48:20; Jer. 51:6; Rev. 14:8; Rev. 16:19; Rev. 17:2; Rev. 18:2, 10, 21]; even neighbouring countries are significant symbols, such as Egypt [Rev. 11:8], and Edom [Ezek. 25:12-14; Joel 3:19], which represents enemies of the church [Isa. 34:5],  as do the hordes of Gog and Magog [Ezek. 38:2].

Also symbolic in prophecy are mountains, such as Sinai [Gal. 4:24]; the Mount of Olives [Zech. 14:4], Zion [Heb. 12:22; Rev. 14:1]; hills [Ezek. 6:3; 36:4], and singing hills [Isa. 55:12]; deserts [Isa. 35:1; 43:19-20], the wilderness, where the Israelites wandered for 40 years, was typical of the church's experience in the world [1 Cor. 10:11; Rev. 12:6, 14].

It seems virtually everything in the life of the ancient Israelites was seen by the prophets as providing meaning for the gospel. Of course the land promise is symbolic too; it represents the eternal "rest" of a Christian [Heb. 4:9]. The message of the prophets is explained and revealed much more completely in the New Testament.

Sheep, goats, horses, cattle, locusts, wolves, lions, dogs, swine, snakes, fish, and birds all are figures of various kinds of people in the Bible. Trees, and grass also represent people.

Sheep and shepherd

God's people are compared to sheep, and Christ is their shepherd.

Psalm 23:1-2
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Psalm 79:13
So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.

Isaiah 40:11
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Ezekiel 34:23
And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.

Ezekiel 34:31
And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.

The word 'pastor' is derived from the Latin pāstor, shepherd.

Jeremiah 23:1-4
Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 31:10
Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.

Joel 1:18
How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.

Zechariah 9:16
And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.

Zechariah 11:17
Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

Matthew 26:31
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

John 10:3
To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

John 10:16
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

John 10:27
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

John 21:15-17
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

1 Peter 5:1-2
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.

Lost sheep

The saints are all former lost sheep that have been found.

Psalm 119:176
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.

Isaiah 53:6
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Jeremiah 50:6
My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.

Ezekiel 34:6
My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.

Ezekiel 34:16
I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

Matthew 10:5-6
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

During his ministry, Jesus told his disciples not to go to the Gentiles, and not to go to the Samaritans. Yet he had a discussion with a Samaritan woman, during which he said, "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father." [John 4:21] This shows that the Mosaic system of worship based in Jerusalem was about to be abolished. And the New Testament explains that now there is no longer any need of sacrifices, or a priesthood, and no requirement to observe any Jewish rituals, to become God's children, as Christ himself is our shepherd. When Jesus told his disciples not go to Gentiles, that was a very reasonable commandment, because the fundamental truths about the Gentiles being included in Israel's promises by faith in Christ had not yet been revealed. Those things were revealed later, after the Spirit was given to the disciples. If the disciples of Jesus had preached to Gentiles before these things were revealed, those Gentiles would have heard the wrong message; it could potentially result in a class of Gentile believers who had converted to Judaism, who would then have to unlearn it, which would be confusing. Not only that, but it would be painful, for those who were circumcised needlessly. Only later, when the basic doctrine of the church concerning the salvation of Gentile believers was established by the apostles, was the way open for Gentiles to come into the faith, as Jesus had said to the Samaritan woman. And foremost in this ministry was the apostle Paul.

Luke 15:4
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

Luke 19:10
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

1 Peter 2:25
For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Sheep & goats 

Christ will separate His sheep from the goats.

Matthew 25:31-34
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Sheep & wolves

False teachers are pictured as wolves and predators.

Matthew 7:15
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Luke 10:3
Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

Acts 20:29
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Serpents are viewed as wise; wolves are predators, often representing false teachers. Doves picture gentleness, and a harmless quality. Doves also represent the Spirit of God.

Matthew 10:16
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Sheep & lions

Israel is the lion's prey, but eventually becomes the lion.

Jeremiah 50:17
Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.

Amos 3:12
Thus saith the LORD; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch.

Micah 5:8
And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

A lamb

Jesus is the sacrificial lamb.

Genesis 22:6-8
And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

Exodus 12:3-5
Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

Isaiah 53:7
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

John 1:29
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Revelation 5:11-13
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

Revelation 12:11
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

There are many other references to Christ as the Lamb in Revelation.


The scapegoat in the atonement ceremony.

Leviticus 16:9-10
And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.
But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.

Goat & ram

The goat and the ram represent the Greek and Persian kingdoms in Daniel's prophecy.

Daniel 8:3-7
3 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.
4 I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.
5 And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.
6 And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.
7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.


In several prophecies, horses represent people with no understanding. Also, carnally minded people.

Psalm 32:9
Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

Ezekiel 38:14-16
Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?
And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:
And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.

Jeremiah 5:8
They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour's wife.

Habakkuk 1:8
Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.

The ghastly plague described by Zechariah that affects the enemies of God also affects horses and other animals. How could horses fight against God? These horses are people without understanding. The plague pictures their spiritual condition.

Zechariah 14:15
And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.


Camels were very numerous in the Midianite invasion of Israel in the days of Gideon.

Judges 6:5
For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.

Judges 7:12
Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore.

Camels suffer the plague in Zech. 14.

Zechariah 14:15
And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.

A camel may represent a rich person. They are often laden with goods.

Matthew 23:24
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Mark 10:25
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.


Cattle seem to represent people who are among the flock of God.

Ezekiel 34:20-22
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle.
Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad;
Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle.

They muddy the waters with their feet.

Ezekiel 34:18
Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?

Zechariah 2:4
And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein:


Gentiles were referred to as dogs by Jesus!

Exodus 22:31
And ye shall be holy men unto me: neither shall ye eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.

Psalm 22:16
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

Isaiah 56:10-11
His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.

Jeremiah 15:3
And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy.

Matthew 15:26-28
But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Swine & dogs

Matthew 7:6
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

2 Peter 2:22
But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.


In Numbers 13, the 12 spies Moses sent to survey the promised land reported that they felt like grasshoppers, compared to the big people they saw dwelling in the land.

In Judges 6 & 7, the enemies of Israel were compared to locusts because they were so numerous, and innumerable.

Joel's prophecy in chapters 1 & 2 is based on a locust plague that devastates the land. These locusts picture people who are exhorted by the prophet to turn to Christ with all their heart; [Joel 2:12] and have evidently not yet received the Spirit that will be poured out on all flesh. [Joel 2:28]

Fire burns before them, and behind them: God's word is compared to a fire. The locusts

The land before them is like a garden of Eden: the promises of God, and God's rest for his saints, are represented by paradise.

Behind them is a desolate wilderness: the woman in Revelation flees towards the wilderness, and escapes the bondage of sin and the world; but the locusts have the wilderness behind them. And, false interpretations have changed the Gospel into a message of gloom.

They look like horses: Locusts have long heads like horses. The comparison to horses suggests they lack understanding.

They run like horsemen: They are guided by men rather than God.

They leap on mountains: They make claim of being God's people and claim the promises that pertain to the saints.

They make a noise like chariots, (a loud clattering sound). Because they don't understand the truth their arguments about the Bible are just noise.

They run on the wall: the wall separating those who are included in the holy city from those who are not.

They enter in at the windows like a thief: they need to enter through the door into the sheepfold, John 10:1.

They are not wounded by the sword: the sword is the word of God. They resist it.

In Revelation 9, they wear crowns like gold; they look like horses; they have tails like scorpions. 

Locusts have long heads, that have a remarkable resemblance to the heads of horses.

Joel 2:4
The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.

Revelation 9:7
And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle;


Scorpions represent cruel chastisement.

1 Kings 12:13-14
And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him;
And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.


A gnat represents something small, or trivial.

Matthew 23:24
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.


Wolves represent predators, who destroy the sheep. 

Ezekiel 22:27
Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.

Zephaniah 3:3
Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.


Lions are solitary hunters, with large teeth.
The apostle Peter compared the devil to a roaring lion.
The symbolism is as a predator.
Lions also represent majesty and power.

Proverbs 19:12
The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.

Psalm 17:8-12
Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,
From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about.
They are inclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly.
They have now compassed us in our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth;
Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.

Zephaniah 3:3
Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.

1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Revelation 5:5
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.


Isaiah 59:11
We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.


Cleverness is attributed to snakes. Satan is identified with the "old serpent."

Genesis 3:1
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Psalm 140:3
They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips. Selah.

The snake appears as a creature that is almost all tail!

Isaiah 9:15
The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.

Matthew 3:7
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Matthew 12:34
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Matthew 23:33
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

2 Corinthians 11:3
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Revelation 12:9
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.


Ezekiel 13:4
O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.

Herod was compared to a fox by Jesus.

Luke 13:32
And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.


People who are caught in the net, and come out of the world, and believe the gospel, are represented by fish. There are good and bad.

Matthew 4:19
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Matthew 13:47-48
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.


Birds, like fish, may represent people who are "snared in an evil time." They seem to be associated with chatter, or noise. In the parable of the sower they represent the devil.

Proverbs 26:2
As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.

Ecclesiastes 9:12
For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

Ecclesiastes 10:20
Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

Jeremiah 15:3
And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy.

Matthew 13:3-4,19
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: ...When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

Ravens and Doves

In the flood story in Genesis, the two birds released by Noah, after the ark had became grounded on a mountain, become the focus of several verses. [Gen. 8:6-12]

Ravens are large black birds, and they are inquisitive, cunning, and bold. They form societies. Pliny noted their ability to learn to speak. They feature in many myths; one says that England will fall, if ever the ravens abandon the Tower of London. They were declared unfit to eat in Lev. 11:15.

Gene Stratton-Porter wrote:

Almost all Biblical mention of the raven was made in the shape of simile and metaphor, but these allusions served to drive home a point and make a thing well remembered, which was the reason they were used. They also grounded a feeling against the bird, just as similar things have prejudiced the unthinking against the owl and hawk. The raven is a curious bird, and at different epochs in the world has figured in much interesting history.

[Birds of the Bible, by Gene Stratton-Porter. New York, Eaton and Mains. 1909. p. 406.]

The raven was sent out from the ark by Noah, when the waters of the flood were retreating from the earth, and it "went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth." [Gen. 8:7]

Later, Noah sent out a dove.

Genesis 8:8-9
Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;
But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.

The above verse mentions "rest," and other scriptures associate doves with "rest." Seven days later, Noah sent the dove out again:

Genesis 8:11
And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

A dove with an olive branch in its mouth is a well-known symbol of peace.

The third time Noah sent out the dove, it did not return to him. [Gen. 8:12] Probably, Noah expected it would.

In later scriptures ravens brought food for Elijah, to sustain him during the three and a half years of famine in Israel.

1 Kings 17:4-6
4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
5 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.
6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.

Job asked, who provides food for ravens? [Job 38:41] The Psalmist answered that it is God. [Psa. 147:9] Jesus also mentioned that God feeds the ravens. [Luke 12:24]

Doves are connected with "rest" by David, who longed for "the wings of a dove."

Psalm 55:6
And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.

Because of the sound of their call, doves are connected with mourning. [Isa. 59:11; Ezek. 7:16]

Species of the dove or pigeon family (Columbidae) are widely distributed in the earth, including oceanic islands. Isaiah pictured the saints as doves. Referring to the scripture below, Gene Stratton-Porter suggested that Isaiah referred to semi-domesticated pigeons, which were housed in cotes of clay with openings that appeared like small windows, to which the birds flocked like clouds, as they brought food for their young. [Ibid., p. 428]

Isaiah 60:8
Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?

Hosea referred to doves as "silly," and "without heart." [Hos. 7:11-13]

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, he saw the holy Spirit descending on him "like a dove." [Mat. 3:16] Is this an allusion to the flood story? Perhaps the Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove is connected with the third release of the dove by Noah in the flood story.

Jesus told his disciples to be "harmless as doves." [Mat. 10:16]

Doves and pigeons produce "crop milk," which is a highly nutritious substance that they feed to their young.

Since the Holy Spirit is pictured by a dove, which contrasts with the raven in the flood story, perhaps the ravens represent other spirits. The three and a half years of famine in the days of Elijah, when he was fed by the ravens, is typical of the entire church age. Elijah's ministry pictures God's Spirit in the church age, when there is no further revelation, or "rain." The Holy Spirit is present with the church, but often remains hidden, as Elijah hid from Ahab and Jezebel.

I suggest the ravens may represent spirits other than the Holy Spirit, or in other words, delusions. One very common delusion says unbelievers suffer unending infernal torment, which is inconsistent with the harmless nature of a dove. Isaiah said God chooses the delusions of men.

Isaiah 66:4
I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.


Eagles are noted for their powerful wings.

Exodus 19:4
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.

Deuteronomy 28:49
The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;

Deuteronomy 32:9-12
9 For the LORD's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
12 So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.

Ornithologists say the statement in verse 11 is technically incorrect. If eagles carry their young, they bear them in their talons, not their wings. The scripture probably alludes to the metaphor of God bearing Israel on the wings of eagles.

2 Samuel 1:23
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Lamentations 4:19
Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness.

Matthew 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Does Jesus mean that the 'carcase' represents his saints, and the eagles that gather around it are those who persecute His saints, as suggested by Lamentations 4:19?

The wings of eagles are symbolic of prophecy.

Revelation 12:14
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

Noisy birds 

Isaiah 38:14
Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me.

Jeremiah 5:27
As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.

Ravenous birds 

Ezekiel 39:4
Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.

Revelation 19:21
And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

Righteous men are like trees

The righteous man is likened to a tree.

Psalm 1
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Jeremiah 17:7-9
7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Trees planted by a river represent those who trust in God.

John the Baptist warned that trees bearing no fruit will be cut down.

Luke 3:9
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Luke 6:43
For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Jude 1:12
These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

Trees as kingdoms

Trees represent nations here; the twigs and branches are individuals.

Ezekiel 17:1-6
1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel;
3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar:
4 He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick; he set it in a city of merchants.
5 He took also of the seed of the land, and planted it in a fruitful field; he placed it by great waters, and set it as a willow tree.
6 And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature, whose branches turned toward him, and the roots thereof were under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs.

Daniel 4:20-26
20 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:
22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him;
24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
25That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.


Israel is called a vine.

Joel 1:7
He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.

Joel 1:12
The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.

Jesus referred to himself as a vine

John 15:1
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

John 15:5
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Fig trees

Luke 21
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Olive trees

Jeremiah 11:16
The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.

Hosea 14:5-6
5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. 6 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.

Zechariah 4:10-14
10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth.

Romans 11:16-25
16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Revelation 11:4
These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

Other trees

The wicked are likened to the "green bay tree." Psalms 37:35

Ezekiel 17:24
And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it.

Ezekiel 31:14
14 To the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs, neither their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit.


Grass represents the masses of humanity. "The grass withers, the flower fades...surely the people is grass." Isaiah 40:7

The harvest

Matthew 9:37,38
The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.

Matthew 13:38-40
The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.


Birds of the Bible by Gene Stratton-Porter

Trees of the Bible

Trees Of The Holy Land

Copyright © 2001 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.