“On the second day of Christmas my True Love gave to me: two turtle doves…”
The town of Bethlehem was about 6 miles outside the city of Jerusalem. After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph stayed in the area through Mary’s time of purification (40 days) as required by the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12:1-8). Luke records, “Then it was time for their purification offering…so (Jesus’) parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The Law of the Lord says, ‘If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.’ So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord – ‘either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons’” (Luke 2:22-24). In actuality, the requirement of the Law was to sacrifice a lamb. If the family was poor, turtledoves and pigeons were offered instead (Leviticus 12:8).
In the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, the “two turtle doves” given on the second day once again point to Jesus, giving us a glimpse into the low social status into which He was born.But there is more…
Sometimes “doves” are referred to as “love-birds.” Thus, another possible meaning of the “two turtledoves” from the song is a reference to both the Old and New Testament. God (our “True Love”) has given us two gifts that complement each other and complete one another, like an intimate couple, deep in love.
There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus, and Jesus fulfilled (or filled-full) every single one (Matthew 5:17-18). The Old and New Testament are soul-mates (lovers, if you will), telling one story of grace and redemption through faith in the Messiah. Jesus summarized the entire Old Testament by stating all that is required of us is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40). The Apostle Paul, eloquently linked the Old and New Testaments together when he said, “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).
The Wise Men found Jesus by following the star. Today, wise men (and women) still seek Jesus, and He is found by following God’s gifts to us of the Old and New Testaments.
Finally, it is well known that in the Bible the dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Immediately following Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove (Matthew 3:16). God’s gift of the Holy Spirit was given to all believers in Acts 2. The Bible teaches that both the Old and New Testaments were “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). In other words, it was the Holy Spirit who made sure both Testaments communicated the Truth about God, Jesus, grace, and salvation. We see this fact emphasized in Jesus’ prayer for His followers. In that prayer He calls the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of Truth” and promises that the Holy Spirit “will guide (us) into all truth” (John 14:17 & 16:13).
“On the second day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, two Turtle Doves…”
The “two turtle doves” symbolize the gifts of the Old and New Testament. In both Testaments we find the continual and consistent story of Jesus, the Messiah. Through the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Old and New Testaments were given to common, ordinary people, and through the Holy Spirit we learn all we need to know about following Jesus.
Today, on the second day of Christmas, take time to thank God for the wonderful gift of His Word.