As an Eagle - So the Lord
Exodus 19:3-4: And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.
Notice the phrase: “I bare you on eagles’ wings.” Here we see God likening his interactions with the people of Israel to the magnificent abilities of one of the most spectacular creatures on earth – the eagle. God reminds the people of Israel how he overcame those who held them in bondage and how he carried them on eagles’ wings on their journey – and brought them to himself. The meaning of life is that God is working to bring us to himself. The Lord has defeated the powers of sin, death, and Satan and he is calling out a people from the nations of the earth. Those who choose to follow him “come to him”, relationally, at conversion, and one day he will bring us to himself when he returns and resurrects us from the grave. Between conversion and resurrection to eternal life, he bears us on eagles’ wings, sustaining those who continue in the faith.
There is always an emphasis on “the land” when it comes to Israel, and the future kingdom that awaits the Church, but notice the Lord told Moses that when he sent him to Egypt to lead the people out, it was for the purpose of leading them to a person. God said, “I…brought you unto myself.” The meaning of life is to know the Lord. He is working in the lives of his followers to bring them finally to himself. Paul told the Philippians: “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
Take note of these words in the Book of Deuteronomy: “For the LORD'S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. 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. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.”
“As an eagle…so the Lord.” It seems clear that the Lord is saying: “I want you to understand what I am doing in your life; I want you to know me.” We can know him not just because of who he is, but because of the kind of God he is.
As an eagle, so the Lord builds. The eagle finds a good place, high above the ground, in which to build a nest. The eagle gathers sticks and other materials to make the nest suitable. The Bible teaches us that there is a building process in our lives. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That’s not to say that we come to the Lord “little by little”; conversion is becoming a servant of the Lord who seeks to obey him (Romans 6:16). Paul did not tell Christians to “become holy.” He instructed them to “perfect holiness” in the fear of God. Those who yield to Christ grow in his likeness as they follow him. If they sin, God will convict and chasten, but repent they must. God will mercifully forgive those who repent. So, God is working on us and he has a finished product in mind: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (For an explanation of who it was that God “did foreknow”, click here.)
“As an eagle stirreth up her nest.” As an eagle, so the Lord stirs and prods. The mother eagle knows her young ones must be stirred to fly. She doesn’t harm them; she starts rearranging the sticks in the nest and removing some of the materials that makes the nest comfortable. The mother eagle is making them realize they need to get moving. The Lord is a God of deliverance. He is also a God of disturbance. He will intervene in our lives for the purpose of stirring up the comfortable nests that we build for ourselves. He does not will pain for his children, but he will chasten us when we deliberately disobey, and he will stir things up in our lives if we are being passively indifferent. He does both for the purpose of saving us from eternal death.
“As an eagle…fluttereth over her young.” As an eagle, so the Lord seeks to get our attention. Eagles don’t learn to fly by watching each other, they learn by imitating their mother, and her eyes are always on her young ones. Even when circumstances are uncomfortable, the Lord is watching over us and he is working to keep our attention on him. He has given us an example to follow. Without his leading and teaching we would flail and falter along the way.
“As an eagle, so the Lord bears us.” Just imagine being an eaglet leaving the nest. Out he goes, flapping and fluttering with all of his might trying to fly. His mother sees his struggles and she swoops down underneath him. She spreads her mighty wings and catches him. She bears him on her wings and takes him higher and higher and she lets him try again. She is making sure that he learns to do what he is supposed to do. If he gives up, it won’t be because his mother was not helping him along the way. It will be because he chose to cling to creaturely comforts, and he did not push forward through the challenges of learning to fly.
It is through much opposition that we will enter the Kingdom of God. We all must overcome the lair of the world, the lies of Satan, and the lusts of the flesh. We must come to him, and keep coming to him, until meet him face to face. The Lord promises his aid to his children as we follow him. He will bear us on eagles’ wings. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. His commandments are not grievous to those who love him. But he won’t live your life for you. Don’t give up. Persevere. Keep pressing toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.