Last year a soaring white pine some 40 feet high died to a pine beetle. I was very sad. However, when my son helped me cut it down, we saved about 10 feet of the trunk to create a totem pole. I have been planning the design to start this summer. I intended to carve an eagle. My wife said, "why not an angel?" And so, Raphael, the arch angel of healing stands guard in our yard. He lights up in winter to shine brightly in our neighborhood.
Have you ever seen an eagle soar in the sky? Have you seen an eagle swoop down and take a trout from a roaring river, or sit majestically in a towering evergreen beside the river? I have many times. I understand why the eagle is our national symbol. The eagle also has a prominent place in Scripture to picture strength and grace. I intend to carve an eagle with outstretched wings on the top of my totem pole. He will be standing on a bear. I will talk about the bear in another post.
“They pass like swift ships, Like an eagle swooping on its prey” (Job 9:26). As majestic as the depiction, this verse speaks of the unrelenting accusations of Job’s so-called friends condemning him and his sin toward God, unrighteously. Swift flies the ships and the eagle.
In another metaphoric presentation in Proverbs 23:5 Solomon portrays riches making wings for themselves and flying away like an eagle toward heaven. Here the wise man is telling us like Jesus did that the “Love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Again in Proverbs 30 it tells of things that are wonderful and things that the writer does not understand, including “The way of an eagle in the air.” There is a beautiful mystery to the flight of an eagle, soaring out of our sight.
The Prophet Jeremiah speaks of pride of the heart saying, ‘O you who dwell in the cleft of the rock, who hold the height of the hill! Though you make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from there’ says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 49:16). “Pride comes before the fall,” Proverbs 16:18 echoes.
Ezekiel spoke prophetically of his visions of God and the creatures around the throne of God. These creatures had faces of man, lions, oxen and eagles perhaps representing all creation and its glory as God had created it. Moreover, they were celestial and powerful flashing like powerful lightening. This image is repeated again in Revelation 4:7, this time the creatures having eyes all around and six wings.
Again in Revelation 12:7 John speaks of the woman representing Israel, who gave birth to a child, meaning Jesus, being persecuted. The woman was given two of a great eagle that she might fly away into the wilderness where she might be nourished by God for three and one half years. This is speaking of the tribulation to come.
The vision of the eagle for Israel is one of great strength given through God Himself. This image is offered again by Isaiah in speaking of how we grow weak with the suffering and trials of life. “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31). Mounting up and flying like an eagle is a wonderful vision of power and peace in the face of trial. From where does this power come? Read Jeremiah 4:13, “’Behold, he shall come up like clouds, and his chariots like a whirlwind. His horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us, for we are plundered” (Jeremiah 4:13). This verse speaks of the speed and power of the enemy, Satan and his minions.
Now perhaps as a climax, yet in Moses' writings in Exodus comes a picture of the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4). This strong picture speaks of God’s faithful covenant with His people. They did not stay in trust and wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. We know the story. May we not be so stiff-necked and stubborn. May we believe His promises and covenant with us by grace on the cross, through resurrection to give us new life that we might soar on wings as eagles.
For me the image of the eagle is a strong and mighty one. When I was dying from tickborne diseases, I lay in bed soaked through my bedding with a 103° temperature, my joints aching and frozen so that I could not walk, I repeated the 103rd Psalm. “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…” (Psalm 103:1-5). As I uttered these words, the Lord descended and His Holy Spirit moved from toe to head with a warm presence that healed me totaling. I could rise and jump for joy. I knew that the power of heaven had healed me totally to fly on wings as an eagle. Hallelujah, AMEN.