This Memorial Day I think of when I was in Army boot camp being trained under the watchful eye of the 82ndAirborne Division Screaming Eagles. They had just returned from Viet Nam and many men did not come back. So they were vigilant in trying to teach us how ruthless the enemy was, hoping that none of us would perish. Any mistake was met with an admonition that it could cost our friends and us our lives. When I received orders for Viet Nam my brother was already there, so then Senator Proxmire interceded and the orders were rescinded. My brother did return safely but not unscathed, and neither did my father from WWII. I have since come to always realize as Peter said to, “Cast all your anxiety upon on Him because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:7-9).
The Bible is full of allusions to eagles for safety under and above their wings. The tragedy of “911” reminds us of Psalm 91, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:1,4). In Psalm 17 David cries out to God for protection, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.” We live in an era like many when wars and rumors of wars are everywhere. So are the uncivil protests of brother and sister against each other even in our own country. Many have said this civil unrest in like the Civil War era tearing our very fabric.
In the time of the exodus God carried His people, “‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4). God wants His people to seek and follow Him for safety. “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft” (Deuteronomy 32:11). But they didn’t and were exiled. I wonder about our country today?
Isaiah the Prophet wrote about Israel being assaulted and taken into exile due to disobedience. God’s judgment and salvation are themes. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength! They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29,31). You see this is a conditional promise that requires us to hope and trust in the Lord for safety. Sometimes like Psalm 55 I wish I had wings like a dove to fly away. Yet, I will be like David in Psalm 57 saying, “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” As a man after God’s own heart David kept seeking God. “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings” (Psalm 61:4). David came to a place where he could say, “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 63:7).
The Psalmists even used wings in personification of God in Psalms 107 and 139 wanting to rise and ride upon them like “the wings of wind and the dawn.” Throughout Scripture wings are used to cover the faces of seraphim from the blinding glory of God, yet having the sound of rushing and roaring waters. And too Isaiah 8:8 refers to wings of the enemy so wide as to cover all of Israel. And these same wings would be an oracle against Babylon and her paganism. Ezekiel speaks of a“great eagle with powerful wings”planting a vine of help for Israel, but they did not seek it. Daniel 7 pictures his dreams with wings as eagles as conquering nations with characteristics of the antichrist. Prophetic agents of God like angels with wings with carry the disobedient to Babylon in exile.
In the New Testament Gospels Jesus Himself spoke lovingly of His people who would not be obedient or receive His love. ‘“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing’” (Matthew 23:37).
Not until The Book of Revelation do we see and hear the wings of cherubs and seraphim surrounding the throne of God and the Lamb in heaven. It speaks of the great battle coming and the disobedience and even the antichrist coming to earth. It is a time of unparalled war and even false peace in Jerusalem. Then “The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach” (Revelation 12:14). Here is the picture of the end of times until Christ would return to vanquish and rule in a new heaven and new earth, Hallelujah!