Thought for the Month

"They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles." (Isa.40:31)

Eagles have caught the imagination of many people over the years. They soar almost effortlessly high in the sky for long periods and to humans that rely on airplanes to fly, do something we can only imagine. The lyrics of Abba’s song ‘Eagle’ bear this out.

And I dream I’m an eagle
And I dream I can spread my wings
Flying high, high, I’m a bird in the sky
I’m an eagle that rides on the breeze
High, high, what a feeling to fly
Over mountains and forests and seas
And to go anywhere that I please

The eagle is the supreme animal of the air like the lion is the king of the land animals. It is the top of the food chain in the air. They are powerful, fast, large, with amazing eyesight and prey upon other animals in order to eat and feed their young, nurturing one or two young each season.

In the U.K. the golden eagle is our largest bird of prey with the wingspan of 7 feet and weighing about 5kg, although such eagles are extremely rare except in Scotland. The largest bird of prey most Britons are ever likely to see is the buzzard with a wingspan of 4 feet. Eagles are wonderful creatures as they are described in Prov.30:18‑19.

Speedy is an adjective we can apply to an eagle. It is in this sense the Old Testament uses eagles to describe a foe. (Jer.4:13; Lam.4:19; Deut.28:49) They come so quickly and stealthily that they surprise their prey like a lamb or rabbit in a blitzkrieg.

The eagle is powerful. It can catch and take away animals much heavier than itself with the powerful muscles that move their long and broad wings. World empires such as Babylon and Rome are described as such. (Ezek.17:3‑7; Deut.28:49‑52) Rome used the eagle as their standard for each Roman legion as they did at the siege of Jerusalem in A.D.70. Even in modern times Germany and the U.S.A. have used it as a national symbol to denote national pride and confidence.

Habakkuk uses the eagle to describe the strong enemy that has to be overcome in the final battle at the consummation of this age which only divine intervention will be able to defeat. In a similar way Obadiah compares the eagle to Edom and indeed Satan in its desire to have the power that they have no right to aspire to. (Hab.1:8; Obad.1:4)

Eagles and other birds of prey have great and powerful vision much greater than humans. They can point a rabbit two miles away to which they can quickly speed. Jesus uses this picture language in Matt.24:28 and Luke 17:37. In this case it is more likely to be vultures who prey on carrion. Here in Britain red kites consume mainly dead animals like roadkill. They need to use their vision in order to feed themselves. They are watching and are drawn to a carcase to feed together like Christians are drawn together to feed on spiritual food. Isaiah uses this idea to convey the thought of strength given to those who wait on God being strengthened by the Gospel and given the vision to perceive things hidden from those without such sight.

Despite their power and strength they nurture one or two eaglets every year. They use their large wings to protect their offspring from the rain and cold in the early weeks of their lives. Moses uses language to describe God’s care for Israel even if there is no record that any eagle has ever borne her young up on her wings. (Exod.19:4) Such is the care given to the household of faith now.