On Eagles’ Wings

On Eagles’ Wings

The Lord is teaching you to fly. To trust him. And if you fail, there is a gracious safety net. Look back and remember “what you yourselves have seen”—how the Lord has borne you up on eagles’ wings so many times before. Remember how he did it for Israel, not just here in the wilderness but countless times throughout their history.

In Exodus 19.4 God says that he bore his people on eagles’ wings. What does that mean? It’s a picture he returns to in Deuteronomy 32.11, where he says he dealt with Israel Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions…

When an eagle judges that its young are ready to fly, it pushes them out of the nest, forcing them to flap their wings and try to fly. If the eaglet isn’t able to do this immediately, it will drop like a stone. But the eagle swoops down underneath and catches its young and bears it up to safety. Then the process is repeated until the young bird learns how to use its wings. It sounds cruel—but it’s for the eaglet’s good. It needs to learn to fly and that will never happen in the security of the nest. But the mother is watchful, strong and swift to come to the rescue if needed.

That’s the Lord’s own description of those two or three months Israel has spent in the wilderness since leaving Egypt. The Lord has been disciplining his people, testing them and training them to trust him. Perhaps at times his methods have seemed harsh, even cruel.

Think of how he led the Israelites in a circle until they were trapped, with the Red Sea behind them and the whole Egyptian army racing towards them. How distressing that must have been for them! How damaging for their mental health! Ex 14.10 says that they ‘feared greatly’. But the Lord swooped down to catch them, parting the Red Sea and bringing them safely through.

Think of how he led them for three days with no water—right on the brink of what the human body can endure. He brought them to Marah where there was water—only for them to find the water was bitter! The Lord is tossing them out of the nest. Will they flap their wings of faith and fly? Will they trust him? No—so he swoops down to catch them and makes the water sweet.

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