Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
"The Way of the Eagle"
In what ways is a true Christian like an "eagle"? What spiritual lessons can we learn from this noble bird of prey? Are you a spiritual "eagle" who can soar to great heights, alone, majestic? Or are you more like a barnyard "chicken" -- bound to the earth, scratching for a living, dependent on the local "flock" and chicken "coop" for protection?
Eagles are among the most amazing creatures that YEHOVAH God created. Solomon himself wrote in the book of Proverbs, "There be three things which be too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air..." (Prov. 30:18-19).
Golden and bald eagles are among the largest and most powerful birds in the world. They rank second in size next to the California condor among the birds of prey in North America. On inspection at close range, eagles look fierce and proud, and gracefully soar high in the air as they look for food and survey their aerial domain and the landscape beneath them.
Eagles are wise -- they are careful to avoid danger, and rarely attack humans, unless they come too close to its nest, and pose a threat to their young. Eagles have been noted as symbols of strength, bravery and courage -- and proud independence -- from the earliest of times.
Approximately 30 to 35 inches long from beak to tail, weighing about 8 to 13 pounds, the wings of an eagle stretch about seven feet wide. When the wind is favorable, golden eagles can carry prey weighing about as much as they do up to their nest.
Eagles may live for fifty years or more. They breed for the first time when about four years old, and keep the same mates for life. Nests of eagles are called eyries or aeries (both words are pronounced AIR eez). Bald eagles usually build their nests in the tops of tall trees, near water, or high up on sheer cliffs in the mountains. Bald eagles use the same nest year after year, building, refurbishing, adding new material, year after year. A new nest may be only three feet across, but an old eyrie may be ten feet across and twenty feet deep, weighing an incredible two tons! Both eagle parents guard the nest and take food to the young.
Eaglets begin to grow feathers when they are about four weeks old, and cannot tear up their own food until they are six to eight weeks old. They finally leave the next when they are about ten to twelve weeks old, but cannot fly very well at first. For several months the parents feed them until they are able to fend for themselves as hunters and gatherers of food.
The Eyes of an Eagle
An eagle's eyes are large and located on the sides of its head. However it can see straight ahead, and its vision is greater by far than that of humans. Eagles and hawks are said to have the keenest sight of all, and can sight their prey while soaring high in the sky. In the book of Job we read, "Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off" (Job 39:29).
The eagle is noted for its great vision. But what about you and I? Are we like the eagle in being able to "behold afar off" in the distance? Do we have spiritual "vision"? Solomon wrote, "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, HAPPY is he" (Prov. 29:18). The word "vision" here is chazown and means "a sight (mentally), i.e., a dream, revelation, oracle," from the root word chazah, meaning "to gaze at," "mentally to perceive, contemplate, specifically, to have a vision of -- behold, look, prophesy, see."
The word generally refers to a "divine vision" or "oracle" from YEHOVAH God -- and therefore refers to "prophetic insight" and understanding the events happening around us, in the light of Bible prophecy, and therefore perceiving the future, and taking warning. Many people lack spiritual insight and understanding. They lack "vision." They also lack "perception" of the things of YEHOVAH God -- the deeper truths, and the more profound understandings. They cannot "see afar off.' They are cursed with spiritual astigmatism, or even near-sightedness.
Some are even spiritually "blind" and cannot see at all! The Laodicean end-time Church and its membership falls into this terrible category (Rev. 3:17), and so do the self-righteous "Pharisees" in history and among us today, in the end-time churches of YEHOVAH God. Yeshua said of such: "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Leave them alone: They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Matt. 15:14). Are you blind? Or do you possess the keen-eyed vision of the "eagle"?
Solomon wrote, "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished" (Prov. 22:3). This lesson is so important, that YEHOVAH God had it recorded twice for our reflection, meditation, and instruction. We read again: "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on" -- go on their way, merrily and blithely unaware of the danger and peril that is rushing upon them -- "and are punished" (Prov. 27:12).
The Wings of an Eagle
Eagles have long, broad wings and tails which easily support their weight when flying, and can glide long distances by holding their wings out stiffly, catching the air currents and updrafts, enabling them to soar high into the sky, far higher than other birds. Says Alan Devoe, "An African eagle, swooping down at a speed of better than 100 miles an hour, brakes with such stunning skill -- spreading wings and tail in an aerial skid-stop -- that it comes to a dead halt in the space of 20 feet."
Continues Alan Devoe in "The Miracle of Birds," "A bird cushions its landing with it legs, which consist of three single rigid bones with joints that work in opposite directions. This is probably the most effective shock-absorbing mechanism in nature" (Our Amazing World of Nature: Its Marvels and Mysteries, p. 59).
Eagles, like other birds, are amazing miniature natural "airplanes." "On the downstroke each wing moves forward, the inner half held almost rigid, its fore edge slightly sloped like a plane wing, its upper surface arched by a curve of feathers. The outer half of the wing moves separately, activated by the bird's 'wrist,' located about halfway along the wing's length. During wingbeat, the primary feathers at the bird's wing tips flare out almost at right angles to the wing and become propellers. The inner half of the wing, curved and tilted, is meanwhile the plane wing providing steady lift. On landings and takeoffs, the bird avoids stall by means of special feathers at the front end of its 'wrist.' It raises these to make a 'slot' between them and its main wing, providing a perfect auxiliary airfoil" (ibid.).
The word of YEHOVAH God compares true Christians to "eagles." In the prophecy of Isaiah, YEHOVAH says, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
What does it mean, to "mount up" with wings as eagles? The Hebrew word is alah and means "to ascend," "to be high," "lifted up," "arise up," or "carry up," and is used in a great variety of senses. An eagle "mounts up" as it soars high into the sky, far above the plains below. When a storm breaks, the violent winds that lashes the earth also carry the eagle aloft to unscaled heights, above the storm clouds.
How the Eagle Learns to Fly
Airplane pilots must undergo intensive training both on the ground and in the air in order to learn how to fly an airplane. It is a very complicated business, but such training is altogether necessary in order to avoid expensive and violent "accidents." Years are spent in acquiring the necessary skills and experience in order to be trusted to fly an airplane.
How do young eagles get their "flight training" and develop their "operational skills"?
In the word of YEHOVAH God we read: "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 [Israel], and there was no strange god with him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields..." (Deut. 32:11-13).
When the time comes for the young eagles to begin to leave the nest, and learn to fly, they are at first very fearful. The nest is so comfortable, safe, and secure. Who would ever want to leave it? Mommy and Daddy provide food and protection. Why shouldn't the little eaglets just stay there for the rest of their lives?
But no -- they must fulfill their calling in life. They, too, must learn how to soar, and ride the winds, and mount the heavens!
To convince the little eagles that the time has come to leave the nest, the parent eagles "stir up the nest." That is, they rough it up with their talons, and make it uncomfortable, so that sticks and sharp ends and pointy spurs stick out of the nest, so that it is no longer soft and secure, ruining their "comfort zone." The nest is made very inhospitable, as the eagles tear up the "bedding," and break up the twigs until jagged ends of wood stick out all over like a pin cushion. Life for the young eaglets becomes miserable and unhappy. Why would Mom and Pop do such a thing?
But to make matters worse, then the mother eagle begins to "flutter her wings" at the youngsters, beating on them, harassing them, and driving them to the edge of the nest. Cowing before such an attack, the little eagles climb up on the edge of the nest. At this point, the mother eagle "spreads her wings" and, to escape her winged fury, the little eagle climbs onto her back, and hangs on for dear life. As if that were not enough, then the mother eagle launches out into space, and begins to fly, carrying the eagle on her back. All seems safe and serene, the little eagle never expected such a thrilling ride -- but that was nothing to what was to come shortly. For suddenly, without any warning, the mother eagle DIVES, plummeting downward, depriving the little eagle of its "seat," and the next thing it knows, it is in free fall, falling, and tumbling down, down, down, in the air, its wings struggling to catch hold of the air currents, but flopping crazily due to its inexperience. For it must learn to flow, and there is nothing like "experience" to teach an eagle to fly! Instinct alone is not enough!
Just at it thinks all is hopeless and lost, however, the mother eagle swoops down below and catches it once again on its back, and soars back into the atmosphere. Much relieved, the young eagle hangs on for dear life. But just when he thinks everything is "OK" once again, the mother pulls another sneaky trick, and dumps him into the air, alone, again! Once again, the little eagle struggles, this time his wings begin to work a little better, and instead of tumbling like a rock pulled by gravity to certain destruction below, he manages to slow his descent, and is able to stay aloft a little longer, as his wings begin to strengthen. Again, if necessary, the mother eagle rescues him from death, and soars back into the heavens. But just as he thinks everything is finally "hunky dory," she does it again! And down he goes! Finally, he learns how to catch the air currents and ride the winds, and begins to soar "like an eagle" -- and now experiences the thrill of total "freedom" and "liberty"! Now he is no longer confined to the parameters of the nest. Now he is free to soar in the sky, and to be a true "eagle."
Unfortunately, some little eagles never do learn to fly, however. They stubbornly refuse to use their wings, and fly on their own. Despite numerous attempts by the mother eagle to teach them to "fly," they rebel. Flying is not for them! They will just stick to the nest, and depend on others to do their "flying" and "thinking" for them.
In sheer exasperation, the time finally comes when the mother realizes there is no lope for such a child. So she takes him one last time up on her back, and soars high into the air, and with a wild screech of disappointment and pain, she dives out from under him and flies away, leaving him to his fate -- either fly -- or die.
Fly -- or die. That's it. The little eagle either catches himself, and begins to fly on his own, or he is a "goner." If he doesn't fly this time, he will surely crash and smash upon the rocks below.
"Try Your Wings"
Once in an Ambassador Club (a speech club for all men at Ambassador College in Pasadena, California), Garner Ted Armstrong, who seldom visited the clubs, did on this one night, and made a statement which I have never forgotten. He said to me, and to all the men in the club, as part of his over-all evaluation, "Try your wings." "Don't be afraid to try your wings."
I wrote that down, and have remembered it ever since. There are times, today, of course, when I wish he and others would learn to "try" their own spiritual "wings," and grow up spiritually! But at the time, I thought that was remarkably good advice -- inspired of YEHOVAH God. And I have been striving to "try my wings," ever since!
What about you? Have you learned yet how to "fly," spiritually? Or do you still depend on other men, the comfort of a safe and secure "nest" such as a local church congregation? Have you learned "the way of the eagle"? Or are you more like a spiritual "chicken," just another one stuck in the barnyard, fenced in, living out your spiritual life depending on the "feed" that your owner provides, scratching out your daily hum-drum existence, finding your place in the local 'pecking order" and staying there?
Oh for the life of the eagle! Free to roam the skies, unafraid of any other creature, glorying in the gifts of YEHOVAH God, and exhibiting the proud airs of unsullied freedom -- free at last -- free at last -- thank YEHOVAH God Almighty, free at last!
Of Eagles and Chickens
The Bible only speaks of chickens once. Yeshua the Messiah said to the people of Jerusalem, as he thought about the future destruction that was soon to come upon them, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stoneth them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 23:37-39).
Chickens, of course, are domestic fowl. They are kept penned up by farmers to keep them from straying away, and to protect them from wild animals, such as foxes, coyotes, wolves, or even dogs.
Many Christians, in these last days, are much like these "chickens." Rather than being spiritually strong, and far-sighted, and powerful, like the eagle, who is master of his domain, the chickens are not solitary creatures who can stand alone. They need "friends," the surroundings of a "flock," and quickly establish a "pecking order" amongst themselves.
Each "chicken" is confined to the chicken pen of its owner. It is not allowed to wander or roam freely. Woe to the children who keep straying from the pen! Such a chicken becomes a candidate for a fried chicken dinner! Today, as we look about us, we see all kinds of groups of "spiritual chickens" -- there is "United," over there, and the "Global chicken yard" over there, and the "Philadelphia Chicken pens" down the street, and the 'Chicken Yard, International," over the hill, as well as many smaller chicken pens. The various chickens may all feel comfortable in their own chicken yard, and may think it is better than the others, but aren't they all pretty much the same?
The dull, monotonous, routine life of the 'chicken yard" will never appeal to those who are like the "eagle." Which are you? A "chicken" saint of YEHOVAH God? Or an "eagle" saint of YEHOVAH God? Do you spend your life in the barnyard of your master, the ministers of your church, clucking, and crowing about the special "advantages" of your chicken coop? Maybe your nest is a little bigger than those of "Farmer Flurry," or "Farmer Rod"?
When the storm strikes with unmitigated fury, notice how the chickens scurry for the chicken coop, cuddle up inside, and cower in fear. If the storm should beat upon their own coop with real fury, they would be tossed about, and perhaps killed, all together. They have no way of escape -- for they are bound up inside the chicken pen!
The eagle, on the other hand, doesn't blink at the storm clouds scudding along the horizon. Its nest is built upon a "rock," high up in the mountains, safe from the fury and onslaught of the storm's violent winds and rains and lightning. The same storm of tribulation and persecution that beats down upon the cowering chickens -- a type of weak, back-slidden, sickly "Christians" -- is the very storm that allows the eagles -- bold, fearless, obedient Christians who know the 'way of the eagle" -- to ride the powerful upshafts of the storms winds, and to soar to heights never before imagined or attained by mere mortal man!
What kind of Christian are you?
Or an "eagle"?
-- Edited By John D. Keyser.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 2186
Temple City, CA 91780, U.S.A.