I hadn’t planned on writing this blog about eagles quite yet. It has been in my thoughts for a few months now, but I didn’t feel it was the right time to write it. Then, I watched the Superbowl. Truly, I’m not a big sports fan. It’s just not my thing. Occasionally I’ll catch a few minutes of a football game here and there, but it’s not something I think about at all. Even the biggest game of the year doesn’t draw me in often. Last year I went to a Superbowl party, but had a hard time focusing on the game. I was more interested in the food! When this year’s game came, I am sad to say I didn’t even know it was Superbowl Sunday until I tried to get a parking space at Publix (the grocery store). Suddenly, I realized it must be game day.
That evening I watched the game. I didn’t know much about the teams. I felt pretty ignorant as I sat there and watched as best I could. During the course of the game, I felt myself getting a little annoyed. I was watching the crowds cheering and going crazy for a game. I thought, “People go wild for a game, but how many would cheer this much for the Savior of the world, Jesus?” Yes, I know. That was judgmental. How do I know what any of those people believe? Maybe it’s because I’ve seen how people drool over stars- like actors/actresses, athletes, models or people who make a ton of money. After all, they are just people. When I see how people idolize people, it does bother me. Why don’t they see Jesus as the one who deserves their attention and glory? Certainly, I have no right to judge other people for what they like, so I had to give myself a good kick in the pants for my thoughts. Yet, I still felt a little sad as I thought about how many times we glorify other things, rather than Jesus, our Savior.
But, I was in for a surprise, and I almost missed it. It happened after the game concluded, and the Eagles had clenched an amazing victory. The coach of the Eagles was interviewed about his team’s Superbowl victory. He said, “I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity.” I was shocked. This coach stated on national T.V. that he gave the glory and honor to Jesus Christ! A rush of joy ran through me at that moment, and I felt hope rise in my spirit.
After the game I did a little research and found out there are many devout Christians on the Eagles team. They are a team of prayer warriors. One of the players even said he wants to be a pastor some day. How exhilarating to see a coach, and players give Jesus the credit. Most of the world gives themselves credit, forgetting the one who gives them their skills and talent. But, not this team.
So you are probably wondering…..is she just going to talk about the Philadelphia Eagles? Actually, this is a segue into the topic I was originally planning to write about- THE EAGLES from the Bible, and the bird itself. But, the story of the Super bowl will drive the final point home. So, try to read all the way to the end, so you see how it all circles back together.
What does the Bible say about eagles? We know they are beautiful, majestic birds, but what do these graceful gliders have to do with God’s prophetic word of truth? By the time you’re done reading this, you will be thoroughly fascinated, and chances are, eagles will be on your daily radar.
Let’s start with a few verses from the Bible. I think you may know this first one from Isaiah 40:31- “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 be faint.” This verse is quoted often because it reminds us that as people of God, we will be sustained by God himself, as he is our hope. If we walk in faith, we will not fail- we will not lose heart. His strength will keep us going.
This next verse is describing what God did for the Israelites during their escape from bondage in Egypt: Exodus 19:4- “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” This verse reminds us of the great miracle God did when the Hebrew slaves were brought out of Egypt, so God could bring them to the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy 32: 10,11 says, ” He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. The Lord alone led him.” These verses are a reminder that God himself cared for the nation of Israel when he brought them out of captivity. He protected and guided them in their journey.
Psalm 103:5 says, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits…..who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” This verse reminds us that the Lord renews us by his word and his presence.
It may be hard to appreciate these verses if you don’t have a broad knowledge about eagles in the wild. If you understand how God designed them, and their habits in nature, you will start to see a connection. Let’s look at how eagles behave in their natural state.
Firstly, an eagle has a special classification- it is known as a RAPTOR. A raptor is a bird of prey who seizes or snatches their prey from the air, ground, or from the water. They feed chiefly on meat, or sometimes carrion (dead animals). Some raptors, such as hawks or falcons, prefer snatching their prey mid-air, while other raptors, such as the vulture, prefer waiting for their prey to die first. This prey can consist of rats, mice, moles, rabbits, squirrels, or snakes. In the case of many eagles, they prefer FISH. In fact, their other name is a FISH HAWK. An eagle’s main delight is a nice, fresh fish. They can spot their favorite prey from as far as two miles away. Their eyes can account for up to 50% of their head so this vision makes them the equivalent of a Navy Seal sharp shooter. Although, the eagle will give the Navy Seal a run for his money because the eagle’s vision is five times better! Eagles’ eyes have more than a million light sensitive cells per square millimeter of retina. Eagles are also known as “fish stealers” because they grab fish so quickly, using their superior vision, and because they often steal it from each other, or from other birds. This is one of the reasons Benjamin Franklin said the bald eagle should not be our national bird- because they steal.
These facts are probably interesting, but that’s just the tip of the eagle iceberg. The next facts I’ll share are just as intriguing. When it comes to flying, eagles have exceptional talent. Eagles are able to soar for long hours without moving their wings. They fly using thermals (columns of rising air). They are master gliders and are known for flying in circles, or straight ahead- in either case, they never look over their shoulder- they just keep moving forward. If you were to compare an eagle’s wings to the wings of an airplane, the eagle would win based on the sheer power and strength of their wings. As far as speed is concerned, the golden eagle is the second fastest bird in the world, with the peregrine falcon being the fastest. The eagle can also fly in stormy weather. Eagles have even been known to fly above storm clouds when the weather gets downright frightening!
Eagles usually mate for life, and they take care of their young together. They build the nest for the eaglets as a team. The bottom layers of the nest contain hard branches, and sometimes even thorns. On top of this they place softer natural materials such as moss, leaves and soft grass. As the eaglets get older, the mama eagle will “stir up the nest” so the young eaglets will now feel the rough branches, instead of just the soft material. This will make the stay in the nest uncomfortable, urging the eaglets to “strike out on their own” and fly away. But do not worry, if the eaglet does not fly right away, the mama eagle will catch it.
Eagles build their nests high upon a rock or cliff so they are safe from predators. This also gives them a great view of the territory below.
Because the eagle is such a strong, skilled hunter (raptor), it has often been known as the bird of kings, along with falcons. Eagles are often called the King of Birds, while lions are called the King of Beasts. It’s no wonder the United States chose the eagle as its national symbol. But, join the crowd because at least 20 other countries have eagles shown on their coat of arms.
All these facts are extraordinary, but did you know that the people of God are referred to as eagles? These fascinating raptors are a reminder of who we are, and how God sees us. They are also a reminder of an amazing future event known as the rapture. Let’s see how.
Firstly, eagles have stellar vision, with over a million light sensitive cells in their eyes. As people of God we are given a powerful gift called the Holy Spirit. This gift allows us to see God working in the world, and allows us to participate in his plan as he speaks to us through his spirit.
Eagles are the masters of soaring. As Christians we are capable of soaring above any problem because we have the Great and Mighty Counselor, Jesus. We “fly high on the wings of eagles” because it is Jesus behind those wings. Psalm 91 even says if we are in trouble we are to call upon the Lord and he will give his angels charge over us. It says Jesus “will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” When the storms of life come, the eagle flies above the clouds— and so can we, if we have Jesus.
When eagles fly, they do not look over their shoulder. They are not worried about other predators. They are not fearful. As followers of Christ we need not be fearful either. We have been given the power to “trample on scorpions and serpents.” We are not given a spirit of fear, but instead we are given a sound mind, power and love. We do not need to look over our shoulder. We only need to move forward with what the Lord has for us.
The nesting habits of eagles are a reminder for Christians as well. Eagles line the bottom of their nests with hard branches and thorns, while the top layers are padded with soft moss or grass. But at some point the eagle will stir up the nest so the babies feel the prickly sensation of the branches and thorns. It is the same with God- at some point he may let us feel the pricks and thorns. Why? So, we will jump out of the nest and DO SOMETHING! Babies have to leave the nest sometime- so do Christians! We have to take a risk and go out there and produce fruit! That means leaving the cozy nest! Soft, warm nests are wonderful, but think about it……….do we grow when we are warm, cozy and comfortable? No, we usually lay around and get lazy……LOL. Pain can produce growth and growth leads us to the place Jesus has prepared.
Even though we may have to take risks, never fear—–because like the eagle, God places us high upon a rock. He keeps watch over us. Jesus, OUR ROCK, is ever-present, and giving us help if we ask. We may leave the nest, but symbolically we are still high on that rock, our eternity being sealed in him.
Psalm 27:5 says, “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”
One of my favorite verses is from Psalm 119. This Psalm is the longest psalm in the Bible and the longest chapter, containing 176 verses. The Psalm is actually written as an acrostic poem, with certain stanzas corresponding to Hebrew letters. So, the entire Psalm includes all 22 Hebrew letters. The verse I have always loved, (and reminds me of eagles) is Psalm 119, verse 114. It says,“You are my hiding place and my shield. I hope in your word.” Corrie ten Boom, the famous Dutch Christian who hid Jewish people in a hole in the wall of her home, quoted this verse often. When reading this verse I often picture an eagle, high upon a rock, even hidden in the cleft of a rock- hidden and protected from the dangers below. What’s interesting about this particular verse is that it is labeled with the Hebrew letter Samekh. When you look at the meaning behind the letter Samekh, you find it means: to surround and protect- to encircle. It also means “protective shield.” The pictograph representing the letter Samekh is a circle. Think about Jericho, when the Israelites simply had to circle the land God would give them. Their victory was secure when they followed these instructions to circle Jericho. As people of God, we are circled and protected. We are surrounded by his provision, protection and love. Have you ever seen eagles circling for long periods of time? They certainly do it because I have seen it for myself. What’s amazing is they aren’t even moving their wings. They are gliding. Gliding is defined as moving smoothly, without labor or obstruction. As “eagles”, we often try to do things in our own strength, but this is where we hit turbulence. When guided by the Holy Spirit (“eagle eyes”), we are gliding, rather than in constant turbulence. Jesus takes the yoke with us as we fly. We do not labor alone.
And now I come to my favorite part about eagles. They are raptors. This means they “steal their prey in the blink of an eye.” All raptors, which include eagles, hawks, falcons, kestrels, vultures, owls and osprey, snatch their prey from the air, or from the water and/or ground. The prey never knows what’s coming. In a flash it is done. This reminds me of the RAPTURE. This is when Christ comes to snatch his Bride in the blink of an eye- see the similarity?- raptor- rapture?????? Of course, Christ will not tear us apart and eat us!!! Instead, he will take us to heaven. In the case of eagles, especially bald eagles, they love fish. I think about Jesus, who is a fisher of men. As his disciples we are to be fishers of men as well (like the eagles fish for fish, we fish for people). And what about eagles stealing fish? The part about stealing reminds me of one more thing! When Jesus returns he says he will come like “a thief in the night.” In ancient Jewish weddings the Bride was STOLEN. She did not know the day or hour her groom would come. He would come like a thief in the night.
There’s another verse that reminds me of the rapture, and it involves a reference to eagles. “For as lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”
Depending on which translation you use, some say “vultures” instead of eagles. But if you look up the verse in Strong’s concordance, the word used is aetos, which means eagle.
I did some research into the meaning of these verses and found out many scholars believe they are referring to the coming of Christ. When he returns, it will be visible for all to see, as lightning is visible to everyone. It will be quick, but very noticeable. The eagles in the verse are referring to the people of God. The eagles will be gathered when Christ returns. They will be gathered to him- his body was the “carcass” that was in the tomb, but rose from the dead. The people of God, who know he is the resurrected Christ and have accepted him, will be gathered to him when he returns. Some scholars say this is referring to the rapture, while others say it is the Second Coming. If it’s the rapture, it would definitely be quick like lightning!
The people of God are the eagles- set high upon a rock- awaiting the return of our Lord. We are going to face thorns and heartache, but we fly forward. We don’t look back. We are not fearful- we are under the perfect wings of God. We don’t look at what we see here on Earth, but we look ahead with our super powerful vision- We know we have a day of redemption coming. The day when lightning will light up the entire sky, and we will be “stolen” by our Groom.
Have you ever wondered about the white feathers on a bald eagle’s head? Guess what? They don’t get those beautiful white feathers until they are five years old. Before this time, their heads are a dingy brown color. As Christians, our hearts were once a dingy brown color too. But, with Christ we are white as snow, since we are forgiven through Christ’s blood. Did you know the number of grace in the Bible is five? I could write a whole blog just on the number five and you would certainly see it’s the number of grace. Jesus gave us the free gift of salvation- we do not have to earn it- it is given to us by grace. Our hearts go from brown to white, like the eagle’s feathers at the five year mark.
So what does any of this have to do with Superbowl Sunday? Well, the coach of the Eagles made a bold statement. He made it in front of an entire nation. He was not ashamed to recognize the King of Kings, Lord of Lords. The coach of the Eagles was himself “an eagle” of the most high. Remember when I said the eagle is considered to be a bird of kings? When we accept him, and acknowledge him before men, we are standing with the King. He doesn’t take that lightly. In Matthew 10:32 it says, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” This coach, and his team ACKNOWLEDGED JESUS. If we are truly awaiting his coming, won’t we do the same? Won’t we tell others about him? The Superbowl is watched by more than 100 million people. Imagine saying you love Jesus in front of all those people. I can tell you this- an “eagle” would say it no matter where he/she is at.
At some point in our lives we will have to take a stand for Jesus. And when he returns he’s gonna know where we stand. If we stand with him, we will be flying on to heaven with him- always looking forward- never looking back.
Here’s something interesting to ponder……………..In the book of Revelation, seven churches are mentioned. Out of the seven, only two churches are commended. One of those churches that is commended is the Church of Philadelphia. This church is told, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Some biblical scholars say this verse is referring to the Tribulation- a time where the whole earth will be tested. The Church of Philadelphia is spared from this. Keep in mind the Church of Philadelphia being mentioned in the Bible is not literally Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (where the Eagles are from!). It is referring to one of the “spiritual churches” of the last days. If you read all the verses about this church, it is stated “they have kept God’s word and have not DENIED HIS NAME.” This is from Revelation 3, verses 1-13. Did you catch that part? THEY HAVE NOT DENIED HIS NAME! Wow- that hits home for me. I am sure it’s a coincidence that the coach from the winning Superbowl team was from the Philadelphia Eagles, and he didn’t deny Jesus’ name, but if anything it reminds me to never deny his name, and keep declaring his name!!!! True eagles of God will shout it out from the highest rock and let it echo throughout the land.
If we are going to soar like God intended us to, we had better be ready to declare his Son’s name- Jesus Christ! We may not get to do it at the Superbowl, but we can do it in our homes, neighborhoods, concerts, parties, celebrations, at the grocery store, at school, on planes, on trains,………..you get the point. There will come a day when everyone will stand before him. As an “eagle”, I want to say I declared his name boldly.
THE COVER IMAGE FOR THIS BLOG IS A PICTURE MY NEIGHBOR TOOK- THIS EAGLE WAS ON AN ELECTRICAL POLE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD. ISN’T HE BEAUTIFUL? Photo Credit: Shannon Cloud