OpinionsThe ForerunnerOn eagles' wings

On eagles’ wings

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pastorbernie@yahoo.com

Exodus 19:1-6 1-2 Three months after leaving Egypt the Israelites entered the Wilderness of Sinai. They followed the route from Rephidim, arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai, and set up camp. Israel camped there facing the mountain. 3-6 As Moses went up to meet God, God called down to him from the mountain: “Speak to the House of Jacob, tell the People of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.’ “This is what I want you to tell the People of Israel.”

Our scripture text takes us back to Wilderness of Sinai three months after the Exodus. The Israelites, through the leadership of Moses, miraculously escaped Egypt after over 400 years of oppression. No one really thought it was possible. How can a powerless people rise with such great faith and courage say to their oppressors, “Enough is enough.” What are the chances of slaves running on foot escape their very angry masters who were riding on mighty chariots? What are chances of water turning to dry ground so that a families and tribes can walk towards their new life?

Of course, we all know what truly happened. Remembering the Moses on the day of the Exodus as he pacified his terrified and panic-stricken people, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14) What happened that day became a defining moment in their life as a people of God. On the day of their liberation, they saw the power of God like never before.

In Exodus 14: 31 we read, “And when the Israelites saw the great power the lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.”

But unfortunately, friends, people have very short memories. A research was conducted at the John Hopkins University some years back on forgetfulness. According to the results of that study, there are six things that people forget the most: 1) names; 2) where something is placed; 3) telephone number; 4) words; 5) what was said; and 6) faces.

We all struggle with forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is such an ordinary thing that many of us do not realize its dangers.

Only about 90 days after the Exodus, the Israelites began to feel the pressure and the discomfort of their new-found freedom. They found themselves in the middle of the fierce and brutal reality of desert life. The scorching heat was slowly affecting their health. Food was scarce. Water was limited. The communal way of life was taking toll on their relationships with each other. The popuarity rate of Moses was slowly declining as many became suspicious of his capacity and competence to govern them. Factions and divisions were emerging as certain groups expressed their desire to go back to Egypt if only to save their children from hunger and famine.

It was under these circumstances that God called Moses again, and gave a very specific message to his people through him. It was a kind message that God hoped would pacify their hearts and restore their bearing and sense of composure.. ‘You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure.

Interestingly, God chose a very specific image to remind the people of His good intentions for them. He said, “Do you remember how I carried you on eagles’ wings?” What’s so special about the wings of eagles? What was the reason for the choice of such an image?

First, it should help for us to know that the wings of eagles are large and extremely powerful. The wings are so powerful that even without flapping its wings too much, the eagle can to soar to very great heights even in the midst of a great storm.

The secret is because an eagle waits for the current of wind. When the wind comes, it literally rides on it, spreads its powerful wings and allows itself to be carried upward by the wind. Eagles are not like common birds flapping their wings here and there. Common birds get tired easily but not eagles. Eagles are wise. They wait for the wind and soar with it and on it. The eagle’s wings are also objects of nurture and care, too. The mother eagle uses her wings to shield, to protect, to defend and to secure her babies from immanent harm and danger.

In the midst of the dangers of the desert life, the God of Israel reminded his people not panic. God lovingly called them to remember the powerful wings of the Lord that carried them through and protected them from each and every harm.

Today, we ask each other. Am I in a desert like the Israelites? Am I becoming weary? Am I becoming frustrated with the circumstances around me? Do I need to be lifted up?

God said to his people them…. “Have you forgotten how I carried you on eagles’ wings?”

What do we need to remember? We need to remember many, many things how God lovingly provides for our children’s needs; how God saves us from wrong decisions that can destroy our good name; how God makes us whole despite scarcity and limited resources; how God provides true and loyal friends who continue to love us even when we become unlovable; how God vindicates us from our enemies, and how God saves us even from the evil of our own hearts; how God stretches our faith to extend our reach and service ; how God inspires us to invent and re-invent ourselves in the light of His purposes and not our own agenda or even public opinion.

Today, God is reminding us the spiritual amnesia is deadly. Spiritual amnesia causes us to lose our focus on the things that truly matter. It leads us away from appreciating the beauty of each moment – despite the scorching heat and the glaring dryness.

Are we ready to ride on God’s wings one more time? The Lord is inviting us to pause…..to wait for his wind…… to ride his powerful wings so that we can soar far beyond we had thought or ever imagined. Thank you, Lord!

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