In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt — on the very day — they came to the Desert of Sinai . . . and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel. You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:1-6)
It had been an eventful three months. A bewildered exhilaration at first — delivered from an increasingly oppressive slavery in Egypt; having clothing, jewelery and other valuables from your former captors just for the asking. But they’d hardly left town when the Egyptian army came after them with horses and chariots. They immediately forgot the 10 plagues God had sent while they were in Egypt and blamed Moses for bringing them out to the desert to die.
You’d think that after God took them through the Red Sea and then brought the water down on the Egyptians like a tsunami, they’d develop a little more faith. But when three dry days led to water that was bitter, so were the people. All previous miracles and provision were forgotten in the rumble of the grumble. It was a pattern that would be repeated many times. No wonder Moses had tried to get God to give this job to somebody else!
After three months of this, it was time to lay down the law. The people came to Mount Sinai, the place where God himself would inscribe the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone. But first, He had a word for the people. Every one of them had personally witnessed what God had done to the Egyptians so they could go free. Each one had been under God’s provision and protection. Now God was going to give them His commandments so they could be His chosen people, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. He had carried them on eagle’s wings to bring them to Himself.
It’s a powerful metaphor for us. The initial exhilaration we feel when we leave the world’s slavery can soon dissipate. Not only are we not there yet; we don’t even know where “there” is. We feel like we’re wandering around in a desert, wondering why we ever left our bondage to the world’s demands. We look back with rose-colored glasses. In front of us are people who have us up against it; we’re dry as dust; sick of the same old, same old; with a bitter taste in our mouths. We forget that at every point of real challenge, God has carried us on eagle’s wings. On His wings we soar; trouble is, we can tend to act like turkeys between flights.
Eagles in flight are powerful and graceful. When they meet turbulence, they use the tremendous lift in the resulting thermal updrafts to reach great heights. From these lofty elevations the eagle has a much greater perspective of the landscape below. When turbulence comes, we too can rise on the strong wings of our Father and, carried by Him, get a whole new perspective.
The majestic bald eagle soars high while searching for what will sustain it, and the food of choice is fish. Turkeys stay on the ground looking only at what is within their limited range. God has lifted each one of us to bring us to Himself, and we find our real sustenance in Him. We are His treasured possession. We’re called to be an obedient people set apart to minister God’s love to those around us. To do that, we need to go fishing with Jesus. We won’t be able to do His will in His power and by His grace if we’ve got our eyes on the small square footage of our immediate circumstances. When that happens, we end up choking down everything from seeds to snakes — turkey food. We see the good, the bad and the ugly, and that becomes our focus. We need to remember who we are in Christ, and allow Him to lift us to His far greater perspective.
Tired of flapping around and never getting off the ground? Fed up with turkey rations? Feel hopeless, helpless, hapless?
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 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. (Isaiah 40:28-31)