On Eagles' Wings

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Genesis 19 is so rich, but my heart was drawn to verse 4 and held there by recent events.

It’s been a week full of the unexpected. A more-or-less routine surgery, that was in itself successful, turned into a disaster. Not my surgery, but that of a very dear friend. On Monday night the doctors gave her very little chance of survival. Many people went to prayer on her behalf. By yesterday both the surgeon and the ICU doctor were “cautiously optimistic.” We are a long way from out of the woods yet, but we know that we are in the presence of a miracle. That’s why Genesis 19:4 caught my attention this morning.

You yourselves have seen what I did in Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”

Moses and the Hebrews have come to Mount Sinai. Here Moses will climb the mountain and receive the commandments that the Israelites are to follow as a nation and as individuals. There is an impressive protocol to follow as they prepare for this momentous event. But before they start their preparations comes this reminder of what the Lord did.

He carried His people on eagles’ wings.

Early this morning, while sipping my coffee and waiting for daylight, I read two other chapters from the Old Testament. The Bible I was using fell open to Psalm 115 and 116. Psalm 115 is all about trust in the living God, but it ends with this: “It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down in silence; It is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord” (vss. 17, 18). The psalm that follows is a plea for help and praise for the help received. “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call upon him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, save me!’ The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living…How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people” (116:1-14).

Eagles’ wings. I am sure somewhere in her deepest consciousness, beyond what the sedation could control, my friend felt them flutter and lift.

But there is another side. The psalmist understands that at some point death will come. But he is not concerned about that because he knows that that too is part of the great divine design of the Almighty. He writes: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (vs. 15).

But not today. Today the psalmist is grateful for the eagles’ wings—as am I.

I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people…Praise the Lord” (vss. 17, 18).

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