Eagles in the Holy Land

An Orientalism:
A Custom or Mannerism in the Bible Times

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Isaiah 40:
28 Hast thou not known?
    hast thou not heard,
the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth,
    fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint;
    and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
    and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 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;
they shall walk, and not faint.

Haven't you heard that the everlasting God, the creator of all the earth, doesn't faint or become weary? He gives power to the faint, and to those with no might he increases their strength. Even the young, they are strong and seem invincible, get weary and fail. 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; they shall walk and not faint. God tells us that he provides us with power and strength but that is not good enough, He highlights it with a figure of speech, a metaphor. This metaphor speaks loudly to the eastern culture but to our western minds it is not as poignant.

Bishop K. C. Pillai was a Hindu that became a Christian and when he came to the United States he realized that we lacked the deep understanding of parts of God's Word because we didn't understand the culture to whom the Word of God was originally written. He then traveled extensively teaching mannerisms and customs of the Bible -- Orientalisms.

Bishop K. C. Pillai explains that there are two kinds of eagles in the east: a holy eagle and a dirty eagle. The dirty eagle is akin to a vulture; they are scavengers gathering around dead carcasses to eat. They make their nests near the ground. They are like carnal Christians whose focus is on things of this world, earthly, material, flesh pleasing things. They do not set their thoughts on things above because they are focused on the things of this earth.

Matthew 24
:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

The context of this verse is Jesus Christ explaining his return and warning his disciples to not be fooled by those saying he has come and is walking on the earth doing earthly things, deceiving the people who are walking carnally.

The holy eagles only eat live food, mainly fish. They make their nests atop coconut palms, 80 - 90 feet off the ground. They are like Believers that set their thoughts above on spiritual matters. They walk by faith, by believing God's Word, and know they are seated in the heavenlies.

Ephesians 2
:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ,
        (by grace ye are saved;)
:6 And hath raised us up together,
    and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

When we believe that God has quickened us, made us alive just as He had resurrected Christ we are alive with him also, and we are raised up and sit together with Christ in the heavenlies. Spiritually this earth is not our home. Our bodies are here but our spiritual life is with Christ. When your thoughts are on things above you are not walking carnally, according to the fleshly lusts of the world.

In the east the holy eagles are considered to be like heavenly beings; they are called the "king of birds." These holy eagles purge themselves of their old feathers once every 5, 10 or 15 years (the intervals vary according to sources). The holy eagle will dive with their wings folded back head first into a still body of water from a great height; this will strip them of the all their old feathers. The old feathers have become weak, inefficient, and bedraggled. They keep the eagle from performing at his best. The eagle struggles and makes it back to shore. The people come and feed the eagles, no one every hurts them because they believe them to be representatives of God, heavenly beings. After six or seven weeks their new feathers have grown out and they return to their high nests. They have waited and their strength, their feathers, are renewed.

Isaiah 40
31 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;
they shall walk, and not faint.

God draws our attention to the strength and endurance we will receive with a metaphor. This is very important, in order to be strengthened we must wait upon the Lord, attend to God's Word and trust in Him.

As the eagle purges his old feathers and then is patient, trusting that they will grow back, his wings are renewed. We as believers need to put off all of our old dirty feathers, our doubts, worries, fears, lusts, and negativisms. We must lose the "I can'ts" and know that we can through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:13). We must lose "I am afraid that . . ." and know that we need not be worried or afraid that we will lack anything for God supplies all (Matt 6:25 - 34). All of the thoughts and actions that are contrary to the Word of God we must get rid of like old worn-out feathers. They weigh us down, keep us from performing at out best, keep us from being the great ambassadors of God that He has called us to be. They give credence to the devil and keep us under his power and we don't want that. We are sons and daughters of God and should live accordingly. God is here to help us wait upon Him and he will renew our strength and help us to be the best we can be.

 II Corinthians 5
:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
    old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

As we are in Christ, renewing our minds to the Word of God, speaking the truths of the Word to ourselves as well as others, old things, the old feathers, the old negative thoughts and words, the lusts of the world are passed away and "behold, all things are become new". We can't just get rid of a few really bad feathers and say, "the others are not so bad, I kind of like them, I'll keep them." No! we must dive into the still water of God's Holy Word and come out stripped of the world so that our strength is renewed like the eagles.

To further illustrate the impact of this metaphor a Hindu who is fasting considers it extremely important to break his fast by seeing a holy eagle. If he sees a dirty eagle he considers it a bad omen and will return to fasting. Holy eagles are that revered in the eastern culture. God refers to them in other places in the Word of God as well:

Psalm 103
:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
:3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
:4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;
    who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
:5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle?s.

 "Who satisfieth thy mouth" is a figure of speech synecdoche, a part given to represent the whole, is more picturesque than just saying, "He satisfies us" with good. God is saying, "THIS IS IMPORTANT KIDS". He satisfies our mouths with good things so that our youth, our strength, our stamina, is renewed like the eagle's.

Let us attend to God's Word and renew our minds to it. God will then work in our lives to strengthen us as the eagle's feathers are brand new and strong so shall we be able to run, and not be weary, walk, and not faint.

This is a promise of God -- take Him at His Word.