In Deuteronomy 32 we find the parting words of Moses written as a song which he openly read to the entire congregation of Israel. The purpose of the song was to “…proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God…” (verse 3) as the eternal “Rock” of the people of God. In verse 7, Moses commands that Israel must remember what God had done and continued doing for them and their fathers.
As we recount the events, we come upon verses 9-10 which describe how much our Father cares for us and the extent to which His actions assure our safety.
”…For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye” (Deuteronomy 32:9-10).
These verses are a metaphor of how God rescued Israel from Egypt and led them through the wilderness and personally cared for them. It also serves as a reminder for us of the recent Festival symbolizing our spiritual deliverance. Continuing, verse 11 uses another metaphor that holds another important lesson.
“As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings” (Deuteronomy 32:11).
While the latter portion of this verse continues to express the care of God over His people in the same way eagles care for their “fledglings”. The first phrase, “As an eagle stirs up its nest”, holds an analogy and lesson that often goes unnoticed.
While the fledglings grow, the parents take great care and supply everything. However, when the time comes for the “fledgling” to move “out of the nest” and take on the responsibilities of being an eagle – in other words “learn to live the life of an eagle” – the parents “stir up” the nest. The Hebrew word translated “stirs up” means “to rouse” or “awaken”. Why did Moses use the imagery?
Over time, as the fledglings grow into “eaglets”, parent eagles return less and less frequently and with less food. When they do return, they often thrash about, removing the comfortable lining of the nest. Though the eaglets do not understand it at the time, the lack of food, water, and especially comfort, is an act of tender care and love. The parents wisely know that without the disruption of their environment their eaglets would not grow, learn, and develop the essential skills needed to live. Through this discomfort the eaglets are being given their gift of flight.
Bewildered, and out of desperation, the frustrated and confused eaglets move out of the nest and begin to test their wings. The day finally comes when each eaglet desperately jumps from its mountain ledge, only to find that its parents immediately appear flying beneath them with their wings outspread to catch and steady them. The parents had never left but were ready for their offspring to “wake up” and experience the life they were born to live.
Israel’s Father wanted Israel to live the life to which they had been called. Their Father wanted them to learn that life is not about comfort but spiritual growth and living by that growth.
“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So, He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
Today, the world – the nest – in which we now live is rapidly changing. Do we find ourselves hanging on in desperation to our comfortable environment or are we at the point where we are ready to live the life to which we are called? Are we willing to jump each day or are we still too comfortable? Jumping is not easy, but practice makes perfect because we will find God is there and waiting. Then we will learn to live – to fly.
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. “ (Isaiah 40:31, NLT).