St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

The Lord Carries Us On Eagle’s Wings

Sermon on Exodus 19:2-8a

Text: After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
3 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 descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 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, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak. 8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.”

This week our country will celebrate Independence Day. It is a day that we think about the country in which we live. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to stop and thank God for our country. One of the symbols that is associated with our country is the bald eagle. When we think of the eagle, we might think of the strength of the wings that carries it from place to place. The term “majestic” might come to mind as we think of the eagle soaring on the air currents. Those are probably the first two terms that you might think of to describe an eagle. A term that might not come to our mind is one of nurture and caring. Yet, it is that picture that God used to describe his interaction with the people of Israel. It is also a fitting picture of how God deals with us, as well. THE LORD CARRIES US ON EAGLE’S WINGS. 1. He Cares For Our Daily Needs. 2. He Leads Us Through His Word.

God brought the people of Israel to the foot of Mount Sinai. He was going to enter into a special covenant or agreement with the people. Moses, their leader, went up the mountain to receive the terms of the agreement. The Lord was going to give the people opportunities to show that they were his people by the way that the conducted their lives. However, before he gave them any of the conditions of the agreement, God reminded them of his love for them. He said, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” (Verse 4) God calls to their attention what he had done for them.

It had three months since the people of Israel had left the land of slavery in Egypt. Before they were released, they saw God’s power in action as he sent the ten plagues that drove the mighty nation of Egypt to its knees. God protected them when they came to the Red Sea by separating the water so that the people were able to cross through on dry land. When the Egyptian army pursued them, God caused the waters of the Red Sea to come back together again, thus destroying their enemies. God showed that he was with his people as he led them by means of a pillar of cloud during the day and kept watch over them with a pillar of fire at night. As the people of Israel went through the wilderness, they encountered many difficulties, but God was there to deliver them. When there was no food to eat, God provided manna and quail. When there was no water, God caused water to gush forth from a rock. When they reached water that was undrinkable, God made the water sweet. At Rephidim, the Amalekite army attacked the Israelites. God showed his power by defeating this nation that was bent on destroying the Israelites. Again and again, God showed that he was with the people, who now stood before him at the foot of Mount Sinai.

The same is true for us. God has been with us every day of our lives. He has shown his love for us by providing for us. We have been blessed with food on our tables, clothes on our backs, and houses in which to live. I believe that we can all think of times when we weren’t quite sure how everything was going to work out. Yet, somehow, we did. What that just because of dumb luck? No, that was God working behind the scenes to provide for us, often in ways that we would never have dreamed of. God has also shown his might power in protecting us. How many times have we been kept safe when we were in danger? There were times when we should have been injured, but God kept us. This doesn’t even count the times that God kept danger which we weren’t even aware of away from us. God has been with us to this very day and he promises that he will continue to be with us the rest of our lives.

God uses the picture of an eagle carrying its young on its wings. This is what God is referring to. When the eaglet is old enough, the mother eagle will push it out of the nest to teach it to fly. It might seem as though the eaglet is all alone. Nothing could be further from the truth. The mother eagle is nearby and ready to rescue her young. She will carry her young on her powerful wings to safety. At first glance, it looks as though the mother eagle is being cruel by pushing her young from the nest. However, if she didn’t, that eaglet would never learn to fly. Yet, as the eaglet was struggling and even falling, the mother eagle is always there to take care of her young.

What a comforting picture for us. There are times when we are, if you will, pushed from the nest. We find ourselves in situations in which it appears that we are falling straight to the ground. We go from that which is safe to one where we appear to be helplessly flailing. However, we have the assurance that God is always right there with us. He has promised us in Hebrews 13: 5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” There is always a reason why we find ourselves in these situations. Just as the mother eagle pushes her young from their nice, safe nest, so that their wings are strengthened and they can fly, so God, at times, pushes us from our nice comfortable surroundings to strengthen our trust in him. Though it may seem at the time as though we are facing these situations all on our own, we know that God is right there beside us and will rescue us. God carries us on eagle’s wings as he takes care of our daily needs.

After Moses came down from the mountain, we read that he “summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak.” (Verse 7) He didn’t hide any parts of what God told him to say. He laid out for the people all of the conditions of the agreement that God was going to make with the people of Israel. He promised to bless them as they obeyed him. God said, “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.” (Verses 5&6) When the people heard what God said to them through Moses, they responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” (Verse 8) As they had been reminded of God’s continuous love for them, they wanted to thank him. They promised that they would obey everything that God had told them.

God has also spoken to us through his Word. In that Word, we read the law. We see exactly what God demands of us. It is basically broken down to two things: Love God more than anyone or anything else and love those around you. That all seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Yet, as we take an honest assessment of our lives, we know that we have not always done so. We have put what we want ahead of what God wants. So that we wouldn’t hurt a loved one’s feelings, we have kept silent about the things that they are doing wrong. This shows that we love them more than we love God. How easy it is for us to pursue the pleasures and treasures of this world at the expense of our relationship with God. Then, look at the way we treat other people. We are not always kind to people. We say and do things that hurt them. We are lazy when we are given the opportunity to help someone. We look for ways to manipulate people to get what we want from them, never once giving a thought to what we could do for them. Though God is clear in his proclamation of the law in his Word, we must admit that we have not done what the Lord has said. We, also, see that we deserve to be punished by God for all eternity.

However, God’s love has also been proclaimed to us. God doesn’t just point to the many ways that he has blessed us physically. He highlights his love for us in what he did to rescue us from the situation that we had gotten ourselves into. We see the embodiment of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. Jesus came to the earth to be our Savior. He lived in perfect conformity to his Father’s law to love his Father and those around him. He showed his love for his Father by trusting in him. He showed that his relationship with his Father was the most important thing to him. Jesus did all of this, because we cannot. Then, Jesus showed the extent of his love for us by suffering and dying on the cross. During those three hours on the cross, he suffered the punishment of hell that we deserved. He paid the debt of sin that we owed to God. Jesus further showed his love for us when he rose from the dead. With that miracle, he assures us that our sins have been forgiven and that we have eternal life to look forward to. This is the message that God wants the world to know. Though his grace, we have come to know it by faith and make it our own.

Now, when we look at what God says in his Word and we read the law, we no longer see it as something we must do, but an opportunity to show our love and thanksgiving for all that he has done for us. We have the privilege of loving God with all our heart and soul and strength and mind. We get to love those around us as we love ourselves. We see them as God sees them, as people who were so important to him that he sent his Son to be their Savior, as well. Moved by gratitude for all that God has done for us, we respond as the Israelites did, “We will do everything the LORD has said.”

We admire the zeal and conviction of the Israelites when they made that statement. They meant it at the time. However, we also know that it wasn’t long after this that we read of them worshiping the golden calf. When we read that, we have to shake our heads. What were they thinking? Yet, we also know how easy it is for us to slip back into the ways of the world. We start off the day promising that we will do everything the Lord says, but soon find ourselves worshiping the things of this world. How thankful we are that, just as God did not abandon the Israelites for their sins, God does not abandon us. We come to him, confessing our sins, and are assured that we are forgiven. Then, we ask that the Lord would again remind us of all that he has done for us and strengthen us so that we live for him. God carries us every day as he leads us with his Word.

Next time, when you see an eagle, go beyond seeing the strength and the majesty of the bird. Think of how that eagle cares for its young. Think of how that eagle will not let her young fall to the ground. Think of how she stands ready to rescue them. Be reminded of this beautiful picture of how our God cares for us. He provides everything that we need to live. He stands by to rescue us when we are falling. He lifts us up on his mighty wings and carries us to safety. Through his Word, God lifts us up to see the majesty of all that waits for us in heaven. We thank God for his incomprehensible love for us, as he carries us on eagle’s wings. Amen.