In preparing a message on Exodus 19 for the church I pastor, I noticed that God said this to Israel: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”
It is interesting that God associates Himself with eagles. Philip Ryken points out that “the eagle is a fierce bird of prey; it attacks its enemies the way God attacked Egypt. But it is also a bird of rescue.” In the eagle we see both a picture of God as a dangerous attacker to His enemies, but also as a Deliverer to His people.
Ryken points us to The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien. Twice in that novel we find eagles coming to deliver Bilbo Baggins and his dwarven friends from danger.
Towards the end, when the heroes are surrounded by legions of goblins, all hope seems to be lost. “It will not be long now,” thought Bilbo, “before the goblins win the gate, and we are all slaughtered or driven down and captured.”
But soon after we read this: “The clouds were torn by the wind, and a red sunset slashed the West. Seeing the sudden gleam in the gloom Bilbo looked round. He gave a great cry: he had seen a sight that made his heart leap, dark shapes small yet majestic against the distant glow. ‘The Eagles! The Eagles!’ he shouted. ‘The Eagles are coming!’”
Like the eagles in that story, God swooped down at their moment of greatest peril and delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage. He graciously saved them and brought them to Himself.
Israel’s bondage in Egypt was only a picture of a greater bondage – the bondage of every man, woman, and child to their own sin! All of us at one time were dead in our sins, under the spell of the devil, walking in blind selfishness and headed towards hell. If God had not delivered us, we would have suffered a fate far worse than death – we would have experienced the just wrath of God against us for our sins forever. But praise God, like an eagle sent for our deliverance, the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth and did everything necessary to rescue us! He has borne us up, snatched us from the flames of hell, and carried us to His nest, His kingdom, where goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives.