3 And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:
4 “‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.
5 “‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.
6 “‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
Consider, if you will, the eagle. Here where I live, we see eagles and hawks quite often, soaring on the breezes above the rivers or the local reservoirs. They turn and spiral over lakes and fields. Eagles fly higher than almost any other living creature, and they seem to rule the wind, and so it is no surprise that we think of them as noble and majestic. The eagle is a symbol of royalty, of strength, of tireless effort, of connection to the heavens.
In the Bible, we see God use the imagery of the eagle quite often, usually as a metaphor for how He bears us up and away from our troubles.
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
If we were to soar above the earth like an eagle, we would be far away from the strife of this world. We would see things from a whole new perspective, viewing the panorama from something more like God’s point of view. We would fly effortlessly away from pain and oppression, above the snares of sin and the worries of men.
But where would we fly TO?
In the story of the Exodus, we read that a few months after the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea, they were encamped in the wilderness of Sinai. There by the mountains, God began to give Moses the laws by which this new nation should live. But before He would write upon the tablets with His finger, before He would thunder from the mountaintop, the Lord God asked Moses to remind the people that He had selected the Israelites to be His own.
I particularly like the way God phrased His reminder. He didn’t say “I freed you to go to the Promised Land.” And He didn’t say “I brought you out of slavery to be free to do whatever you want.” Nor did He say “I bore you on eagles’ wings, so now you can fly wherever you wish.” No, the Lord God of Israel said to His people, “I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.” (v.4)
You see, contrary to common thought, heaven is not the destination. We are not to focus on getting to some Promised Land nor heaven nor even God’s kingdom. We are to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness right where we are. (Matthew 6:33) The focus of our eyes of faith, the goal that we are to keep in sight, is Jesus Himself. (Hebrews 12:1-2) When we are freed from bondage to sin, we are brought to the loving arms of the Lord our God, and He then becomes our strength and our shield, our hiding place, our fortress. God Himself is the destination.
And if we live as He desires us to live, if we repent our sins, change our lives, and believe in the gospel of Christ, then we become the “kingdom of priests” whose sole purpose in life is to honor Him, to praise Him, to worship Him. We are His people and He is our God, and that relationship can happen whether we are wandering the wilderness of Sinai, settled safely in homes we did not build in Canaan, or scattered across the globe in lands not our own. We are God’s chosen people, and if we love and obey Him, then we are His special treasure. We are a holy nation within the nations, set apart for God’s will even while living among unbelievers.
Yes, the eagle soars above the rivers and valleys, and he seems the king of all he surveys. But God did not free us to simply wander throughout the world looking for the things we need in life. Jesus bought our freedom with His blood so that we would be free to fly on eagles’ wings away from Satan and into the arms of God. Jesus Christ brought us from Egypt to Himself.
When we set Christ as our goal, things come more solidly into focus. Our lives are no longer about “How can I get into heaven?” They become “How can I be more like my God?”
20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;
21 “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
So let us not set our eyes on the wrong destination, for in seeking the kingdom of God elsewhere, we will not find it. Let our goal instead be Christ Himself, and let God’s kingdom be right here with us. Whether we are working or playing, whether we are teaching or learning, whether we are preaching or simply ministering to others, let us focus be on God in Christ. Let us be born away from sin on eagles’ wings, and let us then come only unto God, to become His people and His own special treasure.
Heavenly Father, be Thou my vision, my goal, my sole purpose. Be Thou my strength, my Savior, my Rock. Be Thou all the kingdom and honor I shall ever seek. Be Thou my love and my life. Be Thou mine own holy King. Amen.