“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength…” —Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)As the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate in communities around America, after four months since the “stay-at home” mandates started in March, and wearing face masks and social distancing have become a part of everyday life, it’s easy to start feeling weary about whole situation and wondering when life is going to return back to some semblance of normal. We’ve even heard it said that this could be “the new normal.” Maybe, maybe not… at this point, it’s anyone’s guess.
The complete verse of Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV) (the first part of the verse is quoted at the top of this blog post) states the following:
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.
We can all probably agree that there are days (perhaps many lately) where we could use a shot of renewed strength to get us through the day. In the midst of trying times, “mount up with wings like eagles” might sound impossible to achieve. However, for us as Christians, the promise of receiving strength is there, but it’s not about us and our own strength.
So what does it mean to “mount up with wings like eagles”? GotQuestions.org gives us an answer:
The phrase “mount up with wings like eagles” can be found at the end of Isaiah 40, in verse 31, “But they who wait for 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” (ESV).
During Isaiah’s lifetime, the dispirited nation of Israel suffered a period of great distress politically as oppressive Assyrian powers invaded and conquered their lands. Isaiah chapters 40–48 contain promises of redemption and deliverance from the suffering. That section of the book starts with the words “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). Israel had nearly given up hope, thinking God had abandoned them, yet Isaiah drives his point home in Isaiah 40:27–31, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for 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” (ESV).
Ancient Hebrew culture revered eagles as mighty warriors that also cared fiercely for their young. Eagles carry their eaglets to safety, away from the threat of predators. Eagles are also known for their strength and courage in dangerous, turbulent weather, soaring above storm clouds and to safety. “Eagles’ wings” was a figure of speech commonly used to attribute these fine characteristics to a person. The Lord references eagles’ wings in Exodus 19:1–6, which is a recollection of how God delivered Israel from the Egyptians. In this passage, the Lord gives Moses a message for His people: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession” (verses 4–5).
The prophet Isaiah uses “wings like eagles” in the same way, attributing the great characteristics of eagles to those who remain faithful to God and look forward to their heavenly reward. The phrase “mount up” is a translation of the Hebrew word “‘alah,” which means “to go up, ascend, to go up over a boundary.” Isaiah is communicating the promise that God will provide renewed strength and courage to overcome obstacles, if Israel would only have patience and trust in the Lord’s sovereign timing.
Upon reading Isaiah’s words, perhaps Israel recalled what God had said to them long ago as they fled Egypt, about how the Lord had delivered them “on eagles’ wings” with His great strength and power. Isaiah tells them that they, too, could have access to such deliverance. If they remained faithful to God, they would soar.
Christians today can apply the principle of Isaiah 40:31 by trusting in God’s sovereignty and waiting faithfully for Him. “We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). God in His grace will provide power, strength, and courage to the weary, weak, and downtrodden when they are willing to be patient and wait on Him. God will cause us to mount up on eagles’ wings. (Quote source here.)
GotQuestions.org continues with a description of what the Bible says about eagles:
Eagles have always symbolized freedom, strength, and power. They are considered the kings of the sky and were adopted by several ancient cultures, including Rome, as a symbol of that country’s leadership and immortality. The United States declared the bald eagle its national bird in 1792, due to the eagle’s long lifespan and majestic presence.
The Bible’s first mention of the eagle is in Leviticus 11:13. Eagles, along with vultures and other unclean birds, were prohibited as food for the Israelites. God gave the newly formed nation of Israel dietary laws to help set them apart from the pagan nations around them. The dietary instructions were also given for health reasons as part of God’s promise to “put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians” (Exodus 15:26). Eagles are birds of prey that sometimes act as scavengers, eating dead flesh as vultures do. Eagles could carry diseases harmful to humans; God protected Israel at a time of limited medicines and inadequate sterilization procedures.
The next time an eagle is mentioned is in Deuteronomy 32:11 as part of the song God instructed Moses to teach the Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:19). In that song, God compares His care for His people to that of a mother eagle who spreads her wings to cover her young and carry them away from danger (cf. Exodus 19:4).
Throughout Scripture, eagles represent God’s handiwork, such as in Proverbs 30:19, which says that “the way of an eagle in the sky” is an example of God’s wondrous creation. Job 39:27 is another example. But eagles also symbolize power. God often used the imagery of an eagle in issuing warnings to Israel and other nations who did evil (e.g., Obadiah 1:4; Jeremiah 49:22). He chose the bird they considered powerful and unstoppable to demonstrate His sovereign control over everything.
Isaiah 40:31 is the most familiar biblical reference to eagles: “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; and they shall walk, and not faint” (KJV). This verse is the conclusion of a chapter detailing the greatness of God. It reminds the reader that the strongest of men may stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord have a strength that this world cannot offer. When we see an eagle in flight, soaring on invisible air currents, we can be reminded that the Creator who supplies the eagle’s strength will also strengthen those who call upon His name (Psalm 50:15; Isaiah 55:6–7). (Quote source here.)
After reading these two answers given at GotQuestions.org, I was reminded of a devotional reading in Our Daily Bread that I read a few days ago titled, “Simply Ask,” by Patricia Raybon, author and journalist. She writes:
“Before they call I will answer” —Isaiah 65:24 (NIV)
Her doctor said her detached retinas couldn’t be repaired. But after living without sight for fifteen years—learning Braille, and using a cane and service dog—a Montana woman’s life changed when her husband asked another eye doctor a simple question: could she be helped? The answer was yes. As the doctor discovered, the woman had a common eye condition, cataracts, which the doctor removed from her right eye. When the eye patch came off the next day, her vision was 20/20. A second surgery for her left eye met with equal success.
A simple question also changed the life of Naaman, a powerful military man with leprosy. But Naaman raged arrogantly at the prophet Elisha’s instructions to “wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored” (2 Kings 5:10). Naaman’s servants, however, asked the military leader a simple question: “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” (v. 13). Persuaded, Naaman washed “and his flesh was restored and became clean” (v. 14).
In our lives, sometimes we struggle with a problem because we won’t ask God. Will You help? Should I go? Will You lead? He doesn’t require complicated questions from us to help. “Before they call I will answer,” God promised His people (Isaiah 65:24). So today, simply ask Him. (Quote source here.)
I’ll end this post with a reminder from Paul found in Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding…
Will guard your hearts . . .
And your minds . . .
In Christ Jesus . . . .
YouTube Video: “There was Jesus” by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton: