You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself (v.4).
Just at that moment the Lord of the Eagles swept down from above, seized him in his talons, and was gone.” —from The Hobbit
In his tale of an unlikely hero, J. R. R. Tolkien presents a vivid picture of unexpected and ordained rescue. Surrounded by wolves and goblins, Bilbo was certain that all was lost. He and his friends were trapped in the trees that were quickly becoming kindling for the goblin’s fire, so Gandalf climbed to the highest branch . . . but disappeared. Providing a beautiful picture of God’s timely deliverance, huge eagles had arrived to carry the motley group of travelers to safety. Bilbo, however, did not enjoy the ride due to his fear of heights.
The Israelites could relate. They had spent hundreds of years in bondage in Egypt. Having heard the stories of God’s provision and promise, they must have wondered if they were only tales passed down to each generation as a means of keeping hope alive. But now God’s deliverance had become their reality. In the course of their journey to safety (destination Promised Land), however, they looked down from the heights of their flight and questioned if this was really the best way after all. Judging from their circumstances, they seemed to be sinking, not soaring. And they were afraid.
To the Israelites, everything they could see said that God had abandoned them to die in the wilderness (Exodus 17:1). Their songs had been loud and majestic when they could see what He was doing (Exodus 15:1), but when His hand moved into the unseen, they grew disheartened.
The unknown is a powerful influence in any of our lives, and the Israelites’ response demonstrates how “limited faith” demands circumstantial proof (Matthew 8:24) while “substantial faith” rests in the character of God (Hebrews 11:6).
Read Jeremiah 38:14 to see a vivid example of why we must base our understanding of God’s will on the revelation of His Word and the leading of His Spirit—not on circumstance or logic.
When have you felt as if you were sinking, only to find out you were really flying? Why do we feel safest when we believe we’re in control?