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What the Bible says about Bird Imagery
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Proverbs 26:2

The difficulty in understanding this verse is understanding the bird imagery. The sense that is being conveyed is that of a bird flying aimlessly, with no goal or intent—just drifting on the breeze. The chances of such a bird arriving at a specific destination are miniscule. In the same manner, it is nearly impossible for a curse to come upon a person who has not warranted it. It is another way of saying, "We reap what we sow": If one sows righteousness, he will reap good things. If he sows evil, he will reap evil fruit.

The blessings and curses of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 provide examples of this. If Israel (and by extension, Christians, the "Israel of God" mentioned in Galatians 6:16) obeyed God, they would be blessed. If they disobeyed God, they would be cursed.

The flipside of this proverb is that if a curse lands upon a person, the obvious conclusion is that there is a reason for it. If a bird lands somewhere (to use the imagery of the verse), it is because that was its goal. Thus, if we find that a curse has landed on us, such as terror, terrible diseases, poor crops, military defeat, drought, plagues, etc. (Leviticus 26:16-21), it is simply an affirmation that we caused it by our own idolatry, Sabbath-breaking, and overall disobedience to God (Leviticus 26:1-3, 14-15).

David C. Grabbe

Matthew 13:32

Birds are naturally attracted to the taste of the mustard seed. Matthew identifies the birds of the air as "the wicked one" (Matthew 13:4, 19). Mark connects them with "Satan" (Mark 4:4, 15), and Luke links them to "the devil" (Luke 8:5, 12). In Genesis 15:11, fowls swoop down on Abraham's sacrifices, and he has to drive them away (see Deuteronomy 28:26). The end-time Babylon becomes "a habitation of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird" (Revelation 18:2).

In the parable, Jesus predicts the birds of the air would lodge in the branches. These "birds," demons led by "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), have continually tried to infiltrate the church. Upon the unsuspecting early church, Satan moved quickly to implant his agents in it to teach false doctrine while appearing to be true Christians. Just as God permitted Satan to tempt Job intensely (Job 1:12; 2:6) and to sift Peter as wheat (Luke 22:31), He has allowed antichrists to lodge within His church (I Corinthians 11:18-19).

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Four): The Parable of the Mustard Seed

Revelation 6:7

The fourth seal is introduced by the fourth living creature, identified in Revelation 4:7 as "like a flying eagle." In the United States, we think of eagles as noble and majestic creatures, sharp-eyed and sharp-taloned, fierce and swift in striking their prey, mating for life, and caring tenderly for their young. The Bible's view includes these characteristics but adds one more: They are carrion eaters.

Leviticus 11:13 refers to eagles as being forbidden to the Israelites as food: "These you shall regard as an abomination among the birds" (see also Deuteronomy 14:12). Eagles are listed first and in the company of vultures and buzzards. Proverbs 30:17 speaks of "the young eagles" eating the eye of one who mocks and scorns his parents. Perhaps the best-known biblical reference to this aspect of eagles appears in Matthew 24:28 (also Luke 17:37), in which Jesus says, "For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together."

The flying eagle, then, needs to be seen in both lights: as a swift and deadly hunter, spying out its prey from afar, as well as a detestable eater of putrefying flesh. The first reflects God's position as the divine and sovereign Judge on high, and the second, the grisly and dreadful effects of His judgments for sin. It is a picture of a noble and righteous God obliged by His own holiness to execute the proscribed penalty for human transgression.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Four Horsemen (Part Five): The Pale Horse


 




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