By John J. Blanchard
March 15, 2014
Good morning, brethren. One of my favorite things to do during the winter is feed the birds. This winter I have had to give them a lot of feed. It is actually starting to affect the pocketbook, but there is no food available out there. The snow was so deep, and the weather has been so cold that sometimes I have well over a hundred birds at my birder at any single time with perhaps another hundred in the trees that I can hear chirping off in the distance. They really are relying upon me to help feed them.
I see chickadees, nuthatches, mourning doves, and blue jays. We even have a couple of pileated wood peckers coming and pecking on the apples that have fallen to the ground and are starting to get exposed because of a little melting snow. It is a real pleasure to watch the birds.
I typically go out just after or just before sunrise, and at sunrise the song birds that are among them start to sing beautifully. You can hear a chorus all around you. Sometimes I just stand there by the feeder listening to the beautiful music that they are making coming from all the trees around the house and the feeder. It is also a real pleasure to watch them land on the feeder and look at their beautiful plumage and wonderful colors of their feathers. They are gorgeous creatures!
I actually love to observe birds year round. I am not one of these dedicated bird watchers who note every species they have seen and on what day, but I do pay very careful attention to the birds. I know that in the spring I am always looking forward to the robins. The robin is the Michigan State bird. Robins come up and are one of the very first birds that come in the spring. They seem to know when spring is actually here, so it’s exciting to see the first robin every spring. It is also exciting to see the geese return. Most of the geese go south for the winter, and when you see them flying in their beautiful V formations heading north, that’s a sure sign of spring. More and more song birds arrive. Sometimes it’s almost deafening to go outside first thing in the morning and listen to all the songbirds that have returned from their various places they go on their migrations.
One of my favorites to watch for are the sandhill cranes. It is a large bird that likes to nest on the ground. They make this wonderful call that we can hear. They fly two to maybe six at a time, and when they fly over, they make a beautiful sound that echoes for miles. I like to watch the sandhill cranes. Last year I was privileged to actually see a nest close enough to the road where I could observe it as the mother sat on the eggs and hatched two babies. I got to see them minutes after one emerged from the shell and the other was just poking through. I got some pictures of that, so I feel very blessed by God to have witnessed that.
LEARN ABOUT GOD THROUGH CREATION
God placed all these amazing creatures on earth for more than just looking at. They are wonderful to look at. They are wonderful to listen to, but there has to be another reason. We know that because of Romans 1:20. Let’s read Romans chapter 1, verse 20: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…”
We are almost without excuse if we are alive and have our senses and can observe things such as birds, trees, and the beautiful sunshine. Just being out in creation helps us, according to this Scripture, understand the mind of God. What we see should jog something in us that helps us better understand God. That is also referenced in Scripture, and I want to tie that with II Timothy 3.
If you would, please turn to II Timothy chapter 3, and we’ll start in verse 16. It is a Scripture we are all familiar with. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
We see on the one hand that all Scripture is given to understand God. It helps us to understand His doctrines, His truths, and is for reproof and correction in our lives. It is for guidance towards becoming more righteous, so we can be more thoroughly equipped to lead a good life and have good works. We put that Scripture together with Romans 1:20, and we can see God’s inspired thoughts in the Bible. By the way, that word “inspired” means God breathed. We can see that the Scriptures were actually more than just inspired. They are His breath. They are His spoken word. When you put that spoken word with Romans 1:20 where we see that creation helps us understand the mind of God, we now have the two working in concert. We have Scripture and creation to understand the mind, the thinking, and the power of God. That leads us to a little different way of viewing these birds, because that is specifically what we are talking about today.
BIRDS REPRESENT ANGELS
If God says all creation is helping us understand His mind and some of His thoughts are recorded in Scripture, if birds are mentioned in Scripture, they must have tremendous significance. Let’s look at some Scriptural references to birds. We are going to find that birds on earth represent angels that we cannot see. Therefore, an invisible creature that God has made, angels, can be understood in greater part by looking at birds.
I want to start by turning to Isaiah chapter 6:1. “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim [which is a type of angel]; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’”
We see that angels are described as having wings just like birds do.
Now let’s turn to Ezekiel chapter 1. Ezekiel saw an amazing thing in vision here. We will start reading in Ezekiel 1, verse 4. Read Ezekiel 1:4-9.
We see four beings here with wings, and they could fly in any direction. Obviously they are angels. We are looking at a creature that we cannot see unless revealed in a special vision or directed in some way to appear to human beings. Generally speaking, we cannot see them, but because of birds, we understand what wings are. We understand what flight is.
The last Scripture I want to turn to showing that angels have wings is Revelation chapter 4, verse 8: “The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’”
We see these angels here with wings singing praises to God.
Another attribute that angels have and that goes along with the birds is that they fly between the heavens and the earth. Of course, birds fly within the heavens that are surrounding the immediate earth, and God’s angels fly above that from His heavenly throne to the earth back and forth.
ANGELS BRING MESSAGES
Since we are in Revelation right now, if you would, flip over a few pages to Revelation chapter 8, verse 13 where John says: “And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!’”
We see that when they fly around the earth, they can bring messages to mankind. They are messages from God on high.
We can go back to Daniel for that interesting story. We won’t read the whole story of the angel that was returning to Daniel with a message from God. Let’s turn to Daniel chapter 10. You can read the whole chapter to get the whole story. Daniel had been praying and fasting to understand prophecy and to get a message from God. Here we read in verse 10 of Daniel chapter 10: “Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, ‘O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.’ While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.’”
This angel was bringing a message. If we read the whole story, we would know that Daniel had been praying and fasting for twenty-one days to get an answer from God. It took twenty-one days, three weeks, for this angel to literally bring that message from heaven to the earth. It wasn’t because of the distance. It was because of adversarial angels who fought him off.
We can drop down to Daniel 10, verse 19 where we can see that. “And he said, ‘O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!’ So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.’ Then he said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the price of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.’”
We are getting a glimpse of angelic warfare. God had sent an angel to bring a message to Daniel, and he had to fight through the prince of Persia, which is a demonic angel. It was also flying through the heavens around the earth but in the immediate atmosphere, you might say, around the earth and fending off God’s angel who had the message for Daniel. Then this angel said to Daniel, I needed the help of Michael, the super archangel, to get through to you. He said soon there will be another prince that we will have to fight with. That will be the prince over Greece.
That was an amazing insight into how the angelic world works. Because of the idea of the flight of birds, we can understand what it is to fly through the heavens and to have a beautiful message or a warning message, just like the angel in Revelation brought to mankind.
WINGS FOR PROTECTION
Angels have wings, but under those wings Scripture tells us there is help for mankind and protection. We see how the wings of angels can bring a message to people like Daniel. Now if we turn to Psalm 17, we are going to see a number of Scriptures that shows mankind can take shelter. God’s people can take shelter underneath God’s wings which are His angels.
We have heard many stories of how people felt angels protected them in certain situations where they were in grave danger, and I am sure they were correct. In many cases, God has sent an angel with the specific purpose of protecting us. Let’s turn to Psalm 17, verse 7: “Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You from those who rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, from my deadly enemies who surround me.”
Here we see the Psalmist saying to God, please protect me under the shadow of your wings. God’s wings are His angels.
Turn a few pages to Psalm 36, verse 7: “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”
When we trust God, we have no fear because we can ask God to protect us with His angels. We can take shelter under the shadow of His wings.
Turn to Psalm 57, verse 1: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by. I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me. He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.”
The Psalmist here is saying, I will trust You God. I will trust You to protect me with your angels, and I trust that those angels will bring mercy and truth from You to me. They will protect me from those who are my enemies.
It is wonderful to know that is there! These angels—God’s birds—have as part of their job, to protect God’s people.
Psalm 91 is often called the chapter of protection. It speaks specifically about angels being a protector of God’s people. Psalm 91, verse 1: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.”
We can picture God’s angels having these wings and feathers. Sometimes I think, how beautiful are the feathers that I see outside. God is saying, My angels do beautiful and wonderful things for you. I imagine someday when Christ is here that we will literally see these angels. We are going to see how beautiful they are and how beautiful and colorful their wings are. We will see how indeed they have been used over the years to protect us.
Christ said something interesting in Matthew chapter 23. It is a prophetic Scripture about the destruction that would befall Jerusalem. He says something here in sadness. He is talking to the people of Jerusalem back in the day. He says this in Matthew chapter 23, verse 37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
When Christ came originally, He said, I have come, and I wanted to gather you up like a hen would gather her chicks. She puts her wings over them, protects them, keeps them warm, and shelters them. You would not listen to Me. Now you will have to wait until I literally return again for this opportunity to happen to you. That would occur when these people would be resurrected.
We get the concept of how birds and their feathers can keep us warm, protect us, and shelter us from the harms of the world. They bring us messages from God.
ANGELS SING WITH JOY
There are also certain behaviors that birds have and certain traits that we can see in creation that reveal other things in the mind of God. They are other attributes that He has. Songbirds, as we have mentioned earlier in the sermon, love to sing, but they sing the most and the loudest at sunrise.
Let’s look at Job chapter 38. Sunrise to songbirds is an amazing time to them. They are so happy. It’s another day! The sunlight is coming! God is speaking to Job in Job chapter 38, beginning in verse 4: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
The morning stars are another description of angels. We know from Revelation chapter 1 that stars represent angels. Now we can see birds represent angels. When the earth was created at the very beginning and also refurbished in Genesis in what we like to call creation week, the angels sang! They sang because the light (let there be light) was dawning upon the earth. They sang for joy at sunrise.
We know from other Scriptures like Malachi chapter 4 that the sun pictures Jesus Christ. When Christ comes or when He creates or refurbishes like in Genesis, it is like the dawn of a new day, and they sing! It is like the start of spring, which is why God’s holy days start in the spring. The other interesting thing about songbirds is they sing the loudest at daybreak, but the loudest at daybreak in the spring because they are so happy that the dawn is starting for a new year! That is the way with angels when they see a new beginning.
Let’s turn to Luke chapter 2. We know when Jesus Christ came, He literally brought the day. It says in John 1 that where Jesus Christ was when He came and walked the earth, it was day. Let’s look at when the daylight came to the earth in the form of Jesus Christ. Read Luke chapter 2:8-15.
When Jesus Christ came, He brought daylight. It was sun up and the angels sang with joy, just like the birds do at sun up and especially at sun up in the spring.
There is another behavior that birds have that is mimicked by angels, or the other way around. You could say birds mimic what angels do. A lot of birds migrate. When they migrate, what they are doing is following the sun. They are going to where the sun is the strongest and where there is the most light. It’s giving birth to spring and plants, to make the earth verdant and bloom. When birds migrate, in the spring they are following the sun to the north when the sun is getting stronger in the Northern Hemisphere. In the fall they migrate to the south because it is getting darker in the north. It is a fascinating example of how many of the angels love to be around Jesus Christ’s light, so they follow the light.
We can go back to Revelation 5. We have read Revelation 4 about the angels singing. Let’s go to Revelation chapter 5, verse 11: “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!’”
We see literally tens of thousands of angels singing when Christ died and was resurrected. That was the Son coming back, as it were, and taking His place with God the Father. The sun can be termed Son of God. We know in Malachi 4 the sun represents Him. We can see these angels, just like the birds, singing these wonderful praises of God at the resurrection. In particular, they are the happiest here because if you read the whole chapter, you would see He is able to unloose the scrolls and release the knowledge of prophecy that we would call the Book of Revelation. Those are opened up to the eyes of mankind, so we can see. Jesus Christ had to die in order to be resurrected and to do that as a human being. He will open up more Scriptures to the mind of man. In part the understanding that we have here and how to look at creation and combine it with Scriptures to understand the mind of God is one of the ways He has opened up knowledge to all of us.
GOOD ANGELS AND DEMONS
Sadly, one of the characteristics or attributes of angels is that they can be good or bad. We know that there are good angels, and that’s most of them. There are bad angels called demons. In Scripture we find that there are clean birds and there are unclean birds which would be the physical example of the spiritual. Turn to Deuteronomy chapter 14, and we will read about clean and unclean birds.
Deuteronomy chapter 14 describes what is good food for human beings to eat and what is not. Read Deuteronomy 14:11-20.
God makes a distinction, and it is to help us understand. When we look at vultures eating off a dead animal or the ravens eating off a dead animal, we get the idea why God wouldn’t want us to partake of that particular bird as food. Also other birds like eagles who feed on carrion can have a dual purpose. They can be warrior birds for God. If we look at the birds we saw in Ezekiel, they can have the face of an eagle. God says not to eat of these birds because these birds are unclean, but we can eat of every clean bird. He is making a distinction. We are the ones who have to draw the analogy to angels.
Good messages come from good angels, like Michael or the angel that was talked about in Daniel 10. Bad messages can come from demons. Messages are in a way food for our soul. We don’t want to imbibe of bad messages or bad temptations that come from unclean birds. This helps us understand Revelation chapter 18 a whole lot better.
Turn to Revelation chapter 18. It is a place where unclean birds are mentioned in the spiritual sense. Revelation chapter 18, verse 1: “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.”
This is an angel from God bringing a message.
Continuing in verse 2: “And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!”
We get the picture of an angel warning mankind and talking about Babylon. We are not talking about the physical city of Babylon and the empire of ancient Babylon. They were a type of Satan’s kingdom and his capital Babylon, which is the antithesis of God’s capital Jerusalem or the spiritual Jerusalem.
We see here where birds of every unclean and hated type are kind of captured in a cage at the end of the age. We can see why God tried to teach us about clean and unclean birds and why we should not feed on the messages that unclean birds would bring us. Physically speaking we should not eat of unclean birds, so we don’t get sick.
God’s birds are going to defend His people at the end of the age, and these are the good angels. We are looking forward to that time when there is a powerful force of angels helping God’s message of truth to go out at the end of the age and to prepare mankind for the Millennium. There are a couple of Scriptures I would like to read in reference to that.
Turn back to the Book of Isaiah chapter 31. This is speaking about how God will deliver Jerusalem, and we know that the Church is called spiritual Jerusalem in our day and age. In the past it was physical Jerusalem. God will deliver both. But think in terms of the Church today as it is under assault in so many ways by demonic messages, temptations, and divisions that have divided God’s Church. Let’s read in Isaiah 31, verse 4: “For thus the Lord has spoken to me: ‘As a lion roars, and a young lion over his prey (When a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him, he will not be afraid of their voice nor be disturbed by their noise)…’”
We see a multitude of shepherds which should be ministers of God. They have turned against God by a false message, but we are told this in verse 4.
Verse 4: “…so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill. Like birds flying about, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it.”
We get the picture of Jesus Christ with His angels and His saints (as we are told in Jude) return to the earth to do battle. We can almost picture even before that, that Michael stands up. We are going to read that next in Daniel 12. He helps God’s people. It is almost like a spiritual dog fight between God’s birds and Satan’s birds. We know God is going to win.
Turn to Daniel chapter 12 because that’s where it is mentioned that Michael will stand up and help God’s people, as he had to help that angel who fought his way through the prince of Persia and once again the prince of Greece. We are going to Daniel chapter 12, beginning in verse 1 where it is speaking of our time: “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”
We see this huge battle at the end of the age, and it’s different than any other battle. This is not a physical war per se. This is angelic warfare where Michael and his legions have to stand up and help God’s people. Those of God’s people who turn many to righteousness, which has to be done before Christ returns, will shine forever and ever. Those who are wise and understand the message will shine forever and ever, if they have used that message to help others to turn to the truth. This is what we have dedicated ourselves to. We are trying to help people of the world—people of God’s Church and every church—to see and understand that the Scriptures point to a beautiful time just ahead called the Millennium. God’s birds, His angels, have a lot to do with helping mankind to get ready for the soon-coming return of Jesus Christ. When that happens, there will be peace on earth. We can look back at the very beginning of the Bible to see how that happened once before and symbolically was done to portray what Jesus Christ will be doing at the end of the age.
THE DOVE OF PEACE
Turn to Genesis chapter 8. We know that’s the flood chapter. That’s where Noah and his family had to get in the ark and be protected during the flood. I want you to notice something here. In Genesis chapter 8, we will begin in verse 6: “So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth.”
We know what ravens portray. They are unclean birds. It was flying to and fro about the earth looking for a place to land.
Continuing in verse 8 of Genesis 8: “He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground.”
The waters had done damage to the earth. The raven was flying over the waters that you could say were doing damage to the earth. Noah wanted to know when the harsh times had passed and when there would be peace, so he sent out a dove.
Verse 9: “But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself.”
The dove of peace came into the ark. The raven was on the outside of the ark.
Verse 10: “And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth.”
That’s how we picture peace. We use the dove of peace with the olive branch. It is even the symbol of the United Nations.
Verse 12: “So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore. And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed in the surface of the ground was dry.”
We see that the dove was a symbol of the earth ready to be dwelt in again, symbolic of when Jesus Christ refreshes the earth and the Millennium is here. We will have the Millennium of peace.
Now let’s turn to the gospel of Matthew chapter 3 for our final Scripture. When Jesus Christ came here, He had to be baptized. We will read about that in Matthew chapter 3, beginning in verse 13: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”
The dove represents the Holy Spirit bringing peace to the earth through Jesus Christ. There is a lot of symbolism here that we could go on and on about, but I want you to focus on the idea that birds in the Bible are used in wonderful ways to help us, protect us, guide us, and nurture us. They are really picturing what angels do for us.
Scripture plus creation reveals another beautiful thought of God that the birds that you see every day portray these marvelous beings God has created for the benefit of mankind.