Chapter 15. Wings and Angels
People have always been fascinated by flight from butterflies and bees to birds and bats. Our eyes once again are raised to watch soaring wings and wonder about the view from up there. Passengers in airplanes and astronauts in space shuttles are awed by puffy clouds and icy seas and our smallness in relation to the earth below. Because wings seem to propel one closer to Heaven, another of God's creatures, angels have often been pictured as having wings. With the gift of these swift wings, angels can deliver messages from God and protect us from danger. May God bless our guardian angels as we greet one another.
Genesis 7:14 (NIV)
They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings.
Exodus 19:4 (NIV)
You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself.
Deuteronomy 32:11 (NIV)
... like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions.
Ruth 2:12 (NIV)
May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.
An ostrich proudly flaps her wings, but not because she loves her young.
Did you teach hawks to fly south for the winter?
Protect me as you would
your very own eyes;
hide me in the shadow
of your wings.
You rode on the backs
of flying creatures
and swooped down
with the wind as wings.
Your love is a treasure,
and everyone finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings.
I wish I had wings
like a dove,
so I could fly far away
and be at peace.
God Most High, have pity on me!
I run to you
In the shadow of your wings,
I seek protection
till danger dies down.
Let me live with you forever
and find protection
under your wings, my God.
You have helped me,
and I sing happy songs
in the shadow of your wings.
And for those who stayed back
to guard the sheep,
there are metal doves
with silver-coated wings
and shiny gold feathers.
He will spread his wings
and keep you secure.
His faithfulness is like
a shield or a city wall.
... and you built your home
over the mighty ocean.
The clouds are your chariot
with the wind as its wings.
Suppose I had wings
like the dawning day
and flew across the ocean.
Your money flies away
before you know it,
just like an eagle
suddenly taking off.
Flaming creatures with six wings each were flying over him. They covered their faces with two of their wings and their bodies with two more. They used the other two wings for flying ...
Enemy soldiers will cover Judah like a flood reaching up to your neck. But God is with us. He will spread his wings and protect our land.
Isaiah 34:15 (NIV)
The owl will nest there and lay eggs, she will hatch them, and care for her young under the shadow of her wings; there also the falcons will gather, each with its mate.
But those who trust the LORD will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.
Ezekiel 1:5–6, 8–9, 11
... and in that center I saw what looked like four living creatures. They were somewhat like humans, except that each one had four faces and four wings. Under each of their wings, these creatures had a human hand. The four creatures were standing back to back with the tips of their wings touching. They moved together in every direction, without turning their bodies. Two wings of each creature were spread out and touched the wings of the creatures on either side. The other two wings of each creature were folded against its body.
Above the living creatures, I saw something that was sparkling like ice, and it reminded me of a dome. Each creature had two of its wings stretched out toward the creatures on either side, with the other two wings folded against its body. Whenever the creatures flew, their wings roared like an ocean or a large army or even the voice of God All-Powerful. And whenever the creatures stopped, they folded their wings against their bodies. When the creatures stopped flapping their wings, I heard a sound coming from above the dome.
It was the sound made by the creatures' wings as they brushed against each other, and by the rumble of the wheels beside them.
Ezekiel 10:3, 5–21
The winged creatures were standing south of the temple when the man walked among them. A cloud filled the inner courtyard ... The sound of the creatures' wings was as loud as the voice of God All-Powerful and could even be heard in the outer courtyard. The man in the robe was now standing beside a wheel. One of the four creatures reached its hand into the fire among them and gave him some of the hot coals. The man took the coals and left. I noticed again that each of the four winged creatures had what looked like human hands under their wings, and I saw the four wheels near the creatures. These wheels were shining like chrysolite. Each wheel was exactly the same and had a second wheel that cut through the middle of it, so that they could move in any direction without turning. The wheels moved together whenever the creatures moved. I also noticed that the wheels and the creatures' bodies, including their backs, their hands, and their wings, were covered with eyes. And I heard a voice calling these "the wheels that spin." Each of the winged creatures had four faces: the face of a bull, the face of a human, the face of a lion, and the face of an eagle. These were the same creatures I had seen near the Chebar River. They controlled when and where the wheels moved—the wheels went wherever the creatures went and stopped whenever they stopped. Even when the creatures flew in the air, the wheels stayed beside them. Then I watched the brightness of the LORD's glory move from the entrance of the temple and stop above the winged creatures. They spread their wings and flew into the air with the wheels at their side. They stopped at the east gate of the temple, and the LORD's glory was above them. They had four wings with hands beneath them, and they had the same four faces as those near the River. Each creature moved straight ahead without turning.
Ezekiel 17:3, 7
... so they will understand what I am saying to them: A large eagle with strong wings and beautiful feathers once flew to Lebanon. It broke the top branch off a cedar tree, then carried it to a nation of merchants and left it in one of their cities. The eagle also took seed from Israel and planted it in a fertile field with plenty of water, like a willow tree beside a stream. The seed sprouted and grew into a grapevine that spread over the ground. It had lots of leaves and strong, deep roots, and its branches grew upward toward the eagle.
Zechariah 5:9 (NIV)
Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.
Malachi 4:2 (NIV)
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn't let me.
Each of the four living creatures had six wings, and their bodies were covered with eyes. Day and night they never stopped singing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, the all-powerful God, who was and is and is coming!"
On their chests they wore armor made of iron. Their wings roared like an army of horse-drawn chariots rushing into battle.
Revelation 12:14 (NIV)
The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach.
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King ...
With th'angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
—Charles Wesley (1707–1788). Hymns and Sacred Poems , Christmas Hymn: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold;
"Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heav'n's all-gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
—Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810–1876). The Angel's Song , st. 1.
...morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
—Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889). God’s Grandeur (l. 12–14).
Angel of God,
my Guardian dear,
to whom His love
commits me here,
ever this day (or night)
be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.
—Guardian Angel Prayer. A well-known prayer.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
—Prayer attributed to Pope Leo XIII (1888).
Photo Credit: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
(C) 2002 by Anthony R. Brach.