Job 39:27

Does the eagle mount up at your command, and make her nest on high?
Read Chapter 39

Gregory The Dialogist

AD 604
94. In Holy Scripture, by the word ‘eagle’ are sometimes designated malignant spirits, the spoilers of souls, sometimes the powers of the present world, but sometimes either the very subtle understandings of the Saints, or the Incarnate Lord, swiftly flying over things below, and presently seeking again those on high. By the name ‘eagle’ are set forth the spirits, which lie in wait, as Jeremiah witnesses, who says, Our persecutors were swifter than the eagles of the heaven. [Lam. 4, 19] For our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven, when malignant men perform so many things against us, as to seem to surpass even the powers of the air themselves in the inventions of their malice. By the word ‘eagle,’ earthly power is also typified. Whence it is said by the Prophet Ezekiel, A great eagle, of great wings, long limbed, full of feathers and variety, came to Libanus, and took away the marrow of the cedar, and plucked off the top of his branches. [Ez. 17, 3. 4.] For by this eagle who else is, in truth, designated but Nabuchodonosor, the king of Babylon? Who, in consequence of the immensity of his army, is described as of great wings; in consequence of the length of his continuance, as of long extent of limbs; for the multitude of his riches, as full of feathers, and because of the countless things that made up his earthly glory, as full of variety. Who came to Libanus, and took away the marrow of the cedar, and plucked off the top of his branches, because he attacked the loftiness of Judah, and carried off the nobility of its kingdom, as the marrow of the cedar. And whilst he took away captive the most delicate offspring of kings from the lofty height of their power, he plucked off, as it were, the top of his branches. By the word ‘eagle’ is expressed either the subtle understanding of the Saints, or the flying of the Lord’s Ascension. Whence the same Prophet, when describing that he had seen the four Evangelists under the appearance of living creatures, declares that in them there had appeared to him the face of a man, of a lion, of an ox, and of an eagle. Doubtless designating by an eagle, the fourth living creature, John, who left the earth in his flight, because, through his subtle understanding, he penetrated, by beholding the Word, inward mysteries. With which sentence of the Prophet concerning himself, John himself, in his Revelation, does not disagree, saying, The first beast was like a lion, the second beast like a calf, the third beast having a face as of a man, the fourth beast like a flying eagle. [Rev. 4, 7] And though these several points are well suited to each particular Evangelist, (while one teaches the order of His human Nativity; another, by the offering of the sacrifice of the world, suggests, as it were, the death of the calf; another the might of His power, as the roaring of the lion; another, beholding the Nativity of the Word, gazes like the eagle at the risen sun;) yet these four living creatures can signify Him their very Head, of Whom they are members. For He Himself is both a Man, because He truly took our nature; and a calf, because He patiently died for our sakes; and a lion, because, by the strength of His Godhead, He burst the band of the death He had undergone; and, lastly, an eagle, because He went back to heaven, from whence He had come. He is called therefore a man, from His being born; a calf, from His dying; a lion, from His rising again; an eagle, from His ascending to the heavens. But in this place under the name ‘eagle’ is typified the subtle understanding of the Saints, and their sublime contemplation. For the sight of the eagle surpasses the vision of all birds, so that the sun’s ray does not, by striking on its eyes, which are fixed upon it, close them by any coruscation of its light. The eagle therefore mounts up at the command of God, when the life of the faithful, obeying the Divine commands, is suspended on high. And it is also said to place its nest in high places, because, despising earthly desires, it is already nourished, in hope, with heavenly things. It places its nest on high; because it constructs not the habitation of its mind in abject and grovelling conversation. Hence is that which is said to the Cinite, by Balaam when prophesying, Strong indeed is thy dwelling place, but if thou hast placed thy nest in the rock. [Numb, 24, 21] For Cinite is interpreted ‘possessor.’ And who are they who possess present things, except those who are skilled in the ability of worldly wisdom? And they truly build themselves therein a strong dwelling place, if becoming, by humility, as little children in their own sight, they are nourished in the sublimity of Christ; if they feel themselves to be weak, and give up the confidence of their mind, to be cherished by the lofty humility of the Redeemer Who is known to them; if they seek not after things below; if they pass over, with the flight of their heart, every thing which passes away. 95. Let us behold the eagle building itself the nest of hope in high places. He says; Our conversation is in heaven. [Phil. 3, 2] And again; Who hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in heavenly places. [Eph. 2, 6] He has his rest in high places, because in truth he fixes his thought on things above. He wishes not to degrade his mind to the lowest objects, he wishes not, by the baseness of human conversation, to dwell in things below. Paul was, perhaps, then confined in prison, when he was witnessing that he was sitting together with Christ in heavenly places. But he was there, where he had already fixed his ardent mind, not there, where the sluggish flesh was still necessarily detaining him. 96. For this is wont to be a special mark of the Elect, that they know how so to travel along the journey of the present life, as well aware, by the certainty of hope, that they have already attained to things above; so that they see all things which flow by to be beneath them, and trample down, through love of eternity, all that is eminent in this world. For hence it is that the Lord says, by the Prophet, to the soul which follows Him; I will raise thee above the high places of the earth. [Is. 58, 14] For losses, insults, poverty, contempt, are, as it were, some lower places of the earth, which even the very lovers of the world, as they walk along the level of the broad way, cease not to trample down, by avoiding them. But the high places of the earth are, gain of goods, flattery of inferiors, abundance of riches, honour, and loftiness of dignities; along which whoever walks with his desires still grovelling, he considers them high, just as he counts them great. But if the heart is once fixed on heavenly things, it is seen at once how lowly are those things which seemed to be high. For as he, who ascends a mountain, looks down for a little while on all other objects which lie beneath, the more he advances his step to higher ground, so he who strives to fix his attention on things above, as he finds by the very effort that the glory of this present life is nothing, is raised above the high places of the earth: and that which at first he believed to be above him, when plunged in grovelling desires, he afterwards discerns to be beneath him, as he advances in his ascent. The things then which the Lord there promises that He will do, saying, I will raise thee above the high places of the earth, these very things He witnesses to blessed Job, that He alone is able to do, saying; Will the eagle mount up at thy command, and make for thee her nest in high places? As if He were saying; As at Mine, Who inspire within by the grace of hidden bounty, that which I command from without.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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