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The Prophet: Creating and Sustaining a Life-Giving Prophetic Culture
by James Goll
Learn More | Meet James Goll
Where Eagles Dare to Fly
Like John the beloved on the Isle of Patmos, I hear the voice of the Spirit saying, “Come up here. Come up higher.” Yes, soar like an eagle above the powers of darkness and evil principalities. Rise above into an atmosphere free from spiritual warfare, contention, care, and worry. Catch the wind and be carried higher as the current freely flows and even a whisper of a breeze causes you to gain elevation. Oh, how the mighty eagle dares to fly where no two-winged creature has ever flown before.
The prophet, like the eagle, flies higher and sees further than all of God’s gifted ones. The prophet soars through the open door and rises into the place where the sky is blue, the vision is clear, and your sight is filled with third-heavenly views. As prophets, prophetically gifted people, and the long-awaited prophetic generation of courageous believers come forth, you know that the Father’s glorious purposes are accelerating for such a time as this.
A Variety of Eagles
More than sixty species of majestic eagles are found worldwide—Eurasia, Africa, Central and South America, Australia, Canada, and the United States, where in 1782 the American Bald Eagle was adopted as the national emblem. An eagle’s wingspan can reach 7 1/2 feet (228 cm) and their nests can weigh 1,000 pounds (453 kg). Although solitary birds, they mate for life. Eagles have long been symbols of grandeur and power and have appeared on currency, seals, military insignia, and flags from ancient to current times.
Not only have eagles been the subject of Egyptian, Roman, and Native American folklore, eagles are also found throughout the Bible’s Old Testament and in the book of Revelation; have you noticed? God uses examples of eagles to teach us many things. He compares us and this amazing bird—if only we choose to rely on His strength for everything.
The passage above from Isaiah is preceded by these verses:
- Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord,
the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength... (Isa. 40:29–31).
Our all-sufficient Creator does not leave us on our own any more than a mother eagle leaves her chicks on their own. And He cares for us in every way, anticipating our weaknesses and putting fresh wind under our wings day after day and year after year.
In this book I want to lead you on an exploration of how God equips His own sons and daughters to soar all the way up to the sun (Son), as they tirelessly prophesy His glory in multiple ways. He is the one “who satisfies your years [or desires] with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle” (Ps. 103:5).
As we follow the Lord and follow His call, we can certainly get weary. He wants to show us how to have both of our wings ready—the Word of God and worshipful prayer—so that when the wind of the Spirit comes in force, we can climb up and draw beautiful circles as we wheel in the sky.
Everywhere in Scripture, eagles represent swiftness and strength—and the glory of God. I remember the eagles in both Ezekiel’s heavenly visitation and then, centuries later, in John’s revelation:
- As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all
four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull
on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle (Ezek. 1:10).
The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 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!”
Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever (Rev. 4:7–9, NKJV).
Some Bible commentators say that these four faces or four living creatures refer to the four Gospels, each of which depicts a different aspect of the nature of God. With one voice, what do these creatures do in Heaven? They proclaim, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” They just can’t stop telling of His glory. And as we ourselves mount up on eagles’ wings, borne higher and higher by the wind of His Spirit, neither can we.
Eagles as a Prophetic Symbol
The eagle is one of the biggest and certainly the most majestic of all living birds. This is why so many countries, no less than twenty-five of them, depict eagles in their coat of arms. North American native tribes use eagle feathers in their religious lives. Here in North America, we are most familiar with the golden eagle and the bald eagle (which is not really bald, of course, although some of us can identify with that, too!). The writers of Scripture would have seen golden eagles, along with three other kinds of eagles, and more during migration seasons. Mature eagles have come to be admired the world over as living symbols of freedom, power, and transcendence.
Eagles are often considered specifically representative of the prophetic anointing. People who make lists of scriptural symbolism always interpret eagles this way—just think about the proverbial sharp-sightedness of eagles, not to mention their capacity to “come up higher.”
Eagles are even more meaningful to me. For years the combined ministries of Encounters Network and Compassion Acts served the Cherokee Nation headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma with acts of kindness, humanitarian aid, and prayer. Because of this connection, I was adopted by the Cherokee tribe and given the name “White Eagle” during a special day of prayer. I was honored in a ceremony, presented with a long white eagle feather, and commissioned to “soar into the heavens” in prayer and prophecy.
I call the late Bob Jones, one of my prophetic mentors, my “prophetic papa.” He was known as a seer, and he wore this one sweatshirt all the time. Maybe he had ten of them; I would not know for sure. Anyway, his blue sweatshirt had the picture of an eagle on it. Nothing could have been more appropriate. Bob had been commissioned as an eagle who would call forth and equip the eagles who would in turn equip more eagles for the next two or three generations.
As prophetic people, we need to “come up higher,” and see things from a heavenly perspective. The apostle John declared prophetically:
- After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing
open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to
me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you
what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit,
and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone
sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance
of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald
encircled the throne (Rev. 4:1–3, NIV).
Each of us must catch the vision that God sends, because while not all of us are meant to have a public prophetic ministry, each of us can prophesy in particular ways. Together, we are called to be the prophetic Body of Christ. Our God invites us to come and see the world and His Kingdom from a higher, heavenly perspective.
It is not only about the next great experience. It is about keeping on looking, as John the Beloved did. He kept on looking until he saw the Lord Jesus enthroned.
Eagles and Us
When you look at the facts about eagles, you can see all kinds of parallels with prophetic expression. Let’s look at some of them, keeping in mind the wisdom of Paul: “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual” (1 Cor. 15:46, NKJV). Remember: first the natural, then the spiritual. The spiritual does not come first.
There are over sixty species of eagles in the world. Undoubtedly, there are over sixty “species” of prophets and prophetic expression in the world, too. Prophets come in all shapes and sizes and, as you will see in the chapters of this book, they express God’s heart and mind in a wide variety of ways.
As you may remember, fifty years ago bald eagles in North America used to be on the endangered species list, since only about five hundred breeding pairs were thought to exist. About ten years ago, they were removed from the list, and now enjoy a “protected” status. I see some similarities with what has happened to prophetic voices in the Church. Once in danger of extinction, the importance of the prophetic has now been restored and elevated in status, at least in many places. In fact, it happened over the course of that same fifty-year period, in both cases starting in 1967.
When I first started out ministering in the Body of Christ, prophecy was unusual. It was a big deal and many Christians did not think it was valid. Now, along with the wide range of acceptable worship styles, many people who used to try to avoid anything labeled “prophetic” now welcome it. In 1967—the same year that the bald eagle was put on the endangered species list—three important movements in the Church came into being: the charismatic movement, the Jesus People movement, and the Messianic movement. Back in 1967, there were not very many “eagles” flying in the Church. Oh, that eagles would multiply in the Church, that they would continue to be no longer endangered, but rather protected!
It is a natural fact: Eagles can out-fly and out-hunt many other species, and they take advantage of the food sources they have at hand. They may have a big range to cover, and they stay within it once they mature. They fly so high in the sky that they seem to come from a heavenly realm when they plunge to earth in their single-minded pursuit of their prey. I think you can see how this might be analogous to prophets!
Most eagles mate for life, and the males and females look quite similar to each other. After constructing large nests with care, they maintain them for their two or three chicks each season (taking turns feeding the chicks and passing on to the next generation what they need to know). Some eagles build their nests in tall trees. Others, like the golden eagle in Israel, build on inaccessible cliffs:
- The eagle mounts up
And makes his nest on high.
On the cliff he dwells and lodges,
Upon the rocky crag, an inaccessible place.
From there he spies out food;
His eyes see it from afar (Job 39:27–29).
From such heights, they can catch the wind currents and soar even higher—or plummet to earth at fantastic speed to capture the prey that their “eagle eyes” have spotted. As prophetic people, we too hope to be able to start high, having nested and rested, from there to catch the wind currents of the Holy Spirit. From such a high perspective, our God-given spiritual sight can spot a target that other eyes would miss. We can see the enemy, and we can see provision.
Did you know that eagles can see more colors than humans can? We can see the three primary colors, red, blue, and yellow, and their gradations. But eagles can distinguish more colors, including those in the UV range, which helps them follow invisible-to-humans urine trails of small animals.
More about eagles’ vision: The eyes of big eagles are about the same size as human eyes, but their vision is up to four times as sharp as human twenty-twenty vision. This means that an eagle can spot prey over several miles from a souring altitude of a thousand feet. Do prophets seem to have extra-sharp vision as well? I believe they do.
Over the years many preachers have stated (based on the passage below) that a mother eagle will push her fledgling eaglet out of the nest before it is able to fly, swooping underneath to carry it back to a solid perch:
- Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
That hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions (Deut. 32:11).
This is poetic language, a beautiful picture of the way God teaches us to “fly” in the Spirit, and it goes along with the rest of our prophetic analogy. Naturalists know it does not really happen, although the eagle parents do shield their young with their strong wings as the prior verse portrays:
- In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye... (Deut. 32:10, NIV).
Eagles never look back over their shoulders or worry about competitors. They are beautifully confident and highly focused. Remember what Jesus said about putting your hand to the plow and not looking back? (See Luke 9:61–62.)1
Andrew Murray, prolific South African writer-pastor of the early twentieth century, once composed a book called With Wings as Eagles. In it, he stated:
- How did the eagle get its wings? By its birth. It was born a
royal eagle. It has royal descent…. We are all born with eagle
wings; we have within us a divine nature; we have within
us the very Spirit of Christ Jesus to draw us heavenward.2
Regardless of whether or not you think of yourself as a prophet, that is what you are. You have a connection with Heaven that you can renew on a daily basis. You can bring Heaven to earth through your words and actions. You are called to fly higher. As an eternal being, you have been called to dwell in the heavenlies. You—yes, you!—have been called to mount up with eagles’ wings so that you can bring Heaven to your little patch of the earth.
The prophet Jeremiah mentioned “…your nest as high as an eagle’s” ( Jer. 49:16). Obadiah wrote, “you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars” (Obad. 1:4, NIV). It is your birthright to dwell on the heights with God. Your position is with Him, so choose to occupy it! He raises you up to the highest heights, so do not be foolish or negligent or rebellious and forfeit your glorious position with Him.
“Be still, and know that I am God!” said the psalmist (Ps. 46:10, NKJV). You do not have to be intense to be a prophet. You can move from the natural to the spiritual in a really natural way. An eagle waits for the perfect time to launch into the air currents so that he can ascend without flapping unnecessarily. Be still and just wait for that perfect moment, which will come in its season. Eagles do not fly high all the time, and neither should you.
The most powerful prophetic words are relational, not professional. Reaching out with acts of kindness may be the best prophetic ministry of all, and you certainly do not have to punctuate every word with “thus saith the Lord.” Feel free to change your language, making it less religious and more ordinary, more approachable. I will have much more to say about this as the following chapters unfold.
Let love be your aim (see 1 Cor. 14:1). Love is the conduit that carries faith. You do not have to be a know-it-all. Just be a genuine person who cares about people. Ask questions and get to know people. Learn to move in the gifts of the Spirit as you grow in the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control—see Galatians 5:22–23).
It is a process. Like an eaglet, you were not hatched knowing how to soar or hunt. Even when you reach maturity, you will have to learn new things. Just remember that you have the best Teacher you could possibly have, and that He has promised to perfect the work He has begun in you (see Phil. 1:6). He will also recondition you all along the way, much like the way He reconditions the feathers of a molting eagle.
Never forget your goal, which is the goal for anyone who is called by His name: to exalt Jesus. After John was invited into the heavenly throne room, he recorded these words: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10, NKJV). What is important is not the sweep of your wingspan or the accuracy of your eye. What matters is that you train your eagle eyes to keep your focus on Jesus Himself. As an eagle of God, are you releasing His testimony?
Father, in Jesus’ great name, we want to see a prophetic company rise up with their hearts set on You. Help us to pursue love and yet earnestly desire the gift of prophecy. Give us prophetic hearts so that we can release the testimony of Jesus to all those with whom we come into contact. May we have the eyes of eagles to discern our prey and learn to swoop down for the capture. Increase our wingspan so that we can soar to new heights. We declare that we are no longer an endangered species and that we do not have to live in fear. Yes, like the eagles, we now dare to fly higher than ever before! Amen.
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