On Eagle's Wings
(Articles From A Pastoral Perspective)
Exodus 19:4 (NASB)
'You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself.
"THE BREATH OF THANKSGIVING"
Pastor Jack Hayford
The Spirit of Praise Should Dominate Our Lives
The “breath of thanksgiving” has to do with the spirit of praise being sustained. People cannot go very long without taking a breath, and the breath of the believer is the spirit of praise. Continuous praise is important in our lives, not as a legal duty but because it enhances, enriches and protects our lives.
We tend to see praise as an activity we do, and then it’s over. But there is a something about praise that endures before the Lord’s throne; that establishes a canopy to insulate us against the heinous, hellish works of darkness.
The Bible says that in the last days of our world, Satan will come down with a great fury because he knows he has but a short time (Revelation 12:12), and that the adversary is ceaselessly making war on the saints (Daniel 7). We are to be vigilant because the enemy is on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8). It’s not as if you’ve done anything wrong, or that the Lord is giving up on the covenant; if we’re to live in the fullest benefits of all that is available to us, the spirit of praise and thanksgiving needs to dominate our lives.
Ceaseless Praise Is The Expanding Recognition of God’s Glory
In Revelation 4 it says that the creatures around the throne of God cease not day and night to praise Him. The four cherubim are highly intelligent creatures. Their worship is not mindless, automatic or perfunctory. They are not religious robots. They are not worshipping because they have no alternative or would not be able to do something else. On the contrary, one anointed cherubim, their leader in fact–Lucifer–turned against the Most High God and was cast down and became Satan.
Consider then the possibility that these creatures are praising continuously because something phenomenal must be taking place. Perhaps each time they come up from having bowed and praised Him, a new facet of the marvel of God’s Person flashes upon their understanding. They are awestruck to praising and bowing before Him again. Their ongoing praise is not merely repetition, but issues out of a constantly expanding recognition of the greatness of the God that they serve; of His goodness, benevolence and kindness.
How may we sustain the “breath of thanksgiving”?
There are three things in the Bible that speak of the constancy of praise:
The flame of praise (in the O/T tabernacle worship)
The song of praise (spoken about by David)
The spirit of praise (as exercised in the life of the Church)
The Flame of Praise
Old Testament tabernacle worship
The Bible says that the only remaining sacrifice for the New Testament believer is the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15; Romans 12:1). But in Leviticus 6:8-13 instructions are given in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament economy of things.
This worship picture of the ceaseless flame is an expression of praise to the Lord. It speaks to us by way of Old Testament “type,” as a “shadow of things to come, but the substance is in Christ" (Colossians 2:17). Living in Christ, those things foreshadowed earlier find their fulfillment in us.
In that passage, along with saying that the flame of praise is to burn continually, there are a lot of other instructions. What that is saying to us is that you will be doing your job day in and day out; doing things as mundane as changing clothes, but in the midst of it all, keep the flame burning.
In the comings and goings of our life, the Lord is not saying we have to become monastic recluses in order to praise Him continually. Whatever you’re doing–your job, changing your clothes–keep the flame going, all the time. Watch for opportunities to praise the Lord; let praise be a flame on the altar of your heart morning and night.
How can our sleeping hours be a praise to the Lord? In Holy Living, Holy Dying Jeremy Taylor writes that inasmuch as God has created us to require sleep, and He promises sleep to us, then it follows that if we offer that sleep to Him as a praise, He will receive it as such. In this way, every breath while sleeping can be offered as a worship to the Lord.
The Song of Praise
Spoken of by David
These psalms are only a few that illustrate the ceaselessness of praise. They speak of the day–from the rising of the sun to its going down; and of the night–the saints singing aloud on their beds, and His song in the night.
1Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
Praise the name of the Lord!
2Blessed be the name of the Lord
From this time forth and forevermore!
3From the rising of the sun to its going down
The Lord’s name is to be praised.
5Let the saints be joyful in glory;
Let them sing aloud on their beds.
8The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me–
A prayer to the God of my life.
The spirit of praise
Exercised in the life of the New Testament Church
In Ephesians 1 it says that God has given us a list of blessings that we should be to the praise of His glory.
What if we could see what actually goes on in the spiritual realm when we praise the Lord? Consider that the Lord sees our praises as precious treasures, and coming from your lips are jewels of praise unto Him. When you praise, it’s as though rubies, diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires are tumbling out of your lips. They don’t fall to the earth, but He gathers those praises and takes delight in their beauty.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it says pray without ceasing which is a bewildering command. How can we do that? That phrase is bracketed by two other simple and pointed statements:
16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Ask the Lord to teach you the “breath of thanksgiving," the ongoing spirit of praise. Not just for the sake of establishing a mantle of protection through the insulating power of praise but because the Lord is worthy, and because the ongoing spirit of praise will be transforming and enlarging to us. Becoming a person who tirelessly praises, who “breathes thanksgiving” will:
Change your character,
Change your circumstances,
Change your countenance.
As we move in that spirit of praise, there’s no better time than our national day of gratitude, Thanksgiving Day, to say, Lord, from this time forth, forevermore, I want to see a new development of the spirit of praise in my own life. Amen.