Deception Illustrated Through The Story of an Eagle –
The eagle is an amazing example of God’s creation. This bird is mentioned more than 30 times in Scripture. Eagles are swift, having been clocked at up to 150 miles per hour in flight. Their powerful seven-foot wing span allows them to glide effortlessly at heights up to one-half mile, and the aerodynamics of their wing construction permits flight even in hurricane-force winds. The eagles eye has two fovea (areas of acute vision), from which they can spot prey two miles away. With their amazing depth perception they can dive accurately at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.
Due to a bony protrusion that extends outward over the eyelid, the eagle’s appearance is decidedly different from that of other birds. This stern expression gives the eagle an air of royalty. Its grandeur and grace have been revered for centuries. It has been the symbol of some of the world’s greatest countries and leaders including America.
Picture this monarch of the sky perched high on a mountain ledge overlooking a valley with a beautiful stream far below. Basking in the morning sun, surveying his domain, the eagle launches himself into the air. He sails over the green valley and swoops down toward the stream, heading for his favorite fishing spot to catch his breakfast.
When he arrives at the stream’s bank, his keen eyes notice something is slightly different. There is a large rock near his fishing spot. He knows this rock has never been there before, so he flies by the area without stopping and perches on the limb of a nearby tree. He wants to determine whether this new object is dangerous. He sits watching for better than an hour, looking up and down the stream. There is no activity whatsoever, so he drops down and lands on the rock.
In the nearby grass is a large fish. He is drawn to it, but he is puzzled. The fish is not near the stream; it is several feet from the shore. The eagle is suspicious. Something isn’t right. He scans the grassy area, the near- by bushes, and the shore of the mountain stream. There seems to be no danger, so he jumps off the rock, clutches the fish in his talons and is about to fly away when he notices another fish close by in the grass. Then another! The wilderness is providing for him in a most unusual way this morning!
Hiding in the thicket on the other side of the stream, a trapper is watching the bird’s every move. This hunter has been promised a large sum of money to capture an eagle alive. And he knows this will require his craftiest skills.
The next day, the eagle returns to his fishing spot. The rock is still there. He again observes the area from the nearby tree—but this time for only a few minutes. More quickly satisfied that no danger exists, he flies to the rock again. Lo and behold, the supply of fish has been miraculously replenished. This is unbelievable! Mother Nature is providing for him in a marvelous way, giving him more time to soar through the heavens, viewing his lovely mountain domain.
Several days pass, and the eagle is becoming conditioned. Now each morning he goes directly to the rock. Each day he finds fish there. He jumps down from the rock, grabs a fish and jumps back on the rock to enjoy his meal. He loves it! This is saving him a lot of time, which can now be used for other activities. The eagle has developed a mind of acceptance. The trapper is ready for his next move.
He makes a strong hoop like a fish net about four feet in diameter. To this he attaches a long handle with a curved bow. The next night he goes to the mountain stream where he first placed the rock and carefully digs into the ground at the base of the rock, positioning the handle of the net in the ground at an angle. This allowed the hoop to hover about three feet above the rock, yet the bow keeps the net fairly level. Then, as he has been doing every night, he places fresh fish in the nearby grass.
The next morning, the eagle perches on his lofty lookout as usual, enjoying the beauty of his surroundings. In about an hour, he lifts off and begins what has become a leisurely flight to his favorite spot. The eagle’s assumption that nature is providing his food is developing in him a somewhat sluggish disposition. As the eagle draws near the rock, he is suddenly troubled. There is an odd structure erected above it. He checks his flight and begins to soar in circles. He flies fairly high, trying to make out this strange object. He can see the fish are there as usual. After 20 minutes of flight, he senses no danger, so he descends and lands on a nearby treetop. There he spends an hour in complete silence, listening intently and watching for any strange movement. There is nothing!
A good 200 yards away, however, hidden in the thick bushes, is the clever trapper, patiently watching every move the great bird makes. Eventually the eagle flies down to the shore, landing away from the net. He finds a fish in the grass, eats it and grabs another and flies back to his nest. In the process, it appears that the strange object over the rock is probably harmless.
That afternoon, as the eagle is soaring high above the valley, he can’t erase from his mind that new object over the rock. He has to know if it will interfere with the beautiful way his food is being provided. After circling it several times, he flies back to the rock and lands on the handle of the net. Nothing happens!
There are still a couple of fish near the rock … under the net. He hops down to test this strange structure. He reaches out with his beak and claw clutching one of the fish and then quickly hops back. The net doesn’t move.
For the next few days the eagle proceeds with caution. With each visit he surveys the area closely, making certain there is nothing else new. He moves quickly, devouring one fish and carrying a second to his nest, all the time staying away from the rock. As time passes, he regains his confidence that all is well. Once again he begins to take a fish and perch on the rock, which is directly under the net, to enjoy his banquet.
The trapper is now ready. Before dawn the next morning, he adjusts the arrangement of the net. He ties a strong cord to the rim of the hoop. He runs the cord down to the ground by the rock, under a small root, and into the thick bushes nearby. To test the cord, he pulls on it, bending the rim of the net down until it covers the rock. Finally he baits the trap with the usual fish. All is ready. Then he moves into the nearby thicket to wait in quiet anticipation.
Right on time, the eagle returns the next morning. Though intelligent, he has been deceived into accepting this strange element and free fish as part of the established order. He lands on the sand near the rock, grabs a fish and perches on the stone under the net to enjoy his meal. At that exact moment, the eagle senses a slight movement in the thicket. His muscles tighten! He is ready to spring into the safety of the air, but before he can move, the four-foot hoop with the net attached comes down over him with a swish.
There is an intense battle—the eagle against the net. Beating his wings, tearing at the net with his beak, he fights for his freedom. He strains with every ounce of energy, but eventually the great bird is helpless. The mighty and glorious monarch of the sky has fallen to defeat through deception.
This short story illustrates several principles of deception that we should all be aware of. Most of Satan’s deceptive traps are hidden, but there is usually some sign of their presence. We are warned, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets [teachers] have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). The most reliable way to test the spirits is to search the Scriptures. What we are tempted to accept must be in compliance with the spiritual principles in God’s Word. This should be done with prayer and a time of cautious waiting to make sure our emotions are no longer the determinate part of any decisions we make. Remember, we still have the sinful nature we were born with, which is self-centered. As Jesus used the Word of God to combat the temptations of the enemy (see Matthew 4:111), we are to follow His example and act in the same way.
The eagle ignored his instincts. Adam and Eve were lured into deception by what they saw with their eyes—the lust of the eyes—rather than obeying God’s instruction. The eagle was drawn to the trap through an appeal to one of his basic needs. Satan’s deadly temptations always include an appeal—lust of the flesh—to a basic need or want, such as food, material possessions, security, acceptance, money, power, sex drive or beauty. These things are not inherently wrong, but satisfying these needs outside of God’s plans is.
The eagle had inner warnings of the hidden dangers, but his desires caused him to act against his instincts. God provides us with warnings of spiritual danger. Like Jesus, we must by faith follow His Word instead of our wants and desires. It was the eagle’s pride—the pride of life—that made him believe he had all things under control. Over time he became dull and sluggish, and eventually this cost him his freedom.
It is easy to let our guard down. One of Satan’s most successful deceptions in this last generation has been how he has changed our attitude toward the sacred Scriptures and our failure to take them seriously. This is the exact opposite of the attitude Jesus had. The Bible is our textbook and our authority. We cannot rely solely upon subjective experiences, because there are evil spirits as well as good spirits. The Bible warns there are deceiving spirits that can cause us to have counterfeit experiences. The Scriptures teach that this will especially be true in the last days.
A current example of this is the dangerous way the church is teaching the relationship between law and grace. To say that because we are under grace we have nothing to do with law and can forget it, is definitely not what Scripture teaches, nor was this the attitude of Jesus. The law is not a means for salvation, but we are not to ignore it. We are to use it as our guide in living out our lives on this Earth as members of the Kingdom of God. “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:7-11).
The eagle became conditioned to his surroundings because he wanted to satisfy his desire for food. Though these new conditions were contrary to the laws of nature, the eagle accepted them because they allowed him more time for pleasure. Likewise, God’s Word warns us, Satan will attempt to trick us into changing biblical standards through “self-serving” traps. Throughout history Satan has proven a master at tempting God’s people with the advantages of sin, without revealing the pain they will surely suffer.
In my next blog, I will illustrate Satan’s use of deception through the written testimony of my brother, Dr. Charles Fraley, M.D. He had a special calling of God on his life, but even though he was a dedicated Christian, he too was led into deception by the enemy.
Watch for Part 2 of “Deception Illustrated” on September 13th,2010.Tags: Biblical standards, deception, disobedience, sinful nature, temptation