“But ask now… the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:” – Job 12:7
The Bible states in very clear terms, that “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24) and that “No man hath seen God at any time.” (John 1:18 & 1 John 4:12) How then can God relate to mankind, whose understanding is bound up in his senses, particularly in what he can see?
God is the Master Communicator. So we could know Him, He relates Himself to us in the Bible as we are. This doesn’t make Him like us, but through vividly painted word pictures, God defines Himself with terms of man. This is called in theology: anthropomorphism. “Anthropo-” means “man,” and “morphism” means “in the form or likeness of.”
Let’s take a look at a sampling of anthropomorphic attributes from Scripture:
- God’s hands and ears, Isaiah 59:1: “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear.”
- God’s eyes, Proverbs 15:3: “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”
- God’s feet, 2 Samuel 22:10: “He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet.”
It goes without saying that God can lift without hands, hear without ears, see without eyes, and run without feed. He doesn’t need those physical features to accomplish those feats. But to understand the personality of God, and how He relates to us, He describes Himself in ways we know and are familiar with.
Occasionally, there are attributes of God to which man just can’t relate. God’s holiness: what is that like? God’s justice: what man possess it? God’s eternity: no age of man can even scratch the surface. These, rather than find a likeness in man, find their likeness in nature. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead;” -Romans 1:20
The Bible has a lot to say about the natural world. Spiritual truths are easily conveyed using illustrations from creation. Of all the wide array of creatures in the animal kingdom, the Scripture is rich with stories and studies on the avian race.
First appearing in Genesis 1 on the fifth day of creation, the bird wings its flight all the way to Revelation 19 at the Second Advent and Battle of Armageddon. Notable in the history of the world are the dove released from Noah’s Ark, the sparrow for whom God himself takes care, and the Holy Spirit that descended “like a dove” on the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, the Bible can teach us many things about birds.
Birds can also teach us many things about the God of the Bible.
I’d like to introduce you to an under-emphasized branch of theology. Birds teach us things about God we could never learn fully elsewhere. The study of the science of birds is called: “ornithology.” We shall call this branch of theology: “ornithomorphism.”
What doctrines are taught through the bird?
- God’s trustworthy provision, Ruth 2:12: “The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”
- God’s self-sacrificial protection, Matthew 23:37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
- God’s guaranteed preservation of Israel, Exodus 19:4: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagle’s wings, and brought you unto myself.”
- God’s unending eternity and perpetuation, Psalm 139:9-10: “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost pasts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
There is so much to be learned about God from the wings, and the beak, and the plumage, and the talons of the bird! An extensive study of the natural world will only scratch the surface of God of the Bible. The Wrights were able to bring flight to mankind by studying the bird. How high would our fellowship soar if we, too, would take note of the fowls of the air to learn of their wonderful Creator?