There are two kinds of eagles in the East: one is a "holy" eagle and the other is a "dirty" eagle.
As a convert to Christianity from Hinduism, Bishop K.C. Pillai came to the Western world on a singular mission: to teach the Eastern culture of the Bible. Although Christianity is generally considered a western religion, the Bible itself was written and set in the Orient, and it must be viewed through the light of that eastern window. The Bible is filled with passages that perplex the Western mind, and yet they were readily understood by the Easterner. When the reader becomes knowledgeable of the oriental idioms, customs, and traditions of the Biblical setting, these Scriptures become clear. God called Bishop K.C. Pillai to reveal these Biblical truths he called Orientalisms. At the time of the Bishop’s early life, his native India had remained an isolated country for thousands of years. Therefore, the customs and manners of the people were still aligned with the Eastern, Biblical culture. For over twenty years, Bishop Pillai taught these Orientalisms, bringing great enlightenment to the Christian world. His crusade of imparting this light of the Eastern Culture carried him to numerous universities and seminaries, as well as every major denomination throughout the United States, England and Canada. Still today, his teachings remain the foremost authority on the rare gems of Biblical customs and culture. Bishop K.C. Pillai’s conversion to Christianity is a witness of God’s heart, as well as a lesson in one of the most significant Eastern customs found in the Bible. The Bishop was raised as a Hindu. When a Hindu child of the ruling class is born, a little salt is rubbed on the baby who is then wrapped in swaddling cloth. This custom invoked one of the oldest and strongest covenants in the Eastern world, the “salt covenant.” In this particular instance, the child was salted for a lifetime of dedication to the Hindu religion. The “salt covenant” is used in like manner throughout the Bible to seal the deepest commitment. As a result of the salt covenant it is difficult for Hindus to convert to Christianity. When they do, their family actually conducts a funeral service to symbolize that the individual is dead to their family, the community and Hinduism. Their family will carry a portrait of the “deceased” to the cemetery and bury it. Many times Bishop spoke of his “burial day” when he was disinherited by becoming a Christian; the only Hindu willing to break that covenant of salt in his community during that time. K.C. Pillai answered God’s call and served as Bishop of North Madras in the Indian Orthodox Church. Sent on a special mission to the United States, he spent the last twenty years of his life acquainting Christians with the Orientalisms of the Bible. The interest Bishop Pillai generated in the field has led to numerous further studies by other scholars in the field of manners and customs in the Bible, as well. His books and teachings continue to illuminate and inspire students of the Bible throughout the world. A solid understanding of Orientalisms is essential to “rightly dividing” the Word of truth, and Bishop K.C. Pillai’s works remain an indispensable reference.
Several verses in the Old Testament make reference to eagles, and I want to tell of their significance in Oriental thinking.
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they all mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle;…
There are two kinds of eagles in the East: one is a "holy" eagle and the other is a "dirty" eagle. The dirty eagles are those that gather around any dead carcass; they gather to eat of it, and are the wild vultures. Jesus said:
For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
In this passage, Jesus referred to the dirty eagles or vultures, because where the dead body is, the vultures are there picking at it.
When a fasting Hindu breaks his fast, the first thing he wants to look at is a holy eagle. If he sees a dirty eagle instead, he goes back and fasts again. To the Hindu, it is an evil omen to break a fast without seeing a holy eagle.
These dirty eagles are like carnal Christians; they are always looking to material things; their vision is not high enough because their faith is not high enough. They are looking for the husks that the swine did eat, having pleasure in things, things, things, instead of looking to the Spirit.
We who are Christians must not walk according to the flesh, but we must walk according to the Spirit. There are many saved Christians who have walked according to the flesh from the time they were saved; they were saved by the Spirit but they walk by the flesh. But they should be just like the holy eagles who are opposite to the dirty ones.
The holy eagles never eat anything that is dead; they always pick up live things for food. They build their nests in the tops of coconut palms, perhaps 80 or 90 feet off the ground. They are like the church of God: the real believers who are saved by faith and walk by faith; the believers whose home is not in this world, but whose home is heavenward. We are only earthbound in body; we are seated with Him on the throne in spirit! The Bible says:
Ephesians 2:5, 6:
Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved);
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
The bulk of the Christians do not believe these things, because they are too supernatural for them. But for the real believers, these facts are natural! We are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus; we were crucified with him; we were buried with him; we arose with him; and we ascended with him and are now seated with him in heavenly places! This is very wonderful and thrilling if you believe it.
The holy eagles are likened to heavenly beings; they are the "king of the birds." Once every five, ten or fifteen years, (people differ on the time interval) the eagles build a nest high in the coconut tree, and then abandon themselves, like advanced swimmers that dive into the water. So these eagles, from the top of the high palm tree, dive down into a lake, or pond or well, or any still water; they don't fly, but dive headfirst, with their wings folded intact on their backs. They abandon themselves and we see them dropping into the water, and when they come up they have lost every single feather. They are floating on the water, and the eagles are left stranded in the water, unable to swim or fly.
Somehow, they struggle and manage to reach the shore. Then the people come and feed the eagles, because the Eastern people look upon these holy eagles as representatives of God. Nobody will hurt them because they look upon them as heavenly beings. Then in six or seven weeks time, their new feathers have grown out and they fly back to the treetops. Nothing can stop them now. That is why "…they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they all mount up with wings as eagles;"
The eagles lose their feathers first; then they wait. They lose all their old feathers of negativism and of limitations. Too many Christians say, "I can't do it; I can't see it." These are negative feathers which must be done away with when we are born again and start believing God. The Christian must say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me!" (Philippians 4:13). This is a positive feather. When you come to Jesus Christ you say, "I can give anything." Then you will be in the mountaintops all the time.
When we come to the Lord Jesus Christ, we must examine ourselves, because we must be willing to say, "Lord, take away any wicked feather of unbelief in my heart, and remove any old feathers that have made me weak and brought me into limitations." A Christian has no limitations, because Christ has none. A Christian can do anything he wants to do, but generally he doesn't WANT to do anything!
A Christian loses all his feathers when he comes to Christ, because "…old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." (II Corinthians 5:17). Paul says, "…I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me". (Galatians 2:20). Is it any wonder that we are defeated Christians, when we try to live by sight, and by things? We, who have been saved, are to live by faith, not by sight; by the Spirit and not by flesh. When you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, he convicts you of how many old feathers you have.
Each person knows his own hindering feathers; maybe it is anger, maybe malice, maybe selfishness, maybe criticism, or gossip or some other dirty old feather hanging onto you! We come to Him, and the Holy Spirit will put His finger on the feather, and we must be willing to throw it off. After we have thrown away all the old feathers that have been holding us from blessings, THEN WE WAIT ON GOD! We can't wait on God and ask for new feathers, when we still have all our old dirty ones!
That is why the eagles have better sense than we do. The eagles don't pray, "Lord, these four feathers are getting old. I want to lose only these four feathers, Lord, because the others still look good to me. So please let me lose four old ones and you give me new ones." But that is what we Christians do, isn't it?
The eagle says, "Why don't I make a clean breast of the whole thing and become a new creation?" So you should say, "I am going to give up all my old feathers." If you lose only four feathers, you will fly a little better, but not as well as you should, because the old ones are still hanging on. That is why Christian people are gloomy and defeated. They get tired with every little step. Why don't they let new strength come to them? Because they don't want to lose those old feathers!
That is why I don't believe in old age. Our people in India live to be over 100 years old and we who are Christians are complaining and gray-headed at 45 or 50. Then when we get flat on our backs we go to bed and say, "Praise the Lord; the Lord put me here. This is my cross to bear." What a lie that is! The Lord never gave you such a cross. Our only cross in this world, my friends, is not suffering, although a great many saints are suffering; but our cross is to BEAR WITNESS TO JESUS CHRIST: a cross of joy and peace. It is not the fault of God that we suffer, because when Jesus Christ was wounded, it was for all our sicknesses, All our sicknesses were laid on him; therefore don't say "It is my cross!" Don't bring in Paul's thorn in the flesh, because Paul didn't have any sickness; people just think he did.
We should either quit calling ourselves Christians or else start practicing our faith, because we can't carry on as negative, defeated Christians. We bring disgrace on the church of God. Let us try to think right, for as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he! You can't change that law, so be careful what you think.
You can become a new creation this minute, and get rid of those negative feathers right now. The moment that you say, "Yes, Lord, I believe," that moment the old feathers are gone, and He will give you all new ones. They are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. From that time on, you can live like a monarch, a prince, an heir and joint-heir with Christ!
I believe in healing. Every Christian ought to believe in healing. You can't believe one part of the Bible and just forget the rest of it. We have to believe all or none. We must shake off our old feathers of unbelief and LIVE. You are saved to live! The eagles don't pray. "Lord, I am poor and weak; there is no harm in having old feathers, Lord. After all, you created my feathers. They're weak, but that's my cross, Lord. Just let me suffer in it." They don't pray that way. That is the prayers' of human beings. Eagles show better sense. That is why they are called heavenly eagles. They know that the only way to get rid of the old feathers is to abandon themselves.
You abandon yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ and He will give you all new feathers, beloved friends. God bless you.
Bishop K.C. Pillai, D.D.