The Eagle of Woes


In the brief intermission after the fourth trumpet sounds the eagle is introduced. What do we know of the eagle? There is much information about the character of the eagle as scavenger, bird of prey, and symbol of strength. I am convinced, however, that the meaning of the eagle lies in another direction altogether. From the beginning of the Apocalypse, when John is at worship and he is suddenly taken up into the throne room of the divine “One”, all the events that took place are announced by an angel somewhere in the vicinity of the altar in the throne room. When the scene moves to the earth and the fourth angel announces the darkening of the firmament of heaven, there is a pause. The eagle then enters the scene upon the earth, and announces the three woes to come. This is an indication that the eagle fulfills on earth the identical function of the angel in the throne room, that is, the eagle is a messenger. But of whom? The sounding forth of the first four trumpets contains a clue to this, that is, in the concept of the imitation of the divine. Just as the demonic imitates the divine and brings about confusion and deceit, so also the eagle is an imitation of the angel. The eagle is the messenger of the demonic, announcing to the world the intentions of the demonic in this battle with the divine. The eagle exists only in the semi-darkness of the earth. It exists, like the demonic, between earth and heaven. It is confined to a dimension from which it can never emerge. The eagle is a woe unto itself, living in the dimension of the absence of the divine. Consequently, it can imitate the angel and announce the coming woes.

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