The Hell Birds


On Friday, I attended a Bible study led by a friend who comments here from time to time. This friend knows the Scriptures because he dedicates himself not just to reading but to comprehending all their rich meaning.

The text covered Genesis 15. This section caught my attention:

And [the LORD] brought [Abram] outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
—Genesis 15:5-11

The Holy Spirit spoke to me powerfully while reading this, the kind of kick in the head,  “sit up and pay attention, son” shaking that led me to understand that if no one commented on the part of the passage that drew my attention, then I had to—or else I’d explode. That’s how it felt.

Fortunately, my friend ably covered the topic for me.

In this classic passage that all of us know, God makes a covenant with Abram concerning an heir and the numberless nature of the man’s descendents. Abram believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. So God makes a covenant with Abram, tells him how the necessary covenantal sacrifice must be prepared, and Abram obeys.

Then something happens to the offering:

And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

That passage gripped me.

Here was Abram in the midst of this most important covenant with God. He’d been obedient and done what God asked. He carried out the task of butchering the sacrifice as he’d been told.

'The Crow' by KessiyeAnd the birds of prey descended to snatch away his offering to God, threatening the blessing.

In Leviticus 11:13-19, God pronounces these same birds unclean.  In this passage of Genesis they do not serve the function of God, but they serve another master. They are the hell birds.

In the midst of Abram’s faithful response to God, the hell birds descended to wreak havoc. They smelled the sacrifice from afar and came winging in.

So it is that all of our faithful responses to God’s requirements of us attract the wrong kind of attention. Much truth exists in the old aphorism, “No good deed goes unpunished.” The Enemy opposes by his nature, and so he must oppose the saints when they obey God.

Expect it.

The Enemy will attack any work that advances the cause of God. The Enemy will attack any person who responds to God in obedience. This explains why a child acts up and distracts us at the most inopportune time in the midst of ministry. Why the car won’t start right as we are going to visit prisoners in jail. Why we get sick on the day we are to share our testimony with others. Why people who live simply so they can give their money to the needy end up hit with a massive, unforeseen expense they cannot pay.

I’m old enough to have seen this routinely in my life. I have shared my conclusion on this before, but it bears repeating:

If you are not experiencing active and relentless opposition from the Enemy in your life, you’re probably ineffective for the Kingdom of God. The hell birds don’t come a-swarming without a worthy offering to rend and devour.

Abram chased them away from his offering.

How are we to do the same when faced with the hell birds?

Satan has no authority over the believer. Christians have been rescued from His dominion, translated from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light.

Too many believers let the Enemy rend and savage their offering because they do not stand on the authority granted them at the cross by Christ.

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
—Revelation 12:10-11

Some Christians don’t even try to resist. They perpetually let the hell birds descend and make off with the blessing. Then they fall into a series of excuses, which leads to perpetual defeat.

But Abram chased off the forces of evil that threatened the covenant.

Don’t let the hell birds rob you! Do everything possible to stand on your authority as a believer, as one who is no longer under the thumb of the Enemy. Claim what Christ bought for you. Stand on the Lord’s promises. Fight back. He gave you the weapons:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints….
—Ephesians 6:10-18

I like that last line because it calls each of us into a community where you watch my back and I watch yours. Abram may have had to drive off the hell birds alone, but the Church exists to do so together. Band together, saints! God has given you everything needed to drive off the hell birds. Start doing so!

22 thoughts on “The Hell Birds

    • Peter,

      That’s high praise. though I must say that the Lord is the one behind anything I learned or wrote. One day before that study, I didn’t realize this. I’d probably glossed over this truth a dozen times. But there it was, suddenly alive. I couldn’t wait to say something about it, and was glad that my friend was on the same wavelength and ultimately said exactly what I wanted to say. That’s when I knew this was for more people than just those at the Bible study.


    • PJ,

      I’m glad this was able to help you. God is good. When I was sitting on the floor at that Bible study, reading those words, I can’t even describe how much the Holy Spirit wanted someone to say something about this truth or how much it affected me to read those words and have them suddenly make total sense.

  1. Dan,

    Awesome post. It’s one of those little gems in Scripture that if you miss it, you miss out on a lot! I missed it! However, since launching my new blog a few weeks ago, I can see the enemy putting up roadblocks and distractions. The enemy saves his ammunition for those who are doing him the most harm. If you take a stand for the Lord, expect to get hit.

    Thank you for this post. I’d like to reference it for a future posting of mine.

    • Joe,

      Yeah, I’ve missed a lot of those in the past. But then, that’s the blessing of community. Sometimes I catch something cool; other times someone else does. That’s the way the Spirit blows—as He wills.

  2. Great post, and with fantastic potention for application. I never looked at that incident quite that way, but I’m sure I’ll steal the idea and use now! 😉

    • SLW,

      How many Christians have their blessing stolen. In fact, if you want to look at this more deeply, you could say that Abram/Abraham’s entire future/birthright was under attack. And immediately after an act of faith and his believing God. Bam! Right away, the testing comes.

      Too many Christians give up the second they spot the hell birds coming in for a landing.

  3. Thank you, brother, for sharing this timely and poignant truth.
    I needed to read this.

    Keep pressing into the heart of our Redeemer.
    And keep sharing with us what He shares with you.


  4. Jesus spoke of these “hell birds” in Matthew 13: 4. To make his point, Jesus didn’t have to mention birds, but he did. And I think he did for a really good reason.
    You hit the nail on the head Dan. We have to be wary and on guard for all the “birds” that are ready to pounce.

  5. Dan, that was a timely nugget for me,.. one of those weeks that you feel like quitting everything. Sometimes the “hell birds” are your closest friends, sometimes they are total strangers. …For me they also show up as plumbing problems. 🙂

  6. loneman


    ..You know what was coming to me the first moment..?
    – what He said about the endtime ( when His disciples asked “when will these things happen Lord ? “-
    and He answered them “where the carcass is, there will be the vultures “..

    ..does this mean, referring to Abraham,
    that He will make a covenant AGAIN , these endtimes..? Or better: that the “restauration “of His people has started, as from now ?

    ..please help me: this is very important, this connection which you brought up…

    I ll check back for Your answer


    • Loneman,

      I don’t believe that God is making any new covenants. The Bible contains all we need in that regard.

      Also, I believe that people who try to constantly judge the second advent of Christ border on numerology and divination, which God condemns. They sow seeds of confusion, too. “Look, there He is!” seems to be a constant anymore.

      If we live like He’s coming back today, then we will all do well.

  7. loneman
    I got a bit sad because of your comment :
    I never ment any form of ‘new ‘ covenant;
    but rather a restauration of the old.

    Or, better, a return to the First Love – exactly as were His ‘ in the days of the first century C e, when the Gospel started spreading through the world.
    Now, the Gospel HAS reached the corners of the world – and considered the fast spiritual darkness descending on the world now,

    I consider that His ‘ will need móre light, móre Spirit, etc, as merely remaining by solid ( Reformation )Teaching.


    Why – if not this – He would ve otherwise told You, to be attentive..?

  8. Kerry

    God lead me to your site as an answer to my prayer for an explanation to a dream I had. Only God interprets dreams. I asked Him to please tell me what my dream of a large bird of prey holding me by my neck while my body was attacked meant. This is the first time I have been on your site. Thank you for your take on this Scripture. I had never thought of it like that before. It was an awe inspiring moment for me when the interpretation of my dream was unveiled right on my computer screen by someone who wrote it 12 days before I had the dream! God is awesome!
    God bless you,

  9. Pravinth Solomon

    Abraham cuts all animals he brings into half but leaves out the turtledove, and a young pigeon. Any reason behind this?

  10. Mark

    How true, Dan! I have found this in the last 3 years as my wife and I have endeavored to follow His will in regards to two business ventures. We feel that these businesses are our ministry to our community, and the growth in faith during the last 3 years has been tremendous, because of the birds. We have definitely experienced the attack of the enemy come, usually strongest when we are closest to breakthrough, and the part of Ephesians 6 that speaks to me most is “having done all, to stand firm”. So often it has come down to, having done all we can do in the natural, and having prayed and sought wisdom, just standing, knowing he will provide. Invariably he does.

    As an example, we currently occupy a building which houses both buildings. We rented the building initially, and knew we had a problem with the air conditioning. If one little part failed completely we would have to replace the whole heating and air system, minus the roof unit, to the too of over $12,000. After almost 2 years it gave, and we had to come up with the money. We had the notion to stand that we’d have cash up front, without borrowing, and within a week’s time we had the cash. Had the unit gone bad a year ago, our faith would not have been strong enough, but having lived through other hard times, or bird attacks, our faith had grown, and was sufficient for the task, to His glory. Sometimes standing in faith is the hardest thing.

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