The Great Speckled Bird

John Plunkett

December 12, 2015

As we go into the sermon today, you may have noticed that we didn’t have any "special music" for today.  Well we do!  We deferred the special music for today because I'd like to incorporate today's recorded piece into my sermon.

I'll warn you in advance that it's a country music song!  An old-style country music song which was recorded fifty-six long years ago in 1959.  It's by Johnny Cash and its title is "Great Speckled Bird."

You'll notice that the lyric-sheet we handed out contains eight verses, whereas Johnny's shorter recorded version only includes four – the four which I've highlighted in bold lettering.  
But here is the Johnny Cash version:  (Click HERE to listen to the song) 

The Great Speckled Bird

What a beautiful thought I am thinking
Concerning a great speckled bird
Remember her name is recorded
On the pages of God's Holy Word.

All the other birds are flocking 'round her
And she is despised by the squad
But the great speckled bird in the Bible
Is one with the great church of God.

All the other churches are against her
They envy her glory and fame
They hate her because she is chosen
And has not denied Jesus' name.

Desiring to lower her standard
They watch every move that she makes
They long to find fault with her teachings
But really they find no mistake.

She is spreading her wings for a journey
She's going to leave by and by
When the trumpet shall sound in the morning
She'll rise and go up in the sky.

In the presence of all her despisers
With a song never uttered before
She will rise and be gone in a moment
Till the great tribulation is o'er.

I am glad I have learned of her meekness
I am proud that my name is on her book
For I want to be one never fearing
The face of my Saviour to look.

When He cometh descending from heaven
On the cloud that He writes in His Word
I'll be joyfully carried to meet Him
On the wings of that great speckled bird.


The origin and history of the song are somewhat hazy.  One source states that it was an old "traditional" hymn from the southern United States and that its lyrics were written by a Fundamentalist church minister by the name of Guy Smith.

The first recording of it that I was able to find was by country music singer Roy Acuff in 1936; and has since been recorded by lots of others, including Kitty Wells, Hank Locklin, Marty Robbins and even Jerry Lee Lewis.

I'd never heard the song before I found it while watching a biographical documentary on the life and music of Johnny Cash.  The documentary shows a scene in which Johnny and his wife, June Carter Cash, are apparently relaxing in the living room of their home; and Johnny, guitar in hand, is casually strumming through a couple of songs.

When he came to this one and sang a couple verses of it, my attention was immediately arrested as the words he was singing jumped right out me.  

When he'd finished singing, his wife, June, asked him what he thought the Great Speckled Bird represented.  Johnny answered immediately, without any hesitation, that it symbolizes the God’s true church!

Although not 100% biblically accurate, the song's lyrics do draw on a lots of scriptures; so I thought that it might be the source of a good Bible study for us to go through today.

In his recording, Johnny changed a couple of words.  He also omitted four of the eight verses – perhaps the more potentially controversial ones; but this shortening of the song was likely done to keep running time of the recording to the limits of a "single" 45 rpm record.  

I would like to go through the song line-by-line, including the controversial ones, asking the question as we go: Where did the person who wrote this song get the words from?

So let’s start off with the first couple of lines

What a beautiful thought I am thinking...
Concerning a great speckled bird.

Thinking beautiful thoughts certainly is a good thing for God's people to do – something that I'm sure He would highly recommend:

Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

So yes, as much as we can, we should be thinking beautiful thoughts.  

But was the Bible mention of this "speckled bird" really considered, at the time that it was written, to be a truly beautiful thought?  We will see as we go along.

Remember her name is recorded...
On the pages of God's holy Word. 

Yes it is!  The speckled bird is mentioned in only one scripture:

Jeremiah 12:9a: 
My heritage is unto me as a speckled bird ...

Continuing with the song lyrics at the start of the second verse:

All the other birds are flocking 'round her,
And she is despised by the squad.

This is taken from the second half of verse 9:

Jeremiah 12:9b: 
... The birds round about are against her ...

If it is true that the speckled bird represents the true Church of God, then these other birds would likely represent other churches or religious organizations other than God's true church.

We can assume that the "squad" who despise the speckled bird are these other birds – these other religious organizations.

Is the Church of God despised?  Let’s take a look at a couple of "despised" verses:

Luke 10:16;
He that hears you hears me; and he that despises you despises me; and he that despises me despises Him that sent me.

The One that sent Jesus is God the Father.  We certainly do not want to despise Him!

I Corinthians 4:10:
We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are honourable, but we are despised.

The main thing that Paul was trying to get across there is that, if we are loved by Jesus and His Father, why should we worry if we are despised by others – including false churches?

Back to the song:

But the great speckled bird in the Bible...
Is one with the great Church of God.

We can be sure that the speckled bird of Jeremiah 12 symbolizes Old Testament Israel – perhaps homing in more specifically on the House of Judah. 

In Jeremiah 12:9, the speckled bird is compared to the LORD's heritage.  Or actually vice-versa: the LORD likens His heritage to a speckled bird.

If we consider the dualism that we see in the scriptures between Old Testament physical Israel and the New Covenant spiritual Israel – the church (Galatians 6:16; Romans 11), it is valid to the speckled bird symbolism through into spiritual Israel.

Before moving on with the rest of the lyrics of the song, let's broaden our scope a little and let's home in on the context of Jeremiah 12.  This was the LORD speaking here, through His prophet Jeremiah: 

Jeremiah 12:7:
I have forsaken my house, I have left my heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies....

The LORD evidently was not happy about the necessity to have had to do these things – to have had to forsake His house – actually houses – the twin houses of Israel and Judah, who had been the dearly-beloved children of His heritage.

At that time – the time of writing of these verses – the LORD had already given the northern house of Israel into the hand of the Assyrians, and now He was in the process of giving the southern house of Judah into the hands of the Babylonians. 

Why did He do this?  We know why He did it!  He did it because of their unrepentant idolatry, Sabbath-breaking and various other major sins – including this one that is specified in the next verse:

8a: My heritage {Israel and Judah} is unto me as a lion in the forest; it cries out against me, therefore have I hated it.

The Israelite children of His heritage had the audacity and the impudence to have been acting like a vicious lion– angrily roaring against Him! – roaring against their almighty LORD and Master – their very Creator who had blessed them all so richly and for so long!  Taling advantage of His merciful patience and longsuffering, they goaded Him to the point of Him hating them!  God forbid that you or I should ever sin against Him to that extent!

So now, we come again to our "speckled bird" verse:

9a:  My heritage is unto me as a speckled bird...

However, far from being the subject of a "beautiful thought" as our subject song starts off, we see that Old Testament Israel and Judah at that time, instead of being a beautiful thought to the LORD, they had made themselves hateful blotches in His mind!

The King James Version term "speckled bird" sounds kind of beautiful.  But is it really?  Was it really meant to signify something that was beautiful?

The English term comes from two Hebrew words:

  1. Tsabuwa (Strong's 6641) which, as well as "speckled," can also mean coloured or variegated.
  2. The Hebrew word for "bird" is Ayit (Strong's 5861) which, as well as the word bird is also translated in the King James Version as fowl or ravenous bird.  The extended Hebrew meanings include bird of prey or swooper, which gives the idea of a bird of prey swooping in a vicious, angry way. 

The noun Ayit stems from the root verb Iyt (Strong's 5860) which appears in the King James Version as fly and rail.  Haven't you heard of somebody angrily flying against another?  If a person flies against another person, he is literally intending to inflict some kind of violence on that person.  And if somebody rails against another person, he is screaming or shouting angrily at him.  That is exactly the attitude that the people of Judah were in. 

The extended Hebrew meanings of Iyt include to scream, to shriek, to dart greedily, to swoop upon and to rush upon.  All of these fit in so well with the people of the LORD's Israelite heritage roaring against Him – screaming and shrieking against Him – like an angry, vicious beasts.

Other Bible translations portray this tsabuwa-ayit as a bird-of-prey, a vulture or a hawk.  This is no cute, pretty little budgie, love-bird or parrot!  This is something pretty vicious!

9b: ... the birds round about are against her; 

If she's so vicious, it shouldn't surprise us that the other birds in her neighbourhood are against her. 

The Hebrew word for birds here is Ayit – the same word as for the speckled bird.  So maybe, as some translations imply, these other neighbouring birds are also birds-of-prey and therefore they are just as vicious as she is!

First of all, please try to think of this in terms of the house Judah of Jeremiah's day.  Think of all the unfriendly nations that surrounded it.  And think of modern Judah today, surrounded by so many nations that hate them.  That – likely worse – is what it was like in Jeremiah's day.  

Secondly, again with the concept of duality, please try to think of this in terms of the spiritual Israel of today's Church of God.  The true Church of God (the greater Church of God, I'm not just talking about our little group) are not yet at the point of being severely persecuted by other religions including professing Christian churches.

Rather, if you really think about it, we have to admit – and I believe that the church as a whole should be ashamed to admit it – that the true church's main animosity at this point in time is from within itself!  With various branches of the church taking all kinds of vicious pot-shots against each other!

We are going to see, as we continue, that we are not to be vicious like birds-of-prey, like the speckled bird here.

9c: ... Come you, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.

I'm not absolutely one hundred percent sure who the "you" is here – who was to do the assembling of the beasts.  Nor does it actually state who was to be devoured by these beasts; but we can be pretty sure that, likely, it was the house of Judah. 

Also likely is the probability that these "beasts of the field" represented Nebuchadnezzar and his armies of Babylon who were at that time ready to go in and invade Judah.  

This speckled bird of Judah was a vicious specimen; so in order to punish Judah, it was necessary for the LORD to bring creatures against her that were even more vicious than she was!

It is also interesting to consider – and you know the account very well – that at another time, Nebuchadnezzar himself, because of his vanity, was temporarily changed by the LORD to be like a beast of the field (Daniel 4:29-33).  It is interesting that He would use this same symbolism here.

In the New Testament Church of God "version" of the speckled bird, if that is in fact who we are, we need to be careful not to be vicious
– and especially not to have the effrontery to roar against the LORD.  That could be detrimental to our health!

Now let's move on with the remainder of the song.  And as we do so, we'll accept the song-writer's idea of the speckled bird symbolizing the spiritual Israel of God – the true Church.

All the other churches are against her.
They envy her glory and fame.
They hate her because she is chosen...

Yes, she is chosen!   We are chosen!  There are lots of scriptures that mention that God’s people are chosen.  Let’s just read one:

Revelation 17:14:
These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Let’s repeat those last three lines of the song:

All the other churches are against her.
They envy her glory and fame.
They hate her because she is chosen.

Again, I don't believe that God's true church of our modern era has yet seen much in the way of true persecution – certainly not to the extent that earlier eras of God's church have.  Nor do I believe that, at this point in time, that "all the other churches are against" the true Church of God.  Nor that they truly hate us.

With some exceptions, I believe that, for the most part, they merely ignore us or treat us with contemptuous silence.  If there are any out there who have taken any notice of us, they merely consider us to be a cult.

But perhaps this fact that the Church of God generally is not recognized as something different, special or outstanding, could be considered to be a problem – a negative thing.  Why?  Because Jesus said this:

John 13:35:
By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another. 

If we all consider ourselves to be "the called, the chosen and the faithful" of Revelation 17:14 which we just read, and if we want "all men" – whether friends or enemies – to know that we are Jesus' disciples, then we need to be doing a much better job of having love for one another!  I am talking about the greater Church of God around the world.  If we were loving one another according to what Jesus said, then all men would know that we are His disciples.

On to the next line of our subject song:

And has not denied Jesus' name.

I'm sure that this line was quoting:

Revelation 3:8:
I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.

I'm sure that none of us would knowingly or purposely deny His name.  The name – or names (plural) – of Jesus – and His Father – would constitute a whole sermon – or even a sermon series – of their own; so I don't have time to even touch on the subject to any extent today; but it is a topic that I plan to go into some time in the coming year.  But, just in a nutshell, it is very important that we never deny the name of Jesus Christ.

Desiring to lower her standard
They watch every move that she makes
They long to find fault with her teachings...

Again, I don't believe, despite the hundreds of Church of God groups in existence right now, that the professing Christian churches of the world are keeping anything like a close eye on the true Church of God and its teachings.

I know that they once did
– way back in the church's early days when the false churches were successful in elevating themselves and repressing the true Church of God almost into extinction.  In this regard, if you want to read a really interesting book, may I suggest "The History of the Waldenses" by J. A. Wylie and see what happened to those poor people as they tried to stay with the truth.

It happened again
– though perhaps on a smaller scale – in the 1990's when the post-HWA leaders of the Worldwide Church of God strayed more than a little too near some of the professing Christian churches and their false doctrines.  The WCG leaders cozied up to these people and allowed them to criticize and ridicule the teachings of the true church, in contravention of Colossians 1:16.  I am not saying that our teachings were 100% perfect, of course; but many of our own apostate leaders even emulated these outsiders in their ridicule and allowed them to try to correct us according to their own Protestant theology.  

As we are all aware, this resulted in a major scattering of a large section of God's true church and a subsequent diluting of the church's combined success and impact which, formerly, were largely due to its relative unity at the time.

It is true and scripturally provable that it was God who used certain circumstances to scatter Old Testament Israel and Judah.  And again, I totally believe that it was He who has been scattering spiritual Israel
– His church – in recent decades.  I believe that He did so for virtually the same sins that caused the scatterings of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah.

It is very interesting to review what happened to WCG back in the nineties.  It was a very big deal at the time, of course; but when we look back at the crisis now, I believe that the Protestants perceived that they had scored a great victory over the Worldwide Church of God in winning over some its leaders and a small remnant of its membership.  However, I also believe that, if it was, in fact, a victory, it was one that actually backfired on them
– because now, instead of the true gospel being preached from just WCG as the major player and a couple of other smaller sources, it is now going out from literally hundreds of sources!  Yes we are scattered, but the message is going out in a big way.

If only we could all get that fact through our skulls and start loving one another and working together.  No, not necessary in the same corporate church organization.  I don’t think that is going to happen until Jesus Christ causes that to happen (either personally or through His two witnesses (Revelation 11)); but in a loving, cooperative alliance that would be acceptable to God.  I believe that this is something that we can and should be praying for.

Back to our song:

But really they find no mistake.

Continuing with the same thought as that from the song's last few lines, if the Church of God groups did, as a whole, start getting its act together in love and unity, and if the professing Christian churches did start taking notice of the true Church of God right now or in the near future, and if they did start watching every move that we make, and if they did start to examine our teachings, would they really find no mistakes?

On an individual basis, nobody can think for you and nobody can think for me.  No other human being has the authority to tell you or me what to believe.  It is a good idea, though, for us all – yes, us all – not just the ministers – to be constantly studying and reviewing our beliefs and our teachings – in order to make sure that what we believe – individually and hopefully collectively – are correct and in accordance with God's holy Word.

I am not telling you what to do; but may I suggest that, in addition to your daily "formal" Bible study, you read one chapter of the Bible every day.  If you do this for the remainder of your life, you'll read God's written Word over and over again, and as a result, you will find as the years go by that different things will jump out at you, and you will realize that some of the things you read and believed ten or twenty or more years ago, you don’t read and believe in the same way now.  This is not a bad thing!  This is part of what growing in grace and knowledge is all about (II Peter 3:18).

She is spreading her wings for a journey.
She's going to leave by and by.

Although these statements are basically true, it appears that the writer of this hymn (perhaps influenced by the rapture theory) erroneously put the timing of the departure of the church to the "place of safety" to be the same time as the first resurrection.

But that concept doesn't make much sense because, once we are in the First Resurrection as Spirit-beings, what need will we have of a physical place of physical safety?

It is my belief that the church's fleeing to a place of safety will come three and a half years before the return of Jesus and the First Resurrection:

Revelation 12:14:
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time
{3.5 years}, from the face of the serpent. 

It seems that that flight will be of a similar kind as the Exodus one:

Exodus 19:4:
You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.

Just as God miraculously rescued the ancient physical Israelites from their Egyptian enemies by bearing them away on symbolic eagles' wings, so He promises to do again in the end times when He will take His New Testament spiritual Israelite people away for a three and half year period to a place of safety when the persecution and great tribulation begin. 

We can be pretty sure that, although super-miraculous, the Exodus "flight" was still a symbolic one.  The Israelites' flight from Egypt was on foot!  Yes, perhaps with the help of some mules, bullocks and covered wagons.  But still mainly on foot.  

There was, of course, nothing in the way of physical air transportation in those days and there is certainly no scriptural mention of any physical aircraft taking them away.  But in the end-time flight to the place of safety, who knows?  I have heard it speculated in times gone by that physical aircraft might be employed at that time.  But again, who knows?  Whether that "flight" will be physical or symbolic, there's really no need for us to be dogmatic about it.  God will provide according to His perfect will.

At the end of that three and half year great-tribulation/place-of-safety period, what then?

When the trumpet shall sound in the morning...
She'll rise and go up in the sky.

Very true.  Yes.  Although I'm not sure that the last trumpet will necessarily be sounded "in the morning."  I always had the idea that it would happen at sunset, likely on the Feast of Trumpets, at the very beginning of the First Resurrection day!  We all have our favourite scriptures, and this is one of mine, describing this wonderful future event:

I Thessalonians 4:
16:  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 
17:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

And continuing with this thought in the next line of our song:

In the presence of all her despisers...

Yes.  Some of those who despise Jesus, His church and His true Gospel message will likely be there to witness His return and the first resurrection.  But I'm thinking that the hymn lyricist's source of this phrase might have been from the intriguing scriptures that refer to the presence of the people who "pierced Him" – the soldiers who hammered the nails into His wrists and feet, and the one who thrust the spear into His side:

John 19:
34:  But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water...
37:  And again another scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced."

Here is that other scripture:

Zechariah 12:10:
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced...

That was a prophecy not only of Jesus’ crucifixion; but also of something that is going to happen when those who did pierce him will be resurrected, will see Him again and obviously,  will regret what they did.  

I have often wondered about John's repetition of this detail as inspired by Jesus:

Revelation 1:7:
Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.... 

I'm pretty sure that, although those soldiers certainly will one day see Jesus again, I don't believe that they will be raised prematurely along with the saints at the time of their first resurrection in order for the soldiers to witness His return.  This just doesn't fit with other clear prophecies.  

I believe that there are two explanations to Revelation 1:7.  One is that its wording has been mixed up in the translation from Greek to English.  Yes, every eye will see Him, all the kindreds of the earth, including the soldiers who put an end to His physical life.  But not all of them will see Him at the time of His return.

The second possibility is in the concept that, by our sins, all human beings are guilty of Jesus' death.  Every human being is just as guilty as the soldiers who actually pierced His head, wrists, feet and side.  And the unrepentant ones – those not included in the 144,000 or the innumerable multitude (Revelation 7) – who will still be alive at the time of His return will witness His return and our resurrection and ascension to meet Jesus Christ in the air.

With a song never uttered before.

This phrase is obviously taken from two more scriptures in the book of Revelation: 

Revelation 5:
9:  And they
{the saints: verse 8} sang a new song, saying, "You {Jesus} are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God {the Father} by your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.
10:  And have made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."

The lyrics of that new song as mentioned here are a short but wonderful synopsis of the gospel of Jesus Christ from its beginning (with His atoning death) to its completion (with the coronation of His brothers and sisters).

If you like classical music and would like to hear a fabulous, spine-tingling rendition of these words, please take the time to listen to the "Worthy is the Lamb" chorus at the end of Handel's "Messiah" oratorio.  But even though Handel's marvellous version is so fabulous and  inspired (or so I believe), yet in comparison to the version that the saints will sing on that day, it is musically lame!

This new song reappears in chapter 14:

Revelation 14:3:
And they
{the 144,000 redeemed saints} sang as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

This statement is the reason why I don’t believe that all the lyrics to that new song are listed in Revelation 5.  What a fabulous honour, to be among that 144,000!  To be the only ones to be given the authority to learn the words and music of that extra-special song and to sing it.

But now we must return to our comparatively lowly Johnny Cash song.  However, the next words are very uplifting:

She will rise and be gone in a moment

Yes, she will!  But not in some secret rapture!  No.  Because, as we've already read, the eyes of every human being still alive on that day will see Jesus' return and the ascension of His newly resurrected brothers and sisters.

Still, it is true that it will happen quickly and suddenly:

I Corinthians 15:52:
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Next line:

Till the great tribulation is o'er.

Once again, we can be sure that the "Speckled Bird" songwriter got the timing of this detail wrong.  He must have believed, as some do, that the first resurrection will take place at the same time as the church's miraculous removal (on the wings of a great eagle) to their place of safety.  But as explained earlier, we believe that the great tribulation will be raging for the same three and a half years as the church will be in the place of safety – still as human beings – culminating in the first resurrection.

Still, without getting morbid or too detailed, let's review a couple of the "great tribulation" scriptures:

Matthew 24:21:
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

It is going to be terrible; there is no doubt about it.  We want to avoid being in that great tribulation if we possibly can.  But who will be caught up in this terrible great tribulation?

Revelation 2:22:
Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

The symbolic adulterous woman here refers to a spiritual equivalent of Jezebel, the Israelite King Ahab's wicked queen (verse 20).  This symbolic woman is likely the same one named the "Mother of Harlots" and "Babylon the Great" mentioned in Revelation 17 and 19. 

Just as the pure woman of Revelation 12 is symbolic of the true Church of God, this immoral woman is symbolic of a great, false, counterfeit church organization.

Those who commit spiritual immorality with this immoral woman at the end time – those who are caught up in her false, unscriptural doctrines and ways of life are the ones who will suffer the great tribulation.

But if they accept correction and repent, will they be delivered from the great tribulation?  Yes, they will:

Revelation 7:
9:  After this
{i.e. after the appearance of the 144,000} I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands...
13:  And one of the elders answered, saying unto me
{the apostle John}, "What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence {from where} came they?"
14:  And I said unto him, "Sir, you know."  And he said to me, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

To what extent the repentant innumerable multitude will have to suffer the horrors of the great tribulation before they "come out" of it, we don't know.  But the main thing is that, because of their repentance, they will still have access to salvation.  Our loving God is merciful and does not want to lose even one person (II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4).

I am glad I have learned of her meekness.

Yes. There are lots of scriptures that admonish us to be meek.  Here are just a few – first of all, two directly from Jesus:

Matthew 5:5:
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 11:29:
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls.

We're not to be vicious, threatening or aggressive, as was Jeremiah's "speckled bird"; but we're to be meek, just like Jesus was.  And from Paul, who tells us elsewhere that we should emulate him just as he emulated Jesus:

I Corinthians 4:21:
What will you?
{i.e. Which option do you prefer?} Shall I come unto you with a rod?  Or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

But of course, true, Christ-like meekness cannot be feigned or "put on" falsely.  True meekness is dependent upon the indwelling of His Holy Spirit – of which it is one of the fruits:

Galatians 5:
22:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23:  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Also from Peter, a man who was not inherently meek; (but who once, in his misguided zeal, cut off a man's ear): 

I Peter 3:4:
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

On with our song lyrics:

I am proud that my name is on her book.

It's actually not her book!  It's not Israel's book.  It's not Judah’s book!  It’s not a book that belongs to physical nor spiritual Israel.  It's not even spiritual Israel's book!  It's not the church's book!  We don't own it.  We merely want our names to be entered in its pages. 

It's Jesus' book!  It's the Lamb's book – His book of life:

Revelation 21:27:
And there shall in no wise enter into it
{the Holy City: verse 2} anything that defiles, neither whatsoever works abomination, or makes a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Jesus adds this:

Revelation 3:5:
He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment
{including that innumerable multitude mentioned earlier}; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels.

Back to our song for the next two lines:

For I want to be one never fearing...
The face of my Saviour to look.

Can you remember, as a child, when you had done something wrong and you knew that you couldn't hide it from your parents?  You were afraid to look them in the eye because you knew that they could read you like a book, and that "guilt" was written all over you!

Luke 9:26:
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

We are, of course, all looking forward to meeting Jesus and seeing His glorious face for the first time; but we don’t want to be so ashamed of ourselves for what we have done that we'll be afraid to look Him in the eye because He might be ashamed of us.  Ongoing confession and repentance is the answer to this possible dilemma.  Thankfully, He and His Father are very patient, longsuffering and forgiving:

Revelation 22:4:
And they
{hopefully including you and me} shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.

Now getting into the final verse of our subject song:

When He cometh descending from heaven... 
on the cloud that He writes in His Word.

We read earlier in Revelation 1:7: “Behold He with comes with clouds.”  This will be the fulfillment of the encouraging promise by the two angels mentioned in:

Acts 1:
9:  And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10:  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11:  Which also said, "You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven."

Shortly after His return, the cloud accompanying Him is mentioned again in what we might think of as the "Grapes of Wrath" scripture:

Revelation 14:14:
And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud One sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.

We want to be there to see this!

I don't wish to end on a negative note with that snippet from the Armageddon prophecies; so let's catch the final two lines of our subject song:

I'll be joyfully carried to meet Him...
On the wings of that great speckled bird.

Considering the songwriter's initial idea that the great speckled bird is symbolic of spiritual Israel, I can't help the initial impression that this phrase gave me when I first read it – that he's suggesting that we're all going to get into the Kingdom of God on the coat-tails of the church or, perhaps, on the coat-tails, specifically, of the ministry.  

Is it true that we will be carried to meet Jesus via the vehicle of the church or of the ministry?

In some respects, yes.  In some respects, no.  Despite the importance of the church and of our unity with – and love for – everyone in it, we are all individually responsible for what we believe and what we do.  If the whole of the church went wrong, you are individually responsible to do what is right!

If we come to know for sure that our minister is preaching something wrong (and yes, I apply this to myself too), or if we find that our church group is generally going in the wrong spiritual direction, we cannot just pass the buck and say, "Oh well! that's what my minister told me" or "That's what my church group believes and teaches." 

That won't wash!  The buck stops individually with each and every one of us!  

And please don't get me wrong!  I am certainly not trying to say that I am perfect, that our little church group is perfect, or that we know everything. 

As implied in Acts 17:11, we are all to be striving to be like those noble Berean church members; we are all to be gladly receiving the Word of God with all readiness of mind; but we are also to be searching the scriptures daily, and proving whether those things that our ministers say are so.

Also, as commanded in I Thessalonians 5:21, we are to prove all things and to hold fast that which is good!