It was something said by Pastor Greg tonight (would love to link to video, but is near impossible.) He held his Bible up and said there were things in it he didn’t understand. He said he understood much, and as he grew in wisdom, his understanding grew. Yet there were some things he didn’t get.
I was sitting on a bench in the back of church. My friends Dan on my right, Brian on my left. I showed them this verse.
Matthew 24:28 (MEV): Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
I said I don’t understand that.
I read the immediate context before…
Matthew 24:26–28 (MEV): “So, if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert,’ do not go there; or, ‘Look, He is in the private chambers,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
Nothing immediately stood out for an explanation.
A bit of background… At the moment, I am endeavoring to search out the similarities and differences in the synoptic accounts of the Olivet Discourse. (For those less technical-minded, that would be Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 where Jesus spoke to a small group of disciples about the end of the age.)
As it were, I peeked at the Faithlife Study Bible notes for that verse, and they were a bit lot short on the subject . The only note indicated that the word eagles is better understood as vultures. I kind of knew that.
The software I use had an annotation that pointed me here:
Luke 17:37 (MEV): They asked, “Where, Lord?”
He replied, “Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”
Checking the immediate context for better understanding…
Luke 17:26–36 (MEV): Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating, drinking, marrying, and were given in marriage until the day when Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
“Likewise as it was in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built. But on the day that Lot departed from Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from heaven and destroyed them all.
“So will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away. And likewise let him who is in the field not return to the things behind.
Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two men will be in one bed; the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding grain together; the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two men will be in the field; the one will be taken and the other will be left.”
Now I know that what I didn’t understand is somehow connected to the second coming of the Messiah and not the rapture. This is clear by the very next statement in Scripture. They asked “Where Lord?”
They are asking where the people taken will end up. I have to admit, it isn’t a pretty sight. Many have used this portion of Scripture to demonstrate the rapture. It’s not here. This is more as judgment. And I daresay, judgment of a specific kind for a specific group of people. The ones taken are going to end up as food for vultures and other animals.
Arriving back in Matthew 24, it is clearly seen that that immediate context is also speaking of the second coming and not the rapture. (If one reads a bit backward in Luke 17, we also see the use of flashing lightning as a typification if the second coming. Yet… The immediate contexts in both passages speak of some not-so-good-things for the them.
As I thought about this throughout this evening and am now reclined in bed (it’s really late,) another particular piece of Scripture gnaws at the back of my mind, so to say.
Here, God is speaking of the defeat of Gog, and how there will be 7 months of cleansing the land of the dead bodies that resulted from that defeat. But before that, there’s this:
Ezekiel 39:4 (MEV): You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you. I will give you to the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.
That’s the judgment against Gog. There is going to be a banquet for vultures and other animals. I hate to be graphic, but this is what the Bible clearly says.
Jeremiah 12:9 (MEV): My heritage is to Me as a speckled vulture; the vultures all around are against her. Come, assemble all the beasts of the field, bring them to devour.
It will be after the God defeats Israel’s enemies.
Ezekiel 39:17–20 (MEV): As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God: Speak to every kind of fowl and to every beast of the field: Assemble and come. Gather on every side to My sacrifice that I sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the officials of the earth as though of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. You shall eat fat until you are full and drink blood until you are drunk from My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus you shall be filled at My table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all the men of war, says the Lord God.
This is something different than the other judgments. This is for those who actively oppose Israel, whether government official or not. It’s for those who wanted her spoils.
It’s at the end of the age. It’s a sacrificial meal from God to the birds and beasts. Those specifically working to defeat Israel are the kibble.