Wednesday 26 August 2020

What Jesus Meant When He said, "“For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”


This is all about why in Matthew 24 Jesus said to His disciples, “For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” What did He mean when He said this? The same sentence is found in Luke 17:37 as well.

This question has been haunting my mind since long and only recently I came a bit nearer to understanding what Jesus actually meant when He made this statement. Much of the confusion arose in my mind from my efforts to put it in context of what immediately preceded it.

In Matthew 24, replying to His disciples questions regarding the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the sign of His coming, and the end of the age, Jesus gave them the whole timeline of future events which concluded with His coming. The verse quoted above has to do with one of the signs regarding His coming. The following verses provide us with the immediate context for it:“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t relate the emboldened text to what preceded it, which had to do with the manner in which He would appear. I thought His coming was the same event that I considered to be the Rapture. The above quoted passage meant to say that His coming was as swift as lightning because wherever the carcass was, there the eagles would be gathered together. What did it mean? That Jesus wanted to come to take His church before the vultures would have the chance to swoop down on the carcass wherever it was?

I also happened to remember Matthew 11:12 in this connection, which said,

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

From the days of John nothing of greater significance ever happened in human history than the violent taking the kingdom of heaven by force. This was made possible because of Jesus who inaugurated the dispensation of grace that replaced the Mosaic dispensation which shut doors on all the violent people. These violent people were the undeserving who did not have the strength to become righteous by the Law. When the Law worked, they died.

When Jesus came, He made it possible for them to attain to the level of righteousness that God demanded of them in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. It was the righteousness that came by faith and not deeds because the latter were very weak. It was the faith that was strong. To be more specific, it was violent.

This faith alone had the force against which the doors of heaven could not prevail. That was the faith in Jesus – the faith that led to His acceptance. And accepting/receiving Jesus meant entering heaven; because Jesus was the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven was embodied in Him. Therefore, all who accepted Him, entered the Kingdom of Heaven.

Thinking along this line led me to the question: Could the eagles swooping down on the carcass be interpreted as the believers, whose deeds weren’t perfect, who possessed the kingdom of heaven by dint of the force of their faith? But it was difficult for me to thrust it down my throat to compare the Kingdom of Heaven with a carcass and the believers as the vultures. The whole scene is so gruesome to imagine! Both the vultures and the carcass are considered unholy in the Old Testament.

So, this sentence remained an enigma to me for a long, long time. I got the breakthrough when recently I happened to read a blog that was suggested to me by a lady I came across on twitter. This blog was about the same sentence but the view it offered on it was based on Luke 17:37, where the verses immediately preceded were spoken by Jesus and read thus: “I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.”

Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Where, Lord?”

Jesus’ answer was: “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”

The authoress of this blog made a very interesting point. According to her, Jesus’ reply had nothing to do with the Rapture. She found the key to understand it in the days of Noah. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, up until the day Noah entered the ark. In Luke 17, “the Flood came and destroyed them all.” In Matthew 24, “the Flood came and took them all away.”

According to her, Jesus was talking about the same people in both passages – the wicked people who died in the Flood. In other words, in the given context the meaning of ‘taken’ was ‘destroyed’. The point she was making was that at Jesus’ coming, the wicked people would die and vultures would eat their bodies. The word ‘taken’ did not indicate taken to heaven in Rapture. She also evoked Revelation 19 and Ezekiel 39 in this context.

Revelation 19:17-18 reads thus:

“Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”

Ezekiel 39:4 speaks about the fate of the armies which will gather together against Israel: “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 birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.”


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