Article of the Month

May 2014

The Gathering of The Eagles

There are two accounts of Jesus' talking about the gathering of eagles to feed on a carcass. One is in Matthew 24:28; the other is in Luke 17:37.

We might note at the outset that the King James Bible translation is faulty in the passages. Eagles eat LIVE prey, not dead animals. The best translation in both of these passages would be “vultures” or “buzzards.”

This might seem picky, but an important distinction exists. Both of these passages are about the gathering of the Lord's people now, at the end of the age, to feast on the truths the Lord has provided for them. And THAT is exactly the point. Eagles provide their own meals — they search out what they want, and they kill it. But the Lord's people look for the food which He has provided. They don't select their own meals; they want only what the Lord has selected and prepared. So the distinction between eagles and vultures is a great one as far as Jesus' teaching is concerned.

While the two verses mentioned are virtually the same, they do not appear in the same place in the contexts of Matthew and Luke. Both contexts are about conditions which prevail when Jesus' second advent (or the “harvest” of the Gospel Age) occurs. Matthew and Luke either remember Jesus' words differently, or Jesus actually spoke these verses twice in the context of his remarks; but Matthew and Luke each only mention one of the occurrences.

—The Basic Context of Jesus' Remarks—

Both citations are connected with the frenzy of trying to find Jesus when he returns. This is in itself interesting since traditional belief has him coming in the sight of all, blowing a trumpet — an analogy the Scriptures do make, but for an entirely different reason.

MATTHEW says (verses 23-26) that when someone says Christ is here or there (a place), don't believe him. The Matthew account continues pointing out that “signs and wonders” will be offered in order to ensnare the multitudes of Christian peoples in name only (nominal). Jesus will not be in the desert (some isolated or remote location). He will not be “in the secret chambers” (probably the dark rooms of spirit mediums). He will not be in a restricted location.

Matthew concludes the account with Jesus' words that his second advent would be like a sunrise — a gradually-increasing brightness of truths that will permeate from east to west (verse 27).

“Lightning” is a very poor translation here. We all know that lightning doesn't strike from east to west. (Nor does it give much light!) The Greek word literally means “THE BRIGHT SHINING.” We all know what “bright shiner” goes from east to west. It is the sun. And that is Jesus' point. His second advent is a gradual increase of brightness which floods the world with long-lost truths.

“Coming” also is a poor translation in verse 27. The Greek word indisputably means “PRESENCE.” Jesus is talking about the time of his secret “thief-like” presence — the time when he has, indeed, RETURNED, but not yet manifested himself personally. He has manifested himself only by the predicted INDICATION — one of which is increasing light.

When the Matthew account finally arrives at verse 28, it is that INCREASED SPIRITUAL TRUTH or LIGHT which is symbolized in “the carcass.” The light of his presence is the carcass or meal prepared for the far-seeing vultures — his true disciples.

Thus verse 28 follows verse 27 rationally:

verse 27 — Jesus' presence is manifested by ever-increasing light.

verse 28 — That light is the food to which his disciples flock. They are “gathered together” not to a denomination, but to a feast of end-of-the-age truths.

LUKE reports the context somewhat differently from Matthew. Thus the “vultures” verse, though it has the same meaning, is connected to a different context.

In Luke 17:23 and 24 we have the equivalent of Matthew's “lightning” verse. But then several verses intervene. When we come to 17:34-37 we again encounter the “vultures” verse, but this time connected with the idea of the SEPARATION of true Christians from those who are “in name only” (nominal).

The SEPARATION concept is important during the “harvest” of the Christian or Gospel Age. In Matthew 13:24-30 and 13:36-43, Jesus gave the parable of the wheat (true Christians) and the tares (nominal Christians). In this parable he counsels letting both co-exist until the end of the age, or “harvest” time. Then he counsels their SEPARATION. This is reflected also in Revelation 18:4 where the admonition is given: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

It is this “coming out” or the SEPARATION of true from merely- professing Christians that in the Luke account prompts Jesus to teach the “vultures”' flocking to the carcass. In other words, “WHERE DO WE GO?” to separate? The answer: We flock to the new meal which Jesus provides at the end of the age. This is reflected in Jesus' words to the final period of his Church in Revelation 3:20: “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him AND WILL SUP WITH HIM, and he with me.”

Returning to Luke 17:34-37 we find Jesus teaching that SEPARATION will occur. TWO will be in one creed bed; but one will be drawn away while the other remains — content with his denominationalism.

Then we find TWO who have worked together to provide spiritual food — grinding at the mill. But one is drawn away by better food while the other keeps grinding out the old errors and partial truths dispensed by nominal Christianity for centuries.

Then we find TWO with no particular religious affiliation — out in the field (“the world” — Matthew 13:38). There are many “Christian” people who have left denominations feeling that they have little to offer. Yet, even in the field, one is drawn away by something intriguing, while the other remains behind — content with a pseudo-Christian profession, not wanting to pursue new ideas or to be “entangled” in again.

When Jesus gave these examples of “one left, one taken,” the disciples naturally inquired, “Why, Lord?” — Where were they taken? Then we once again find e answer in Matthew 24: “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles (buzzards) be gathered together.

— The Lesson —

As must be expected, Jesus' predictions have, indeed, come true. An enormous “body” of truth has been placed before us in the last century or so. Many (although relatively few) have flocked to it. They are without denominational ties, but they are not without fervent hunger and phenomenal satisfaction with the food provided.

The Lord, himself, calls us out and provides the meal. We hope this website has given some “taste” of its good nutrition and appetite-stimulating flavors. To meet with those who so hunger and thirst is, indeed, a privilege and a pleasure. Feast on! Gather with the “eagles”!





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