“Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.” – Matthew 24:28. The Bible tells us what this means.
This mysterious verse was spoken by Jesus Christ. Only after reading the Bible cover to cover, then starting over again, did I smack my forehead and say, “oh, THAT’S what it means!”
The best Bible study advice I ever got was, “let the Bible interpret the Bible.” This means that when you find something in the Bible you don’t understand, the answer is somewhere else in the Bible. Always use the Bible to interpret the Bible.
Commentaries have their place, but they are not to be relied upon. Commentaries written by different people come to different conclusions. And commentaries by the same person can change as that person learns more over the course of their life. But the Bible never changes:
“I the LORD do not change…” ~ Malachi 3:6
With this in mind, here is Matthew 24:28 in context:
“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
“Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
~ Matthew 24:26-31
I knew Jesus was speaking of his 2nd coming, but I could only guess what he meant by the carcass comment. My guess was that he was giving us a visual analogy of his 2nd coming. In other words, vultures intend to land on the ground where the carcass is, but until then, they circle high in the sky. While in the sky, they are visible from far and wide. People who can’t see the carcass (landing point) can still see the vultures as they circle. I thought Jesus was telling us that his coming will be visible far and wide because he will descend from above, just as vultures do to a carcass. But I now reject this idea. The visual analogy is actually given in the verse prior:
For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. ~ Jesus Christ, Matthew 24:27
Lightning is the visual analogy of Jesus appearing. He will return over Jerusalem, but will be visible from far and wide. So what about the carcass comment?
After finishing the Bible cover to cover, I started again at the beginning. In Genesis 15, I came to the part where God promises the land to Abram’s descendants.
“To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates… ” [by the way, this area is many times bigger than the land Israel inhabits today, so rather than Israel being wiped off the map, it is actually going to get much bigger, to the chagrin of its intolerant, hate-mongering, genocidal enemies on the American Left and in Islam] Genesis 15:18
As was the custom when a contract was entered into, animals were sacrificed and cut in two. Half of each carcass was put on one side (representing one party to the contract), and half of each carcass was put on the other (representing the 2nd party to the contract). Then, the two parties to the contract walked between the halves, as a sign that they would honor their part of the contract or suffer divine retribution. (Contrast this to the Occupy Wall Street protesters of today who carry signs demanding that other people pay their debt, and suffer the consequences of the contracts that the protesters themselves willingly entered into. How far we have fallen! Greed, greed, greed.)
The interesting aspect of the Land Covenant is that God alone walked through the carcass halves. He put Abram to sleep. This is a one-way covenant. God permanently gave the land of Israel to his people, no matter what. Yes, he chastises them, and disciplines them. He has brought them out of the Promised Land during the Assyrian exile, the Babylonian exile, and the Roman exile. But he always brings them back, no matter what the world does to stop him– and wow, do they try! The central theme of all worldly government is annihilation of the Jews and confiscation of the land of Israel. Which brings me to the “bingo” moment I had.
Read these verses:
So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey [eagles/hawks/vultures] came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. ~ Genesis 15:9-11
Bingo! That last sentence, Genesis 15:11, is a seemingly unimportant verse. It’s a verse I’ve read many times while studying the Bible. It almost seems an afterthought, a completely incidental inclusion. But it’s not. It’s vital. And this is why it’s crucial to read the Bible cover to cover. You start seeing these matches everywhere– gems hidden in plain sight, gems that make sense only in light of other verses of Scripture, gems you miss when you hunt and peck your way through the Bible. Keys are hidden on every page of the Bible, in every sentence, in every word, in every dot of an “i,” in every cross of a “t.”
I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. ~ Jesus Christ, Matthew 5:18
It’s all crucial!
So when I read in Genesis 15:11 that the birds of prey have been after this land covenant since the very beginning, the light came on. To this day, God’s enemies want that land, and they will stop at nothing to get it. They didn’t want it for the centuries it lied barren as a deserted wasteland while the Jews were away in the diaspora, but now that the Jews are back, people who hate the Jews are jealous again. The land in-and-of itself does not matter. Only in the context of God’s one-way, irrevocable covenant in which he gave the land to the Jews does the land drive people into a demonic frenzy. Without God’s people on it, nobody cares about that land. And that’s what Jesus is talking about with his carcass comment. Just as Abram drove away the birds of prey in the beginning of the land covenant, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Jesus Christ) will drive them away once and for all.
I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. ~ Joel 3:2
Revelation gives us the allegorical language for what will happen to these vultures who gather to devour Israel:
The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city [the anti-Israel gentiles of Joel 3:2 are crushed to death in the winepress of God’s wrath], and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia. ~ Revelation 14:19-20
The allegorical language in Revelation is always unlocked by the literal language elsewhere in the Bible– another reason reading the Bible cover to cover is crucial. So, keeping in mind that these anti-Israel gentiles are crushed to death in the winepress of God’s wrath, let’s see if the Bible tells us who will do the crushing, shall we?
God is a literary genius as well as every other kind of genius. As such, he chose to deliver these verses in Isaiah as dialogue, rather than narrative. The conversation is between Isaiah and the Messiah of Israel, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Jesus Christ).
[Isaiah] Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength?
[Yeshua] “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.”
[Isaiah] Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress ?
[Yeshua] “I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come. I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support; so my own arm worked salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me. I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.” ~ Isaiah 63:1-6
As the vultures gather around what they believe to be Israel’s carcass, they will be crushed to death by Israel’s savior, Jesus Christ.
Any who manage to escape will be pursued into their own nations and crushed to death there. All the nations Jesus enters into by name to pour out his wrath for their treatment of his people, Israel, are Islamic nations today– every single one of them. And all these nations just happen to be mistreating Israel today, and calling for her annihilation. The Bible is always proven true.
And all this will be done by the guy we have cartooned into a hippie peacenik who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Look at the underlined phrases above!!! Yet we have sanitized Jesus because the enemies he fights are friends of the American Left. If the Bible described Jesus as fighting friends of the American Right upon his return, we would characterize him as a militant rebel hero. But since he fights friends of the Left, his warrior characteristics are completely sanitized. No one wants to upset the Left and be intimidated and bullied, so people just cave in and acquiesce. As a consequence, the Jesus we expect will be 180º opposite of the Jesus we meet, and many will reject him and suffer eternally.
Read the Bible cover to cover. Get to know this Jesus from the word of God, not from watered down commentaries written by people trying to win a popularity contest with God’s enemies. When he returns, Jesus will go straight to where the vultures are gathered, and they will pay dearly for coming against his people, Israel. You need to know this Messiah so that you recognize him when you meet him– and we all will, whether in this life or the next!
If the Jesus you expect to meet does not match the Jesus you actually meet, you will reject him, as Israel did the first time he came. They expected a conquering Messiah, the Lion of Judah, but they got the Lamb of God. At his 2nd coming, this scenario will play out in reverse. The church will expect the Lamb of God, but will get the Lion of Judah, the conquering Messiah, and many will reject him. Don’t be among them.