Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 24:14-28 (audio not yet posted).
Matthew 24:27 For as the lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
Much of the teaching in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 has to do with things already fulfilled relating to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 (24:2, 15). In these words, however, the Lord points his disciples toward the future, toward his second coming (see v. 27).
The Son of man is Christ himself (see Matt 16:13: “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”). His coming [parousia] refers to his second advent.
The emphasis here is on the fact that when he comes in glory at the end of the ages it will be as sudden and stunning and glorious as lightening suddenly streaking across the sky from east to west. Paul spoke of this when he said the day of the Lord will come “as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
This is where the prognosticators get it wrong. They cannot figure out when he will come, because it will be like a streak of lightening, like a thief in the night. We who are in Christ have nothing to fear, nothing to lose, and all to gain.
What do we make of that last statement in v. 28? Where there is a carcass, the eagles gather. We think of the eagles as birds of prey, hunters, majestic symbols of power, but they are also, like vultures, birds of carrion, meaning they feed on carcasses.
What is Christ saying? This old world is dead and rotting in sin. And you can see the signs and evidences of its death, like the eagles circling a carcass. You can smell it. But do not worry. A new world is coming. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, “we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” (vv. 51-52).
So, we can say with the saints of old, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! (1 Corinthians 16:2).
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle