Matt 24:15                             The Abomination of Desolation                         3/9/2013        

·        Chapter 82

 

 

 

#1.       The Abomination of Desolation and Its Outworkings (Mt 24:14–26)

 

 

 

 

·        Children of the Congregation (Mt 24:19, 21:16, Luk 23:29, Ps 8:2, Isa 66:10–12)

 

 

 

 

·        Unlike Any Other Tribulation (Mt 24:21–22, Jas 1:13, 1John 2:18, Luk 21:22, Rev 13:7–8)

 

 

 

 

#2.       False Christs and False Prophets (Mt 24:23–24, 37–39; 2Thes 2:9)

 

 

 

 

·        The Final Tribulation Period (Mt 24:21–29, Rev 20:7, Jude 6, Ge 6:2–3)

 

 

 

 

#3.       The Eagles (Mt 24:28, Luk 17:34–37, Deut 32:11–12)

 

 

 

Chapter 82.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 24:14 (2X). Today I am in chapter 82 of the Book, The Revelation of Jesus Christ. This is the last chapter of the book, and originally it was written as Appendix #6, and it was titled, “Some notes about Matthew 24.” But it was so long that the editor recommended it to be renamed as a chapter in the book. Today you are not going to hear the entire chapter 82. I am only going to take half of it, the second half, and I am going to focus on the abomination of desolation. This is the title of the sermon for today.

#1.       The Abomination of Desolation and Its Outworkings (Mt 24:14–26)

Matt 24:14-26 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house:

Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day:

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Behold, I have told you before.

Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. (Mt 24:14–26)

Verse 14 summarizes this entire passage: The true gospel of salvation shall be preached into all the world, and then shall the end come. Why shall the end come at this time? Would the Lord not enjoy seeing the accumulation of saints on the earth who will be rejoicing and glorifying God for a thousand years? No, this is the wrong view of the holiness of God and the wickedness of man. The opposite will come to pass: the end will come because there will no more people become saved, for the wickedness of man shall have made a mockery of the true gospel so that the true gospel will no longer be heard.

That is why the end shall come. And that is why the period of the end time of this world’s history shall be characterized by great spiritual tribulation. The evidence of this great tribulation is that the saints shall be able to see the abomination of desolation standing in the pulpit of their church, by which they shall know that their church has turned to worshipping Satan. We must flee our church, but only if our church has gone apostate. And by this evidence we shall know that the great tribulation is in full swing. It is a sign that the saints must flee to the kingdom where God is found. Not the physical mountain, but the Lord’s holy mountain, the Bible, is the only place where there is real peace with God, the only place where there is safety, and the only place where the saints are secure, for God Himself shall be our defender.

And where is this ideal mountain retreat? It is the Bible, where the true gospel can be found, and it is the faithful church where the true gospel is still preached. And so we see from the content of this passage we are studying today that it is “woe unto the churches” at this time. We also see from the context of trials, tribulations, falsehoods, and great deceit that the saints are spiritually under attack. And if we can see the abomination of desolation standing in the pulpit of our church, we must get out, for that church will be judged. The Lord is warning us of false christs and false prophets, and we need to understand what this means. First let us look at the spiritual interpretation of those that are with child and those that give suck in those days.

·        Children of the Congregation (Mt 24:19, 21:16, Luk 23:29, Ps 8:2, Isa 66:10–12)

Mt 24:19 “And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck <2337> in those days!”

How does the Lord apply these words to the end times? Does He really refer to literal women, literal babies that suck the breast, and babies in the womb? We must be on our guard, for the Lord may be speaking in parabolic language.

First of all we notice that “them that give suck” is actually a faulty translation, for it is not them that give suck but the suckling infants themselves that are in focus in this verse. Literally, Matthew 24:19 says, “And woe to the one having in the womb, and to those suckling <2337> in those days.” The Lord pronounces woe to the woman and woe to those suckling.

Who does the Lord have in view here? Does the Lord Jesus say that you will not receive this woe but that you will be called blessed if you have never borne any children? But that is a very unbiblical idea. Similarly, also concerning the end times, the Lord Jesus said in Luke 23:29, “For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.” May we interpret this verse in a literal sense? Absolutely not! For then we would be at odds with many other verses in the Bible that say that children are a heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward (Psalm 127:3).

Likewise, we may not interpret Matthew 24:19 in a literal sense, for then we would be in conflict with other parts of the Bible. There is another reason we may not interpret Matthew 24:19 in a literal sense. Put a sticker here in Matthew 24, and please turn in your Bibles a few pages to your left, to Matthew 21:16. When we compare Scripture with Scripture, which is the Biblical method of hermeneutics, we find how God wants us to understand these words. In Matthew 21:16, the Lord Jesus responds to the gripes of the chief priests and scribes who did not like that the children were glorifying the Lord Jesus and were saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” We read in Matthew 21:16 about their gripes: “And [they] said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings <2337> thou hast perfected praise?”

Is the Lord Jesus saying that those who suck the breasts began to talk and say, “Blessed is the Son of David”? That is absolutely not true! The Lord Jesus is equating those who praise Him with babies, who suck the breasts. This word “suckling” <2337> is the same word that was used in Matthew 24:19, which was mistranslated. Is there a connection? Absolutely, yes, for we have here the same Greek verb in all its tenses. The Lord was quoting from the Psalms, for He quoted from Psalm 8. We read in Psalm 8:2, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”

Is God saying that we will literally, out of the mouths of suckling infants, hear words of strength, or is God saying that spiritually, words of ordained strength will come out of the suckling children’s mouths so that the enemy is stilled? Is this the real question? Or does God have a deeper spiritual meaning in mind, or does He cater to just a literal superficial application?

We know for sure that no enemy is stilled by a literal suckling baby’s babblings, but they have been stilled by those suckling infants that these Scriptures refer to. These children must be the children of God, who bring the strength of the gospel with power, which is able to still the enemy. Who, then, may these children represent? The solution to this problem lies in the prophecy of Isaiah. Please turn to Isaiah 66:10. We have here a prophecy of the saints, who were delivered of a man-child in Isaiah 66:7, referring to Christ in His atonement on the cross. And so the saints are pictured here as little children who were born through Christ and who as a collective group are called the church on earth. We read in Isaiah 66:10–12,

Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:

That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.

For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.

What is God saying here? Paraphrased, we should read verse 10 as follows: “Rejoice ye saints on earth with Jerusalem that is above, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that are mourning for your sins.” And this is Biblically true. There is no salvation without repentance. But when we are saved, when we have been born from above by God the Holy Spirit, we can rejoice, and the saints in heaven rejoice with us, for we love the bride of Christ, which are all the saints both in heaven and on earth. And we love the church, which is that part of the bride of Christ that is still struggling with the forces of evil on this earth. That is why the church bears the personal pronoun “her” in this verse.

Let us continue with verse 11 and see how this works out. In Isa 66:11, God gives us a picture of the church that will satisfy her children with the milk of the gospel so that they may become stronger. The same picture of the church and her children is given in Isa 60:16. If you are like me, you have wondered many times what these verses mean. And here it is. You see, the congregation is pictured here as the woman, and those in it are those who nurse at the breast. All those who still are in need of the milk of the gospel are nursing at the breast of those whom Christ has put in charge of being His undershepherds, the pastors and teachers of the Word of God. These verses refer not to the tribulation period, as some pre-tribulation theorists suppose, but to the time of the cross and beyond, throughout the New Testament time period. But just as it is a blessing in the New Testament time period, it will be woe to the children during the great tribulation period. And now we have come full circle back to Matthew 24:19.

Please turn again to Matthew 24:19. Those who suck the breasts are not only the little children in the congregation, but they also represent those who are still new in their conversion and who are in need of much teaching from the Bible. Matthew 24:19 speaks about the time of the great tribulation, when it will be woe to the woman with child. It speaks of a time of trial for the church, when false gospels and false christs abound, and the love of many for the Word of God grows cold. It is a time near the second coming of Christ, when churches are being deceived, iniquity abounds, and a great forsaking takes place in the congregations. This is woe unto the woman, and it is woe unto the children, for they are not being fed the pure milk of the gospel anymore. And only those who endure to the end in faithfulness, and in love for the Word of God, will be saved in the sense that they will be saved body and soul.

And so all these verses that I presented focus on the church. Those who are commissioned to bring the nourishment of the gospel to the children are them that give suck, and those who suck the breasts are the spiritual children in the churches, both young and old children. The Lord Jesus is warning us that we must be careful in these times of great deception. Please drop down to verse 21.

·        Unlike Any Other Tribulation (Mt 24:21–22, Jas 1:13, 1John 2:18, Luk 21:22, Rev 13:7–8)

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. (Mt 24:21–22)

Verse 21 starts with the word “for.” What is the word “for” there for? It means that the woes of those who suck the breasts are the result of a famine of hearing the Word of the Lord, as I already stated before. The children need to hear the Word of the Lord, but they cannot find it. And this famine is the nature of the final tribulation period, because church after church has gone apostate. Who is causing this apostacy? God is not causing this great apostacy, for God cannot be the author of sin. We read in James 1:13, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”

God knew that this apostacy would come, and He knew when it would come, for the Lord Jesus warned us that it would come near the end of time. The Lord knew it would come, for He knew that the heart of man was desperately wicked. The Lord knew that the beautiful gospel of grace alone, which is to the glory of Christ alone, would be gradually reduced to a free-will gospel whereby man would receive all the glory, for therein man would be the king-maker. And He knew that because this is a gospel under which no man can be saved, more and more churches would be dead, for if the leaders in the church are unsaved, then very soon the whole church would be spiritually dead.

This process has already been going on for at least 150 years. But this has set the stage for even greater sin: the worship of Satan through the workings of his messengers in the flesh, the Antichrist. The Antichrist, in the form of many preachers, shall tempt people to believe satanic doctrines, such as that God is still bringing divine messages today, or that the people in the charismatic movement shall have power over anything that they say and want. And people are not checking these things out in their Bibles, for they are brainwashed into believing everything their spiritual leaders tell them.

Moreover, the Antichrist is not one human being. This is a myth from the Devil to diffuse the true understanding of the Antichrist. God says in 1 John 2:18, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” There are many Antichrists, and they are distributed into pulpits all over the world, and there they cause the abomination of desolation to stand in the holy place. By this manifestation we shall know that the end is very near. That is why we know that we are in the final tribulation period. God says in Luke 21:22, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.”

The above passage represents the vengeance of God on the apostate church. And it is by the vengeance from God that He also strengthens those churches in their apostacy by sending them strong delusion. God did not cause this great apostacy. We need to understand that man sins voluntarily, and that a church voluntarily decides to move away from God and to create new doctrines that are not in the Bible. Please turn in your Bibles to Revelation 13:7. This new trend in the churches is so popular that all that dwell upon the earth shall worship Satan one way or another. Satan is not choosy. They do not have to call themselves Christian. They can be of the Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist religion, as long as they are all going to the same place. All except those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life are going to worship Satan one way or another. We read in Rev 13:7–8,

And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

God warns us that all that dwell upon the earth shall worship Satan except those whose names have been written in the Lamb’s Book of life, which was written from before the foundation of the world. The fact that the Lamb is called slain from the foundation of the world does not mean that Christ was crucified twice—once at the beginning of creation, and the second time in AD 33. This is a lie that has been spread by a certain radio station.

At the beginning of creation, there was nothing, and the earth was without form and void. There was no wood, no iron nails, no soldiers to crucify the Lord of glory, and no unrighteous god who demanded that Christ be crucified twice for the same sins. No, all of that is nonsense. But when God says that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world, it means that the forgiveness of the sins that He atoned for was, in effect, from the foundation of the world. It was in this sense that God forgave the sins of Adam and Eve. Their sins were paid at the cross in AD 33, but the forgiveness of their sins was applied retroactively to the beginning of time. We find confirmation of this in Rom 3:25, where God wrote:

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”

But notice that the Lord warns us in Rev 13:7 by saying, “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” This means that the true gospel shall be silenced. This is the nature of the final tribulation period.

#2.       False Christs and False Prophets (Mt 24:23–24, 37–39; 2Thes 2:9)

Please turn again to Matthew 24:23. The nature of the final tribulation period is stated succinctly in Matthew 24:23–24. The Lord states here clearly that the nature of the final tribulation period consists of deception. Lies and deception shall be believed through the entire world. We read in Matthew 24:23–24,

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not;

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

In other words, false gospels shall be proclaimed that are oh, so close to the true gospel. So close, in fact, that they might deceive the elect of God, if that were possible. In addition, the Lord clearly states in Matthew 24:37–39 what the final tribulation period is not. Please drop down to verse 37. We read in Matthew 24:37–39,

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

The Lord tells us here that the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is depicted by the days before Noah’s flood. And thus, the final tribulation period will be like the days before the flood, when people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, as if the world would go on forever. No one expected any calamity whatsoever. No one expected any violent army of the Antichrist to move against the people of God. No one expected any great persecution that would decimate the true believers. Instead it was business as usual.

Likewise, we can expect that the days before Christ’s return will be relatively calm. It will be business as usual. There will be no nuclear war, no great armies fighting in the Middle East, and no severe persecution and killing of the saints all over the world. According to Revelation 13:7, the Antichrist shall make war with the saints and shall overcome them—not by brute force, but by joining their congregations and taking over their pulpits. This is how the saints shall be caught unawares.

Let us now look at Matthew 24:23. Let me read to you what the Greek text says literally. What does the Lord mean when He says, “Then if anyone of you says, Lo, here the Christ, or here; do not believe.” In other words, it is not any man that shall say this unto you, but someone from outside your circle. And what shall he say? He shall say, “Lo, here the Christ.” The definite article is really there.

I can tell you what this does not mean. It does not refer to a few insane people who in past history have claimed to be Jesus Christ. The Lord would not have to warn us of them, for no one has believed them.

But what does “the Christ” stand for? “The Christ” means “the anointed one,” or “the Messiah, who was promised by God to bring salvation.” And thus “the Christ” stands for an entire belief system thought to bring salvation. The Lord is warning us of plans of salvation, other than the salvation of the Bible that shall be brought to our attention to lure us away from the gospel of the Bible by someone of the midst of the church. They shall claim to have biblical warrant for their claims, for they shall use the name of Christ, the blood of Christ, and many more things pleasing to your ears. But if their story does not agree with the Bible, believe it not, for we read in the next verse, Matthew 24:24, “False Christs and false prophets shall shew great signs and wonders” to demonstrate that the gospels they bring have God’s approval.

The problem with this lie is that at the time the Lord Jesus walked on earth, Jesus and the apostles were bringing about great signs and wonders, but Satan was not allowed to create signs and wonders; otherwise, it would cause confusion. But when we look up all the verses dealing with signs and wonders near the end of time, we find that Satan is bringing about all the signs and wonders but the saints are not; otherwise, it would cause confusion. And so, today we should not be impressed by signs and wonders and healing miracles, for God has declared them to be done by Satan. For example, God says in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, “Whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” And so, we should not be in awe about the wonders done by Bernadette in Lourdes, France, or by Fatima, or by the Virgin of Guadalupe. They may be true miracles, but they are assigned to the workings of Satan.

Moreover, we read in Matthew 24:24 that the gospels they are bringing are oh, so close to the true gospel that even the elect might be deceived, if that were possible. And thus it is really important that we study and know our Bible, and that we pray for wisdom from God the Holy Spirit, for we want to be able to recognize the false gospels when we encounter them. What are the gospels that feature signs and wonders? This is a characteristic of the charismatic gospels. The charismatic gospels are taking those who have already gone astray and leading them into a path of absolute abomination before God.

·        The Final Tribulation Period (Mt 24:21–29, Rev 20:7, Jude 6, Ge 6:2–3)

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Behold, I have told you before.

Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. (Mt 24:21–29)

The statement of verse 21 tells us that the final tribulation period will be a time of tribulation that will be different from all the sufferings that have occurred on the earth since the beginning of the world. In other words, it will be different in character, and it will not be a suffering in the body, but in the soul. It will not be a physical suffering, but a spiritual suffering, because to be cut off from God is a far greater evil than any temporary pain in this life. For a person to be cut off from God means that he will have to endure an eternity in hell, and that is far worse than any temporary pain in this life. Therefore, verse 22 cannot refer to physical flesh; instead, it refers to persons. The entire context of verse 22 concerns spiritual matters for individuals, not physical matters.

And thus, verse 22 tells us that if the Lord tarries and the time of spiritual troubles lasts long, it will have the result that there will be no saved people on this earth. Why not? To understand a verse we must always ask “WHY”. It is because the Lord says in verse 24 that false christs and false prophets shall arise and shall show great signs and wonders—not just little signs and wonders, but great signs and wonders—to prove that they were sent from God. But they are lying, for the Lord says in Revelation 20:7 that near the end of time Satan shall be loosed out of his prison of darkness (see Jude 6) and will be as powerful as he was over all the earth before Christ came. The Devil and his demons shall deceive many by his signs and wonders. The signs of his false prophets will be so convincing that even the elect would be deceived, if that were possible.

Therefore, this is the environment we bring our children into. And so, since there are so few faithful parents left, our children, in their rebellious years, will choose to be unequally yoked to those who are not truly saved, and in this way the gospel shall be snuffed out. This, exactly, was the same reason God destroyed the first world at the time of Noah. For we read in Genesis 6:2, “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” Then in Genesis 6:3, God says that this was the reason He destroyed that world by water. When the measure of iniquity was full, God sent His judgment on all mankind after rapturing His elect.

Quite similarly, when the measure of iniquity is full during the final tribulation period, God will send His judgment on all the earth after rapturing His elect. Therefore, the final tribulation period is the last event before the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, it is the last spiritual battle.

But let us now focus on an intriguing concept that the Lord Jesus states here in Matthew 24:28. “For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”

Whom does “the carcass” represent? And who do the eagles represent? Certainly the Lord Jesus is not speaking about literal carcasses and literal eagles, for there are not enough eagles to peck away on seven billion people who have been struck dead. And besides, on the last day God is going to destroy the world by fire, and so there would not be any eagles left. And so we want to have a good look at the eagles.

#3.       The Eagles (Mt 24:28, Luk 17:34–37, Deut 32:11–12)

Who do the eagles represent? In general, who do the birds represent in the Bible?

We must keep in mind that Matthew 24:28 speaks of a point in time when the last battle between the armies of Christ and the armies of Satan is finished. All the unsaved of mankind have been killed and are ready to be resurrected in their repulsive bodies and to stand before the judgment throne of Christ. Please put a sticker here in Matthew 24, and please turn to Luke 17:34. Let us compare Matthew 24:28 with this passage in the Gospel of Luke. In the Gospel of Luke, we find the chronological sequence in which the eagles shall be gathered together. This will take place after the rapture of the saints, when we shall be with the Lord forever. We read in Luke 17:34–37,

I tell you, in that night there shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.

Two shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

The Lord Jesus is not answering the question, Where are the saints taken to, but rather, Where are the reprobate left, and where are they moved to? We can see clearly that this passage refers to a point in time after the rapture when the last battle is finished. The enemy is defeated and dead. Let us now compare Luke 17:37 with Matthew 24:28, for these two verses must be harmonized, as they speak about the same thing. In Luke 17:37, “the body” is translated from the Greek word “soma” (Strong’s Concordance number 4983), which is a whole body, either living or dead, and can refer to the body of beasts, of man, or of the church. In Matthew 24:28, “the carcase” is translated from the Greek word “ptoma” (Strong’s Concordance number 4430), which refers to that which is fallen—a corpse or a carcass. And so, through harmonizing, we surmise that the body in Luke 17:37 must refer to a dead body, not a live body.

Does this body refer to the church, the spiritual body of Christ, or the bodies of the saints? That is impossible, for the saints are alive, and Christ is alive, and the church on the last day may be small, but it is still alive. The only body this can refer to is the defeated and dead body of all the unsaved who are awaiting their physical resurrection. It cannot refer to Satan and all his fallen angels, for they do not have bodies. We need to keep this in mind in all other passages in the Bible that refer to the last battle.

Whom do the eagles represent? Both in Matthew 24:28 and in Luke 17:37, the word for eagles is translated from the same Greek word. The word for eagle in the Bible has been used primarily in two ways: In some places an eagle (singular) symbolizes how fiercely God is protecting His children, as in Deuteronomy 32:11–12:

As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:

So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.”

But in most places the eagles (plural) represent the enemies of God and enemies of the children of God. When we look at Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37, could the eagles here represent God? No way, for God is never represented by a multitude of eagles. Could the eagles here represent the saints who are coming down with Christ to judge all the unsaved? That is also an impossibility, for eagles are unclean animals, and after the rapture, the saints are translated into a kingdom where only righteousness dwells. The same can be said of the elect angels who are keeping themselves unspotted in this world of sin.

Who else are the enemies of unsaved mankind? How many groups of created beings are there after the rapture has occurred and all the unsaved have died in a fire that destroyed this entire world? The only ones remaining after this fireball are the elect angels, the saints, the unsaved of mankind who lie dead, and the fallen angels who are now called demons. Let us now carefully consider Luke 17:37: “And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.”

What did they ask the Lord Jesus? It can be understood as, “Where are they who are raptured taken to, Lord?” Or it can also be understood as, “Where are those who are left, Lord?” We already know the answer to the first question. They who are raptured are taken “to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1Thes 4:17).

Therefore, it is the second question that is at hand here in Luke 17:37. If I may paraphrase, the Lord Jesus answered them by saying, “Wheresoever the dead conglomerate body of all the unsaved is gathered, there also will the vultures (the demons) be gathered together.” The word “eagles” is an unfortunate translation. It should have been “vultures”. This also is the meaning of Matthew 24:28—it is exactly the same meaning. And why will the demons also be gathered there? The answer is that they, too, shall be cast into hell and go to the same place where all unsaved mankind will spend eternity.

But there is a more sinister aspect of this chummy togetherness. You see, in several places in the Bible, God invites the fowls of the air to feast on the defeated bodies of God’s enemies, who formerly shouted, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luk 19:14). For example, we read in Rev 19:17-18, 21,

“And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men both free and bond, both small and great (Rev 19:17-18).

“And all the fowls were filled with their flesh” (Rev 19:21).

We read of a similar invitation to every feathered fowl and every beast of he field in Ezekiel 39:17-20. The metaphor is that all unclean animals spiritually may represent demons. God already showed us that in Isaiah 34 where Hell is filled with fearful beasts. What is in view when God extends this invitation to the demons? Is He not inviting them to be the executors of His wrath upon the unsaved in hell? This is indeed the case. The fearful aspect of the sufferings in hell is that God will delegate to the demons the task of tormenting the wicked in hell. They will gladly do it, for they blame mankind for their own torment in Hell. And that is fearful indeed.

Why did God not warn the wicked for this terrible condition in the life hereafter? God did warn the wicked, but His words go unheeded. God told the wicked that Hell will be a lake of fire. Can there be anything more terrible than that? But remember that no penalty, however great, is going to withhold the wicked from their reprobate lifestyle. Knowing the penalty for sin is not going to change the hearts of anyone of the unsaved. There is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom 3:18). The penalty for sin is an integral part of the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2), and the law of sin and death is not able to change the hearts of any of the reprobate.

But praise God that He has chosen some of mankind to be His elect children, and that His elect children have all their sins forgiven through Christ on the cross, who paid the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for all the sins of His elect. Praise God for the complete forgiveness of our sins and for giving us a change of heart, so that He has given us the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:2).

Amen.                   Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.