To better understand what he was referring to we can look to the Word of God.
Matthew 24:28 For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
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.
In both of these chapters, Jesus was speaking of his second coming, and the signs thereof. We can gain some insight into what he meant by getting some definitions from the Concordance. If we look in the concordance, carcass is #4430: lifeless body, (corpse, carrion): dead body, carcass, corpse. Eagles is #105; from the same as 109; an eagle (from its wind-like flight): eagle. #109; (to breathe unconsciously, i.e. respire, by anal. to blow); "air" Comp 5594. #5594; a prim. Verb; to breathe (voluntarily but gently; thus differing on the one hand from 4154, which refers prop. a forcible respiration; and on the other from the base of 109, which refers prop. to an inanimate breeze). Body is #4983; the body (as a sound whole), used in a very wide application, lit. or fig.-bodily, body, slave.
What we need to do is disengage our natural reasoning, and look to the Holy Spirit for understanding. First, look again at Matthew 24:28 For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together. The Lord said eagles, not vultures. By definition, we see Eagle as representative of wind, breathe, air. This speaks of the Spirit of God. If we begin to see the carcass as ourselves, if we come to the place in our relationship with Christ where we can say as Paul did, "till not I live, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20), we begin to understand.
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. As we grow in Christ Jesus, we learn that our flesh is only a vessel for our spirit. This body will pass away, but our spirit is eternal. That which we accomplish through the means of our flesh, our intellect, our own will, our own efforts, will pass away when our body does. Only what we achieve through spiritual growth is lasting. Rather than fear or fight against losing our self, we should strive to reach the place in God where He is All in All.
The concordance defines eagles, "from its wind-like flight, to breathe unconsciously, to blow, air." The wind represents the Spirit of God. When we become like an eagle, we are moving by the Spirit, and no longer by the flesh. John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. We know that there are many examples of the way the Spirit moves recorded in God's Word.
In the beginning:
Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the round, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
Could it be that once we become a carcass (dead to the world and the lusts of our flesh) we can then become an eagle, living by the Spirit of God? Earlier, in Luke 17:33, Jesus said, "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it." This is totally contrary to the thinking man. One of our primary natural responses is self-preservation. Yet the Son of God tells us that in trying to save our (self) life, we shall actually lose eternal life; and in being willing to lose our (self) life, we shall be preserved (saved). The gathering of the eagles is a good place to be! Christ's body in this world is many-membered. Yet each and every member will have died to self, or it cannot be part of His Body. Our natural reasoning would look at this as a bad thing, when in fact it is just the opposite. 1Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Spiritual discernment is what we need in this hour. Isn't Jesus telling us that the way to rise above this life, is by dying to the flesh and living by the Spirit? The Apostle Paul set out an argument for death and resurrection in the sixth through eighth chapters of Romans. This is little preached or understood. Yet it is truth. We all need to have our understanding enlightened by the Holy Spirit, that we may comprehend what he is trying to convey to believers. How to die to our flesh while still living in this world. How to live by the Spirit ...being servants of righteousness ...bringing forth good fruit unto God. Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. There is no way we can achieve this strength in and of ourselves. We will never mount up with wings as eagles, as long as we are servants of sin. We are called to be servants of the Most High God.
We are called to take up our cross and follow Christ. Romans 8:10-14 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the spirit that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Men are quick to claim that they are in fact the sons of God. Yet where is the evidence of it? We can only make that claim if we are in fact being led by the Spirit of God. If all we have are the programs and ideas of men, we are deceiving our own selves. We must realize that we will never accomplish anything for God by any of our own efforts. We must learn to submit to the dealings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We have spent our life living in a manner that would preserve and protect our flesh (body). Our focus has been on the outer man, when our attention should be centered on our inner man.
Jesus said in John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life. It is our spirit that shall rise up with wings as eagles. It is by way of our spirit that we have communion and fellowship with God. The parables by which Jesus taught the people are spiritually discerned. To this day they are misconstrued by carnally minded men. We have the choice before us. Will we live to protect and satisfy the flesh, or will we be counted among the few who would seek to build up the inner man? Will we hear the words of men, or will we seek to hear what Christ and the Spirit are saying?
Will we seek life? or death?
"Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life will preserve it." Spiritually, I see the corpse as the death to self, and the eagles as the risen life in Christ. What could be more important, than to attain all that we are called to in Christ Jesus? May we learn to appreciate the sincerity of Paul's words when he said in Philippians 3:8-14 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Are we willing to be a carcass? If we ever hope to soar on the wings of eagles... we first will have to die. There is no other way. There are no spiritual shortcuts. Matthew 10:24-25 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Jesus set for us the example we must follow. He has promised that if we will but follow Him, He and the Father will come to us and make their abode with us. We are not being asked to accomplish this death on our own, but to allow Him to bring the needed change about within us ...by His Spirit within us. All we have to do is submit.
Are you willing?
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Recently (2008) I shared this paper with a few sisters in Christ, and was greatly blessed by their insights on this subject... here is their feedback.
"...as I was reading this I recalled a word the Lord gave to me after Micky died. I was watching the movie Mummy, and there were these dead warriors after the star of the show...anyway as I was watching this "army of dead" I thought..."How can you kill something that is already dead?"
That's when I believe I had a revelation from the Lord. Yes, when we are truly dead to this world..."Oh death where is thy sting? Oh grave where is thy victory?"
When we are dead, or the carcass, then we have reached the goal the Lord has set before us.
When we quit trying, when we quit complaining, when we finally know that all things work to the good who Love the Lord....then I believe "We" dead believers have made it home!!!"
"May I interject a thought that came alive to me several years ago in the Bible? In fact, we ARE already dead in Christ. Galatians 2:20 says that "We ARE crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me." When Christ died on the cross, we died with Him. His resurrection to new life was ours as well. Several years ago, I had been trying and trying to "kill" the flesh by following the law or commandments or "works." It was impossible. In fact, Paul says that the law makes the flesh come alive. In His great mercy, He showed me a revelation that I was already dead in Christ, and what He wanted was for me to walk that out in everyday life from the position of already BEING dead - not trying to get dead. It absolutely revolutionized my life.
The Lord had mercy on me because I had been trying to enter into something (dying to self) that had already been accomplished on the cross. I had only to believe and agree with that assessment according to the Word, and begin living my life as a new creation in Christ. When we try to "kill" our flesh, it is "works"...and it never worked for me. As a matter of fact, the more I tried to "kill" it (self or the flesh), the more alive it was. I always had separated Christ's death from me - He died for me, and I was trying as hard as I could to get "there" (death) as well. But when the revelation came, I saw that I was included in His death and resurrection already. I went back and read Paul's letters to the Galatians and saw the truth of what he was telling them."
Matthew 24:28 "For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together."
I looked up the word "gathered together" and got a great witness on this Cathy. A 3 times the King James version used "take in" for this same word. And it looks like "eagles" isn't necessary plural. Could it be that the translations didn't understand the spiritual meaning and used eagles instead of a singular eagle because they couldn't understand "eagle" coming together with the carcass?
Awesome post, I never really understood that verse until now. Thanks for sharing that!
1) to gather together, to gather
a) to draw together, collect
1) of fishes
2) of a net in which they are caught
2) to bring together, assemble, collect
a) to join together, join in one (those previously separated)
b) to gather together by convoking
c) to be gathered i.e. come together, gather, meet
3) to lead with one's self
a) into one's home, i.e. to receive hospitably, to entertain"