Saturday, July 7, 2012
Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together."
God often used the symbols of birds of prey with coming judgment on the nation of Israel. In Deuteronomy 28:26 Moses warns Israel about the curses for disobedience and says, Your dead body will be food to all birds of the sky, and to the animals of the earth; and there will be no one to frighten them away.
This warning is repeated in Jeremiah 6:33 Then the carcasses of this people will become food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away.
In Hosea 8:1 Set the trumpet to your mouth! He shall come like an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed My covenant and rebelled against My law”
When speaking of this period of tribulation period Jesus also motioned eagles. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. But when the disciples asked the Lord, where the one would be taken? Christ replied, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." (Luke 17:36-37) The language of Luke 17:36-37 ff. is highly figurative.
In the same way a lion is considered the king of the beasts the eagle is regarded as the eminent bird. One of the most striking visual aspects of the Roman army were the symbols that were placed on tall poles. These poles were topped with various insignia and symbols, including many types of animals.
The most important symbol in each legion was the legionary eagle made of a precious metal (usually silver) which was the symbol of power of Rome and the honor of the legion. The eagles were not just for show; they served important practical functions as well. Its presence on a flag during the war was a source of victory and an aid in battle.
It gave courage to the warriors who fought under it and put fear into their enemy. The staff helped to keep the units together, since the soldiers could see them above the action. The eagle was on the soldiers armor and cohorts. It was carried by a special staff bearer who wore a lion-skin headdress. The seal of the eagle was used by the Roman empire to depict power for thousands of years. Roman legions always marched behind the emblem of an eagle.
To lose the legionary eagle in battle was a terrible disgrace. Romans thought the Eagle was a messenger of the Gods. When a Roman emperor died, his body was burned in a funeral pyre and an eagle was ceremonially released into the flames. The Romans believed the eagle would carry the emperor's soul to the heavens.
Getting back to Jesus’ statement Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. The question of who is taken and who is left here is one of my favorite Bible prophecy questions. Our dispensational friends claim this is the rapture of the church at the end of the Christian age. Is a 50% "rapture-rate" the point of the message? To understand this, first we need to be clear just what day and event Jesus is specifically speaking about.
It helps greatly to read the parallel account in context. Matthew 24:37 "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 "Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 "Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
Exactly who will be taken away just like the Days of Noah'? The wicked. Noah and his family were left to start over. Further, Luke says about the days of Lot the wicked were also "destroyed" Luke 17:19 "but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.
The rapture view makes no sense because Noah and his family and Lot and his family were left behind to start a new life. When reading the Bible, we must approach scripture with a Hebrew mindset. The idea of being “taken and left” is a very old concept in scripture. In ancient biblical times when a conquering army invaded another country they kept the smartest, youngest, and strongest.
This historical background is also recorded in scripture. 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 And those who escaped from the sword he (Nebuchadnezzar) carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.
Any survivor was taken prisoner into exile in Babylon and made a slave to Nebuchadnezzar and his family. Josephus a Jewish historian tells us during the invasion of the Roman army everyone over the age of seventeen was sent in bonds to work the Egyptian mines. (Josephus 37:B.C A.D. 70 p. 230)
Josephus also reckons the number of captives taken during the war at 97,000 and the number of those who perished during the siege at 1,100.000. The number who perished in the whole war is reckoned at the total of 1,337,490 and the number of prisoners at 101,700; but even these estimates do not include all the items of many skirmishes and battles, nor do they take into account the multitudes who, throughout the whole country, perished of misery, famine and disease. (F.W. Farrar. pp 487-489).
Jesus’ words were certainly true, for wheresoever the bodies were, there the eagles (Roman) were gathered together." (Luke 17:36-37)