the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. But immediately after the tribulation of those days the
sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will
fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." - Matthew 24:28- 29
speaking of the suddeness and public visibility of His return in verses 26- 27,
our Lord now adds a parabolic idiom in verse 28. He says, " Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will
gather." This phrase is also found
in a similar context in Luke 17:24.
What does this mean and to whom does it refer? However, before that question is answered I want to make a
final point concerning verse 27.
Global, Not Local
have seen in verse 27, which says, " For just as the lightning comes from the
east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be,"
that it emphasizes a global coming.
This verse is set in contrast to the false teachers of verse 26 who say
that the Messiah has appeared locally; in a back room somewhere. We have seen that preterists like Gary
DeMar and Kenneth Gentry taught that Jesus came locally, through the Roman army
in a.d. 70. That view contracts verse 27 which
teaches that the Messiah' s return will be global in nature. Randolph Yeager says of verse 27,
Thus we have Jesus' reason for telling us not to believe the
false teachers who will seek to localize Messiah' s coming. It will be universally observed. No one will find it necessary to go
anywhere in order to see Him, any more than it is necessary to move to a better
vantage point in order to see the flash of lightning is conspicuous- something
impossible to overlook. Satan, the
shinning one fell from heave, with the speed of the lightning- (Lk. 10:18). Christ will come to earth with the
universality of the lightning.
see that the teaching of this passage means that second coming of Christ will
be something that no human being- not even the anti-Christ- will be able to fake
it. It will be of such a nature
that only God will be able to pull it off. It will be a global and miraculous event that does not in
any way parallel the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. This
will be an event that will not need to be reported in the news media, since God
will accomplish this event in such a way that everyone will know what has
happened. Thus, it must be a future event to our own day since nothing like
this has yet to occur in history.
The Meaning of the Parable
are two main interpretations of this passage. One holds that it speaks of judgment of the unsaved. The other view sees a continuation of
the theme of the context denoting suddeness and universality. I believe that both ideas are intended
in verse 28.
Lord speaks of a " corpse," coupled with the expression of " eagles" or more
preciously in this context " vultures."
This provides a picture of judgment. Thomas Figart notes:
Taken literally, it means that wherever dead bodies are, there
the aetoi (either eagles or vultures)
will descend upon them. From a
physical point of view, the vast carnage will result in this very thing. Symbolically, it can be related to the
parallel passage in Luke 17:37 when the disciples asked " Where, Lord" in regard to the separation of the believers from
the unbelievers at that time. He
answered, " Wherever the body is, there will the eagles (aetoi) be
gathered together." This means that these two similar
statements refer to the judgment to come upon the unbelievers who are not
prepared to meet Him.
addition to a judgment warning in conjunction with the return of Jesus to
earth, the grammar appears to require an emphasis upon the global suddeness of
the event. Heinrich Meyer points
this out as follows:
Confirmation of the truth that the advent will announce its
presence everywhere, and that from the point of view of the retributive
punishment which the coming One will be called upon everywhere to execute. The emphasis of this figurative adage
is on hopou ean and eke: " Wherever the carcase may happen to be, there will the eagles
be gathered together," - on no spot where there is a carcase will this fathering
fail, so that, when the Messiah shall have come, He will reveal Himself
everywhere in this aspect also (namely, as an avenger).
That this proverb includes a global and suddeness
aspect is supported by the preceding context, which I have noted before
emphasizes Christ' s sudden and public return.
Not a Reference to a.d. 70
not surprisingly, try to twist and turn this verse into a proverb that supports
their first century fulfillment assumption. Dr. Kenneth Gentry declares:
This seems to speak of the dreadful
devastation Rome wreaks upon Israel.
The furious soldiers who cruelly ravage the people will destroy
national, political Israel.
Josephus often mentions the rage of the Roman troops: . . . The imagery is familiar enough to an
agrarian people: the ugly, rotting
corpse of an animal blanketed by bickering birds of prey.
Fellow preterist Gary DeMar echoes Dr. Gentry' s view
Jerusalem of Jesus' day, because of its dead rituals, was a carcass, food for
the scavenging birds, the Roman armies.
This is an appropriate description of Jerusalem' s acts of abomination. In addition, we know that tens of
thousands (Josephus says over a million) were killed during the Roman
siege. Even the temple area was
not spared. The Idumean and Zealot
revolt left thousands slaughtered in and around the temple. . . . There was no life in Jerusalem since the
Lord had departed. As our High
Priest, Jesus could no longer remain in the city because of its
defilement. It had to be burned
with fire for purification.
as there is little life left once the vultures have gathered, so with the
destruction of the temple and the desolation of the city, the shadow of
heavenly things is no more.
have already shown from the context that this passage in general refers to a
future return of Christ. If the
surrounding context teaches a future return of Christ, which it does, then this
passage cannot reference a past event.
Meyer rightly notes:
Others (Lightfoot, Hammond, Clericus, Wolf, Wetstein) have
erroneously supposed that the carcase alludes to Jerusalem or the Jews, and
that the eagles are intended to denote the Roman legions with their standards
(Xen. Anab. I. 10. 12; Plut. Mar. 23).
But it is the advent that is in question; while according to vv. 23-27,
on hopou ean cannot be taken as
referring to any one particular locality.
Alan M' Neile echoes Meyer' s point and declares, " It
does not describe . . . the eagles on the Roman standards in the attack on
Jerusalem; the last is not the subject dealt with either in Mat. or Lk."  William Kelly summarizes the correct
view of the passage when he states the following:
Applied to Israel, all is simple. The carcase represents the apostate part of that nation; the
eagles, or vultures, are the figure of the judgments that fall upon it. It is not only, then, that there will
be the lightning-like display of Christ in judgment; but the agents of His
wrath shall know where, and how, to deal with that which is abominable in God' s
After The Tribulation of Those Days
mentioned the second coming of Christ in verses 27- 28 in reference to how He
will appear (i.e., privately or publicly), in this next section (verses 29-31),
Jesus describes His return. The
first thing Christ says is that His return will take place " immediately after
the tribulation of those days."
This means that the events described in the rest of verses 29- 31 will
occur immediately after the events of
the tribulation. This seems
obvious enough. However, not all
seem to understand that.
Gary DeMar says that Christ' s coming was a " coming in judgment upon Jerusalem
in a.d. 70." 
If the judgment events upon
Jerusalem took place in verses 4- 28 and occurred before verse 29, as DeMar
teaches, then that would mean that he believes that verses 29- 31 describe a
second coming, different from the one spoken of in verse 27. This is exactly what preterists must do
in order to maintain their twisted view of Christ' s prophetic discourse. DeMar admits, " Jesus' ' coming' in
judgment upon Jerusalem (Matt. 24:27) and His coming ' up to the Ancient of Days'
(Dan. 7:13) were two events that occurred within the time span of the first
generation of Christians. There is
no future fulfillment of those events."  Since DeMar is himself teaching
multiple comings of Christ, it seems inconsistent that he could be so vocal
against others, like pretribulationists, who also see several comings of our Lord. Yet DeMar heaps great disdain on what
he calls " a two-stage coming." 
rightly observes the following points about this bizarre preterist perspective:
One can hardly be asked to notice the old effort to apply these
verses to the Roman triumph over Jerusalem. On the fact of it, could this be said to be " immediately
after the tribulation" ? or was it not rather the crowning of Jewish sorrow, not
the glorious reversal of their sufferings by a divine deliverance? Whatever prodigies Josephus reports
were rather during the tribulation he records; whereas the signs spoken of
here, literal or figurative, are to follow " the tribulation of those day" (i.e., the future crisis of Jerusalem).
the preterist view should be maintained, it would mean the disciples' question
about " what will be the sign of your coming?" (verse 3) would have to have
multiple answers. Yet we find no
such thing in Christ' s discourse.
Should not the disciples' question read: " what will be the signs of your comings?" It appears that since neither preterist
return is a bodily, physical return, but instead are spiritual or non-physical
comings, that one can have Christ coming and going all over the place. One could have Christ coming every day
in some spiritual way, if coming does not refer to an actual physical event. These are the kinds of things that a
preterist must do in their attempts to make their system appear to work to
their little circle of followers. James
Morison notes the following insights:
This word immediately
has been a perfect rack of torture to such expositors as have lost their way in
the interpretation of the chapter. . . .
The whole difficulty arises from assuming that the tribulation of those
days has reference to the tribulation that was to be experienced in connection
with the destruction of Jerusalem.
(See vers. 16- 21.) There is
not however the slightest necessity for making such an assumption. There is every reason indeed for
rejecting it, . . . This great
mistake is founded on an unwarrantably narrow view of the Saviour' s aim in His
discourse in general, and on an inappropriately microscopic way of peering
toward telescopic objects.
Continued . . .)