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Whatever Does This Sentence Mean? Where There is a Dead Body, There the Vultures Will Gather!

It has been asked, where did the title of this study come from? Are you familiar with these words?

That final verse of Luke Chapter 17 – verse 37 – “Where there is a dead body there the vultures will gather”. If someone asked you – where do these words come from – would you have known? If you asked some people outside, would they know?

It has been asked, is this Shakespeare, Tennyson or Wordsworth? No. These words come from the lips of Jesus Christ, so we’d better know what they mean.

We are in Luke Chapter 17, and do remember it is a study and not just a rushing through! This has to be a longer study too because it is difficult to divide it. This passage is very much a unity. Let’s begin at verse 20. Do take time to read the text and check what is said here with the authoritative text.

Some Pharisees came on the scene and they wanted to know when the Kingdom of God was coming. Jesus answered – The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs which will be visibly observed, and this word ‘visibly’ or ‘observed’ is the medical term for the observation of symptoms.

These religious leaders were looking for a visible observable physical kingdom – like a nation – a different kind of country – like England – Wales – Scotland – and The Kingdom of God. That is how they thought, and that is how many think today. People are looking for a kingdom in that sense, and Jesus has to teach them and us – “If you are looking in the wrong place and in the wrong way, you will see absolutely nothing.”

When Jesus Christ the King comes, it is NOT a mighty spectacle. When Jesus moves in His church reviving it – renewing it – it is not usually a great national success story.

Everything does not suddenly change and improve. Some things improve. Some things don’t. And, we must never confine the Kingdom of God – to here or there. We cannot limit Jesus. We cannot confine Christ. We cannot catch the Kingdom and put it in a box. We cannot keep it safely within any boundaries – no matter what these boundaries are. The kingdom of God comes and crashes through in the most unusual and surprising ways at times. We cannot confine it to one nation, nor to any one place.

When the kingdom of God comes – when the risen and living Lord Jesus Christ comes among us – and the Kingdom is before us – and we get a glimpse of the Kingdom – we are able to enter it.

That was what interested Jesus. Are you IN? Are you on the INSIDE of the KINGDOM? Jesus wants you to be in the Kingdom, and these religious leaders were clearly outside the Kingdom of God, and most of them remained outside the Kingdom of God, and really, they did not want to go in. That is sad and tragic, and that continues to occur today – that happens today.

God’s Kingdom is the only antidote to what is going on in the world today. God’s Kingdom is the only answer.

Verse 22. Jesus has to teach the disciples. Don’t be like the Pharisees. Don’t be vulnerable. Don’t allow yourselves to be misled or deceived, and DO NOT PANIC.

Do not look in the wrong way – in the wrong place, and DO NOT LISTEN to the wrong people. Why? False guides will arise and say – “Here it is – there it is”. Do not go rushing around looking for where the Kingdom of God is supposed to be.

“It is within you, or among you”.

Then Jesus begins to speak about His Second Coming to the earth. It will be like lightening. You will know. Everyone will know. But first Jesus says – I must suffer.

There had to be the Cross before The Crown. Jesus had to be rejected before He could reign. Before Jesus can be the risen living King, He has to be crucified.

When the days of the Coming Again of Jesus draw near – when that day is close – it will be very similar to the days of Noah. Life will be going on usual. Jesus had no problem with Noah and the Flood. The record of what happened in Genesis Chapters 6, 7 and 8 was of no problem to Jesus. Life will be going on. People will be eating and drinking and marrying – nothing essentially sinful in any of these activities – but there will be a lot of sin around.

People had been so absorbed – totally immersed – lost their spiritual sensitivity – given to materialism – their spiritual senses having been blunted.

Suddenly, it will be all over. The Church of Jesus Christ will be taken up to meet Jesus Christ in the sky, and we shall be with Jesus for ever. On that day no force will be able to keep me tied to this earth. Those who belong to Jesus Christ will be taken up with an irresistible force. It is going to be some day! It will be similar to the days of Lot.

People will be obsessed with materialism, business and making money, and trading will be top priority. Suddenly judgement rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah. When Jesus Christ comes again many people are going to be very surprised.

Sodom has become a word in our language with a very specific meaning.

Two weeks ago, I went home on a Wednesday evening, switched on the television to see the News, and two men were locked in an embrace and kissing. That would never have been broadcast 5 or 6 years ago.

Jesus goes on to teach in verse 30 – on that day never mind your possessions.

When I return – you just come. Don’t want to go back. Remember Lot’s wife! She was engulfed in that storm of judgement – salt and sulphur. It is most interesting what Jesus tells us to remember. Lot’s wife left Sodom with Lot. Her body left Sodom, but her heart didn’t. Her heart was not where it should have been – with her husband.

Where is your heart? If you want to be in the Ark when the flood comes, work on that now. Sort these things out now. With Noah it was NOT some spare time project. If you want to escape God’s judgement, do not expect to be in the majority.

Jesus says – Be prepared to leave everything. Even on that day when Jesus Christ comes again, it is as if some will desire, and rush to get, and want to take, their useless possessions. Just leave what you have, and suddenly you will find that you have everything.

When Jesus Christ comes again, life will be going on as usual. There will be two asleep; one will be taken and the other left. Does that refer to marriages where one is a believer and the other isn’t? I do sense that is what Jesus is referring to here. When Jesus comes again, earthly ties will no longer have any meaning or relevance.

Two will be working away; one taken to be with Jesus, and the other left.

Some who work next to you, or who are very close to you physically, and who may live in your home, may not want to know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. They may show a little interest, but they may not want to know and serve and love the Lord Jesus, and be committed to the Church of Jesus Christ with all its various weaknesses.

Do you see why being properly related to Jesus Christ now is so vitally important? This is the most important thing in the whole world – being in the Kingdom of God.

On that day when Jesus comes, it will be too late to do anything about it. That is why we are told to get ready now and to make our peace with God through the Blood of Jesus Christ shed on the Cross. This is the day of salvation.

Yes, it will be cataclysmic, but to believers it will be so natural, and there is nothing to fear – not if you are in Christ. Jesus is speaking about being taken away and about His people being taken away to be with Him. And the disciples ask, “Where, Lord?” Where will we go? How will we get there? They wanted Jesus to tell them all the necessary details.

It is at this point that Jesus speaks that salutary sentence. “Where there is a dead carcass of an animal, the vultures instinctively know where to go.”

On that day you will be led to be with me. You will have the same homing instinct. Don’t worry about where, or how to get there. It is like the animals being led to Noah in a way. It will happen. You will be led. On that day all who belong to Jesus Christ will be led safely to be with Him.

Disciples will be led to be with Jesus. Others will be left behind.

It is a longer study but with a serious question. Which group will you be in?

Sandy Shaw

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