Topical Studies

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What the Bible says about Eagles will be gathered together
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 24:26-28

Here is verse 28 in The Amplified Bible: “Wherever there is a fallen body (a corpse), there the vultures (or eagles) will flock together.” The birds described here belong to a family known as Old World Vultures, which includes eagles, buzzards, kites, and hawks. When vultures gather to eat a carcass, it is known as a “wake.”

Vultures seldom attack healthy animals, but they have a keen sense for when one is wounded or sick, often killing an unhealthy animal rather than waiting for it to finally succumb. Their digestive systems are so acidic that they can ingest rabies, cholera, botulinum toxin, and even deadly anthrax without harm. They perform a grisly but necessary job in disposing of flesh that would otherwise encourage the spread of disease.

As Christ says, where a carcass is, a wake of vultures is imminent. This tells us little, aside from the fact that it is in response to the disciples' question about the sign of His coming and the end of the age (Matthew 24:3). Combined with the reference to lightning, it implies that His return will be highly visible.

David C. Grabbe
Where the Eagles Are Gathered

Revelation 6:7

The fourth seal is introduced by the fourth living creature, identified in Revelation 4:7 as "like a flying eagle." In the United States, we think of eagles as noble and majestic creatures, sharp-eyed and sharp-taloned, fierce and swift in striking their prey, mating for life, and caring tenderly for their young. The Bible's view includes these characteristics but adds one more: They are carrion eaters.

Leviticus 11:13 refers to eagles as being forbidden to the Israelites as food: "These you shall regard as an abomination among the birds" (see also Deuteronomy 14:12). Eagles are listed first and in the company of vultures and buzzards. Proverbs 30:17 speaks of "the young eagles" eating the eye of one who mocks and scorns his parents. Perhaps the best-known biblical reference to this aspect of eagles appears in Matthew 24:28 (also Luke 17:37), in which Jesus says, "For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together."

The flying eagle, then, needs to be seen in both lights: as a swift and deadly hunter, spying out its prey from afar, as well as a detestable eater of putrefying flesh. The first reflects God's position as the divine and sovereign Judge on high, and the second, the grisly and dreadful effects of His judgments for sin. It is a picture of a noble and righteous God obliged by His own holiness to execute the proscribed penalty for human transgression.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Four Horsemen (Part Five): The Pale Horse


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