I have never understood what this verse was doing here. This verse, “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather”, is Matthew 24:28, amidst the explanation the Lord is giving His followers about the still-to-come End Times. Immediately before this verse, He speaks of the “false prophets” who come in Christ’s Name; immediately after it, Christ actually does reappear, dramatically, and Raptures His Believers away.
So, what is this verse talking about? “Wherever the corpse is”? What “corpse” is He referring to?
In my reading of various analyses of these key chapters of the Bible this week (especially Daniel 10-12), I ran across a theory that flipped my brain upside down, ripping a long-held assumption out of my brain and explained several contradictions I have embarrassingly always just shoved aside.
The corpses are OURS.
When we are Raptured away, it won’t be like the movies portray it, where we float upwards in our present bodies in a cone of light. It won’t be like the Left Behind books, where we leave a pile of neatly folded clothing behind.
Think about First Corinthians 15. Here is a rather lengthy passage from Paul, and he explains in analogy and detail what will happen when Christ arrives, starting in verse 35:
“But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
“It is sown a natural body” – the bodies we live with on earth. “It is raised a spiritual body.” When we are raised, we will be raised in our spiritual bodies, not these!
Look further at verses 50-55 of First Corinthians 15:
“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
Once you set aside your preconceived notion of the “Left Behind” imagery of the Rapture, it’s very clear.
My late wife was cremated. Any bodies over two hundred years in the ground is pretty much non-contiguous at this stage. We’ve never had a problem with that, because “God will give them heavenly bodies”, right? Why would the dead get their heavenly bodies to travel in, but WE who “shall not sleep” (because we’ll be alive when the Rapture happens!) would travel in our earthly bodies? God forbid! Read what Paul says: “WE shall be changed” as well, “for this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on the immortal.” (v. 53)
“Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
Our corpse. And those of all of our fellow Believers as well.
Can you imagine what the earth will look like, understanding what will actually happen, perhaps a few days or weeks or months from now?
Not a planet filled with blank spots where people used to be, but rather a planet filled with corpses where Believers used to reside.
Not babies that vanish from their mothers’ arms, but babies that seem to suddenly die without a cause. ALL of them, all the children too young to make a decision for or against God, as the Bible promises them.
Not women who cease to be pregnant as their fetuses disappear, but a host of non-Believing women who suddenly have dead babies within them, because they’ve been Raptured instead.
Not empty homes where entire families of Believers used to reside, but homes with a family of corpses that have to be discovered and cleaned up (before the vultures and other carrion eaters find them).
Not nations with large numbers of Christians suddenly having large holes in their personnel infrastructure, but nations with large numbers of Christian corpses that probably can’t be cleaned up fast enough to prevent the spread of disease.
“For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
The coming of the Son of Man will be seen from the east to the west, says Mt 24:27-28. The phenomenon of the Rapture will be an unmistakable event – although how the event is interpreted by those who remain will be an interesting question. What else will be interesting is how those who remain explain away the deaths of the millions of Believers whose corpses remain for the vultures to gather around. Given that Satan has had centuries to think up his plan, I’m actually curious to know what excuse the Anti-Christ will have to explain a few million suddenly dead bodies scattered throughout (mostly) the Christian nations of the world. However, given that most of the people who could explain the situation will have “died” already, maybe it won’t take that great a deception.
Want to avoid having to clean up Christian corpses in the very near future? Want to avoid trying to figure out how to re-adjust society with a significant percentage of the people Raptured? Then BE one of the Raptured! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, follow His commands, and you shall be saved!”