GOSPEL READING: Luke 17:26-37
26 As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man. 27 They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was in the days of Lot — they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all — 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed. 31 On that day, let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left.” 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”
Meditation: What can nature teach us about the return of the Lord Jesus on the day of final judgment at the end of the world? Jesus quoted a familiar proverb to his audience: Where the body is, there the eagles (or vultures) will be gathered together (Luke 17:37). Eagles, like vultures, are attracted to carrion – the carcass of dying or dead animals. The Book of Job describes the eagle spying out its prey from afar (Job 39:29). The eagles swoop to catch their prey when the conditions are right, especially if the prey is exposed and vulnerable to a surprise attack. Severely weakened or dying prey have no chance of warding off forces that can destroy and kill.
Sign of the gathering eagles and vultures
What’s the point of this analogy? When the day of God’s final judgment and vindication comes, the scene and location will be obvious to all. Those who have rejected God and refused to believe in his Son the Lord Jesus Christ will perish on the day of judgment – just like the beasts of prey who are cut off from the land of the living. The Lord Jesus will vindicate those who have believed in him and he will reward them with everlasting joy and happiness in his kingdom. The return of the Lord Jesus at the close of this present age is certain, but the time is unknown. The Day of the Lord’s judgment and final verdict will come swiftly and unexpectedly. Jesus warns his listeners to not be caught off guard when that day arrives. It will surely come in God’s good time!
Those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord will enter his everlasting kingdom
What does Jesus mean when he says that one person will be taken and another left? God judges everyone individually on how each person has responded to his gracious mercy and invitation to accept his Son as Lord and Ruler over all. The Lord Jesus gives us personal freedom to accept or reject him as Lord and Savior. We are free to live as citizens of his kingdom or to choose for the kingdom of darkness that stands in opposition to God and his rule. No one can pass off their personal responsibility to someone else – no matter how close the ties may be in this present life. We will each have to give an account to the Judge of All for how we have accepted or rejected him as our lord and savior.
The good news is that the Lord Jesus freely offers each one of us the grace, strength, and help we need to turn to him to receive pardon for our sins and healing for our minds and hearts so we can embrace his good will for our lives and find the way to our heavenly Father’s home. The Lord Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in his wisdom, truth, and love. The Holy Spirit helps us to turn away from sin and rebellion and to embrace God’s way of love, righteousness (moral goodness), and holiness.
The Lord’s warning of judgment is motivated by his love for each one of us. He does not desire the death of any one (Ezekiel 18:23 and 33:11). He bids us to choose for life rather than death – for goodness and righteousness rather than sin and evil (Deuteronomy 30:19). The Lord’s ‘Day of Judgment’ will bring terror and disaster for those who have not heeded his warning or who have refused his gracious help. The Day of the Lord’s Return will be a cause for great joy and vindication for those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus.
The choices we make now – for or against Christ – will either lead us on the path of life or death – heaven or hell
God’s Day of Judgment is a cause for great joy and reward for those who have waited with patient hope and longing for the Lord Jesus to return again in glory and power. The people in Noah’s time ignored the Lord’s warning of judgment because their hearts were hardened and they were rebellious towards God. When the great flood swept over the earth, they missed the boat, literally! Whose boat or safety net are you staking your life on – the world’s life-raft to short-lived success and happiness or to the indestructible Ark of God whose foundation is Jesus Christ and his victorious cross? Those whose hope is firmly anchored in heaven will not be disappointed when the day of final judgment comes. They rejoice even now that their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20) and they look with eager longing for the day when they will see the Lord face to face (Revelation 22:4). Is your hope firmly placed in the Lord Jesus and his return in glory?
1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Those working in the field are sowing the Word of God, by Ambrose of Milan, 339-397 A.D.
“‘He that will be on the housetop, do not let him go down. He that will be in the field, do not let him turn back.’ How may I understand what is the field unless Jesus himself teaches me? He says, ‘No one putting his hand to the plough (plow) and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God’ (Luke 9:62). The lazy person sits in the farmhouse, but the industrious person plants in the field. The weak are at the fireplace, but the strong are at the plough. The smell of a field is good, because the smell of Jacob is the smell of a full field (Genesis 27:27). A field is full of flowers. It is full of different fruits. Plough your field if you want to be sent to the kingdom of God. Let your field flower, fruitful with good rewards. Let there be a fruitful vine on the sides of your house and young olive plants around your table (Psalm 127:3). Already aware of its fertility, let your soul, sown with the Word of God and tilled by spiritual farming, say to Christ, ‘Come, my brother, let us go out into the field’ (Song of Solomon 7:11). Let him reply, ‘I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride. I have gathered my vintage of myrrh’ (Song of Solomon 5:1). What is better than the vintage of faith, by which the fruit of the resurrection is stored and the spring of eternal rejoicing is watered?” (excerpt from EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 8.43.27)