Let’s read that verse from the New American Standard Bible: “And answering they said to Him, ‘Where, Lord?’ And He said to them, ‘Where the body is, there also the VULTURES will be gathered.’” As you see, the word “eagles” is rendered “vultures” in this translation (and in the Revised Version too). The Greek word here is AETOS and it can be translated either vulture or eagle. In this case, vulture is the correct word for the Lord is referring to “birds that feed on dead bodies.” We shall see that the subject in verses 20-36 (which I would encourage you to read) is the JUDGMENT of wicked sinners at the Second Coming of Christ and vultures symbolize this impending judgment when the wicked will be removed from the earth just as dead bodies are literally removed when they are devoured by vultures.

In verse 20 the Pharisees asked Jesus “when the kingdom of God would come.” The Lord then spoke of to them (in verses 22-30) of “the days of the Son of Man.” He is referring in those words to when Jesus comes in power and glory to set up His kingdom here on earth. THAT is when the kingdom of God will come, “on the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (verse 30).

In this passage Jesus told them that His coming would bring judgment to this world and He used two previous examples of judgment from the Old Testament as SIGNS that His coming to judge the world was near. Let’s read about them in verses 26-30, “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and THE FLOOD CAME AND DESTROYED THEM ALL. It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom IT RAINED FIRE AND BRIMSTONE FROM HEAVEN AND DESTROYED THEM ALL. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.” The Lord is teaching them (and us!) that the conditions that existed in the days of Noah and the days of Lot would be duplicated just before the coming of Christ.

We may be thinking, “Wait a minute, it simply says that people were going about their business living normal, everyday lives…eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting and building; what’s wrong with that?” The problem with that was in both cases the people has been warned of coming JUDGMENT. Noah warned the people of a coming FLOOD and Lot told some that Sodom was going to be DESTROYED, yet no one heeded the warning! In each case there was great wickedness on the earth (VIOLENCE and CORRUPTION in Noah’s day…see Genesis 6:5, 11-12…and SEXUAL PERVERSION in Lot’s day…see Genesis 19:4-5 with Jude 7) so they deserved God’s judgment. Yet they all went about their lives as if “judgment wasn’t coming.” When judgment did come, they all perished; they all were “removed from the earth.”

The Lord went on to tell them what will happen on the day that He comes, “I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be TAKEN and the other will be LEFT. There will be two women grinding in the same place; one will be TAKEN and the other will be LEFT. Two men will be in the field; one will be TAKEN and the other will be LEFT” (verses 34-36). Some believe this refers to the Rapture when Christ comes to “TAKE believers home to heaven,” but as we have seen this is speaking of Christ coming to judge the world by “removing the wicked from the earth.” It is unbelievers (those who refused to believe in Jesus Christ) that “will be TAKEN away in judgment” while believers in Christ will be LEFT on the earth to enter into His kingdom (see Matthew 25:31-34). After He spoke those words His disciples asked Him, “Where, Lord?” Knowing that He was speaking of judgment upon the wicked, they were wondering, “Where will this judgment fall?” He then said, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.” Vultures literally fly overhead and then swoop down to “feed on dead bodies” and thus He is teaching them “judgment will fall wherever there are spiritually dead sinners (see Ephesians 2:1) who rejected the gospel and are in rebellion against God.” This “symbolical verse” may also have a “literal meaning” as well, for in that Day, when Christ comes to judge the world, there will be many who are killed by the Lord Jesus at the “battle of Armageddon” and their dead bodies will be eaten by birds. We read of this in Revelation 19:17-18, 21: “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to ALL THE BIRDS WHICH FLY IN MIDHEAVEN, ‘Come, assemble for the great supper of god, so that YOU MAY EAT THE FLESH of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and those who sit on them and the flesh of all men…And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and ALL THE BIRDS WERE FILLED WITH THEIR FLESH.”  (DO)  (503.3)