Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
I. VISIBILITY. Bursting out of the darkness of the storm, the lightning blinds us with the brilliancy of its illumination. There is no mistaking the fact that it has come. We may not observe the glow worm; we cannot ignore the lightning. The awful "day of God" at the destruction of Jerusalem has made its impress on all history. Other advents of Christ in judgment, as in the sack of Rome by the Goths, the wreck of the Spanish Armada, etc., have startled the world with their terror. The present more peaceful coming of Christ to heathen nations in the spread of his gospel produces most visible effects in the transformation of degraded fetich-worshipping cannibals into civilized, humane Christians. Our Lord's words lead us to anticipate that there will be no obscurity about his great final advent. Then every eye shall behold him.
II. BREADTH. The lightning flashes from east to west; or its flash is so splendid, that while for a moment it plays in the east, the far-off west is illumined by the radiance it spreads in all directions. There is a greatness in the appearance of Christ. Even when he came in humiliation, he was "a Light to lighten the Gentiles." Perhaps he had some thought of his first appearance in the East, and of the spread of his light to Europe, when he spoke of the lightning shining in this direction. But if it is a strain of fancy to assert that any such idea is to be found in this image, the notion of breadth is certainly there. Christ's life was lived in the open. As St. Paul boldly said, "This thing was not done in a corner" (Acts 26:26). Christ is the Light of the world, and his radiance is spreading over the earth. The last advent will be for all the world to see, and it will concern all mankind.
III. SUDDENNESS. Nothing is so sudden or so startling as the lightning. In its very silence it gives us a greater shock than the roaring thunder. There is something peculiarly awful in its momentary blaze of splendour, especially as we know that there is death and destruction in its shaft. In a moment the steeple is shattered, the stout oak is blasted and riven to its core, the strong man is scathed and flung down dead. It is not clear that our Lord meant us to attach any idea of destruction to his image of the lightning. We know that there is a terror in the wrath of the Son (Psalm 2:12). In his advent to judgment Christ must smite down his foes. He is not the incarnation of unruffled amiability which modern hymns represent, although he is not the stern Judge of Byzantine art. Part of the terror of his judgment is its suddenness. We know not when he will come. Yet if we are his true people we need not fear. His sudden advent will be our sudden joy. - W.F.A.
For wherever the carcase is.
I. The first thing in these words is THAT THEY ARE TO US A REVELATION OF A LAW WHICH OPERATES WITH UNERRING CERTAINTY THROUGH ALL THE COURSE OF THE WORLD'S HISTORY. God can tell when evil has become incurable, when the man or country has become a "carcase." There may be flickerings of life unseen by our eyes. So long as there is possibility of amendment, "sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily."
II. We have here A LAW WHICH SHALL HAVE A FAR MORE TREMENDOUS ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE FUTURE. These days proclaim "the day of the Lord." In the prophecies both of the Old and New Testament the universal judgment is seen gleaming through the nearer partial judgments. That judgment is to be the destruction of opposing forces, the sweeping away of the carrion and moral evil. There are many temptations to put the "day of the Lord" in the background; such suppression is unfaithfulness.
III. That this is a law which need never touch you, nor need you know about it except by the hearing of the ear. It is told us that we may escape it. Take Christ for your Saviour and you shall have a refuge from the vultures.
(A. Maclaren,D. D.)
(A. Maclaren,D. D.)
I. A certain order underlies the events of human history. Catastrophes do not come by chance, or spring from caprice. The effect always has a cause. Judgment only follows on the heels of offence.
II. This order is a sanitary and beneficent order. Unconsumed, the carcase would but rot and fester and infect the air. All the birds that prey on carrion are scavenger birds, and we owe them nothing short of health and life, for a world without scavengers would soon become a stinking sepulchre.
III. All the strifes and discords of time are parts of that great convict between good and evil in which the ultimate defeat of evil is assured. The calamities and miseries to which men lie open, are intended to remove only that which must be removed if we are to live in health and peace. Wherever there is evil, there also is good, to replace the evil as well as to overcome and destroy it. What greater consolation than to know that the very miseries of men are messengers of the Divine mercy, come to give health and life rather than to destroy, since they come only to destroy that which is fatal to life and health.
(S. Cox, D. D.)
(S. Cox, D. D.)
(S. Cox, D. D.)
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