The Carcass and the Eagles
Luke 17:37
And they answered and said to him, Where, Lord? And he said to them, Wherever the body is…

In the sphere of human life, that which is the life of things is their use. When that is spent, all things else conspire to have them not only disabled but abolished. On sea and land where man is not, it may be only contingent, though usual, that where the carcass is, there the eagles are gathered together; but where man is, it is certain. Steam and electricity are new ideas, new forces by which man has extended his command over material resources indispensable for his existence. As surely as these new ideas are introduced, there is found to be implied in them destruction as well as creation. A host of things in which there was life because there was use become refuse and old lumber — hand-looms, wooden ships, mail coaches — and with regard to them the question is how they are to be got rid of. A new gun is invented in America or in England, and all the stands of arms in all places of arms throughout the world become lumber until they have undergone a process of conversion which is a process of destruction. Belshazzar's feast is not a spectacle pleasing to gods or men, that small part of mankind excepted for whom the lights flare upon rude riot and excess. It may be a product of civilization and of national struggles and aspirations. It is not exuberant life, but rampant disease and corruption, and as such it is marked for dissolution and destruction. Always when it is at its height there is to be seen the handwriting on the wall, telling that tyranny and oppression have but their day, that they are weighed in the balance and found wanting, that the next thing to heedless excess is destruction. The doctrine of constitutional liberty gains a footing in a country ignorant of it before — the result, if not at once, inevitably is, that institutions, laws, privileges, class distinctions, offices and officers, lose what vitality they had, and with regard to them, as with regard to all that is dead, the question is, what is the swiftest and most effectual method of destruction. In every department of human life the same process is at work, that which lives and grows necessitating the dissolution and removal of that which is useless and corrupt. In this view of it, the process is a necessary part of the fulfilment of the Divine order on the side of progress and improvement. It is beneficent. That which so often makes it seem other than beneficent — and this too has to be recognized as a fact — is the redundance of vested interests — it is that in so many instances the interests and affections of men and nations are linked rather with what may have been once good than with that which being better is destined to dissolve and to replace it. This is why destruction which goes along with creation is so often a painful and terrible experience. It is not unfortunate or unnecessary for mankind that Belshazzar and his courtiers should have but their day, or rather their night; but, when the handwriting on the wall makes its appearance, the mighty king and his court cannot well be expected to welcome it. There is comfort and satisfaction for a benevolent and thoughtful mind in the reflection that the sanatory arrangements of the universe are as wonderful as any of the other arrangements in it; but for men and nations whose habits and feelings are involved in the existence and perpetuation of what is opposed to them and inconsistent with them, these arrangements cannot but be felt to act often in a harsh, peremptory, ruthless, unsparing manner. It is well, however, to accustom ourselves to look at them in the proper light, namely, as beneficent, not only that we may not miss or misread a great deal which is written for our learning in the pages of history, but that in the changing fashions of our theology we may be always mindful of one thing, to recognize God as not a God of the dead but of the living.

(J. Service, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

WEB: They, answering, asked him, "Where, Lord?" He said to them, "Where the body is, there will the vultures also be gathered together."

God's Judgments
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