What an interesting connection this author makes between the recently concluded G8 summit and Jesus’ words in Luke 17! It has sent me on a journey even deeper into the same scripture. In that chapter, the disciples are asking Jesus about his return and, in the KJV, Jesus responds:
34 “I tell you, in that night there shall be two [men] in one bed [not an uncommon practice in less affluent times; nothing sexual about it]; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35 Two [women] shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36 Two [men] shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” And they answered and said unto him, “Where, Lord?” 37 And he said unto them, “Wheresoever the body [is], thither will the eagles be gathered together.”
“The G8 leaders that met in Italy met in L’Aquila. “L’Aquila” means “Eagle” in Italian.”
The Greek word for ‘night’ in verse 34 (G3571, νύξ, pronounced nü’ks) carries even darker, nastier connotations than the Hebrew words for evening and twilight which I discussed yesterday. Beyond the obvious (it’s pronounced nukes, fergoodnessakes!!), the word implies a pervasive spiritual darkness, not just a time of day (yeah, nukes would be pretty dark…) Strong’s further defines it as:
“the time when work ceases… the time of death… the time for deeds of sin and shame… the time of moral stupidity and darkness… the time when the weary and also the drunken give themselves up to slumber”
Interestingly, one of the chief concerns the G8 leaders were surely discussing was unemployment, which many mainstream commentators have noted is climbing rapidly towards levels (and in a ‘we don’t know how to stop it’ manner reminiscent of the early 1930s, i.e., with no end in sight. The time when work ceases… the dark dawn of spiritual night… the time when the moon (Islam) rises… the Obama campaign logo with a white orb rising over red stripes (streams of blood?) Hardly conclusive; evocative nonetheless.
Of course work would also cease (suddenly) in the event of a nuclear exchange; i.e., ‘sudden destruction’.
But the words ‘body’ and ‘eagles’ puzzled me. Elsewhere in scripture there are instances in which they refer to positive things (e.g., the body of Christ, ‘rise up on wings like eagles’ in Isaiah 40:31, etc.) So I went and checked the ESV. Like many translations, it leaves out verse 36, which only doubles-down on verse 35 and which some therefore feel may have been inserted by later scribes. The same passage (Luke 17:34-37) there reads:
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 corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
The Greek word variously translated as ‘eagle’ and ‘vulture’ (G105, ἀετός, pronounced, ä-e-to’s) seems to describe a carrion-eating bird with eagle-like qualities. (Birds are often negative in scripture, e.g., in the Matthew kingdom parable about the sower where the birds steal the seed of the word, but also in the mustard seed parable, widely misinterpreted as benign).
Strong’s specifically cites the Roman military in its definition. (Nazis used the eagle as military iconography also, of course). In other words, in its original context, ἀετός or ä-e-to’s connoted a rapacious nation-state, empire or system. And the G8 was meeting near the seat of the former Roman empire. Interesting.
In addition to the obvious meanings (dead person or animal) he Greek word variously translated as ‘body’ or ‘corpse’ (G4983, σῶμα, pronounced, sō’-mä) is also used in scripture to describe “planets and… stars (heavenly bodies)”, e.g., perhaps, a spiritually dead planet. That would be akin to what some have speculated may have been characteristic of the world after a prior satanic devastation, i.e., the earth which had become without form and void during a mysterious time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
That’s a tangent that Chuck Missler’s podcasts turned me onto and which is further explicated in a 1971 book by the late Arthur Custance. Though controversial, the theory would help explain satan’s presence in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3, as well as resolving pretty much every objection that geologists, paleontologists and physicists have ever raised against Biblical faith. But I digress.
The word σῶμα or sō’-mä also connotes “that which casts a shadow”. Interestingly, ‘Soma’ is the fictional drug-of-choice in Aldous Huxley’s darkly utopian classic, “Brave New World”. (“All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects.”) In the book, everyone seems to be addicted to it and (if memory serves… it’s been nearly thirty years since I read it), the government and social norms both push it to keep everyone calm — not unlike many of the prescriptions today that help folks face their anxieties chemically without having to resort to God.
So we have the representatives of nation-state-vultures gathering to fight over the corpse of a world economic system which, voluntarily or not, has had the cumulative effect of casting a dark spiritual shadow on our souls and psyches.
Whether one happens to be winning or losing at the moment economically, and whether one finds oneself in a more capitalistic or a more communistic environment, nobody has yet solved the widely recognized but seldom confronted dual problems that, 1) money doesn’t buy happiness and, 2) you can’t take it with you.
Everyone feels slave to it in one way or another. Argue over the details as much as you want, but one thing’s for sure: this is not God’s kingdom; it’s not the promised land of harmonious brotherhood which many have tried to create here on earth, always without success.
The real one will come like a thief in the night for those unprepared. One will be taken, the other left.
Which brings me to a quick little coda. While I was looking for Luke 17, I accidentally (or perhaps serendipitously?) recalled it as Luke 12 and began reading verse 37. For a moment, I didn’t realize my mistake because the theme is nearly identical. In the ESV, Luke 12:32-40 reads (Jesus speaking):
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Was the Holy Spirit steering me on an auspicious day? I suspect so. Draw your own conclusions.