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AT JUDGMENT DAY, WILL THE UNSAVED BE CAST OUT OF THEIR GRAVES AS LITERAL CORPSES THAT BIRDS WILL EAT?

Updated - 9/9/09

 

In this study we are going to look at two questions:

 

1. Will birds (and perhaps other animals) be eating the corpses of the unsaved at Judgment Day?

 

2. When we read verses that talk about the corpses of the unsaved at Judgment Day does that teach annihilation?

 

 

Let’s begin our study with the first question. We read various verses that talk about birds eating the corpses of the unsaved. It is said that these verses are teaching that the unsaved will be resurrected as literal unconscious corpses that will be eaten by birds in Judgment Day. 

 

 

Here are some example passages:

 

We read in Jeremiah 7:33-8:2:

 

33  And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away.

 

34  Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate.

 

1 ¶ At that time, saith the LORD, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves:

 

2  And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.

 

Jeremiah 7:33-8:2 is particularly cited because of the reference to bones being taken out of graves in verses 1 & 2. For a study of Jeremiah 8:1-2, please see the study “Do Jeremiah 8 & 25 teach a resurrection of bones?”.

 

 

DO JEREMIAH 8 & 25 TEACH A RESURRECTION OF BONES?

 

 

In this study we will examine the reference to the birds eating the corpses cited in Jeremiah 7:33.

 

We read other verses talking about birds and corpses:

 

Matthew 24:28  For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

 

Luke 17:37  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.

 

 

There are other verses of this nature.

 

It is said that these verses confirm the teaching that the resurrection of the unsaved will be as unconscious corpses cast out upon the ground and that the birds will be eating them.

 

 

Let us examine this conclusion in the light of the whole Bible.

 

First, in order to come to truth in the Bible we must follow two important principles that God teaches in the Bible. They are:

 

1. One Biblical principle that we must keep in mind is that Christ spoke in parables and everywhere in the Bible we should expect to find parabolic language.

 

We remember what we read in Matthew 13:34:

 

All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

 

The whole Bible came from the mouth of the Lord Jesus, so we want to remember that wherever we read in the Bible, we should expect parabolic language.

 

 

2. Another principle comes from 1 Corinthians 2:13 which is that we are to compare Scripture with Scripture.

 

We read in 1 Corinthians 2:13:

 

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

 

The Bible is the “spiritual things”.

 

We learn what God means by words and phrases by seeing how God uses those same words and phrases in other parts of the Bible.

 

 

We will apply these two principles to examine to what God could be referring in these verses that talk about the unsaved as corpses upon which the birds are feeding.

 

 

We also want to examine the question: Does the Bible direct us to understand phrases about birds eating corpses in a literal manner or in a parabolic manner?

 

 

To begin our study, let’s examine Revelation 19:11-21. This passage is describing Judgment Day, which is the time of the resurrection of the saved and the unsaved.

 

We read in Revelation 19:11-21:

 

11 ¶ And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

 

12  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

 

13  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

 

14  And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

 

15  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

 

16  And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

 

17  And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;

 

18  That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

 

19  And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.

 

20  And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

 

21  And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

 

 

Are we to understand Revelation 19:11-21 in a literal way or in a parabolic way?

 

 

If we examine this passage carefully, we will see that the whole passage is parabolic language.

 

 

Let’s consider some statements that must be understood in a parabolic manner:

 

Verse 11: Jesus will not be seen in the air riding on a white horse.

 

Verse 12: Christ will not be seen with eyes that are a flame of fire nor will people see him with many crowns on His head.

 

Verse 13: Christ will not be see wearing a garment that has been dipped in blood.

 

Verse 14: We will not see an army riding upon white horses that are following the Lord Jesus coming in the air.

 

Verse 15: We will not see a sword coming out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus.

 

Verse 16: We will not see the thigh of the Lord with a name written on it.

 

Verse 17-18: We will not see an angel or messenger standing in the sun. We will not hear his loud voice calling to all of the birds with instructions to eat the corpses.

 

Verse 19: We will not see mankind assembling armies to literally fight against the Lord Jesus and his army on white horses.

 

Verse 20: The lake of fire is not a literal fire because those cast into the lake of fire are tormented day and night (Revelation 14:10-11, 20:10). Those cast into a literal fire go unconscious in a few seconds or minutes. They are not tormented day and night.

 

Verse 21: The Lord Jesus will not appear with a sword coming out of His mouth. No one will be killed by a literal sword that comes out of the mouth of Jesus.

 

 

These are some examples of the parabolic language in Revelation 19:11-21. Notice that in every verse there are phrases that can only be understood in a parabolic manner.

 

 

If we are honest with the language of Revelation 19:11-21, we must conclude that the whole passage is parabolic.

 

 

Therefore, when we go to verse 17, we are not surprised that God continues with the parabolic language. In verses 17 & 18 there is an angel or messenger talking to the birds about eating corpses. Since birds cannot understand speech, we know that these verses are also parabolic in nature. We also know that there will be no angel or messenger standing in the sun and talking in a loud voice.

 

 

So, God gives us much direction that Revelation 19:11-21 is to be understood as a parable.

 

 

One can insist that the birds eating the corpses is a literal event. But, then to be honorable, we must look at the rest of verse 21 as literal.

 

In fact, all the direction of this passage is that the whole passage, including verses 17 & 18, and those before and after, must be understood as a parable.

 

 

What if someone insists that the birds eating the corpses is a literal event?

 

 

Let’s assume that the bird eating the corpses is a literal event as described in Revelation 19:17-21.

 

If we test that assumption against this passage we find the following problems:

 

1. Verses 17-18 declare that an angel or messenger will stand in the sun and speak to the birds with a loud voice instructing them to eat the corpses. We know that this must be parabolic for the following reasons:

 

a. At the time of the Rapture there will not be an angel or messenger standing in the sun and giving instructions to the birds in an loud voice. The Bible does not give any support to this idea anywhere in the Bible.

 

b. Birds cannot understand voices.

 

The only way to examine Revelation 19:17-18 is to understand that it is parabolic language.

 

 

2. Verse 21 describes what must happen before the birds can eat the corpses.

 

Let’s look at verse 21 again. We read there:

 

And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

 

Notice the sequence of events:

 

a. The Lord Jesus comes from heaven to earth riding upon a horse.

 

b. A sword comes out of His mouth.

 

c. The sword kills the person.

 

d. Then, the birds can eat his corpse.

 

Verse 21 is one piece that goes together. If one part is literal, then the whole account must be literal.

 

 

If we examine Revelation 19:21 in light of the rest of the Bible we can only conclude that the whole verse, including the birds eating the corpses, is parabolic.

 

 

What if someone does insist that the birds eating the corpses is a literal event?

 

 

If we insist that the birds eating the corpses is a literal event, then we must follow the sequence of events given in Revelation 19:21. Before the birds can eat the corpses of the unsaved, the Lord Jesus has to come on a horse and kill them with a sword coming out of His mouth. Then, the birds can eat the corpses. 

 

 

According to Revelation 19:21 before the birds can eat the corpses, first the people have to be killed. Revelation 19:21 specifies how the people must be killed. The people have to be killed with a sword. That sword has to come out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus.

 

It is therefore necessary for the Lord Jesus to appear on a horse, then a sword will come out of His mouth and that sword will penetrate and kill the unsaved.

 

 

After all of that is done, then the birds can eat the bodies.

 

 

If we insist that part of verse 21 must be understood literally, then we have to be honest and say the whole verse is a literal event.

 

Verse 21 describes a sequence of events. One part of it cannot be literal while another part is parabolic.

 

 

If we examine Revelation 19:21 carefully, we see that the whole verse must be parabolic. Through this verse, God is giving us instruction that the birds eating the corpses must be parabolic language.

 

 

In Revelation 19:21 God is teaching us how to understand this phrase about the birds eating the corpses. It is parabolic language.

 

This agrees with how we must understand Revelation 19:17-18.

 

If we insist that verses 17 & 18 are talking about literal birds eating corpses, then we have to conclude that birds can understand speech. Once the birds receive the command in a loud voice, then they eat the corpses.

 

But, we know that birds cannot understand speech.

 

 

Then, what does it mean that the birds are eating corpses?

 

 

God talks about a war in this passage. When one army is completely vanquished by another army, the corpses that are left on the field were eaten by birds and animals.

 

If one army loses only a small percentage of it’s soldiers, then the surviving soldiers can bury the corpses out of respect for their dead fellow soldiers. However, if an army is totally wiped out, then there is no one left to bury the corpses. This can be one teaching that this can of language can be making.

 

 

The birds eating the corpses indicates that Christ is completely victorious over the unsaved.

 

 

Let’s look at some other passages which talk about the birds eating the corpses to learn more of what God is teaching by this kind of language.

 

We read in 1 Kings 14:10-11:

 

10  Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.

11  Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the LORD hath spoken it.

 

1 Kings 14:10-11 is talking about king Jeroboam who did many sinful things. We see the figure of the birds eating the corpses.

 

God declares that He will cut off the whole house of Jeroboam as a man takes away dung. Dung is something that is despised and rejected.

 

We read in Philippians 3:8 about how the Apostle Paul counted all of his earthly accomplishments and awards as “dung”:

 

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

 

In comparison to the Lord Jesus, all of the Apostle Paul’s earthly accomplishments are worthless or rejected.

 

 

In Philippians 3:8, God is defining that “dung” has to do with something that is worthless or rejected.

 

 

In 1 Kings 14:10-11, God is saying that He will take away the family of Jeroboam as something that despised and rejected. In this context, God talks about the birds eating the corpses.

 

When someone dies from this world and their body is now sleeping in the dust, we want to bury their corpse out of respect. But, God’s judgment upon Jeroboam and his family includes that they are despised by God.

 

 

1 Kings 14:10-11 adds that the birds eating the corpses indicates that at Judgment Day the unsaved are despised and rejected by God as dung is despised and rejected.

 

 

If we examine the pronouncements of God’s judgment upon Jezebel and Ahab, we can learn more about the meaning of the birds eating the corpses.

 

We read in 1 Kings 21:23-26:

 

23  And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

24  Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

25  But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.

26  And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.

 

 

We read in 2 Kings 9:34-37:

 

34  And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king’s daughter.

35  And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands.

36  Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:

37  And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.

 

 

In these passages God is pronouncing His judgment against Ahab and Jezebel because they were particularly rebellious against God. We read about that in 1 Kings 21:25-26.

 

In 1 Kings 21:24 we have the reference to the birds eating the corpses. This ties into the awful end of the corpse of Jezebel that is described in 2 Kings 9:34-37.

 

In 2 Kings 9:35 we learn that most of her body was eaten and in verse 37 we learn that it was so badly mutilated that no one could identify her remains as the corpse of Jezebel.

 

Also, in verse 37 God makes reference to dung, which is despised and rejected, according to Philippians 3:8.

 

In addition, we can say that there was shame associated with the handling of the corpse of Jezebel. It was mutilated and eaten and left on the ground. This was a very shameful way to handle a corpse.

 

So, this adds the idea of shame to the phrase about the birds eating the corpses.

 

The reference to the dogs eating the corpse is a further indication of disgrace. A dog was an unclean animal and is used in a negative way in the Bible (Matthew 7:6, 2 Peter 2:22, Revelation 22:15).

 

So, the treatment of the corpse of Jezebel shows great disgrace and shame and that she is despised and rejected.

 

 

These two passages affirm that God identifies the phrase of the birds eating the corpses with disgrace, shame, rejection and being despised.

 

 

Let’s consider another passage that gives us more definition concerning the phrase about the birds eating the corpses.

 

We read in Psalm 79:1-4:

 

1 ¶ <<A Psalm of Asaph.>> O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.

2  The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.

3  Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.

4  We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.

 

Psalm 79:1-4 is talking about the believers, particularly in our day, during the Great Tribulation at the end of the church age. The fact that the setting is the end of the church age is particularly seen from verse 1.

 

 

When we understand that Psalm 79:1-4 is primarily talking about our day we see that this language helps us to understand what God means by the phrase “dead bodies”. 

 

 

We read in verse 2, “The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.

 

Psalm 79:2 helps us to understand what God means by the language of “dead bodies”.

 

The language of Psalm 79:2 agrees with Revelation 11:7-9:

 

7  And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

8  And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

9  And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

 

 

These verses are talking about the true believers during the first 2,300 days of the Great Tribulation.

 

The reason that the true believers are called “dead bodies” in these verses is because during the first 2,300 days of the Great Tribulation, God the Holy Spirit was withdrawn and was not filling the true believers. God was not blessing the true believers’ efforts to bring the Gospel.

 

At Pentecost in 33AD, the Holy Spirit was poured out as described in Acts 2. The true believers, represented by the two witnesses, were filled by God the Holy Spirit. The Bible uses the language of being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4).

 

However, at the start of the Great Tribulation, God, the Holy Spirit, was withdrawn for 2,300 days. This was the first part of the Great Tribulation, in which almost no one was saved. Afterward, the Holy Spirit was poured out a second time.

 

The Bible teaches that God is “life” (John 11:25-26, 14:6) and that “life” for mankind has to do with relationship with God (John 6:53, Acts 17:28, 1 John 5:12) and death for mankind is separation from God, who is “life” (Genesis 2:17, Romans 8:10, 1 Corinthians 15:29, Ephesians 2:1-5).

 

For more information on the Biblical definition of “life” and “death” for mankind, please see the study on this subject.

 

 

Please see the study on the Biblical definition of life and death for more information

 

 

The true believers are referred to as “dead bodies” in Psalm 79:2 and Revelation 11:7-9 because during the first 2,300 days of the Great Tribulation, God, the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the true believers. They were separated, in that sense only, from God, who is “life”. They were “dead” in that sense only. According to the Bible, “death” for mankind is separation from God, who is “life”.

 

 

We read in Psalm 79:4:

 

We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.

 

God has given us 3 significant words that teach us to what verse 2 refers. We read in verse 4: “reproach”, “scorn”, and “derision”. We can understand more about the significance of the corpses being eaten by birds by understanding these 3 words.

 

 

The word “reproach” signifies shame. We see this word in these verses:

 

Genesis 30:23  And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach <02781>:

 

Genesis 34:14  And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach <02781> unto us:

 

1 Samuel 17:26  And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach <02781> from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

 

2 Samuel 13:13  And I, whither shall I cause my shame <02781> to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee.

 

Nehemiah 4:4  Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach <02781> upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:

 

Psalms 69:7  Because for thy sake I have borne reproach <02781>; shame hath covered my face.

 

 

We can see from these verses that this word “reproach” signifies shame.

 

 

The word “scorn” signifies mocking or a laughter of mocking. We see this word in the following verses:

 

2 Chronicles 30:10  So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked <03932> them.

 

Nehemiah 2:19  But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn <03932>, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?

 

Psalms 2:4  He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision <03932>.

 

Psalms 22:7  All they that see me laugh me to scorn <03932>: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

 

Psalms 59:8  But thou, O LORD, shalt laugh at them; thou shalt have all the heathen in derision <03932>.

 

 

We can see from these verses that this word “scorn” signifies a mocking or laughter of mocking.

 

 

 

The word “derision” is used in these verses:

 

2 Kings 2:23  And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked <07046> him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

 

Habakkuk 1:10  And they shall scoff <07046> at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it.

 

 

This word “derision” also signifies “mocking”.

 

 

The principle of God “mocking” the unsaved at Judgment Day is given in Psalm 2:1-5.

 

We read in Psalm 2:1-5:

 

1 ¶ Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

2  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

3  Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

4  He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

5  Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

 

Psalm 2:1-5 indicates that the unsaved will be “mocked” by God at Judgment Day. Both the words “laugh” and “derision” closely identify with “mocking.

 

 

Psalm 79:1-4 helps a lot to understand the significances of the birds eating the corpses. It signifies “shame” which we also saw in the other verses. Also, there is identification with the fact that the unsaved will be “mocked” by God.

 

 

There is another important point that we want to examine:

 

 

When we examine passages that talk about the birds eating the corpses, frequently we find that those passages have other parabolic language that cannot be understood in a literal way.

 

 

Now we will look at some passages with this phrase that talk about the birds eating the corpses. We are going to look again at some passages that we have already examined. In addition, we are going to look at some other passages.

 

The purpose of this examination is to receive further direction from the Bible as to how to understand phrases that talk about the birds eating the corpses.

 

 

Does the Bible direct that we are to understand that birds will literally eat corpses on Judgment Day or does the Bible direct that this is parabolic language?

 

 

We will start by looking at Psalm 79:1-4 again, but now with a different question in mind. The question is if the Bible directs us to understand the phrase about the birds eating the corpses in a literal way.

 

We read in Psalm 79:1-4:

 

1 ¶ <<A Psalm of Asaph.>> O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.

2  The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.

3  Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.

4  We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.

 

 

This passage is talking about the true believers.

 

We know that the greatest fulfillment for this passage came with the end of the church age and the Great Tribulation of our day.

 

It is when we come to the end of the church age that Psalm 79:1 sees it’s full fulfillment.

 

 

When we recognize that Psalm 79:1-4 is speaking about the end of the church age, we learn that the language of the birds eating the corpses can only be understood in a parabolic way. It cannot be understood in a literal way.

 

 

In our day, the bodies of the true believers are not being left on the fields for the birds and the animals to eat.

 

However, in the local congregations, Satan is being completely victorious over the true believers. Satan’s army of the unsaved has won the battle for control of the local congregations.

 

This matches the language that when one army is completely victorious over another army, then the birds eat the corpses of the defeated army.

 

 

Psalm 79:1-4 is very helpful to understand what is God teaching by the phrase that the birds eat the corpses. This passage is being fulfilled in our day and yet the bodies of the true believers are not being literally eaten by birds. Rather, Satan is completely victorious in the local congregations.

 

 

Psalm 79:1-4 is a very helpful for us to understand what God is teaching by the language of the birds eating the corpses.

 

 

Let’s consider another passage that talks about the birds eating the corpses.

 

We read in Jeremiah 19:3-9:

 

3  And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.

4  Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents;

5  They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

6  Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter.

7  And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.

8  And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof.

9  And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.

 

 

In verse 7 we read about the birds eating the corpses. This passage is talking about Judgment Day.

 

Another important truth is that this passage is primarily speaking about the church people in our day, during the Great Tribulation.

 

We ask “Can we insist that the phrase about the birds eating the corpses is literal?”

 

 

If we insist that the phrase about the birds eating the corpses is literal then we have to be honest and accept that the other parts of this passage must be understood literally.

 

 

Let’s consider this passage more closely to see if we can place this constraint that the passage must be understood literally.

 

Since we know that the book of Jeremiah is primarily focused upon the churches at the end of the church age, we ask the question if these statements apply in a literal manner or in a parabolic manner to the church people of our day.

 

We read in verse 4 that the church people have “burned incense in it unto other gods”. God says that His judgment has come upon the church people because they have done this.

 

 

Are we to understand that, literally, church people are burning incense to other gods?

 

 

No. Mainstream church people are not burning incense to other gods.

 

Rather, if we study the burning of incense carefully, we find that it identifies with prayer. (Revelation 8:3-4). God is faulting the church people for praying to gods of their own making. It can be shown that their gods are actually their own doctrines.

 

 

We read in verse 5 regarding the church people: “They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal”. During the Great Tribulation, God is faulting the church people for making high places.

 

The mainstream church people have not literally built high places. Rather, God is using parabolic language to describe their holding to wrong doctrines and how they have brought their children up in these wrong doctrines.

 

 

We read in verse 7 “I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies”. God is not talking about church people being literally killed by swords. Rather, the sword represent the Bible which brings judgment.

 

We see that God is using parabolic language in Jeremiah 19:3-9.

 

 

If someone insists that we must understand the phrase about the birds eating the corpses in Jeremiah 19:7 in a literal manner, then we have to be honest and say that we have to look at the whole passage in a literal way.

 

 

But, that is not possible. We have seen phrases in this passage that cannot be understood in a literal way.

 

 

Because there are phrases in Jeremiah 19:3-9 that must be understood in a parabolic way, that means that the part about the birds eating the corpses may also be parabolic.

 

 

The direction from Jeremiah 19:3-9 is that we cannot say that the Bible requires that the phrase about the birds eating the corpses must be understood literally.

 

We should also keep in mind Mark 4:33-34 and other passages that say that the whole Bible is written with parabolic language, since the whole Bible is the word of Christ.

 

 

We will consider another passage with the phrase about birds eating the corpses.

 

We read in Ezekiel 29:2-7:

 

2  Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt:

3  Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.

4  But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales.

5  And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers: thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered: I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven.

6  And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the LORD, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel.

7  When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand.

 

We read about the birds eating the corpses in verse 5.

 

We can see that this passage must be understood in a parabolic way.

 

In verse 2 Pharaoh represents satan. God is not literally talking about the man that is king in Egypt. God is talking about satan. Satan is not literally in rivers as indicated in verse 3. Rather, satan has had his hand in the gospels of the world, which can be represented by rivers.

 

We read about putting hooks in jaws and fish sticking to the scales in verse 4. We know that this language must be understood as a parable.

 

 

Therefore, because Ezekiel 29:2-7 definitely has parabolic language, we cannot state that the language of the birds eating the corpses must be understood in a literal way. This language also may be parabolic.

 

 

Ezekiel 32:2-8 and Ezekiel 39:11-21 also contain the same phrase about the birds eating the corpses and yet they have much language that can only be understood in a parabolic way.

 

 

We have seen some examples of passages with the phrase about birds eating the corpses and have found language in those passages that must be understood in a parabolic way. This agrees with Psalm 79:1-4 and Revelation 19:21 that indicates that the language of the birds eating the corpses is parabolic in nature.

 

 

Let’s consider one more passage.

 

We read in Matthew 24:27-30:

 

27  For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

28  For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

29  Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

30  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

 

 

In verse 28 we read about the birds eating the corpses using slightly different language.

 

Let’s say someone argues that the language about the birds eating the corpses must be understood literally.

 

 

If we say that verse 28 must be understood literally, then we have to apply that same reasoning to the rest of the verses in this passage.

 

 

God says in verse 29 that the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give it’s light. Verse 29 also says that the stars will fall from heaven.

 

We have learned that this language of verse 29 cannot be understood literally. Rather, the darkening of the sun and moon means that there is no more salvation. The stars falling means that the tares that represented themselves are true believers, who are true stars, have fallen under the wrath of God. The Tares have fallen from being exalted as the people of God.

 

 

Therefore, we know that we cannot understand verse 29 in a literal way. As a result, we cannot insist that verse 28 must be understood in a literal way.

 

 

 

We have examined several passages with the phrase about the birds eating the corpses. We have found verses and phrases in these passages that cannot be understood in a literal way. Therefore, to be consistent, we cannot say that the language concerning the birds and the corpses must be understood literally.

 

 

In Summary, when we read about birds eating corpses we clear have Biblical direction to see that Christ is speaking in parables and teaching us about the complete defeat of the unsaved at Judgment Day.

 

 

 

How about the reference to corpses?

 

Now we want to examine the second question.

 

 

DO THE REFERENCES TO THE UNSAVED AS CORPSES AT JUDGMENT DAY TEACH ANNIHILATION?

 

 

As with all Bible study, we obtain a correct Biblical answer by following the Biblical rules to compare Scripture with Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:13) and that Christ spoke in parables (Mark 4:33-34).

 

We read about corpses in Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37 and in other verses.

 

Another verse that talks about corpses is Isaiah 66:24:

 

And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

 

 

We read these and other verses and ask the question:

 

Don’t the references to corpses indicate that the unsaved must become literal corpses on the Day of Judgment?

 

 

To answer this question, let’s examine how God describes unsaved man in this world.

 

 

According to the Bible, God already considers unsaved man in this world a “stinking corpse”

 

 

God has given the account of the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11 as a historical parable teaching us about salvation.

 

Lazarus is called a “stinking corpse” in John 11:39. This is God’s description of all of us before salvation.

 

We read in John 11:39:

 

Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

 

 

John chapter 11 recounts the death and resurrection of Lazarus, a friend of the Lord Jesus and brother to Mary and Martha.

 

Lazarus had been dead 4 days. His body was buried in a tomb. In John 11:39 Jesus is instructing that the stone was to be rolled away. Martha points out that after 4 days his corpse will be stinking.

 

 

God has guided the language of John 11:39 to teach us God’s assessment of the condition of unsaved man. In God’s sight unsaved man is already a “stinking corpse”. We can use this verse to help us understand other parts of the Bible.

 

 

Before salvation, all mankind are considered “stinking corpses” by God. Unsaved man is referred to as a “corpse” in John 11.

 

When we study the account of the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11, we learn that it is a historical parable that teaches about salvation. As Lazarus was a corpse in that tomb, he represents unsaved man that is dead in sins, both in body and soul, according to the Bible.

 

While Lazarus is a corpse in the tomb, Jesus cries out in John 11:43:

 

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

 

The Lord Jesus is calling to this corpse and commanding it to come forth out of the tomb.

 

 

This agrees with what we read in John 5:24-25:

 

24  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

25  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

 

John 5:24-25 is talking about when God saves someone. Notice God sets the time by saying “The hour is coming, and now is”. This is talking about the whole New Testament era. When God saves someone, he hears the voice of God through the Bible. That is illustrated in John 11:43 with the historical parable of the raising of Lazarus.

 

Lazarus “passed from death unto life” after he heard the word of God. This is illustrating John 5:24 that says that when we are saved, we have “passed from death unto life” in our soul. It is not that we have passed from non-existence to existence in our soul.

 

No, rather, it is that we have passed from separation from God, who is life, to indwelling by God. Please see the study on the Biblical definition of life and death for mankind.

 

 

Please see the study on the Biblical definition of life and death for more information

 

 

The raising of Lazarus is a historical parable teaching about salvation.

 

 

The 4 day old stinking “corpse” of Lazarus is a picture of unsaved man, who is dead in sins, both in body and soul, according to the Bible.

 

 

We see other examples in which God represents the unsaved as bones or corpses.

 

In Ezekiel 37:1-11, God typifies the unsaved as dry bones. We read there:

 

1 ¶ The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,

2  And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

3  And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.

4  Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

5  Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:

6  And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

7  So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

8  And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

9  Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

10  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

11  Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.

 

 

These “dry bones” represent unsaved people in the world today. In Ezekiel 37:1-11, these particular “dry bones” represent unsaved people who are elected to salvation. Ezekiel 37:1-11 is a parable that illustrates salvation.

 

Verse 10 says that these “dry bones” are turned into an “exceeding great army”.

 

The “dry bones” represent elect mankind before salvation. The “exceeding great army” represents the elect after salvation. Once we are saved we become we become part of the army of God.

 

In verse 4, the “dry bones” hear the Word of God. That goes along with Romans 10:17 that says:

 

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

God saves in the presence of the hearing of the Bible.

 

 

Before salvation, both the elect and the non-elect are the represented by “dry bones” in the sight of God according to Ezekiel 37:1-11. However, in Ezekiel 37:1-11, God is talking about the elect unsaved because those “dry bones” are turned into an “exceeding great army”.

 

 

Ezekiel 37:1-11 is only a parable. A careful reading will show that it cannot be describing a historical event.

 

 

We know that Ezekiel 37:1-11 is a parable speaking about salvation because there never has been a valley of literal bones that has been turned into an army of people. Also, what is described in this passage will never occur. There never will be a literal valley of dry bones that is turned into an army of people.

 

 

It is argued that Ezekiel 37:1-11 teaches that literal dry bones can hear the word of God without consciousness but a careful reading of verse 11 will show that this is not possible.

 

 

We read in verse 11:

 

Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.

 

In verse 11 we learn more information about these “dry bones” in Ezekiel 37:1-11.

 

We must remember that we cannot isolate a verse from it’s context. In verse 4 we learn that these “dry bones” can hear. But, we must read everything that God has to say about these “dry bones”.

 

 

We learn from verse 11 that these bones can talk. These bones say, “Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.

 

We see that these bones can talk. Notice also that these bones can experience conscious affliction. In verse 11 the bones are complaining about their bad condition.

 

 

Therefore, the dry bones of Ezekiel 37:1-11 cannot be literal bones because they speak and experience conscious affliction as well as being able to hear.

 

 

God talks about the resurrection of the saved and unsaved in John 5:28-29.

 

We read in John 5:28-29:

 

28  Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

29  And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

 

In these verses, notice that both the saved and unsaved will “hear” the voice of God and will come forth out of their graves.

 

Based upon Ezekiel 37:4, it is said that the bones of the unsaved will “hear” without consciousness the voice of God.

 

However, Ezekiel 37:11 shows us that the bones of Ezekiel 37:1-11 not only can hear, but also speak and experience conscious affliction.

 

Therefore, we know that those “dry bones” of Ezekiel 37:1-11 cannot be literal bones. Rather, this passage is a parable and these bones represent unsaved people with consciousness. These bones represent unsaved people that consciously hear, speak and experience affliction.

 

 

If someone wants to insist that Ezekiel 37:4 teaches that the unsaved will be resurrected as literal dry bones that “hear” the voice of God, then verse 11 teaches that these bones will also be able to speak and experience the conscious afflictions of the lake of fire.

 

 

We also want to emphasize another key truth that we learn from Ezekiel 37:1-11. Namely, God uses “dry bones” to represent the unsaved with consciousness. This passage is talking about salvation of people with consciousness.

 

 

Not every parabolic statement in the Bible also has a literal application.

 

 

For example, we read in John 6:53:

 

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

 

The Lord Jesus says that we must “eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood”.

 

We understand that this is parabolic language having to do with reading the Bible.

 

There is no literal application of eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood. This verse only has a parabolic application. Otherwise, we would have to say there would have been value for the disciples to literally eat the body of Christ and drink his blood.

 

The language of to “eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood” is only a parable. There is no historical or literal application.

 

 

John 6:53 shows that there are passages that only have a parabolic application without any literal application. Ezekiel 37:1-11 is another such passage.

 

 

Earlier in this study, we saw that in John 11, God uses the corpse of Lazarus to represent unsaved man. We will now look at some more verses that show where God uses corpses to represent unsaved man.

 

First, let’s examine the next 3 verses in Ezekiel 37. We read in Ezekiel 37:12-14:

 

12  Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

13  And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,

14  And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.

 

In verse 12, we read “I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves”.

 

This is what God did in John 11 when He raised up Lazarus. God brought Lazarus out of his grave. The raising of Lazarus is picture of salvation.

 

Ezekiel 37:1-11 is describing salvation. Therefore, we could expect that verses 12-14 would also describe salvation.

 

However, it is argued that verses 12-14 are describing the resurrection of the bodies of the true believers on the last day.

 

 

However, there is a key phrase in Ezekiel 37:12-14 that shows that these verses are not speaking of the resurrection of the last day. Rather, these verses must be talking about salvation.

 

 

We read in verse 13:

 

And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves

 

 

God says that “when” He has brought us out of our graves then we will know that “I am the LORD”.

 

 

The question is: When do we know that the LORD (Jehovah) is God or when do we know the Lord?

 

 

 

We know the LORD when He saves us.

 

 

The statement, “And ye shall know that I am the LORD” is fulfilled when God saves us.

 

 

We read a number of verses that teach that we know the Lord upon salvation.

 

We read in 1 John 2:3:

 

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

 

God says that we know Him or know God if we keep His commandments. We keep the commandments of God when He saves us. This is taught many times in Psalm 119, for example. The true believer keeps the commandments of God because God now indwells him and works in him to do the will of God (Romans 8:9, Philippians 2:12-13).

 

 

1 John 2:3 agrees with the teaching that we know God when He has saved us.

 

 

We read in John 10:14:

 

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

 

John 10:14 also declares that we know God when He saves us.

 

 

We read in John 17:3:

 

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

 

John 17:3 says that when we have eternal life, then we know God. We receive eternal life when God saves us.

 

The Lord Jesus is “eternal life” Himself (1 John 1:1-2, 5:20). When God saves us, then we have the Lord Jesus indwelling us. The Bible can say that we have eternal life because we literally have the Lord Jesus, who is “eternal life”, indwelling us.

 

God is life (John 11:25-26, 14:6) and He is with us eternally.

 

For more information on this subject, please see the study of the Biblical definition of “life” and “death” for mankind.

 

 

Please see the study on the Biblical definition of life and death for more information

 

 

 

John 17:3 agrees that we know God when He saves us.

 

 

The above verses, and other verses, teach that we know God when God saves us.

 

 

Let’s look again at Ezekiel 37:13. We read there:

 

And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves

 

Ezekiel 37:13 tells us when God has brought us out of our grave. According to Ezekiel 37:13 God brought us out of our grave when we came to know that “I am the LORD” or that He is God. That is when He saved us.

 

 

This agrees with Ezekiel 37:6 that says that when God saves us, we know Him. We read there:

 

And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

 

Ezekiel 37:1-11 is describing salvation. God says in verse 6 that when He saves us, “ye shall know that I am the LORD”.

 

This agrees with verse 13 that says the same thing. We read in verse 13, “And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves”.

 

 

Ezekiel 37:13 teaches that God brought us out of our grave when He saved us. Ezekiel 37:13 is not talking about the resurrection of the true believer’s body at the last day. It is talking about salvation.

 

In both Ezekiel 37:12-14 and John 11, God uses a “corpse” to represent the unsaved.

 

 

 

We will now examine Isaiah 65:4 and see that in this verse God also uses a “corpse” to represent the unsaved. Later on, we will look at why God uses corpses and dry bones to represent the unsaved.

 

We read in Isaiah 65:4:

 

Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;

 

In Isaiah 65:4, God is talking about His unsaved corporate people and faulting them for various sins.

 

Notice that God says that His people “remain among the graves”.

 

The translation “among” is not good. The preposition used here is always translated “in” when used with the word “grave”.

 

An accurate translation is:

 

Which remain in the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;

 

 

This preposition is always translated “in” when used with the word “grave”.

 

Here are some examples:

 

Genesis 47:30  But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said.

 

Judges 8:32  And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

 

1 Kings 13:30  And he laid his carcase in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother!

 

2 Chronicles 24:25  And when they were departed from him, (for they left him in great diseases,) his own servants conspired against him for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he died: and they buried him in the city of David, but they buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings.

 

Psalms 88:11  Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?

 

 

In every verse with this the same Hebrew preposition and word translated either “grave” or “sepulchre”, it is always translated “in the grave” or “in the sepulchre”. So, Isaiah 65:4 is correctly translated:

 

Which remain in the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;

 

God says that the unsaved are “in the graves”.

 

What is “in the graves”?

 

 

Corpses are in the graves. Isaiah 65:4 represents unsaved people as those which are in the graves.

 

 

God is saying that His corporate people that remained unsaved are “in the graves”.

 

Perhaps the translators did not understand how the unsaved could be “in the graves”, so they changed the preposition.

 

However, the phrase “in the graves” agrees with what Ezekiel 37:12-14 and John 11 teach. Ezekiel 37:12-14 and John 11 show that God uses a “corpse” to represent unsaved man.

 

Where do we normally find a “corpse”?    In a grave.

 

 

God uses a “corpse” in John 11 and Ezekiel 37:12-14 to represent the unsaved. Then, in Ezekiel 37:12-14 and Isaiah 65:4, God uses a “grave” to speak of the location of the unsaved.

 

 

Let’s look at another passage.

 

We read in Ezekiel 43:7-9:

 

7 ¶ And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.

8  In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger.

9  Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.

 

 

We read in verses 7 & 9 where God is faulting His corporate people for the “carcases of their kings” that they used in their false worship in their high places.

 

 

An important truth to keep in mind as we read passages in the Old Testament, like Ezekiel 43:7-9, is that God is not only talking about ancient Israel but God is also talking about the churches and congregations in the New Testament era.

 

 

Therefore, Ezekiel 43:7-9 is not only directed to ancient Israel, but it is also directed toward the New Testament churches and congregations, especially during the Great Tribulation of our day.

 

 

When we examine churches and congregations, we do not find them involving “carcases of their kings” in their worship services. We also do not have any Biblical support for the idea that ancient Israel used “carcases of their kings” in their worship services.

 

 

A carcase or corpse had to be quickly buried otherwise it was a big problem. Therefore, we know that Ezekiel 43:7-9 is not talking about literal carcases or corpses.

 

 

If Ezekiel 43:7-9 is not talking about literal corpses or carcases of people, we might wonder to what the phrases “carcases of their kings” refers.

 

 

When we consider that in John 11, Ezekiel 37:12-14 and Isaiah 65:4, God uses carcases and carcases in graves to represent the unsaved, then we see that the phrase “carcases of their kings” refers to the unsaved people in the churches and congregations.

 

When God saves use, we are “kings” in God’s sight, because we are the children of the King of kings (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 5:10).

 

 

But, the unsaved in the local congregations are not truly “kings”, because they are still unsaved. They appear to be the eternal people of God. They appear to be “kings”, but they are not. They are still represented by the “carcases” in Isaiah 65:4, Ezekiel 37:12-14 and John 11.

 

Therefore, the unsaved church people are really “carcases of kings”.

 

 

We see in Ezekiel 43:7-9 another example in which God uses the word “carcase”, like the phrase “dry bones”, to represent the unsaved.

 

 

We have seen a number of verses in which God represents the unsaved as “corpses” or corpses “in the graves”.

 

We summarize how God represents the unsaved in these verses:

 

1. Ezekiel 37:1-11: The unsaved are represented by “dry bones”.

 

2. Ezekiel 37:12-14: The unsaved are represented by “corpses in graves”.

 

3. John 11: The unsaved are represented by a “corpse in a grave”.

 

4. Isaiah 65:4: The unsaved are represented by those “in the graves”.

 

5. Ezekiel 43:7, 9: The unsaved are represented by “corpses” or “carcases”.

 

6. Psalm 79:2 and Revelation 11:7-9: The “dead bodies” of the saints represent the saints during the 2,300 day first part of the Great Tribulation in which they were not “filled” by God the Holy Spirit. They were separated from God in that sense.

 

 

We ask the question: Why does God represent the unsaved by “corpses” and corpses “in graves”?

 

 

We obtain help with this question when learn that God says that Adam died the day he sinned. Also, unsaved man is already dead.

 

Here are a few verses that teach these truths:

 

Genesis 2:17  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

 

Romans 7:9  For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

 

Ephesians 2:1 ¶ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

 

Ephesians 2:5  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

 

Colossians 2:13 ¶ And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

 

1 Peter 4:6  For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

 

 

There are more verses that confirm this same teaching that unsaved man is already “dead” according to the Bible.

 

 

Because we identify “death” with an unconscious corpse, we have changed these verses to say “spiritually dead”. We say that unsaved man is “spiritually dead but physically alive”, even though the Bible never uses this language.

 

 

The word “spiritually” has to do with the spirit of man. The word “physically” has to do with the body of man.

 

 

In reality, the Bible teaches that unsaved man is dead, both in body and spirit. We read:

 

Romans 8:10 ¶ And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

 

1 Corinthians 15:29  Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

 

 

Both Romans 8:10 and 1 Corinthians 15:29 teach that the body of the true believer is still dead. If the true believer’s body is dead, then the body of the unsaved is also dead.

 

 

So, according to the Bible, unsaved man is already dead, both in body and spirit. He is spiritually and physically dead.

 

 

Unsaved man has not ceased to exist in either his body or his spirit.

 

Rather, unsaved man is separated from God, both in body and spirit.

 

God says that He Himself is “life” (John 11:25, 14:6). A careful study of the Bible will show that “death” for mankind is separation from God, who is called “life”.

 

 

Unsaved man is dead, both in body and spirit. He has not ceased to exist. Rather, he is separated from God. He is not indwelt by God (Romans 8:9). Neither is unsaved man energized by God (Philippians 2:12-13).

 

 

This is an important question and two Bible studies have been prepared that show that God Himself is “life” and that “life” for mankind has to do with his relationship with God and “death” for mankind is separation from God. Please see these two studies.

 

 

Please see the study on the Biblical definition of life and death for more information

 

 

 

Please see the study on A BODY “SLEEPING IN THE DUST” VERSUS “DEATH”

 

 

 

With this correct Biblical understanding, we can see why God represents unsaved man by “dry bones”, “corpses” and corpses “in graves”.

 

 

Unsaved man is dead, both in body and in spirit.

 

He is separated from God, who is “life”. He is not energized by God nor indwelt by God.

 

 

God gives “dry bones” and “corpses” as illustrations of what it means to not be energized by God, which is the state of unsaved man.  It is obvious that a pile of bones or a corpse is not energized by God.

 

 

We can look at a pile of dry bones or we can look at a corpse and get a mental picture of something that is not energized by God.

 

The Bible teaches that unsaved is not indwelt by God (Romans 8:9). The Bible also teaches that God does not “work in” or “energize” the unsaved like He does for the true believer (Philippians 2:12-13).

 

God has given dry bones and corpses as illustrations to give a picture of unsaved man who is not energized by God. We can look at some dry bones or at a corpse and we see something that is without any energizing from God. We see something in which God is not working. We see something that God is not indwelling. The two illustrations, dry bones and a corpse, help us understand the condition of unsaved man.

 

 

The unsaved are represented by “corpses” and “dry bones” to give a picture of something that is not energized by God. Unsaved man is not energized by God like the believer is.

 

 

 

With this more accurate Biblical understanding, let’s go back to the verses that talk about the eagles eating the corpses of the unsaved at Judgment Day and get some more understanding of those verses.

 

 

Now that we understand that the unsaved are already “corpses” in the sight of God we can understand another meaning to the verses that talk about the birds eating the corpses at Judgment Day.

 

 

To Review, we read:

 

Matthew 24:28  For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

 

Luke 17:37  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.

 

 

According to the Bible, right now, the unsaved are represented by “carcases” because they are separated from the energizing of God, who is “life”.

 

In Luke 17:37, God uses the just the word “body”. The unsaved will have a “body” also at Judgment Day.

 

 

The Greek word translated “eagle” in Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37 is only found in two other verses. They are:

 

Revelation 4:7  And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle <105>.

 

Revelation 12:14  And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle <105>, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

 

In both Revelation 4:7 and 12:14, the “eagle” represents God Himself.

 

In Revelation 12:14, the focus of the “eagle” is God’s care for the true believers.

 

 

In Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37, God is describing Himself coming in wrath as an “eagle” that is attacking the unsaved.

 

This figure of an “eagle” to represent God coming in His wrath is found in these two Old Testament verses:

 

Jeremiah 48:40  For thus saith the LORD; Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.

 

Jeremiah 49:22  Behold, he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread his wings over Bozrah: and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.

 

 

In Jeremiah 48:40 & 49:22, the “eagle” represents God coming in His wrath against the unsaved.

 

 

In Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37, we read about the “eagles” attacking the “corpses” and the bodies. God represents Himself coming in wrath as an “eagle” at times. The unsaved in this world are already represented by “corpses”.

 

 

Therefore, by following the Biblical rule of comparing Scripture with Scripture and remembering that Christ spoke in parables, we can conclude that Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37 are teaching that at Judgment Day, God (represented by the eagle) will be attacking the unsaved (represented by the corpses).

 

 

Following the Biblical rules for Bible study, Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37 are easily understandable as parabolic statements speaking of God’s wrath upon the unsaved and are not literal accounts of birds eating corpses.

 

 

Now, we want to consider a related phrase found in the Bible.

 

 

WE READ A NUMBER OF VERSES THAT TALK ABOUT THE “SLAIN” AT JUDGMENT DAY. DO THESE VERSES TEACH ANNIHILATION?

 

 

For example:

 

Isaiah 66:16  For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.

 

Jeremiah 25:33  And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.

 

Nahum 3:3  The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:

 

 

Perhaps it is easy to read the above verses and other similar verses that talk about the “slain” at Judgment Day and get a mental picture of an earth full of corpses.

 

However, as with all Bible study, we must compare Scripture with Scripture to understand what God is teaching.

 

We read in Romans 7:9-11:

 

9  For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

10  And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

11  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

 

In Romans 7:9-11, the Apostle Paul is speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and is talking about himself and all mankind.

 

In order to understand this verse, please see the study on the Biblical definition of “life” and “death” for mankind.

 

 

Please see the study on the Biblical definition of life and death for more information

 

 

In Romans 7:9, speaking about all mankind, the Apostle says he was “alive”. That was back in Adam and Eve. All mankind were in the loins of Adam and Eve and therefore, everyone was “alive” in them at the beginning.

 

Verse 9 says that the commandment came. That was the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that we read in Genesis 2:17:

 

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

 

When Adam and Eve ate of that tree, they disobeyed God and died that day.

 

According to Romans 7:9, the Apostle Paul and all mankind died also, because we all were in their loins.

 

As shown in the Biblical study of “life” and “death” for mankind, Romans 8:10, 1 Corinthians 15:29, Ephesians 2:1-5 and other verses show that Adam and Eve died, both in body and spirit. Also, that unsaved mankind is already dead, both in body and spirit. According to the Bible, unsaved man is already spiritually and physically dead.

 

Mankind has not ceased to exist, nor is his body sleeping in the dust. Rather, unsaved mankind is separated from God, who is “life” (John 14:6).

 

Going back to Romans 7:9, mankind all died, both in body and spirit, the day that Adam sinned.

 

Then, in Romans 7:11, the Bible declares that “the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me”.

 

That is, the Bible is teaching that unsaved mankind is already “slain”, both in body and spirit.

 

 

We must remember that we can come to truth if we follow what the Bible teaches and not our preconceived thinking.

 

 

According to the Bible, the unsaved are already “slain”, both in body and spirit. That means they are dead, both in body and spirit.

 

 

Ezekiel 37:9 agrees that the unsaved are already “slain”.

 

 

We read in Ezekiel 37:9:

 

Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

 

In this verse, God calls the unsaved “slain”. That agrees with Romans 7:11. The Bible teaches that the unsaved are already “slain”, both in body and spirit. They are separated from God, who is “life”.

 

 

Today, we have true believers in this world, who have been made “alive”.

 

 

Today, there are true believers in the world. They have been made alive (Psalm 80:18, Ephesians 2:1-5). Their spirit is no longer “slain”. Their spirit now has “life”, which is God Himself, who is indwelling them.

 

However, when the Rapture comes, all the true believers will be caught up in the air. There will be no true believers left. In that day, there will only be unsaved left, who are still dead, both in body and spirit. They are still “slain” in both body and spirit.

 

 

On the day of the Rapture, all of the true believers will be caught up to be with Christ. Only the unsaved, who are “slain” according to the Bible, will be left. They will be conscious, but they are the “slain”.

 

 

That is why we read in Jeremiah 25:33, that “the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth”.

 

The earth will be full of only unsaved people. They will be conscious, like they are today, but according to Romans 7:11, they are “slain”, both in body and spirit.

 

We have covered this subject and Jeremiah 25:33-34 in more detail in the study on Jeremiah 8 & 25.

 

 

DO JEREMIAH 8 & 25 TEACH A RESURRECTION OF BONES?

 

 

Now, we ask another question:

 

 

Nahum 3:3 has such literal-sounding language. Doesn’t that mean that we must understand it in a literal way?

 

 

We read in Nahum 3:1-4:

 

1 ¶ Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;

2  The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots.

3  The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:

4  Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

 

 

In verse 3 we read about “corpses” and that “they stumble upon their corpses”.

 

Some people read these statements and get a picture of a land covered with corpses and people are literally stumbling on them.

 

 

However, in Bible study, we must remember to follow the rule that Christ declared in Mark 4:33-34:

 

33  And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.

34  But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.

 

 

The whole Bible is the word of the Lord Jesus and everywhere in the Bible, including Nahum 3:1-4, we should expect to find parabolic language.

 

 

Earlier in this study, we have examined how God talks about unsaved man as “corpses”, both in body and spirit. He is a “corpse” because he is not energized by God.

 

In this world, we have a mixture of true believers and unbelievers. The unbelievers are represented by “corpses” in the Bible. At the day of the Rapture, all of the believers will be taken away, and only the unbelievers will be left.

 

Those unbelievers will be conscious, but they are still represented by “corpses” in the Bible. We will have a world of conscious people, all unsaved and all represented by “corpses”. They are the corpses to which Nahum 3:3 refers.

 

 

If we insist that Nahum 3:3 is talking about literal corpses, then we have to be consist and say that the whole passage is literal.

 

 

Let’s look at verses 2 & 3 again. We read there:

 

2  The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots.

3  The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:

 

 

If we insist that Nahum 3:3 must be understood literally, then let’s ask:

 

At Judgment Day, will there be a literal “noise of a whip”?

 

Will there be a literal “noise of the rattling of the wheels”?

 

Do we expect to see “pransing horses” or “jumping chariots”?

 

Will the “horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear”?

 

 

Will there be any of these things?

 

The answer to the above questions is no. We do not expect any of this activity. This language all has to do with a battle between nations.

 

Even if you update this language to match for modern military to speak of tanks, guns, aircraft and missiles, there would not be a literal application of Nahum 3:2-3. If we are honest with the Bible, Nahum 3:2-3 must be understood as parabolic language.

 

 

We do not expect any battles between nations at Judgment Day. Rather, the language of a battle is parabolic to refer to the final battle between the unsaved and God.

 

 

Therefore, the language of corpses indicates the complete defeat of the unsaved at Judgment Day.

 

 

What about the word “stumble”?

 

 

Below are a few verses with this same Hebrew word translated “stumble” in Nahum 3:3:

 

Psalms 27:2  When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled <03782> and fell.

 

Proverbs 4:19  The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble <03782>.

 

Proverbs 24:16  For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall <03782> into mischief.

 

 

In these verses the word “stumble” (also translated “fall”) does not refer to literally falling down. Rather, it signifies that the unsaved “fall into mischief” or into the evil of God’s wrath.

 

So, this word “stumble” does not have to signify that the unsaved are literally tripping or falling over corpses. Rather, they are falling under the wrath of God.

 

 

They also “stumble” over each other in the sense that they follow each other’s wisdom. Man’s wisdom leads to the wrath of God.

 

 

Many times, unsaved man gives his fellow man counsel that is contrary to the Bible. This counsel leads his fellow man to “fall into mischief” or into the evil of God’s wrath.

 

In that way, unsaved man “stumbles” or falls over his fellow unsaved man. They lead each other to the wrath of God with their wrong Gospels.

 

So the phrase “they stumble upon their corpses” can mean that the unsaved “stumble” or “fall” under the wrath of God. They “stumble” over each other because they follow each other’s wisdom. This wisdom leads them to the wrath of God.

 

 

If we examine the language of Nahum 3:1-4 carefully, we find that there are several phrases that can only be understood in a parabolic way. If we insist that Nahum 3:1-4 teaches that there will be literal corpses, then we have to admit that there will be literal whips, wheels, pransing horses, jumping chariots, horsemen, swords, spears, etc. at Judgment Day. But, we know that this will not be the case.  

 

Nahum 3:1-4 is teaching that the unsaved, who are already represented by corpses, will come under the wrath of God at Judgment Day. Judgment Day is typified by a battle as we read in Revelation 19:11-21.

 

 

So, when we read verses about bones and corpses we cannot conclude that God is not using parabolic language and is speaking about unsaved people with consciousness. The Bible gives sufficient direction that the unsaved today are “corpses” and “dry bones” in the sight of God because they are not energized by God, who is “life”.

 

 

Therefore, when we read references to “corpses” and “bones” at Judgment Day that does not prove that the unsaved will be literal “corpses”. God already considers unsaved man in this world as a “stinking corpse” and “dry bones” because he is not energized by God, who is “life”. In Bible study, we must remember that Christ spoke in parables and that we are to compare Scripture with Scripture.

 

 

 

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