You actually get two analyses for the price of one today. (grin)(It’s all free anyway.)

KJV Matthew 24:27-28
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:26-27
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.

26 For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth,
so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is,
there will the eagles be gathered together.
27 And now I show unto you a parable. Behold,
wheresoever the carcass is,
there will the eagles be gathered together;
so likewise shall mine elect be gathered from the four quarters of the earth.

The Joseph Smith Translation makes some significant clarifications to these two verses that help us better understand these particular signs.

Comparing the second coming of Christ to lightning evokes speediness and surprise. Joseph Smith’s translation changes this “lightning” to “light of the morning,” which should remind us of a sunrise instead. The sunrise starts in the east and steadily grows until it can be seen in the west, at which time the sunlight is over the whole earth.  This is a very good metaphor for the growth of the restored church and how it spreads. 

Some might wonder why this sunrise image is used about the coming of the Son of Man if we expect Christ to come with a Grand Entrance suddenly and cleanse the earth of the wicked and set everything in order. 

It seems to me that the coming, with the spread of the church, is needed to prepare people for the Grand Entrance. The world was in apostasy before. If the Grand Entrance came while the whole world was in apostasy, everyone would just be destroyed. Thus, the gospel had to be restored and spread to prepare those who are willing to listen.  And Christ did come to Joseph Smith to get that going. 

The next image Joseph Smith gave clarification on is that of the carcass and the eagles being gathered to it.  Joseph Smith tells us it is a parable that is to be applied to the gathering of the elect. 

This is important intelligence because there is a great portion of the Christian world that does not look at this imagery of the carcass and eagles in a positive way.  They interpret the carcass to mean the decadence and deadness of wicked society and the eagles as heavenly powers bringing vengeance to eat up the wicked. 

Joseph Smith’s translation of this parable makes this image a positive one (though still kind of gross) and it actually teaches some important things about the gathering of the elect. The carcass is the body of the church. There is doctrinal meat there that can’t be found anywhere else, so the parable expresses the church is a place where people can be fed.  Just like eagles (or vultures) seem to have an uncanny ability to spot an animal carcass, the elect will be able to spot the true church with its saving doctrine and priesthood power. They will know spiritual meat when they see it.  Just like eagles are drawn to a carcass in the desert, the elect will be drawn to the body of the church.

The idea of there being a body of the church (rather than a diffuse non-organized grouping of the faithful) is emphasized, as is the gathering process.

I’m grateful to have this clarification from Joseph Smith--Matthew. Having an accurate idea of what to look for helps us to locate ourselves accurately in the timeline of prophecy. It saves us from doubt and uncertainty and know what events to expect and also what is expected of us.  We’re to share that meat and invite others to come. We’re to help spread the light.

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