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Eagle Eyes : Cloudy Vision

______________________________________________________________________ William Branhams followers insist that he was Elijah of Malachi 4, and therefore had a divine right and supernatural ability to interpret the scripture. His interpretation of scripture is accepted over any other, no matter the source, even scripture itself. This is especially troubling because William Branham often paid little attention to context or even the simplest laws of grammar when interpreting a passage of scripture. One example is Matthew 24:28, a verse frequently repeated in message pulpits today. For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together. -MT 24:28 KJV What is that carcass? The carcass is what the eagles feed on. Now, an eagle is considered in the Bible, a prophet. A prophet is the eagle. God--God calls himself a eagle, and we're eaglets then, the--the believers. You see? And what is the carcass that they feed on? Is the Word. Wherever the Word is, the true nature of the bird will show itself. See? A eagle, which wants fresh meat, he must have his fresh meat. -Questions & Answers, Conduct, Order and Doctrine #2, 1964 (tape#64-0823M)

The way William Branham unpacks this verse, we are to understand Jesus to mean: Wherever the living Word of the hour is being preached, the elect bride will be congregated around it. However, neither the context of the passage, nor the original language support this interpretation. Throughout the 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus is foretelling the great tribulations to come, and is responding to his disciples question of how they will know when these things will take place (v.3). Jesus warns them about being led astray, about false prophets arising with secret revelation (v.26), and finally says that the coming of the son of man will be no secret, rather, it will be as obvious as lightning flashing across the sky. Many scholars believe that verse 28 is simply Jesus summing up his answer by giving an allegorical reference, as he so often did in his sermons and parables: there, Ive told you the signs to look for, if you want to find a body, look for the vultures. Vultures? But I thought the bible said eagles? No. In fact, nearly every English translation in print translates the Greek word aetos as vultures. But though aetos can refer to any number of large, meat eating birds, it is true that it is most often translated to English as eagles, and in spite of Branhams assertions to the contrary, eagles do eat carrion on occasion. So how can we be sure William Branham wasnt correct? Perhaps the numerous translators leaned too heavily on the apparent vulture/carcass context and missed Jesus subtle meaning. William Branham certainly seemed to think so:

Where the carcass is (the Manna is, the Word is), there the eagles will be gathered. -The Anointed Ones at the End Time, vol.5, no.3A, 1965
(tape#65-0725M)

Though the context of the passage and the ambiguity of the Greek word aetos should be sufficient to refute William Branhams repeated misinterpretation of this verse, the death knoll comes when we look a little closer at Branhams treatment of the word carcass. He not only interprets carcass as meaning the Word as in, the Word for our day, but as Christ himself.

What is the carcass? The Word. He is the Word, the Carcass, Christ, Christ in you, the same yesterday, today, and forever. -The Seed is not
Heir with the Shuck, vol. 6, no 4R, 1965 (tape#65-0218)

William Branhams intention here is so clear that Voice of God Recordings actually chooses to capitalize the word carcass! The Greek word translated as carcass, is ptoma: 1. the fallen body of one dead or slain, a corpse, a carcass. 2. that which has fallen 3. (metaphorical) a downfall, defeat, calamity, error, or lapse into sin. There is simply no way around the obvious here; the original Greek word carries an even more negative connotation than the English word can convey! In order to continue to accept William Branhams interpretation of Matthew 24:28, one would have to come to grips with this disturbing picture: Wherever the ptoma is, there will the aetos be gathered together. To make it clearer still:

Wherever the (dead corpse, the lapse into sin & error, the downfall & calamity) are, there will the (vultures? or is it eagles?... eaglets, prophet, called out, elect, bride?) be gathered together.
One can see how moot the discussion of eagles vs. vultures is in light of the clear --and grim-- reality of what Jesus meant when he said carcass. Whichever bird it is, you dont want to be one of them. This isnt splitting hairs. This isnt twisting a dead mans words for the purposes of discrediting him, as some will accuse. This is a poignant example of reckless and irresponsible eisigesis of scripture, as Peter himself warned:

there are some things in them [Pauls epistles] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. - 2 Peter 3:16
The story here isnt the obvious error, as no one understands the bible perfectly, all of the time. The point is this: the man making the error claimed to be the prophet to this age, to have a divinely gifted ability to unpack the scriptures, and yet time and again, we see him reading his own bias into the Bible even when honesty to the text will not support that view, and worse, even changing the scripture in order to make it work. This is not a prophet of God opening the Word to the people. It is a tragically deceived man, intent of bending Gods Word to make it support his delusions of grandeur, and in the process, causing thousands of ministers to stand in front of congregations --perhaps hundreds of thousands-- and relay this type of biblical exposition as the revealed Word for the hour. Paul urges us to present ourselves to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2Tim.2:15) He goes on in v.16 to admonish us to avoid irreverent babble. Though many assume he was referring to gossip here, the context reveals that he was dealing with false doctrine. (2Tim.2:16-18) Will we reverently treat the Word of God as the very words of God, filtering all mens teaching through the totality of scripture, or will we drawn away by the doctrines of a man who is clearly identified many times in scripture, not as Elijah, but as a false prophet who made a career out of irreverent babble.

Eisigisis: The act of reading an understanding, or opinion into a text, usually biblical text, which may or may not be supported or evident by the text itself - in accordance with the persons own presuppositions, agendas, and/or biases. This is the opposite of exegesis, which means to derive the meaning out of the text.