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Advent 2 – Luke 21:25-36

by pastorjuhl ~ December 3rd, 2009

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

The Introit begins with these words from Isaiah 62: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes.” You are the daughter of Zion. The message from God is for your comfort. Nevertheless, there is not much comforting about the end of the world.

Holy Scripture calls Judgment Day a great and dreadful day. Judgment Day is certainly great…for a Christian. Jesus says in today’s Gospel the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. The dead in Christ will rise. The living and the dead will be changed in the twinkle of an eye. Psalm 50 says, Gather to Me My faithful ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice! Those in Christ will be caught up in the air with Him and we will be forever with the Lord.

Judgment day is certainly dreadful…for those who want nothing to do with Almighty God. The prophet Malachi says, behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” says the LORD of hosts, “that will leave them neither root nor branch. There is nothing more disgusting to watch than someone burned alive is. Some of you might recall the practice of self-immolation done by some anti-Vietnam war protestors. Malcolm Browne won an award in 1963 for the famous picture of a Buddhist monk setting himself on fire at a busy Saigon intersection. Just thinking about a person being on fire, whether or not it is intentional, is enough to make the stomach turn.

If one person on fire turns the stomach, think of what it will be like when everything we see will be set ablaze. As a Christian, it will be a beautiful sight, though we might not think about it that way right now. Still, it will be a beautiful sight. This sin-sick world will disappear in flames, nevermore to return. Those who mock the Savior now and refuse to repent will be in eternal torment that will set them ablaze for all eternity. Listen again to Malachi: “You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,” says the LORD of hosts.

Judgment Day will be a day of dancing over the ashes of the wicked. Even more disturbing now than bodies being set ablaze is believing that we will trample over their ashes in triumph. Some of those ashes might be family or friends we know. It won’t matter then. We will rejoice with the Triumphant Christ over His victorious battle against sin and death. What matters is now. Those ashes are people dear to us. They had an opportunity to hear the Word but rejected it. There will be no second chance. Jesus says heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Take heed to yourselves. Watch and pray that you do not fall into temptation, then aggravation, then doubt, then despair, and then unbelief. Watch, pray, and repent, lest the Day come upon you unexpectedly like a thief in the night. Watch and pray that you are not set ablaze by believing there is plenty of time to clean up your act. Jesus could return before I finish this sentence, or perhaps before I leave the pulpit. The end will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch that you are not trapped in the snare with no way out except by fire.

Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. You are counted worthy to escape the all-consuming fire of Judgment Day because your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Blessed are those whose names are written there by the Hand of God and not erased by the hand of man! When the signs of the end come upon the earth, whether an earthquake, a tornado, a tsunami, an eclipse of the sun or moon, or another natural phenomenon, these should remind you that Jesus is coming soon. Scientists can examine how and why these things happen. Those who trust in the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world know they happen as a reminder that this world will disappear and a new heaven and a new earth come soon.

As signs on earth confess a coming end to heaven and earth, signs in the Church also confess the end of days comes soon. The Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet now taking place in Paradise among the saints of God who go before us in the faith. As they dine at our Father’s table in heaven, you dine with them in this dimension when you eat Christ’s true Body and drink Christ’s true Blood. Heaven and earth come together, if for a moment, when you kneel before the throne of grace with confidence. You are confident because you believe this holy Supper forgives sins and strengthens faith. This holy Supper also proclaims the Lord’s death until He comes again, just as everything in the liturgy proclaims Christ’s death and resurrection. Because He died and rose again, so shall you fall asleep only to rise from the grave as if from a nap.

Christians of the second century were prepared for an imminent end. Let grace come, and let this world pass away! Hosanna to the Son of David! If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not holy, let him repent. Maranatha! These words come from the Didache, a document at least 1800 years old. All around you see people taking advantage of the world as much as possible, thinking things are the same as it ever was and will remain the same forever. You know that’s not true. You confess with the ancients: Let grace come, and let this world pass away! They yet have nothing won. The victory has been won.

Behold, your salvation comes. Christ’s first Advent brings forgiveness and life. Christ’s current Advent delivers forgiveness and life in Word, water, Body, and Blood. Christ’s coming Advent rescues us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, gives us a blessed end, and graciously takes us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven. Even so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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