. . . look up, and lift up your heads; because your Redemption draweth nigh.
For behold, the Day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The Day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of Hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.
But for you who fear My Name, the Sun-Of-Righteousness shall rise with healing in Its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the Day when I act, says the Lord of Hosts.
Remember the Law of My servant Moses, the statutes and just decrees that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome Day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a Servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the Promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. As it is written,
Therefore I will praise You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your Name.
And again it is said, Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.
And again, Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol Him.
And again Isaiah says, The Root of Jesse will come, even He Who arises to rule the Gentiles; in Him will the Gentiles hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all Joy and Peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in Hope.
[Jesus said:] “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your Redemption is drawing near.”
And He told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the Kingdom of God is near.
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that Day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
For each of you the peace and joy which come only through faith in our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, the one who was, who is, and who is yet to come.
The text for today's sermon is from Luke chapter 21.
This is the second week of Advent, it isn't Christmas yet, the church is still preparing with God's word for the right celebration of our Lord's miraculous and gracious birth. Today's Advent Gospel reveals another part of our proper preparation for Christmas. We’re reminded today that Judgment Day is a hand.
You Christians, of course, have absolutely no fear over this approaching day. According to faith, you look and you long for Christ's second coming because you know that he's paid for your sin with his innocent blood, you know that heaven is yours, you can eagerly pray thy kingdom come. God's Word says in Titus chapter 2 that we're waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, to redeem us.
Luke 21 provides information about the events leading up to the last day of the created world, your savior’s speaking plainly because he’s concerned for you and he wants you to know the things that you should anticipate so you won't be afraid and you'll have no doubt on that day. For instance, earlier in Luke chapter 21, Christ warns that we should watch out for false teachers. He says, see that you are not led astray for many will come in my name, saying I am me and the time is at hand, do not go after them.
As the last day approaches there are now and there will be more and more who claim to speak for Christ or who even will say that they are the returned Christ. Now some will be so transparently false that they'll attract little or no following at all. But others will be better financed or they will be better rehearsed and they will appear credible, they will invite people with their charm and with their charisma. Some will claim the spiritual and worldly kingship, many will simply want the cash that they can extort, a few will be sexually and psychologically deviant, others will appear so neatly and so mildly, using such familiar churchly words, that some will be deceived simply by their niceness.
Sad thing is, these false prophets succeed in their trickery too often because human beings, as the scriptures say, have itching ears. And so many are so spiritually illiterate, many will be fooled and they will yield to, find sounding self, these false teachings. They will often do this with fervor, sometimes with fanaticism. Your Savior warns you, do not go after them, do not become their followers. Christ also tells us that there will be Wars and there will be rumors of wars and Jesus says do not be afraid. He doesn't want anyone who witnesses these terrible wars and these catastrophes in this life to be fearful. God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior will protect the salvation of all those who believe. First Peter chapter 1, through faith you are protected by God's power until you come to the salvation that is ready to be revealed at the end of time.
All the evil that will happen in the world, nations rise against nation, Kingdoms against Kingdoms, is just visual proof of God's truth, that things are not right with the created world. In fact, knowing all these things, God has put signs of the approaching end of the world into the creation. Why the very ground on which you stand has been uneasy ever since the fall. It continually shows how temporary, how unstable things are in this creation. On under and over the earth he has inserted reminders to keep us aware that he is indeed coming. Each disaster that most think are natural occurrences is to remind you and me of the approaching end, that God can that he will that he must end this creation.
Furthermore, you know because it's plainly shown in God's Word, Christians are going to be persecuted. Those doing the persecuting are enemies of the cross. They are people who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior. So, not surprisingly we witness the murder of Christians in Nigeria and Pakistan, Indonesia and many other places in the world. Right now, it's primarily Islam which does the slaughtering, but next year it may be some other hate group. Christ says this is happening to Christians for the sake of his name.
You see the name of Jesus, devotion to him, boldly speaking for him, will bring forth hatred and malice in the unbelievers. So persecution will also, in one way or another, come against you, and not because of who you are personally but because of the one in whom you believe, the one who is named Jesus. But why is it that unbelief so hates Christ and so therefore also hates us Christians. It's because Christ Jesus boldly tells unbelief, first to its unbelieving conscience, its unbelieving burning heart, but then also to his ear, by his spoken words, that their religion is worthless. He flatly says I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me. Thus believers in Christ become the object of, at least, anger at Christ for telling them that their religion is wrong and that it's foolish. They may not be able to re-crucify Christ but they can and they do murder and persecute his followers.
These signs are clearly being fulfilled, God designed them to keep you alert, to keep you on your toes ready. It means the end may come at any moment, the clear signs are strung all along the road that we travel in this life, they are markers showing, without doubt, that we in this world are approaching the end of all things. The only thing you lack as this world comes to its conclusion is the exact day and hour and minute of your entrance into heaven and therefore into your eternal home. But forewarned is forearmed. God wants you ready and he wants you to live by faith believing his promise to you in Christ's blood and that those promises will be kept. As the things of which Christ speaks occur, being unprepared will kill, it will mean hell.
Those who do not have true faith in their Redeemer will not be ready and so they will forfeit their everlasting and eternal life. Verses 25 through 28 of our text says at the very last “ there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
On the day, Sun and Moon and stars will be extinguished. Can you imagine, can you imagine the terror that this is going to cause to unbelief. In fact, our Savior says, nations will be in distress, hearts in their throats, at an utter loss as to what they should do. The sea roaring and raging, the whole world coming apart at the seams, no cataclysm the creation have seen so far merits even a passing comparison to the terror of the Judgment Day for those who do not believe. Everything falling in destruction as God's all-powerful word, the, let it be, which God spoke at the beginning to create it all, is then withdrawn so it will be no longer.
The final great signs at the very last day, adding those taking place right now, the present day preparing you for the last. But what's most incredible about all this, isn't that it will happen, but that it will happen within the blink of an eye. For those who do not have trust in Christ's blood for forgiveness, the terror at that moment will not allow them to think of anything except some way to preserve their earthly life. Even so, it will be as though standing on solid ground and suddenly it vanishes beneath you, no time, even for thought, just panic. But that's unbeliefs problem, for you who are in Christ, there will be no terror, no uncertainty. When these things happen, look up your redemption is drawing near.
The Lord Jesus Christ will arrive suddenly with power and great glory, and a great cloud of the company of the angels, and with all the spirits of those who have died who had faith in Him. He, the Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, the one who was spit upon, scourged, mocked, crucified, will return with power, his great glory shining forth its splendor. Lord, Savior, high priest, prophet, our hope, the way the truth the life, very god of very God, Jesus, and every knee shall bow, willingly or not.
To further comfort you our Lord tells a story which gives a comparison we can understand and to which we can cling. Look at the fig tree and all the trees, as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also when you see these things taking place, you know the kingdom of God is near. To faith that believes Christ died for you and rose again, his arrival will bring great comfort in jewelry. To the people of this world, those who hate the true God and don't believe in him, every sign that occurs now reminds them, whether they will admit it or not, that this world is temporary, that the place where their treasure is, is coming to an end and this truth brings forth frustration and fear and anger.
Your treasure is in the kingdom of God to come. Every sign assuring you it is ever closer and it brings you joy. Now, you have the winter of your discontents, then, the heavenly spring of hope and eternal joy and peace. Christ's return will mean being with the Lord forever. No matter who you are, believer or no, you will be caught by surprise at the suddenness of the day. But the Lord says to faith, the great day will bring you complete joy and peace, fear banished forever. All this has been for you and for the glory of Jesus precious name.
Hymn of the day:
LO! HE COMES WITH CLOUDS DESCENDING (LSB 336)
The brothers John and Charles Wesley saw that, according to Luther, music teaches the faith and imprints it strongly upon the heart. So he did in this hymn. The tune is new to LSB, but not to the text and a more beautiful pairing to the hymn. The tune does what the text declares. As the music descends so the text confesses “. . . with clouds descending.” As the congregation and musicians swell so we sing “Swell the triumph of His train, Alleluia . . .” It is well worth learning if your parish has not yet undertaken the task.
The hymn primarily pictures through song the words of Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen.” Some slight editing has taken place from Wesley’s original which shows theological difference between the Methodists and Lutherans, “once for favored sinners slain,” now reads “Once for every sinner slain.” (Pastor Adrian Sherrill for Logia Online)
December verses to remember:
December 2 – Romans 8:14 – “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God.”
December 9 – 1 Kings 8:27 – “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built!”
December 16 – Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
December 23 – Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
December 30 – Hebrews 10:31 – “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”