Luke 21:5-36    End Times
Vicar Paul Rockrohr


Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are in the end times. It really is not mistakable. After all there are wars and rumors of wars. One need only remember the on-going war in Syria, a conflict we nearly entered this summer. There are tensions with Iran, some saying that war is inevitable. We are familiar with war and rumors of war.


There have been numerous predictions of the return of Christ, numerous declarations that the end of the world is upon us. Y2K, 2012 with the Mayan calendar, men like Harold Camping claiming that they know the date of the end of the world. We have seen false christs and false prophets lead many people astray.


There have been numerous earthquakes, one of the most devastating in recent memory in Japan in 2011. Thousands upon thousands killed, entire towns and villages wiped away. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, "In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan.” Now, most recently we have seen the largest typhoon to ever hit land devastate the Philippines. 2,500 believed dead, some 11 million affected, and one person is quoted saying, “I thought the end of the world had come.” We have had very little if any contact with our partner churches there. We know about the effect of such terrible disasters.

Jesus, in speaking to the disciples, tells them all these things will come to pass before the end. And for them, before these things come to pass, they will be handed over. They will be persecuted and brought for judgment before kings and governors on account of the name of Jesus. They would be delivered up by parents, relatives, and friends. They would be hated for name of Jesus, beaten and murdered.

 

SERMON FOR THE 26TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, 11-17-2013
Luke 21:5-36    End Times
Vicar Paul Rockrohr


Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are in the end times. It really is not mistakable. After all there are wars and rumors of wars. One need only remember the on-going war in Syria, a conflict we nearly entered this summer. There are tensions with Iran, some saying that war is inevitable. We are familiar with war and rumors of war.


There have been numerous predictions of the return of Christ, numerous declarations that the end of the world is upon us. Y2K, 2012 with the Mayan calendar, men like Harold Camping claiming that they know the date of the end of the world. We have seen false christs and false prophets lead many people astray.


There have been numerous earthquakes, one of the most devastating in recent memory in Japan in 2011. Thousands upon thousands killed, entire towns and villages wiped away. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, "In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan.” Now, most recently we have seen the largest typhoon to ever hit land devastate the Philippines. 2,500 believed dead, some 11 million affected, and one person is quoted saying, “I thought the end of the world had come.” We have had very little if any contact with our partner churches there. We know about the effect of such terrible disasters.

 

Jesus, in speaking to the disciples, tells them all these things will come to pass before the end. And for them, before these things come to pass, they will be handed over. They will be persecuted and brought for judgment before kings and governors on account of the name of Jesus. They would be delivered up by parents, relatives, and friends. They would be hated for name of Jesus, beaten and murdered.

These things that happened to the apostles are not limited only to them. Jesus speaks directly to them here, but in doing so He warns us as well. These things that came to pass for them are no different for us, we are baptized into the same Name as them. We hold to the same faith as them, and so the world will hate us for the sake of Jesus. History speaks volumes in this matter, the church has been persecuted time and again. Christians suffered under numerous Roman emperors, Lutherans were attacked by the Catholics following the Reformation. Christians in other nations, particularly in the Middle East have their homes burned and much more for the name of Christ. Thus far here in this country we have been spared the greater share of persecution. We still may gather freely to hear the Word proclaimed in its truth and purity, our pastors may still preach in a way that is faithful to the Scriptures in all matters.


Yet even in this, it is prudent to ask how long will we still be able to legally remain faithful to Scripture in our public life, without fear of repercussion? Two issues in particular are often debated and discussed in our society, abortion and homosexuality. For the Christian, these are important, not because of a desire for political power or coercive ability, but because the Scriptures testify against these things, as it does against all sin. How can one say he loves his neighbor, if he is not willing warn his neighbor of the eternal consequences? Live and let live is not loving and caring attitude, it is hateful one that is willing to let another suffer damnation. Thus the Church cannot remain quiet on such issues. However, the movement is toward silencing the Church from within and without. Some church bodies give a false confession that is in line with what the world wants to hear, and so abandon Christ and His Word. Others would label such proclamation as hate speech, and this has already occurred in Canada and the Nordic countries. Their pastors face the possibility of jail if they preach in a faithful way. It is not impossible that Christians who remain faithful to Christ may face imprisonment in this country in the future. Christ predicted it would happen to the disciples, and some of them were killed for the faith. It has not been different for the Church, many have been imprisoned, and many have had their blood spilled for remaining faithful to Christ.


In the face of all these things, wars and disasters, pestilence and false teachers, persecution and even death, there is a temptation to despair. How can anyone survive? “Nations will be perplexed by roaring of sea and waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on in the world.” All of these tremble with fear, but not you. Christ says to you, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” A better way to express this, is that right now, at this moment, in the midst of all of this, your redemption is drawing near. If your redemption drawing near, it is not an occasion to weep and wail as the rest of the world does, but to rejoice! What is this redemption that you should rejoice over? It is none other than Christ himself drawing near to you.


This discourse on the end times began with a comment from the crowd concerning the beauty of the temple, to which Jesus predicts its destruction. But elsewhere Jesus spoke of the destruction of temple, yet that was not the building but his own body that he spoke of. “Destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it.” Due to rebellion by the Jews, the Romans would destroy the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A. D. But before that, due to the rebellion of the Jews against their true King, the Romans destroyed the temple of Christ’s body. On that day there were earthquakes and signs in the heavens. At the death of Christ, the sky grew dark and the earth shook. People were fainting with fear and despair, some distressed at the signs, some distressed that an innocent man died. But redemption had come, for all sin was atoned for in Christ’s holy sacrifice. No more would the blood of sheep and goats be used to cover over sin. Once a year the high priest sprinkled blood on the mercy seat of God in the temple, behind the curtain. That curtain separated the people from God so that their sin would not destroy them in His presence. But on that day, when Christ offered Himself on our behalf, God tore apart the curtain from top to bottom. No longer will the Father be separated from His children, no longer will sin separate us from His loving presence. The mercy seat of God, His throne among His people, no longer dwelled in the temple. It now dwells in the body of Christ, who is among His people wherever two or three are gathered in His Name.


Dear brothers and sisters, your redemption has indeed drawn near. Christ comes to you here and now. He comes to you in the proclamation of the Word, speaking to you His love and His forgiveness. He reminds you that you are indeed precious to Him, He paid for you with His own blood. The things that will come to pass are not unknown to Him, and at no time has He forgotten you. Even in the throes of death, by men or nature, He has not forgotten you. Precious in His sight are the death of His saints. So that you may know that Jesus never forgets you, He gave you His Supper. For what does it give? “Take eat, this is My Body, given for you.” It is My Body that I offered as the perfect sacrifice to the Father, which He accepted. You now receive the benefits that come from the true temple, My Body, which is fellowship with the Father. “Take drink, this is My Blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” No other blood is needed to cover over your sins, I alone have done it for you. To cover over your sins means that they are forgiven, and where there is forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation. Therefore even if you die I will not forget you, I will give you new life because of my promise to you. I am not the God of the dead but of the Living.

Dear Christians, the things that accompany the last days are already here, and they will continue until our Lord returns with healing in His wings. There will continue to be wars and rumors or wars.  There will continue to be storms and quakes that devastate this troubled earth.  There will continue to be attacks on those who worship Christ and confess His Word.  There will continue to be false Christs and false predictions of the true Christ’s return.  That time is the Day of Judgment when all this world’s power will crumble.  But that time is also the time when Christ bids you – “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”  Until that time Christ Himself strengthens and preserves us, for He is our Redemption that has drawn near. So we can say with the psalmist in every time and place, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?” Troubles and disasters too great for me surround me, who will help such a wretch as I? Surely they would consume the whole church if they could! “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Yes these things are great in my eyes, they seem insurmountable! Yet my Helper is not troubled by them, for though they seem vast to me they are a speck in comparison to Him. He creates and sustains, they can do no other than obey Him. “The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The Lord will keep your going out and you coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” God Himself is your keeper, therefore all these things which will come to pass cannot destroy you, for He keeps your life. He keeps you in all things, for all eternity. Therefore in the midst of all things, even death, He has promised that you will live before Him forever and ever. Amen.

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