Lord God, heavenly Father, by Your Son You have revealed to us that heaven and earth shall pass away, that our bodies shall rise again, and that we all shall appear before the judgment seat: We beseech You to keep us in Your Word by Your Holy Spirit; establish us in the true faith, graciously defend us from sin and preserve us in all temptations, that our hearts may not be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, but that we may ever watch and pray and, trusting fully in Your grace, await with joy the glorious coming of Your Son, and at last obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;
26 “men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.
27 “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28 “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
29 Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.
30 “When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near.
31 “So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.
33 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.
35 “For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
36 “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.” (Lk. 21:25-36 NKJ)
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dear fellow redeemed,
I’m going to ask you some questions with obvious answers. But there’s a point to them. When God brought judgment upon the wicked world in the great flood, would it have been better to be on the earth going about the things of the world, or to be on the ark, feeding the animals and watching for what God was going to do?
When God brought destruction upon Sodom and Gomorrah for their sodomy, where was it better to be? In the cities, or outside the radius of destruction in the little town of Zoar, where Lot and his daughters found refuge?
When God visited Jerusalem in the year 70 in judgment, where the Romans took siege over the city and destroyed it, would it have been better to be there in the city in the midst of the atrocities suffered there, or would it have been better to have done what Jesus said, and run out to the mountains for safety?
When the last day arrives where would you wish to be found? Now, I don’t mean would you rather be at home with your family or out at the grocery store. There are really two places that you can be found when Christ comes again if that day comes in our lifetimes. One place is to be in the state of sin and unbelief with this evil generation, which will perish with this fallen creation. The other is to be in the kingdom of Christ in which there is redemption and justification. So that’s another question with an obvious answer. But to answer and to remain in that kingdom are two different things.
Let’s examine this a bit more.
Consider the two kingdoms. The kingdom of the world, and the kingdom of Christ. First is the kingdom of Christ. (Now the kingdom of God I’m talking about here is the kingdom of grace, the kingdom which He rules by His gospel here on earth. The kingdom of God that our gospel reading talks about is Christ’s kingdom of glory, which is his heavenly kingdom which He rules in glory. That kingdom will be seen before all in glory on His return on the last day. But I’m going to speak about His kingdom of grace in which we believers live right now.) “It is not of this world,” as Jesus said to Pilate. What does that mean? It means it does not belong to the fallen creation, but it is separate from it. It is a new kingdom that is not subject to the fall and its curse. Surely, those in this kingdom must endure the hatred of the world, and the other tribulations of the world, such as the frightful signs of the end, but they already have the victory in Christ, and will finally be delivered from these thing. Christ’s kingdom is a kingdom of grace and forgiveness, in which its inhabitants dwell with God in peace. And as it is founded upon the Word of the Lord which endures forever, this kingdom is unlike the deteriorating world. The kingdom also endures eternally.
But the kingdom of the world, though created by the power of God’s Word, it now exists in ruins, destroyed by the lies of the devil. And now sin and death reign, and this fallen creation is perishing. This is quite clear by the signs we see. You consider the might and constancy of the stars in the heavens, but astronomers observe stars that have died or are dying. Or upon the earth, it is the mountains that are a sign of strength and sturdiness, yet, you have the example of Mt. St. Helen’s, where the top was blown right off. When we lived in Portage, there was a nice beach on the south end of Lake Michigan. But shortly before we left, the beach was overcome by the waters and it was gone. The concrete structures that served as observation platforms were brought to nothing. Houses along the lakeshore put up break walls, to protect their homes, that they would not be overtaken by the Lake. The things of the world are temporary and the world and all creation itself, because of sin, and the death that entered the world is deteriorating, and will finally be destroyed and come to an end when Christ comes again. The worldwide flood showed God’s judgment on the world, and the destruction that can come to it. God gave the rainbow as a promise that He will not destroy the world with water. But when He comes again, He will destroy it by fire.
This world, let alone our own lives in this world will not last forever. Everyone knows that they will die, but few “number their days that they may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12). What is this wisdom? That we may know our Lord who we will face in judgment.
We will face judgment, for Scriptures says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). And we know that Christ will come on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead.
Again, we know this, but how easy it is to forget it. How easy it is to lose sight of it. How easy it is to lose this wisdom and become fools. And again it is the devil’s lies that work against us.
He says, worldly goals and success are more important than remaining in the Word of God which is the power unto God for salvation. He says your life on this earth is more important than life in the kingdom of Christ. Much like the saying of abortion supporters, “my body, my choice,” the devil also says, “it’s your life, you live it like you want.” You have only one life, live it to its fullest, rather than find your fullness of life in Christ, and love your neighbor. The foe says life in this world is all you have, love the world, immerse yourself in it. Put all your cards into this life. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart shall be also” (Mt 6:21). How many hearts bind themselves to this world that is perishing. Of course, the devil would be content to let you think that you can have a foot in each kingdom, which is impossible, since Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Mt 12:30).
And so, see the signs. See the sin, the death, the decay, the signs in the heavens and in the sea. The fig leaf is not only budding, but even blossoming. The day of Christ’s return is near. Oh how many will learn this? Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8). But you, number your days, that you may gain a heart of wisdom.
And thus repent, and flee from this world and the destruction God is bringing upon it in judgment, and run to Christ for your safety. He is your Ark, your Zoar, His kingdom is the house established on the top of the mountains. Flee to Christ into whom you have been baptized. Through your parents, you have been born flesh into the perishing world. But through baptism, you have been born into the new kingdom of Christ through water and the Spirit.
By His suffering and death, He has redeemed you from the perishing world. You are forgiven of all your dead ways, and now have fullness of life in His kingdom. There resting upon His everlasting gospel, you dwell with Christ in His kingdom which even the hellish armies of the devil cannot do so little as flick it with a little finger.
So your treasure then is in that kingdom, the kingdom that lasts forever, the kingdom in which is forgiveness and life, the kingdom in which your dear Savior reigns.
And so dwell in Christ’s kingdom, receiving by faith, His Word and Sacraments. And as children of His gracious reign, live in this world, not as though this world is our all in all, but that we live in this world as subjects of our King of Grace and citizens of another world. In the new life that is given us by the Holy Spirit, we reflect the love and service of our King towards our neighbor, thinking, speaking, and acting in love toward one another, especially to those who are fellow redeemed, and fellow citizens of Christ’s kingdom.
Finally, when that day comes, the day His kingdom of glory comes, when the King of glory appears before the world in His majesty to judge the living and the dead, you, who live in His kingdom of grace through faith, He shall find faith in you, and you may lift up your heads and rejoice, for your redemption draws near. And He will receive you unto Himself and bring you into glory. Thanks be to God! Come Lord Jesus, quickly come! Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; forevermore. Amen.