When All Hell Seems To Break Loose...

Text: Luke 21:25-36

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

In case you haven’t noticed, things are really bad.  Not just a little, but a lot.

We are supposedly told that polar icecaps are shrinking, earth’s temperatures are rising, and tropical rain-forests are suffering, which means that we should expect more droughts, hotter heat waves, stronger hurricanes, and unpredictable weather patterns in the future. 

It’s bad, not just a little, but a lot.    

We see images of bloodshed overseas as an Italian priest was recently stabbed, a Christian neighborhood hit by incoming rockets, Christians beheaded, and hundreds of other unmentionable acts of terror.

It’s bad, not just a little, but a lot.

The tremors of horror hit us this last year as a large earthquake in Nepal killed over 9,000 people and injured more than 23,000 other people.  The mighty power of this earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, as if the earthquake was leaving its signature card of destruction.

It’s bad, not just a little, but a lot.

Recent videos on YouTube have been released of tiny little babies being aborted within mother’s wombs and their body parts being sold to the highest bidder. 

It’s bad, not just a little, but a lot.

Recently we felt the wave of tragedy from across the Atlantic Ocean, as 130 people were killed in Paris and another 368 were injured due to coordinated terrorist attacks. 

It’s bad, not just a little, but a lot.

More recently and closer to home we saw the terror, as 14 people were ruthlessly killed and another 21 people were wounded by pathetic cowards with corrupted and poisonous consciences. 

It’s bad, not just a little, but a lot.

What is so bad?  The circumstances, signs, and events of our world are bad. 
This is truly our world of despair on display. 

We are told by some though, that it is not too bad.  We are told not to worry, but to eat, drink, and be merry.  We are told to go our way, to feel secure, to go shopping, to build our houses, to enjoy our work, to act unconcerned, and to not think about the troubling events and circumstances before us.  We are also told that if someone comes along and points out that things in this world are bad - that hell has seemed to break loose – well, we are to simply laugh at them and consider them to be fear mongers. 

There are other people too, people who instruct us that we should indeed worry about the events and circumstances of life.  We are told by these people that we should certainly worry.  We are told to watch the news of wars, to examine our loss of rights, to document the economic disasters, and to scramble around in panic with each new breaking news story.  In doing this, we are to become like Chicken Little – frenzied by every single thing, to the point that our very shadow frightens us, while screaming, “The sky is falling!”

Truth be told though, whether we eat, drink, and be merry or whether we run around in a hurried frenzy, both of these responses are rather futile – that is worthless.  They are pointless because they do nothing to change or deal with this world of despair that we live in.  They do nothing to deal with this life full of distress, perplexity, fear, and darkness.  Furthermore, they do nothing to deal with the coming judgement.  Yes, my friends, heaven and earth and the events of life are calling out to us; they are speaking out to us like a voice of thunder.[1]  They are saying to us that there is an end to everything we know and that the Judge stands at eternity’s door looking down upon us.   The events of today are like signs pointing us to the end, to the great judgement that is to come.    

I kid you not, there is a day that is coming when the Lord will return. He is coming to set the wicked and the proud afire.  This day will be a great terror; it will be a terrible day.

You as Christians though, shall not scramble around like Chicken Little; you Christians though shall not live in na├»ve bliss.   No, you shall not scramble in fear or live in apathetic-blind-foolishness!  But rather, you shall lift up your heads and hearts in glad anticipation!  That is to say, when all hell breaks loose, lift up your heads; when all hell breaks loose, life up your hearts! 

“Here you may say, who can lift up his head in the face of such terrible wrath and judgement?  If the whole world is filled with fear . . . [and everyone’s head is hanging low out of terror and anxiety]; how shall we [Christians] look up and lift up our heads?”[2]   In other words, how can one work up enough hope and joy and comfort in the face of disaster, bloodshed, war, and the coming judgment?  How can a head or a heart look upward when it is bombarded with such miserable situations, situations that cast heaviness upon us? 

Dear friends, Jesus tells us that our redemption draws near, look upward!  Indeed, when the shadow of disaster is cast over us, we lift up our heads and hearts, for Jesus draws near.  When distress, perplexity, terror, and darkness – when hell breaks loose and when our world seems to be turned upside down – Jesus does not say that we are to drop our heads in fear and He does not call us to simply shrug things off and return to watching Netflix while drinking a Gin and Tonic.  No, lift up your heads and your hearts, for our redemption draws near! 

Dear Baptized Saints, “Look to those signs in sun, moon, and stars, in earth, sea, and even in your own life.  Look to the cross, to war, to death, and see beautiful blossoms, doves, and rainbows.  They point you to God’s grace and promises.  They are ushering in peace and tranquility, the end of war.  Your enemies will be no more.   Sin will lose all appeal.  Temptation will have no power.  There will be no one to either accuse or hurt you.  The good work begun in you will be complete.  . . . Creation itself will rejoice to see you revealed as a son of God.  And you will rejoice.  You will be glad, for the kingdom of God will come to you and never be taken away.”[3]

Blessed Baptized Saints, your hope is that when all hell breaks loose and when the worst seems to be unleashed in our world, that the Kingdom of God cannot be shaken.   Every sign which points to the end of this world fills the hearts of unbelievers with terror, but not with you!  These signs and events and circumstances fill your hearts with joy and hope, for you and I know that the Lord Jesus is has come, is coming, and will come in great power and great glory.  He has promised to come at the end of the age to set things right, just as He came to us in a manger some two-thousand years ago.  At His second coming, He will come to judge all things!  The world will be burnt up – refined – the evil one will be cast into the lake of fire.  All things will be set right.

But what of the coming wrath and coming judgment of the Lord, shall we fear this?  No we shall not.  The pagan fears the end of the world and the end of life; however, this is not true for you as the baptized child of God.  You shall not fear the second coming and the wrath of God, for you are marked with the blood of the Lamb – wrath will pass over you.  The Lord Jesus Christ is on your side and He comes to deliver you and to take you unto Himself.  The Lord Jesus will wipe away every tear, death shall be no more, there will be no more mourning, crying, no more pain for this world will be no more.  All things will be made anew.[4]   

This morning, lift up your heads and your hearts, for your redemption is drawing near.   

When you hear of rumors of wars, hear of the Word of God more - in Christ you are forgiven.

When you feel persecution pressed against your body, feel the bread and wine of the Lord pressed in your mouth – given and shed for you. 

When you are drenched by the calamities of sin, remember your baptisms more, where you are drenched in the name of the Lord – baptized into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.   

Behold, Jesus coming to you – to forgive you of all of your sins; and on the Last Day to raise you and all believer to eternal life.  

Lift up your heads; lift up your hearts!  Salvation draws near to you!

In the name of Jesus: Amen. 

[1] C.F.W. Walther, Gospel Sermons: Volume 1trans. Donald Heck (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2013), 17.

               [2] Martin Luther, Complete Sermons of Martin Luther: Volume 1(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2000), 75.

              [3] David Petersen, God With Us: Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Sermons (Fort Wayne, IN: Emmanuel Press, 2014), 25.

              [4] Ibid.

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