3rd Last Sunday (Mt 24:15–28)
((5. Oops!: The world’s going to end, and it’ll be bad.))
The’s world’s going to end. Everything we put stock in: our country, our monuments, our accomplishments, our wealth, our strength, our power. It’ll all end. It’ll all come crashing down. It’ll all be destroyed. Burned up. Gone. Nothing. Won’t even exist. Won’t ever exist again. We get so worked up about so much in this life, we think so many things are so very important, but the Last Day will show them for what they are: empty, meaningless, vain hope and worry.
Jerusalem’s destruction was a small preview of the end. AD 70, emperor Titus came and surrounded, sieged, and sacked Jerusalem. He tore down the temple. “Not one stone left on another,” as Jesus predicted. But that’s small potatoes compared to what’s coming. And it is coming—the end of all things. All things of this life. It’ll all come a tumbling down in swift and final destruction.
The end’ll be far worse than Jerusalem. In that time “there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” “Wars and rumors of wars.” “Nation against nation.” Famine. Earthquakes. Nations and creation itself coming apart at the seams.
((4. Ugh!: Abominations of desolation will come.))
But it’s going to be even worse than all that! How can it be worse? Well, there will even be tribulation for the Church. Tribulation from real persecution: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake,” Jesus says. But there will also be tribulation within the Church!
Abominations of desolation will come. They will arise “in the Holy Place,” like Daniel prophesied. It happened before Jesus’ birth with the Greeks invading Jerusalem. It happened after His resurrection and ascension with the Romans destroying Jerusalem. And it will happen again. “False Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will give great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Yes, they will work miracles. Yes, miracles. Great wonders given by the false Christs and prophets. They will deceive many. Lead them off to destruction. The problem with false Christs, false prophets, those teachers who teach and preach a different Gospel is that they are setting up idols “in the Holy Place” of God. Instead of Christ crucified and raised for you there is some other message—a lie. And it will come with miracles even, with great power, with great growth even! How great the tribulation!
((3. Aha!: JESUS PRESERVES HIS ELECT.))
So, how can we even hope stand firm in those times? They sound absolutely terrifying. And ever since Jesus ascended, they’re right around the corner!
Well, dear saints and beloved children of God, there’s no real reason to be afraid. In spite of all this, Jesus, your Brother and Savior, does something about it. JESUS PRESERVES HIS ELECT.
((2. Whee!: Of course He does—through the Word.))
Yes, JESUS PRESERVES HIS ELECT, His chosen people. Of course He does! But how do you know you’re in on that? How do you know you’re chosen? You’re elect? That God has elected you, yes you, for salvation?
God’s will is revealed and made clear to you, dear saints of God, through Jesus His Son. We’re to cast all eyes—all ears!—on Him. When it comes to you being elect, you should only think and speak about Jesus. “Jesus is the true Book of Life.” (SD XI.13) JESUS PRESERVES HIS ELECT, you, through His Word.
“See, I have told you beforehand,” He says. He warns you about the evil to come. But He doesn’t just give you a warning. He speaks super-abundant and lovely, sweet promises to you. “For the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” He gives His promise that He and His Father cut those days short for your good. He will preserve you through those short and evil days. He’s promised it.
In fact, He was made desolate for your sake—“crucified, died, and was buried.” He was resurrected for you, too. SO, All His promises are true and genuine. HE PRESERVES HIS ELECT. “No one can snatch them out of My hand,” (Jn 10:28; SD XI 8) Jesus promises—His nail-scarred hands. “Those days are shortened,” and so they are.
((1. He also gathers His elect to Himself.))
The Lord doesn’t just speak His Word to you to preserve you. That would be enough. Because “by His Spirit, through the Word, when it is preached, heard, and pondered, Christ will be effect and active in [you], will convert [your] heart to true repentance and preserve [it] in the true faith.” (SD XI.17) JESUS WILL PRESERVE HIS ELECT there.
But that’s not all! More comfort from your Lord Jesus.He also gathers His elect to Himself. And by gathering them to Himself, HE PRESERVES HIS ELECT. ANd so Christ also seals His promises to you through His Gifts, the Sacraments. (SD XI.37) There He gathers you around Himself, and delivers Himself to you. There He unites Himself to you, so that no evil day, no evil times, no evil anything can harm you.
“Where the corpse is, there the eagles will be gathered.” We are gathered around the Christ the crucified, not just crucified but raised. Only the eagles are gathered around Him. His eagles, His elect. There He feeds them, feeds them with Himself—His body and blood.
The world considers Him dead, but He really is alive, and He gives us His life. Where He is, His elect shall gather. Only His elect, His chosen gather around Him, trusting Him, His promises, and receive His body and His blood. No election apart from what was given and shed for you—each one of you! How can you be an eagle that will soar over and through the coming end times without Jesus’ body and blood?
“Where the corpse is, there the eagles will be gathered.” Yes, “they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Not ever because there JESUS PRESERVES HIS ELECT.