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The days will be shortened

Matthew 24:15-28

Pastor David Ernst

Sunday of the Final Judgment
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Nov 10, 2019 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The next three Sundays are the last Sundays in the church calendar, so let's focus on the last days of the world. It says in our reading of the Old Testament (Job 14: 1-6), “The man born of a woman, is short of days, and fed up with worries. He blooms like a flower and is cut; and he flees like the shadow, and does not remain ... Certainly his days are determined, and the number of his months is known to you : You set limits, which will not pass. ” Every human life has its purpose in the eyes of God, but the time that is enough to fulfill God's purpose is short for us. Also, the earth has its purpose and the Lord has numbered its days. Our gospel text speaks of these last days and the final judgment.

Many photos of the desecration of the churches in Chile were published on Facebook this past week. They took the images of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, and the pews of a Catholic church and burned them in the street. They also painted blasphemies on the church walls. What is the reason for the desecration of a church? Only as part of street demonstrations? Why is it necessary to violate a holy place, a house of prayer?

In fact, we should not be surprised. This is an example of the spirit of evil that will be revealed in the last days, as our text for today says.

"Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by the prophet Daniel, who will be in the holy place (he who reads, understands). Then those who are in Judea, flee to the mountains." This refers to a quotation from the prophet Daniel. “And for a week he will confirm the covenant with many, and in the middle of the week he will cease the sacrifice and the offering. Then with the crowd of abominations will come the one who makes desolate, even to a complete consummation; and what is determined will be poured out on the desolate people. ” (Daniel 9:27) Those who heard Jesus understood this quotation as a prophecy of the desecration of the Temple of Jerusalem by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Syrian dictator between 164 and 175 BC.

The inspired books of the Old Testament concluded with the people of Israel returned from their captivity in Babylon and rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple. Four hundred years passed until the events of the New Testament, but in the book of Maccabees, not inspired by the Holy Spirit, but trustworthy to a point, we find this story. Antiochus in his hatred of the Jews raised idols inside the Temple and sacrificed pigs to his gods. The sacrifices according to the covenant with Moses ceased until the victory of the Jews under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus and the rededication of the temple. This is the basis of the feast of Hanukkah, which Jesus and his disciples celebrated according to John 10:22.

In the words of our gospel, Jesus Christ made another prophecy, The abomination of desolation would come again to desecrate the temple and the sacrifices would cease. This happened with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in the year 70 after Christ. The Jews rebelled against the Romans, but this time they did not defeat their oppressor. The army of Rome destroyed the temple and some years later, built a temple to the god Jupiter and made sacrifices to him on the temple mount. But, in this case, the Temple was not rebuilt and the sacrifices did not resume. Because after the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, the sacrifices of lambs in the Temple had no purpose in God's plan of salvation. The sacrifices in the temple pointed to Christ, and when Christ accomplished His mission, the time of the sacrifices was over.

Well, now, look at the pattern of the prophecies of the Bible. The fulfillment of each prophecy foreshadows something greater. Every judgment of God against Israel prefigures the final judgment when the Son of God will judge all nations. In this sense, with the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 after Christ began the last days of the world. We are living in the last days, the time of grace between the ascension of the risen Christ and His return in glory.

"For then there will be great tribulation, which has not been since the beginning of the world until now, nor will there ever be. And if those days were not shortened, no flesh would be saved; but because of the elect, those days will be shortened."

This age is one of tribulation, but even these days are shortened according to God's will. This is the time of the mission of the church to proclaim the gospel in all parts of the world. And God will not allow the devil and his angels to check the mission of the church.

We should not be surprised by the evil shown in Chile and the persecution of Christians in other parts of the world because the Lord has warned us these things will occur before the final judgment. But, as the church, we should not be afraid of anything, neither physical death nor eternal death because we are justified by faith from our baptism to the final judgment.

In these words too, Christ warns us against those who say they know the date and time of the final judgment. "Then if anyone told you: Behold, there is the Christ, or there, do not believe it. For false Christs will rise, and false prophets; and they will make great signs and wonders, so that they will deceive, if possible, even the I have told you before, so if they told you: Behold, it is in the desert, do not go out: Behold, in the alcoves, do not believe it, for as the lightning that comes out of the east and is shown to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man. "

We can live peacefully in the security of the promise of eternal life, not in terror of death or the day of final judgment. Christ is with us until the end and in that we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.

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