Summary: A look at God's wrath... as seen in the Old Testament,... yet... not in the nromal manner
Concordia Lutheran Church
Pentecost 13 August 15, 2010
His Presence Provides Hope
† IN JESUS NAME †
20 …may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— 21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen! Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT)
This is the Gospel of the Lord?
Every sermon I preach ends with a paraphrase of Paul’s words to the church of Philippi, - may the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds. I try to tie that peace, the incredible shalom-peace, that can found in the passages of the day,
It is a challenge today. Is there a gospel message, a message of good news of God’s love and mercy, actually found in the gospel, where Jesus indicates that He has not come to create peace, but to cause division? What about the reading from the Epistle to the Hebrews? Where we look at Abraham, and Moses, and the harlot Rahab, and see their stories, the incredible amount of trust they have in God our Father, which enabled them and so many others to endure stresses and challenges and trials. Does God really expect us here in Concordia to have faith that measures up to that of those heroes of the faith? Actually – yeah.
The challenge of finding the gospel, the good news is most dramatic in the Old Testament reading, for there we find the prophets preaching “It is well,” literally – there is God’s peace! God will label those men false prophets, liars, those that rush about as if they are His messengers with His important message, and yet they never bothered to check with Him! And yet this message of peace sound so good!
Hopeless and Hidden from sight?
To those who are God’s people, Jeremiah is told by God to issue the following instructions – don’t listen to them, what they proclaim is false, and is meaningless and vain! It’s not a message they got from God, it is one that ignores the plans they would know, if they had they would have known to avoid the approaching storm!
Instead of heeding God’s word, and instead of understanding His intent with the approaching storm of God’s wrath, these prophets were telling people everything was fine, that they were dwelling in God’s peace. The tragedy is that there wasn’t peace, for the people who God called by His own name weren’t listening to His message, but a message that allowed them to do whatever their hearts said was right. Remember, this passage isn’t talking about the gentiles, about the Canaanites not following God, it’s talking about the people of God, the ones which He rescued, the ones who had sworn to follow Him.
That’s the problem too often in the church. We look at the world around us, and all the “fun” they are having, and we want it too. So we look to those who show us how to be the perfect employee, the best spouse, the perfect parents with the life that is set in a model home, with the perfect vacations, and the perfect church. Last week, we heard from Solomon in the readings, and that such a life was vain, and empty when truly examined. So why do we buy into the deceit of our heart? Why do we chase after pleasure, ignoring the framework of God’s plan? Why do we complicate our lives with the stress and then challenge of realizing our expectations are not ever going to met? Eventually, this results in forgetting God our Father, and replacing Him with some god or thing which we trust in, instead of God.
It is then, as idols collapse, as lives our found to be not so perfect, as messages of success uttered by false prophets are found… vain and meaningless, that the storm of God’s wrath comes upon those who are unaware, and unprepared…
If only they had someone who had known God’s plan, who had sat in the council of God… who heard God’s plan to deal with the evil, to deal with the sin…then…maybe then there would be real peace, rather than the illusion?
Maybe then instead of doubt and guilt and shame, there would be repentance leading to comfort?
Maybe then one would realize the storm of God’s wrath had landed… hear again the prophecy of Jeremiah…
19 Behold, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. 20 The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.