Pentecost 25 – St. Mark 13:1-13
If I told you the world is going to end, would you believe me?
I am going to assume your answer is yes; and I can make that assumption for one reason: it is correct. The world is going to end at some point, whether it be today or tomorrow, or not for another thousand years. Our confession of faith is that the world will end, Christ will return with angels and archangels, and He will separate the sheep from the goats.
But what if I told you the world was going to end at 7PM tonight, would you believe me?
No, of course not. And I would not believe me either. Just as neither you nor I have believed the 5 end of the world predictions that have been forecasted since the summer. Just as neither you nor I have believed the 5 end of the world predictions before that; just as we have not believed the 5 end of the world predictions before that, or the 5 before that, or the 5 before that, or even the 5 before that.
Just as the disciples do not really believe the end of the world prediction Jesus issues here in our Gospel text.
So, let me ask you again: do you believe the world is going to come to an end?
You certainly believe that your life is going to come to an end, that is a given. You have seen it happen to more than a few people, and we have each come to accept that it is a fact of life; one day, hopefully in the far off future, we will each take our last breath on earth.
You probably also believe that our way of life will come to an end, although perhaps not as soon as we often dread. Whether it is the continuing change of long standing laws and traditions, or a governmental collapse spurned by debt, or even the onset of a nuclear war, it is not hard to imagine that one day the world we see today will be drastically different, perhaps even unrecognizable.
We can picture this because again, we have seen it happen elsewhere; we have seen nations rise and fall; we can look back at pictures from long ago and see that the world we live in is radically different from the world our ancestors lived in.
But how do you picture the end of the world? How do you imagine Christ returning with angels and archangels? How do you think the final judgment will proceed?
You cannot picture it. It has never happened before.
But on a much deeper level, it is also not the narrative we hear, and since we never hear it, it is hard to actually believe it.
What is the narrative we hear?
Just turn on your television and watch any of the people running for president; what do they all say? If you elect them, things will get better. Their policies are the answer to what ails the world. Their mere election will bring civility to Congress; their mere presence will make the economy spike; their own words will bring peace to warring nations.
But let’s not blame it all on politicians, they are but the loudest and boldest in declaring that things will get better just by their election.
What about those who argue for leaving a better place for future generations? The future generations sometimes deals with the next generation, but other times it does not have any effect for 10 generations. Does not matter; the world will still be here, so we have to save it now.
No matter which way you turn, the assumption is always the same. Buildings, monuments, and bridges are all built to last a thousand years. Laws are passed, setting in motion a chain of reactions that will be felt for ages to come. Why? Because we all believe that the world will still be here for a long time to come.
Jesus says the world is going to end? There have always been wars and rumors of wars; there have been periods where the weather patterns are more violent than others; the family has always been in some stage of decline; and the church has always been in some form of persecution.
And despite all of this, what do we see? The heavens have not been torn, no trumpet sound, no angels and archangels, no sheep and goat separation, no end of the world.
Do you believe the world is going to end? So many predictions have been wrong, that it is hard to get excited about it anymore.
In a sense, we are much like those in Judah before the exile. The false prophets first proclaimed that Babylon would never conquer Jerusalem, and when they did, the same false prophets proclaimed that exile would be very short. Only Jeremiah, the true prophet of the Lord proclaimed that Judah would be captured and taken into exile for 70 years. Only Jeremiah was proven to be right.
Will the end of the world come? It will. It will come, not because we wretched humans will have blown the world up. It will not come because we as a society have refused to pro-create a new generation. It will not come because the wrong person was elected and their policies have led us off the cliff. It will not come because the planet got to hot or too cold, or that it was just right all along. It will not even come because this person or that says that it is going to come.
The end of the world will come, because God’s Word says that it will come. It will come with great power and great glory. It will come when probably all of us least expect it. It will come at an hour and a day and a month and a year of God’s own choosing. It will come with shock and awe. It will come with splendor and majesty. It will come and it will be known by all people.
But the end of the world will come because God said it was going to come, and it has arrived. It will come whether the false prophets know it or not; it will come whether the true prophets want it to or not.
It will come for God in His holy Word has said that it will come. God’s word says that things will get worse before the end, and they will. God’s word says that sheep and goats will be separated, and they will. God’s word says that Christ will come to bring judgment, and He will.
And so the Last Day will prove very much like the first day of the flood: inside the ark of the Church will be those who believed the Word of the Lord when it said the world would end, and that they should repent and believe. They, you and I, will be safe and secure in the arms of Jesus.
Outside the ark, about to be destroyed, will be all those who rejected the Holy Spirit, rejected the calls to repent, rejected the warnings that a day was coming when God’s judgment would be rendered.
Make no mistake about it. The world will come to an end; God’s Word says it will. We do not know the day or the hour, but do not be alarmed; God’s Word also says that the end will come at a time we do not know.
Like the faithful in Judah, we know the end is drawing near; and so we prepare ourselves for what will be. Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Word of the Lord; for a day is soon coming when you will be asked to make a defense for what you believe. Hold fast to the promises of Jesus; for a day will come when that is all you have to cling to. Seek out the gifts that the Lord has offered to you in the Lord’s Supper; for this will be the food and drink that sustains you in the tribulation. Call upon the Lord in prayer; for your Father in heaven knows the suffering that you will endure.
But like Noah and his family who gathered inside the ark, know also that in the Church of God you are safe and secure. Know that gathered in the presence of Jesus, you need not fear the end of the world, for the end of the world will be the time that you will hear the announcement made that your name has been found in the Lamb’s book of life, and you will receive the glory of Paradise promised to you in your Baptism.