“All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mark 13:13
A minister was preaching about Judgment Day. He roared from the pulpit, “There will be wars and famines and earthquakes! The sun shall be darkened and the stars will fall from the sky! On that day, will you be ready? On that day, what will you want?” His attention captured, a wide-eared little boy tugged at his mother’s sleeve. “Mommy,” he whispered, “I know what I want on that Judgment Day. I want the Board of Education to call off school.”
Do you know what you want when Judgment Day comes? Everybody wants to be prepared for the unknown. So they might get an edge on the unknown, the ancient Greeks made pilgrimages to the Oracle at Delphi. So they might be prepared for the unknown tomorrow, the Romans read the entrails of sacrificed animals. Today people prefer to consult sophisticated methods of divination like the psychic hotline and their newspaper’s horoscope. To be prepared for the unknown, we take out health insurance, house insurance, medical insurance, business insurance, car insurance, and funeral insurance. Sadly, no matter how much time, worry, and cash we invest in our preparations for the unknown, we can never really be ready.
What I can tell you is that Judgment Day is coming. When? I don’t know. Nobody knows. You can forget the experts’ calculations and the theologians’ opinions. Jesus is going to come, how did Peter say it, like a “thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:10). Saint Paul wrote the same thing to the church in Thessalonica: “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3). So the question “when will Judgment Day come?” does have an answer: We don’t know.
Just because you don’t know when Judgment Day is coming, doesn’t mean you have to be unprepared. You can be ready. How? Paul tells us: “Let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8-9).
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on November 9, 2003
The Prayer: Dear Lord, prepare me for whatever I face today. I need You in my life every hour. Equip me with Your armor, Lord. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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