Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In the season of Advent, we remember the first coming of Jesus Christ, as the Child of Bethlehem. However, our text for today touches again on the theme of the second coming of our Lord.
The fulfillment of every biblical prophecy points to the fulfillment of another. Our Old Testament reading, Malachi 4: 1-6, says: For, behold, the day cometh, as an oven; And all the proud, and all that do wickedness, shall be stubble; And the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, which shall leave them neither root nor branch.
He is speaking of the final judgment at the end of the world. On that day, God will destroy all things to create a new earth and a new heaven. But Malachi also says, "But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise, and in His wings will bring salvation. You will go out and jump like calves from the herd.
Jesus Christ is He who was born as the Sun of righteousness to those who fear the name of the Lord. All the prophecies of the Old Testament pointed to Jesus Christ. He fulfilled what God promised Abraham: Of his descendants would come the Savior of the world. The prophets repeated this promise again and again. The books of the Old Testament deal with the relationship between the Israelite people and their God. He made a covenant with Abraham, also with Moses and King David.
So how does this covenant with a people of the Middle East in antiquity apply to us? The books of the New Testament were written 2000 years ago and those of the Old Testament still many centuries before the New Testament. What we have in common today with Old Testament believers and the first century after the birth of Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ. All the Scriptures point us to Christ.
Many times the descendants of Abraham forgot their covenant with God, and God gave them to their enemies, to captivity and bondage, to call them to repentance and the right way. God did not want to forget His covenant or reject His people, He punished them to call them back on the right way. And by the prophets God always reminded them of His promise of the Messiah, the Savior of the world. The promise was the Messiah would reign forever, and all nations would kneel before the descendant of King David.
Jesus Christ fulfilled the Messianic prophecies and more. By His death and resurrection, we have the promise of eternal life. Not the eternal death we deserve for our sins, because God does not want our destruction, but to return us to the right path.
Eternal life begins at baptism, but its culmination is to come when Christ returns in glory to judge the nations. Now not everyone recognizes the dominion of Christ. Before the final judgment, the church has the mission to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ in all parts of the world.
Let us live, then, in a world in transition. As our text says: Then there will be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; And in the earth anguish of nations by the confusion of the sound of the sea and the waves: men withering away because of the fear and expectation of things that will come to the roundness of the earth: for the virtues of the heavens will be shaken.
This year, like last year, we heard a lot of earthquake news, in Chile and Japan, and hurricanes. A hurricane struck Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Also, there are always wars, pestilence and other disasters. We live in a changing world. For nonbelievers, this is a source of distress and fear.
But, for us, it is not so. The Bible tells us that these things will happen before the second coming of Christ. We celebrate at Christmas the first coming of our Lord and we anticipate the culmination of the promise of eternal life. On that final day, when all nations will recognize Christ as king, we will approach the throne of God with confidence, because we will be covered with the blood of Christ, justified by the righteousness of Christ. Among all the disasters and difficulties of this life, we have this hope. That is why we have peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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