Wed, 28 November 2018
(Rv.18:1-2,21-23,19:1-3,9; Ps.100:2-5; Lk.21:20-28)
“These indeed will be days of retribution,
when all that is written must be fulfilled.”
The destruction of the world and the coming of the kingdom is our clear theme today. It is what is written. It is what must be fulfilled.
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!” that “dwelling place for demons,” cries out an angel by whose authority and glory “all the earth was lighted up.” He calls down the destruction of the evil empire that is the city of this world. And the “assembly in heaven” sing loudly, “He has condemned the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her harlotry,” exulting in the salvation and glory and might of the One God, whose “judgments are true and just!” For though “the blood of His servants… was shed by her hand,” “the great city” is “hurled… into the sea” like “a huge millstone,” “cast down” with such “violence” that it shall never rise again. And so, “happy are they who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lord,” who sing “Alleluia!” to the great and wonderful presence of our God in the kingdom that is to come.
And in our gospel Jesus warns of the coming destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and of the final destruction of the earth. Yes, “Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles.” Indeed its “devastation is near,” a mere thirty-five years from the death of the Lord. But the devastation of Jerusalem will last beyond its destruction by Rome, by the whore of Babylon, around 70 A.D. – it will continue “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled,” until the nations’ drinking of the cup of evil to its dregs, and the consequent end of this world brought about by the mighty hand of God. And so the blood of His servants continues to be shed, even as the kingdom is on the horizon.
“Those in the heart of the city must escape it.” Here is a grave warning. You must rise from the mire of the sin into which the world leads you. For “the powers in the heavens will be shaken”; the walls of the city will be torn down, and you will be exposed and alone. “Flee to the mountains” of holiness; take refuge in “the country,” where the Lord pastures His sheep. Do not give yourself to the ways of this world or the mark of the beast – lust not for the gold in its hands. For she is “a cage for every filthy and disgusting bird”; though the appearance may be otherwise, though the cage may be gilded, the horror within shall be revealed in the last days.
Brothers and sisters, we must find ourselves standing with those who “sing joyfully to the Lord,” who “enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise.” On the last day we must not fear “the roaring of the sea and the waves” because of our complicity with evil, but “stand up straight and raise our heads,” ready for our ransom to come at the hands of our Lord. Let His goodness which “endures forever” be fulfilled in our souls. (With arms open upon the cross, we shall find our song.)
O LORD, as the great city of this earth
is destroyed by fire,
let us be welcomed into your kingdom by your Son.
YHWH, in you and in your Son our ransom is near at hand, ransom from this world of corruption, ransom to the wedding feast of the Lamb. Your saints have shed their blood at the hands of the great harlot, but never again shall she sing her mocking song – all evil will be silenced before you as you gather your sheep into your arms.
Though by the nations your people be trampled, though great signs come in a bloodstained sky and a roaring sea… though it seem like the end has come upon us, it is only the beginning of your reign to come. O LORD, may we let this world pass away in its iniquity as we join ourselves to you!
Into your gates with thanksgiving let us come, O LORD; in your courts let us praise your NAME. Let us raise our heads to see your Son coming, even as the earth and its wickedness pass entirely away.