Sermon Text: It’s the End of the world as we know it.

November 22, 2020 Church Blog, Sermons0

Last Sunday of the Church Year, 2020 – It’s the End of the world as we know it

  1. Not all of you will remember a song that came out in 1987 from a group called REM – It’s the End of the World as we Know it.
    1. Given everything that has happened this year the song resurfaced on the top 100 list back in March nearly 25 years after its release
      1. The lyrics are hard to follow on the radio, so this week, rather than listen to the song I read the transcript to see if it would help – it doesn’t.
      1. For those unfamiliar with the song or those who could never understand what they were hearing (including me) here’s a taste.
      1. “That’s great, it starts with an earthquake…Birds and snakes, and aeroplanes…And Lenny Bruce is not afraid…Eye of a hurricane listen to yourself churn…World serves its own needs, don’t misserve your own needs…Speed it up a notch, speed, grunt, no, strength…The ladder starts to clatter with fear of height, down, height…Wire in a fire, representing seven games…And a government for hire and a combat site”
      1. At least the refrain was pretty clear, “It’s the end of the world as we know it…It’s the end of the world as we know it…It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.”
    1. One commentator’s description of the song was a “stream-of-consciousness lyrics that border on a rant, encompassing a wide variety of references.”[i]
      1. That was really all it was, words, snippets linked together in dizzying array without apparent connection
      1. But the snippets reference the turmoil of that time: natural disaster, political upheaval, threats of annihilation, etc which were real in the waning days of the Cold War era.
      1. It’s the kind of thinking you get when you’re so tied up in knots about all the events swirling around that your thoughts don’t even make sense to yourself…your mind races without direction or purpose.
      1. Why did the writer of the song “feel fine”?  He never tells us.
    1. This year it’s been pretty easy as the song says to get caught in the, “eye of a hurricane” where you “listen to yourself churn”
      1. So many of the institutions and traditions that have marked our lives have disappeared or changed so that many are rightly concerned there won’t be a “normal” to return to.
      1. In a very real sense for many people this year has been the end of the world as they knew it
      1. Throughout this year your mind might have been like that song frantically moving from one anxious thought to another without direction
      1. If it is the end of the world as you know it do you feel fine? Where is your peace in the midst of all that’s happened?
  2. Today marks the Last Sunday of the Church Year, sometimes called Christ the King Sunday, and the readings all center on THE end of the world, not just as we know it.
    1. But whereas the world only offers a vague, “I feel fine,” with no real hope, God’s promise is that, “Have no fear, because I have rescued you and I am with you.”
      1. Let’s look at our OT reading. Ezekiel was a priest who had been taken to Babylon in one of deportations before the fall of Jerusalem in 586
      1. He had been appointed by God to be a prophet to the exiles revealing the sins that had been responsible for the exile
      1. The world as the Israelites had known it had ended, they were in a foreign land, under a foreign king, and Jerusalem had been destroyed.
      1. The exiles lamented their condition in Psalm 137, “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our lyres. For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!” (Psa 137:1-5)
    1. But what we hear from Ezekiel is that our Lord had not forgotten about them, “Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered.
      1. As the godly among the exiles groaned for a return to Israel, the Lord promised that He would be their shepherd and gather them Himself
      1. He continues, “I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.”
      1. And He would set over them a shepherd after His own heart, “my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.”
      1. God hadn’t left them, He was with them and when the Babylonian captivity was over He returned a remnant of the Israelites to the Promised Land, to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple
  3. As I have said before, what the Lord did for Israel in the OT (whether it was deliverance from Egypt, deliverance under the judges, or deliverance from Babylon) is a picture, a preview, of the deliverance He gives the world through Christ
    1. All of the accounts of Israel’s captivity to oppressing nations was a picture of humanity’s captivity under sin and the power of the devil.
      1. Israel was never able to save itself, that’s why God sent deliverers like Moses to lead His people out of oppression.
      1. Humanity is not capable of delivering itself out of sin and captivity to Satan, so our Lord did for us what we were not able to do.
      1. In a master stroke that no one, not even God’s enemies saw coming, the Father sent His Son to bear all the sins of humanity in Himself and die in our place so that we would be forgiven for His sake.
      1. As our Lord said in John 10, “I am the Good Shepherd, I lay down my life for the sheep…If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.…
    1. That is the fulfillment of what we heard in Ezekiel, “As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darknessand I will feed them with good pasture,” (Eze 34:12, 14)
      1. These have been days of cloud and thick darkness for many people
      1. But our Lord has gathered His sheep, He has rescued us and placed us in His church where He provides good pasture.
      1. Here there is a respite from the problems of the world, a time to receive from the Lord His grace, mercy and strength so that the churning hurricane of your thoughts would be stilled by the promises of God.
      1. Here He forgives your sins and reminds you that you are one of His precious sheep for whom He bled and died, and that nothing in all of creation can separate you from Him.
    1. And here you await the time when no matter what storms may have assailed you in this life you will join the faithful throng from every nation dressed in white robes before the throne of God.
      1. When our Lord says to you what He said the faithful sheep in our Gospel, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Mat 25:34)
      1. There as John tells us in Revelation you will, “hunger and thirst no more; the sun shall not strike you, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be your shepherd, and he will guide you to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from your eyes.” (Rev 7:15-17)
      1. It will be the end of the world as you know it and you won’t just feel fine – You will BE more than fine, blessed in the presence of our Lord and the great company of all the faithful forever!