Let us pray: Dear Savior, events in our nation and around the world constantly remind us that this world is an evil place. Likewise, the remedies humans devise to combat evil are ineffectual and seldom, if ever, address the real problem which is: ignoring Your cure. Today we have come to embrace that cure. Today we have come to confront evil and to glory in Your forgiveness, won on the cross, which has defeated all evil. May each of us take Your cure to heart with repentance and faith. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE ULTIMATE JUDGE OF EVERYONE!
TEXT: Malachi 4: 1,2a; Hebrews 9: 24-28
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
The media would have you believe that the biggest problem confronting human beings is: global climate change. Scare stories about its dire consequences crop up every day telling us: the sky is falling, the seas are rising, and famine, war, and pestilence will be the result. Yes, I guess the media has put a face on the four horsemen of the apocalypse and they all ride under the banner of: Global warming.
But then, other events intrude into our psyche which capture our concern. This week they ranged from the horrible shootings at Fort Hood to the serial killer/rapist in Cleveland. And they provided us with glimpse into genuine evil. They showed us that true evil resides in the human heart and the human heart must undergo transformation in order to blunt evil’s hold over us.
Since the beginning of time, the problem of evil has been the greatest conundrum and the greatest problem for every serious human being. The popular view of most is that: people are basically good and if left to their own devices, good will be the natural consequence. But then shootings, wars, child abuse—you name it, occur, and people are left to wonder: why? How could this happen if people are basically good? Where did this evil come from? And: what’s the cure?
Today is Last Judgment Sunday. On this day, God reminds us that evil began when, due to his pride and arrogance, Satan rebelled against God. God reminds us that Satan corrupted human beings to do the same. God reminds us that all of us are born with that evil seed within and if left on our own it will grow and flourish and evil will replace and displace any and all goodness. But, this day also reminds us, as Christians, that although:
EVIL EXISTS—CHRIST OVERCOMES IT!
It’s easy to stick your head in the sand and act like an ostrich. It’s easy to view events in the world as evil and the actions of certain people as evil. The hard part is recognizing and admitting that such evil lurks within you, too. Yes, I know we’re Christians. I know that we usually block out evil acts of retribution from our minds. For us, as the passage says: “The love of Christ constrains us.” I also know that as humans we rank evil according to classifications—murder is worse than wishing ill upon another, child abuse is worse than cheating on your spouse, corporate thievery is worse than cheating on a test in school. And yet, they all spring from the same source, don’t they? They all come from hearts that are so arrogant they think they decide what’s really right or wrong. And right there each of us should see that evil always tries to supplant God as # 1 and we’re all guilty of it—it’s only a question of degree.
Throughout history, there has been a continual lament—not confined to, but especially from the children of God. That lament is: “How long, O Lord, how long?” People continually shake their heads at the lack of justice in the world. Thieves are rewarded. Murderers seem to go unpunished. Excuse is heaped upon excuse for inexcusable behavior. I’ll grant you that evil often seems to be winning in this life. Quite frankly, I often feel like that little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike holding back the waters. But, that’s this life. And this life ends for everyone. It ends with death. And the world itself will end with Judgment Day.
Listen to how Malachi describes judgment day: “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.’”
So, evil exists, which is obvious, but evil will also be destroyed along with all its followers, which is not so obvious. God isn’t oblivious to our plight. He isn’t uncaring about evil. If He was, He wouldn’t have given us the 10 commandments with which to curb our inner evil inclinations. No, even God’s patience has limits and judgment day is the end of that limit. For this, every Christian can be thankful!
God is not the author of evil, but He is the ender of it. And in His tremendous love for lost mankind, God has ended its dominance over us in Christ. Unlike us, God is perfect in every way. Unlike us God demands and expects perfection from human beings. Unlike us He cannot simply turn a blind eye to evil or excuse it away. For if He were to do so, He would no longer be perfect and holy; He’d be like us and thus, He would cease being God.
God’s perfection demanded that evil be paid for. The price of evil is death. It is death and destruction. This is the message and truth behind judgment day. But because God has such a huge heart that is filled with love, He also devised a way to destroy evil and to save lost, fallen, human beings. This plan was to have His Son, the Eternal God in the person of Jesus Christ, die for us. For only God’s blood could wipe away God’s anger against evil. Only God’s blood could triumph over death and hell. Only God’s blood could take away the sin of the world. And so, Jesus came. He entered our reality. He entered earth. He even entered the temple of that time as the ultimate high priest, offering up His blood to pay for all human evil. This cataclysmic event occurred when Christ was nailed to the cross and died. Yes, those words from the cross: “It is finished!” Announced to the world that evil had been defeated by God’s loving heart. The prideful arrogance of evil was defeated by self-sacrificing love. Likewise, His resurrection into glory was a public confirmation of this fact.
Bearing this in mind, listen to our lesson from Hebrews with fresh ears: “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
There it is, my friends. There is the truth the world doesn’t want to embrace because it is an affront to their own pride.—Evil Exists, and Christ Overcomes It. So, like Malachi of old, we patiently wait for that glorious day when “the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings.” Amen