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By Jeff Thormodson The seven verses just preceding our text describe a cultural milieu that seriously doubts the existence of God or a literal judgment day. This first century attitude fits the current context where “[many] see no tangible evidence of the Lord’s second coming and thus doubt its reality. As a result, they see no need for ..
By David A. Johnson The church journeys into Advent, anticipating renewal in the vital proclamation of Jesus’s incarnation—embodied grace in the embryo of a woman’s womb. The church becomes that vessel of incarnate grace where we are saturated in baptismal living waters that have claimed, redeemed, and forgiven us. The Church remains an eternal community gathered around the table of ..
By Timothy Dost God Protects and Heals His Flock When faced with the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel describes the judgment on those shepherds responsible and the reasons for the fall. In our passage he declares that God will provide new shepherds who will care for the flock and will tend to them properly. In the intervening verses, he ..
By Andrew Bartelt With the end of the church year near and coming quickly, Zephaniah deepens the darkness of the “great and terrible day of Yahweh.” The pericope includes the famous Dies Irae passage of the ancient hymn by that name (TLH 607). But this is only chapter 1, which is focused against Judah (1:4). Zephaniah 2 continues ..
By Rick Marrs The words of the first writing prophet, Amos, come to us only five times in the three-year lectionary, and only once during the Series A year in this pericope. It is paired with important New Testament eschatological readings of 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (a frequent funeral sermon text) and Matthew 25:1–13 (the parable of the Ten Virgins) which ..
By Erik Herrmann The celebration of saints has a checkered history in the church: raucous festivals around martyrs’ graves, prayers to saints to escape various kinds of sufferings, fantastical stories of their lives, and even trust in their merits. The reformers in the sixteenth century were concerned about these abuses and how such focus on the saints could supplant preaching ..
By Bruce Hartung Like the beginning of a great meal, Revelation 14:6–7 goes well with the psalm for this Sunday (Psalm 46) for the celebration of the Reformation. They are excellent companions because both express unshaking vision to see the presence and activity of God, even in the midst of great trial and calamity, even in the midst ..
By William Carr I struggle with the notion that some part of Isaiah, mainly Isaiah 40 and following, is “addressed to the sixth century,” an idea that conservative commentators also endorse. I know Isaiah is directed to “bind up the testimony, seal the teaching” (8:16), until people wonder of whom they should inquire (8:19), at which time the call ..
By David I. Lewis Today’s OT text is found in the section of Isaiah known as “the Isaiah Apocalypse” (Is 24–27). This “apocalypse” follows upon the oracles against the nations (Is 13–23) and offers a vision of Yahweh’s plans of judgment and grace for the entire world. Isaiah 24 depicts the judgment that will come upon the earth. Isaiah ..
By Dale Meyer Maybe you’ve walked through a garden and seen these words, “The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, one is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.” If you enjoy gardening, you know it’s not quite as idyllic as Dorothy Francis Guerney’s poem suggests. Have you ..
By Kent Burreson The Just Way of God “The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” This phrase leads Yahweh through Ezekiel to address Israel’s whining as they blame Yahweh for their woe and suffering in the destruction of the land and in the exile under Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar. The preacher is encouraged ..
By Thomas Egger Better ways, better thoughts. The ways and thoughts of God are immeasurably better than the ways and thoughts of sinful people. God therefore calls all humanity to true repentance, that is, to abandon their own wicked thoughts and ways and to return to God in faith—for God’s ways include incomprehensible mercy toward sinners! The iniquitous ways ..
By Paul Philp A lot has happened since Joseph’s brothers left him for dead in the desert. The brothers have been reunited with Joseph, and now their father, Jacob, has died. It is as if they are back in the desert staring into the pit where they left Joseph dying. Joseph’s brothers are face-to-face with the guilt of their ..
By David Wollenburg I actually cringe every time I encounter this text. It isn’t that I don’t like it, or don’t understand what is being said. It is, rather, that the message is too clear. It is God’s warning, repeated time and again, that we ignore his word to our own peril. And it isn’t just for us preachers; ..
Editor’s note: The following homiletical help is adapted from Concordia Journal, July 1999. By Ernest Bernet On the second Sunday after Pentecost we heard Jeremiah 28:5–9. Here the prophet Jeremiah must deal with the false prophecies of prosperity and peace instead of the pending judgment that he foretold. (See Concordia Journal 40:2, 173–174.) Now, on this Eleventh ..