14. December 2022
Advent Midweek 3
Daniel 7:9-18; Revelation 20
Soon will come that hour
When with mighty power
Christ will come in splendor
And will judgment render,
With the faithful sharing
Joy beyond comparing.
In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.
The third stanza of our hymn “Once He Came in Blessing” tonight focuses on Christ’s coming “soon.” Soon Christ will return to judge the living and the dead. His eminent return is a warning and terror to the wicked whose sin remains unconfessed and trust misplaced. His return soon is a delight to the righteous who live in Jesus’s forgiveness and, with anxious expectation, await His reappearing. For you who live in Christ and grieve this world, sin, and its serpent prince, Jesus’s return cannot come soon enough.
There are only two possibilities for us on the day of judgment—guilty or not guilty. All will be raised, either to eternal death or to eternal life. Either you are declared unrighteous under the verdict of God’s Holy Law and penalized to the same fate as the devils and everlasting fire. Or you are declared righteous under the verdict of the Gospel, sins forgiven for the sake of Christ’s shed blood, and welcomed into heavenly dwellings.
The prophet Daniel was given to see both Christ’s first and final advent from a distance. In the vision of Daniel 7, the prophet is given to see the verdict of Jesus’s death, resurrection, ascension, and final day together. On the other hand, John the Revelator expands upon the vision with more details. From the Apocalypse of John, we learn that the last advent can only be known by way of the first advent. At the cross, the penalty for your sin was put on Christ. The righteous wrath and verdict of death were suffered by Jesus for you. And having died your death, Jesus was buried in your tomb. You have the assurance that it’s all finished—the Law, the anger, and the punishment.
Hell is not for you. Hell is for the little horn and its pompous words, the beast kings, and all the rest of those opposed to the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. The antichrist and his beasts are destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. That’s good news for us who suffer under all those who speak against Jesus and His Word, whether at home, work, community, or state. That’s good news for us who are burdened by the constant barrage of lies, misrepresentation, and fraud of the Deceiver and his demons. They’re already judged, and the Stronger man binds them to their lies. And at last, they will be cast into the abyss where this is only darkness and fire.
Soon! Soon will come that hour when the Father’s throne of judgment is seen, surrounded by the myriad angels. The books of judgment are opened. Those who cling to their works for salvation will have every sinful thought, word, and deed recited to their horror and condemnation. Those who cling to Jesus for His righteousness will be astounded as His Book of Life is opened, their name read aloud, and the verdict, “not guilty!” exclaimed. As the preacher to the Hebrews proclaimed: “ And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Hebrews 9:24-28).
All the faithful will share in the joy of sins forgiven. This kingdom has no limit, but all nations are brought into His service. It is eternal and unending since even death cannot conquer the Son of Man. And you who trust in Christ’s atoning work are given to Him as His dominion and glory and kingdom. You are the saints of the Highest, forgiven, adopted royalty, and will receive with Jesus the kingdom and possess it forever and ever.
It will be as it is now by faith. Judgment proclaimed at the cross will be known fully on that day. It is as we confess in the Third Article of the Creed: “In this Christian church [the Holy Spirit] daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day, He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.”
This is the coming of Christ that we’re still looking forward to: His coming again, his second coming at the end of time. “He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead,” we confess in the Creed. Or as we sing in this stanza: “Soon will come that hour when with mighty power Christ will come in splendor and will judgment render.” We don’t know when that hour will come, but we know it is coming. Soon, for all we know.
Soon, for all we hope! Because that hour will be a joyful occasion for us. We need not shrink in terror from the Day of Judgment, for we know that our Judge is also our Savior. This judge removed the guilty verdict from us by taking it upon himself. So in him, in Christ, we will be declared not guilty, justified, and able to stand on that great day. It will be a day of joy, that wonderful day when Christ comes again. Christ will come “with the faithful sharing joy beyond comparing.” There is nothing to compare with the joy that awaits us! We really have no idea how good it’s going to be! It is literally beyond our imagination.
Once He came. Now He comes. Soon He will come again! The coming again of the glory of Christ on the last day is our hope and joy. Soon Christ will appear a second time “to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Soon. Amen!
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin