Desire the Last Day with Great Joy

Pentecost 26 Friday

Luke 21:29-33

“And he told them a parable: Consider the fig tree and all trees: When they blossom, you can tell from them and know that summer is near. So you too, when you see that all this takes place, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you that this generation will not pass away until all this takes place. Heaven and earth will pass, but my words will not pass.”

This is a lovely parable about spring and summer when everything blossom and sprouts which the Lord gives us, so that we might learn from it that we should desire the Last Day with great joy. For he does not say that hell and condemnation are near. He says that the kingdom of God is near in order to teach us to lift up our head to the good of the Last Day we desire, if we have desired to be redeemed from our sins. This is why we should yearn for the kingdom of God and ask that the Last Day may come. At least, we should pray that we might desire it with all our strength. For it is most necessary that the Day does not catch us with the damned who hate and fear it since we may not escape it, but that we should love and desire this Day. Christ, in order to awaken a steady confidence in us, assures with two promises, as if he wanted to say: “This will certainly take place. Yet so that your hope may not waver and you may believe that your redemption is near, I tell you everything is to be fulfilled before the generation of the Jews passes away. For it is to be fulfilled while the generation of the Jews still lasts when I tell you this–not that these Jews live to see the Last Day, but that their offspring will see it.”…Some are laboring to figure out how heaven and earth are to vanish. For this is what they say: they vanish, not according to their substance, but according to their form, as if the words of Christ were not clear enough. For Christ,
as the Greek words read, does not say that they shall vanish or become nothing, but that they shall pass, that is, they will be changed. As St. Peter says, 2 Peter 3:7, “Heaven and earth are now spared by his Word so that they are stored up for fire.” A little later he says in verses 10 and 13, “The Lord’s Day will come…when the heavens will pass away with a great crash; but the elements will dissolve of heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will burn. But we wait for a new heaven and a new earth, according to his promise, in which righteousness dwells.” In Hebrews 1:10-12 we read this quote from Psalm 102:26-27, “The heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain. And they will grow old like a garment. And like a garment, you will change them, and they will change.” And the prophet Isaiah, 30:26, proclaimed this change in advance when he says: “And the light of the moon will be light the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter than now when the Lord will bind up and heal the wounds of his people.”
And In Isaiah 65:17-18 it says, “Look, I will create a new heaven and a new earth, so that the former things will not be remembered or taken to heart anymore, but they will be glad forever and rejoice in what I create.” This is why everything will be changed. But Christ’s words will not be changed; for they are truthful and faithful in eternity. Christ says this to strengthen our faith that relies in his Word, namely, that all this is to take place, so that we then lift up our heads and rejoice that the promised redemption is certainly at hand when we are to be redeemed from all evil of sins and punishments.

St. Louis ed., 12:1014-1017.

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