All Saints Day – 2020 LSB #’s 664, 706, 673
Text – Revelation 7:14b-15
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes & made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God & serve Him day & night in His temple; & He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence.
RECONCILIATION OUT OF TRIBULATION
Is there anyone out there like me? When reading a book, or watching a movie – especially one that might hold my attention – I am always tempted to skip ahead & find out first how the story ends.
The sermon text for this All Saints’ Day tends to do what I like: it gives me at least a glimpse of what is at the end! When all the battles, adjustments, trials, tribulations, sorrows & despair have been endured – it shows how the story ends. When all our efforts & divisions seem to have failed or fallen short – what happens when all is said & done?
For many, it will be a time filled with surprises & shockers. Surprises because of what might happen as we tried to live life among the most diverse situations we encounter. And shockers because it may not turn out the way we tried to work it.
In our confession of faith there’s that portion we speak asking God to forgive our sins of commission & omission; things we have done & left undone. The irony is that we will want to cast it all on Jesus to save us from eternal damnation. Not being held accountable, but like little children, saying “Jesus did it. I was always in the right! Jesus did it so lay it on Him.”
But let me be as honest & direct as I can be – even to the point of offending some – so that you might be saved! The opportunity to enter eternal bliss is laid on each one according to how he or she has believed in Jesus; how he or she responded in their life’s journey to the love Jesus gives to everyone! And there is One who knows all that you have done. For that reason He stands in your place assuring your redemption. Your guaranteed deliverance is not the result of your plans; yet the salvation of your soul is guaranteed right now! It’s not something you can merit on your own, but it will be laid upon you by God’s amazing grace! In Revelation 7:2–17, that is taking place: 144,000 will be sealed to eternal life.
Some denominations believe that will be all, yet reading at verse 9: “After this I looked, & behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes & peoples & languages, standing before the throne & before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
That means you & me standing in the grace of God! No one will have been sinless. Not all will have escaped the struggle with doubt or wanting to give in & give up. Not all will have been those who lived with unwavering courage, never uttered a bad word or never had some ugly thought about their neighbor.
Not all will have thought well of their neighbor who looked different. Not all will have acted with compassion when they saw someone in need regardless of their ethnicity or skin color. As Jesus looks upon our brokenness, our inconsistent love, our prejudices, He cries out “… Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing …” (Luke 23:34)
That is exactly what he does every time you & I sin. So, here’s the real deal: all of us are sinners. As Paul made it clear in his letter to the Christians at Rome, “…all have sinned & fall short of the glory of God.” (3:23) “There is no one righteous, not even one!” (3:10) With that, beloved, what will be our plight at the end?
When you get the opportunity, go back & read Revelation 7:2–17 again. Then ask yourself how it will be at the end of your life. Sinners receive mediation, even when we did not provide mediation for someone else. When we had our knee on their neck & would not let them breathe, or even catch a life-sustaining breath – we need a mediator to approach the throne of God. Each of us needs a mediator clothed with the robes of justification & holiness, One able to bring us victory over this world of sinfulness, hate, bigotry, malice & the places of privilege we have etched out for ourselves to the detriment of others.
We need to come with palms in our hands just like those times when conquerors would appear in triumph! What a glorious appearance the faithful servants of God will make at that last great day & hour. After fighting the good fight of faith & finishing our course, with a thunderous voice we will give to God & the Lamb praise for the great salvation won for us.
Knowing that, we long for heaven where our praises & our joy will be perfect. There won’t be any two-faced examples of faith, but there will be that multitude from every tribe & nation enjoying eternal bliss while blessing both Father & Son publicly & with fervor!
What we will see is the work that only heaven can do – which we ought to begin right now filled with joy that we are in God’s kingdom. This is why: When we have messed up, given up, charted our own course, thus deserving God’s disdain & His unmerciful, unrelenting wrath, God remembers mercy as written in Habakkuk 3:2,
“O Lord, I have heard the report of You, & Your work, O Lord, do I fear. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” As we experience trials, we should pray that God would use us then to win others to the Savior, because in the hour of trouble, in the time of darkness, that’s when God works His best!
Just at the moment when those who thought their place of privilege & hard-heartedness would keep others out, at that moment when many thought having their knee on someone’s neck would stop their entering in, it is then that God stirs up & steps in to bring reconciliation to end systematic racist tactics, that we might be able to say like John: “After this I looked, & behold, a great multitude … from every nation, from all tribes & peoples & languages, standing before the throne & before the Lamb … crying out with a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, & to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10)
I’ll go as far as to say what they were singing, the same thing we will sing, “We have overcome this day! Thank the Lord for being so good to us!!” Trials do not last forever. One day you will come out of the tribulation & experience the gracious comforts of God. Wait & be faithful & He will see you through.
One day you will be standing with the great multitude. Standing around the throne holding palm branches & singing praises with a loud voice, because despite your past sins, God has forgiven you, He has reconciled you to Himself, & He has brought you through any & all the tribulations of this broken world.
Sometimes, when you’re struggling, especially how our nation is struggling, you just have to skip ahead & hear again how the story, your story & God’s story, how it will end. Amen.
Love in Christ is strong & living, binding faithful hearts in one; love in Christ is true & giving. May His will in us be done. Love is patient & forbearing, clothed in Christ’s humility, gentle, selfless, kind & caring, reaching out in charity. Love in Christ abides forever, fainting not when ills attend; love, forgiving & forgiven, shall endure until life’s end. Amen. LSB 706:1-3.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet