This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
“Promises Made: God’s Kingdom is Coming”
When I was a dorm student at Martin Luther College, the men on our floor became very familiar with a particular King James Version passage of the Bible from the gospel of Mark: “Watch, ye, therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh.” We learned it well because our floor’s RA, who is now a WELS pastor out west would always yell it down the hall when he was about to enter someone’s dorm room to make a surprise inspection. As students, we never knew WHEN the RA was going to do his room inspections – and since he had the key to every single room, he could do them anytime, even when students were on vacation. (We suspect that’s when a lot of things were confiscated). We never knew WHO’s room he was going to inspect, and we never knew WHAT he was actually going to do during his inspection - either just peeking in quickly, or turning over every part of the dorm room to seek out that contraband that would result in a fine. Since we didn’t know any of that, we always had to be ready. And every time that he did one of these surprise inspections, he quoted that KJV verse: “Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh.” (We’re convinced he watched the Shawshank Redemption way too many times.) In its context, that Bible passage from Mark 13 reflects the theme for the entire season of Advent, “Watch ye, therefore, for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh.” We’re going to spend our Advent season this year in the book of the 5th Evangelist, Isaiah, who gives us a rather complex message that serves as both a warning and a promise – God’s Kingdom is Coming...in 3 unexpected ways. 1) It comes at an unexpected time. 2) It comes to unexpected recipients. And 3) it comes with unexpected peace. Isaiah lived about 700 years before Jesus was born. So, from the standpoint of salvation history he had a much different perspective than we do today. He was always looking ahead to the advent of the Messiah, both his first advent in Bethlehem and his second advent when he comes to judge the living and the dead, whereas we are nestled between the two advents of our Savior. But, even though his perspective was different than ours, his world and the congregation he served were not all that dissimilar from today’s world and today’s church. His world: corrupt, godless, filled with all kinds of alluring temptations that called out in loud voices for God’s people. And his congregation, the nation of Judah: so willing to attend to temptation’s siren call, so willing to let their faith become dull, to become weak, to become compromised, to become an insignificant part of their lives rather than a matter of chief importance in their lives. The bottom line: They were spiritually unprepared! In college, not everyone was ready for the surprise room inspections. When the RA did inspections, there wasn’t any, “Hey, I’m going to check your room in 10 minutes, so get rid of the unsavory stuff.” He just walked in at whatever time he determined – ready or not! Those that were prepared made it through the inspection. Those that weren’t prepared paid dearly, even to the point of expulsion. The second verse of Isaiah 2 is a “ready or not here I come” kind of message: “2 In the last days the I. It comes at an unexpected time
mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills...” Now, that’s tough language. It’s prophetic language. Essentially the prophet is telling the people: “Be
ready for the coming of God’s kingdom, because, ready or not, at the time God determines, there is going to be a radical change, and radical new developments that will usher in the most important era in Judah’s history and in human history. What happens during that era will be the centerpiece of the world’s history, the foundation of man’s hope and the source of man’s peace with God for eternity. And the whole world is going to take notice.” What he’s referring to, specifically, is the advent of the Christ! His incarnation and birth in Bethlehem was the radical change that established God’s mountain as the chief one. His arrival in such a lowly state was the radical new development in salvation history, an arrival that came at a time that no one expected. Instead:
“When the time had fully come, (when it was just right in God’s wisdom and providence) God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law to redeem those under the law.” Christ came, whether people were ready or
not...and most weren’t, and therefore rejected him in unbelief. Are we ready? Because ready or not, Jesus is coming again! We, who find ourselves stationed between the two advents of our Savior, are we ready? Because a radical change is coming when the heavens and the earth will pass away, and the Lord will usher in his Kingdom of Glory forever. Are you ready for that day? Because so many among God’s people in Isaiah’s day were the furthest thing from ready for our Savior’s first advent. And I would venture to say that many among God’s people today are not really prepared for our Savior’s second advent either. We don’t know when the owner of the house will return. That’s a sobering truth. But that doesn’t mean we have no means of preparation. Open your ears and listen! That was the problem among God’s people. They closed their ears to God’s Word. Listen...heed the warning, which carries with it a promise, that your Lord who came unexpectedly the first time, in like manner will arrive unexpectedly again – and when he does, those that are prepared in faith will make it through Judgment day. But, those that aren’t...won’t! We need to be ready. God’s Kingdom is coming. That’s a promise, and it will come at an unexpected time.
the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”
Now, when Isaiah refers to “many peoples,” he’s not speaking about quantity of individuals as much as he is referring to the variety of different people – we could translate “many kinds of people.” Again, we have to look at things from his perspective, as a prophet who lived 700 years before the first coming of Christ. It was difficult for many Israelites to think in terms of universality because they had such pride as a nation, and grew to despise people who weren’t pure-blood Jews. And yet, in this prophecy, the epoch of the Messiah is going to catch the attention of the world, not just the Jews, but Gentiles too, and will have a salvific effect on “many peoples,” all kinds of people, extraordinary both in quantity and in variety – truly all-encompassing. How unexpected, at least from the 8th century B.C. perspective. The advent of the Christ would affect...everyone, Jew and Gentile. The gospel’s language is plenary in its tone. “God so loved the world (THE Jesus himself, when he lived on earth during his first advent, extended his invitation to faith to some pretty unexpected recipients: fishermen, tax collectors, and prostitutes...the leprous, the lame and the blind... the poor and outcast...Samaritans, Phoenicians, Greeks and Jews... to all without discrimination, Jesus’ invitation went out, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” And now, between his two advents, the Lord continues to sound his call to faith through his Word to the whole world.
Isaiah continues with these striking words: “3 Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to
To unexpected recipients
WORLD) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him (unqualified) will have eternal life.” Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles said to the Corinthian Christians: “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.”
That invitation reached your heart at your Baptism, where he made you a citizen of his kingdom, and a member of his family. It still calls to you and reaches you, through the revealed Word of God. It is delivered to you in bread and wine. And it goes out through you to every other needy soul for whom he died, to every other unnatural branch, that they may also be grafted into the family tree of God, just as we were. How strange to the people of Isaiah’s day that “many kinds of people” would flock to the mountain of God to listen and learn. And yet, for us, we who are situated between our Savior’s two advents, how wonderful, because the King to whom the nations flock invites you and me, and indeed the whole world to his family, to his kingdom and to the unexpected peace that citizenship in his kingdom brings. And that’s the final unexpected element of Isaiah’s prophecy today. God’s kingdom comes at an unexpected time, it comes to unexpected people, and it comes with unexpected peace. Listen to Isaiah’s words: “4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their III. With unexpected peace.
swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
No war = peace! Now we know that, in this picture, we’re not dealing with a visible worldly kingdom. There’s always war going on somewhere in our world. There’s always someone fighting over oil, over land, over rights and privileges, or just because they’ve been fighting for centuries and for no other reason. War is a sad reality of our sin-infested world. But, a war-less kingdom? Unimaginable. But that’s exactly what God’s kingdom is, that’s what God’s family is – a peace-filled family. Those of you who had family gatherings for Thanksgiving this past Thursday, you know there’s always that one family member that everybody walks on eggshells around...one family member that you hug, shake hands with, greet, but ever so begrudgingly. There’s always one around whom the drama of Thanksgiving unfolds! A war-less family, a war-less kingdom...peace! That’s what Christians enjoy in the advent of Christ. At his first Advent, he brought peace to all mankind through sacrifice, peace between God and man through his blood, shed for the sins of the world. At his second advent, he’ll bring a new level of peace to us, a peace that is unexpected because of its vast difference from the earthly human experience of constant war – a peace not only between God and us, but a wonderful peace among one another – for all whose trust lies in the atonement of Jesus Christ will be at peace with each other, living in perfect harmony with no drama, no walking on eggshells, no outright hatred, no division – only unity, love, fellowship and glory forever and ever. That’s reason enough for us to strive to always be ready for the coming of Christ. This advent season, let’s keep our eyes open. Stay spiritually alert. Prepare for the second advent of Christ by listening, and being refreshed in the importance and blessings of the first advent of Christ. God’s kingdom is coming! That’s a promise - a marvelous, peaceful eternal kingdom of glory. And just as it was with his first coming, so also will it be with his second coming – unexpected. Thus: “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh.” Amen.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.