Keyword Search

  • Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company
    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

Proper 28 | Ordinary Time 33 | Pentecost 26, Cycle C (2016)

Perspectives on the end of time. Like the previous week, in preparation of the end of the church year, Eschatology (Realized and Future) is a prevailing theme of these texts, along with consideration of God’s love (Justification by Grace) and Sanctification.

Isaiah 12
It is well known that this book is actually the product of two or three distinct literary traditions. The first 39 chapters are the work of the historical prophet who proclaimed a message to Jerusalem and the Southern Kingdom of Judah from 742 BC to 701 BC, a period during which the Northern Kingdom of Israel had been annexed by the Assyrian empire. Chapters 40-66 emerged in a later period, around the time of the fall of Babylon (in 539 BC). Our lesson is likely the result of the proclamation of the historical prophet — his proclamation of two songs, first a song of deliverance (vv. 1-3) followed by a song of thanksgiving (vv. 4-6).

God is said to be the prophet’s salvation, strength [oz], and might. No need to fear [pachad] (v. 2). With joy, Isaiah claims, we can draw water from the wells of salvation [yeshua, safety] (v. 3). On the day [of the Messianic Age] we will offer thanks to the Lord, calling on his name, making his deeds known among the nations, proclaiming that his name [shem] is exalted (v. 4). A call is made to sing praises to Yahweh for he has done gloriously. This should be made known in all the earth (v. 5). Zion (a reference to the city of Jerusalem) is directed to shout aloud, give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, for he is great [gadal] in the midst of the people present in the temple (v. 6; cf. Zephaniah 3:14).

Application: A sermon on this text might focus on the joy associated with Christ’s second coming as well as the reasons for it (Worship, Sanctification, Atonement, Providence, Eschatology). Or focus could be given to these reasons, leading to sermons on how through Christ we are saved in the sense of being given safety, or sermons might be developed on how as God was really present to the Jews in the Jerusalem Temple, so he is coming to us since Christ’s coming.


Psalm 98
As previously noted, this lesson is one the so-called Enthronement Psalms, proclaiming God’s kingship and was likely used at festivals. The psalmist begins by proclaiming a new song [shir] is to be sung (v. 1). This comment could be read as suggesting for Christians the New Covenant initiated by Easter. References to God’s victory [yasha] (vv. 2-3) might also imply Christ’s victory over evil. Summons is issued to all nations and the physical universe to praise God the king (vv. 4-9). Reference to God’s judging [shaphat] the world in righteousness [tsedeq] and equity [mesharim] (v. 9) reminds us of the Easter-event bestowing God’s righteousness on us and abolishing distinctions (Romans 3:21-26; Galatians 3:28). Although in its original Hebraic context this could connote legal, judgmental actions on the Lord’s part or a legalism, most Old Testament scholars note that God’s righteousness is not in any way punitive but more about relationship. Indeed, it has to do with God’s loyalty to his covenant in saving us and even at times later in the Old Testament era the righteousness of God construed as something bestowed on the faithful (Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, Vol. 1, pp. 373, 376ff) in a manner not unlike what Paul says happens to Christians in Christ (Romans 3:21-26).

Application: As noted last week, several sermon possibilities emerge from this Psalm. It might lead to proclaiming Christ’s victory over evil (Atonement), the creation of a New Covenant as a result of that victory, and Justification by Grace (see the description of the righteousness of God, above). God’s judgment as a good thing (Eschatology), offering comfort that evil will be overcome, is another possible theme (von Rad, pp. 343, 358-359).

Isaiah 65:17-25
See the description of the book of Isaiah in the first alternative Psalm of the Day. This lesson is derived from the so-called Third Isaiah, the chapters from 56 to the end of the book, which were likely written after the restoration of the exiles in Judah, expressing disappointment about what had transpired since their return. This lesson is a continuation of the prophecy of Third Isaiah about the righteousness [tsedaqah, faithfulness to promises made] of God, especially with reference to the coming transformation of heaven and earth.

The lesson begins with God promising to create new heavens and anew earth; the former things will not be remembered [zakar] (v. 17). He urges the faithful to rejoice [gul] in what he is creating, for he is about to create Jerusalem as a joy (v. 18). God will rejoice in Jerusalem, it is said, and delight in his people. No more will they weep (v. 19). No more will there be premature deaths in the city, it is prophesied (v. 20). The people will not work for others but will enjoy the work of their own hands (vv. 21-22). Children will not be born for calamity/terror, for offspring will be blessed (v. 23). Before the people call, God pledges to answer (v. 24). The wolf and lamb will eat together, it is said, though food of the serpent will be dust. All will be at peace (living in harmony) (v. 25).

Application: Sermons on this version of the First Lesson can help the flock recognize that we are in bondage (Sin), but with the good news that has future plans for a world of justice and peace which includes us. Justification by Grace, Social Ethics, Sanctification, and Eschatology receive attention.


Malachi 4:1-2a
The Complementary First Lesson is taken from a prophetic book about which we know little regarding its authorship. It may be that we know nothing of this prophet because his name, which means “My Messenger,” may be just be derived from what Yahweh calls him (3:1; 2:7). It is likely written in the period from 500 BC to 450 BC. The prophet’s voice is devoted to the temple and reflects a high view of priesthood. A central theme is Yahweh’s covenant and priestly instruction. Priests are regularly criticized on this account and for corrupting worship.

This lesson is part of an eschatological description of the Day of Judgment and how true worshipers will be spared. The Lord notes that the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and evildoers will be stubble and burned up. They will be left without root and branch (v. 1). But those who revere Yahweh’s name [shem] the sun of righteousness [tsedeq] (symbolizing health and vindication, see Palm 84:11; 2 Samuel 23:4 or that God will rise) will rise with healing in its wings. And then the faithful will go out leaping like calves from the stall (v. 2).

Application: Sermons on this Complementary Version of the First Lesson will proclaim the assurance of salvation in the end time (Justification by Grace and Eschatology).

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Once again we are reminded that though closely resembling 1 Thessalonians, the authorship of this book is often questioned. Some see forgery evident in 2:2 and 3:17. This has led some scholars to regard the book as either written so soon after 1 Thessalonians that Paul still recalled his earlier wording or else it was written by a later writer using first Thessalonians’ letter as a model. While the earlier epistle assumes that the end is near, this letter contends that if we cannot know the exact time we can know that it will not come at once, that a struggle with evil must take place first, and it will be delayed. As such, this book prepares the church for a period of continued life in the world and so the faithful should continue to the pursuits of daily life.

This lesson contains Paul’s closing appeals, rebuke, and prayer. He commands the Thessalonians to keep away from believers living in idleness, living on the generosity of others, because of the supposed immanence of Christ’s second coming (vv. 6, 10b-11). The apostle notes his own practice as a model for imitation by the faithful. He never ate the bread of others without paying for it, he notes (vv. 7-9). He exhorts the Thessalonians to follow the rule that anyone unwilling to work should not eat. Apparently this had been a problem in Thessalonica (vv. 10-11). He also commands and exhorts in Christ that all do their work quietly, earn their own living, and not weary in doing what is right [kalopoiuntes, well-doing] (vv. 12-13).

Application: Sermons on this lesson do well to clarify what Paul meant by not caring for those who fail to work, making clear that the issue at stake was a false version of the end times. Thus the sermon’s focus on Eschatology needs to make clear that it is appropriate to prepare for the Eschaton’s immanence, but not to the exclusion of living in the world. Sanctification and Social Ethics are also entailed, as we come to a more realistic vision of how to help the poor.

Luke 21:5-19
We are again reminded that this gospel is the first installment of a two-part history of the church traditionally attributed to Luke, a physician and Gentile associate of Paul (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24). Along with Acts, the author’s intention was to stress the universal mission of the church (Acts 1:8).

The lesson reports Jesus’ eschatological teachings during Holy Week, including foretelling the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Similar prophecies appear in the other Synoptic Gospels. The account begins with some speaking about the temple and its beauty. Jesus in turn prophesies its destruction (vv. 5-6). Asked when this destruction would transpire, Jesus warns against false teachers coming in his name (vv. 7-8). He teaches that we need not be terrified, the end [telos] will not follow immediately [eutheos, at once] (v. 9). Then he adds that there will be wars, great earthquakes, famines, and plagues (vv. 10-11). Before this occurs, he adds, there will be persecutions with the faithful turned over to synagogues and imprisoned (v. 12). These will provide opportunity to testify to Christ (v. 13). However, Jesus’ followers need not prepare for their defense in advance, for he will give them the words and wisdom they need (vv. 14-15). In a parallel account [Mark 13:11], Jesus’ work here is done by the Spirit. He prophesies that his followers will be betrayed even by family and that they will be martyred and hated because of his name (vv. 16-17). Yet Jesus promises their safety, and by their endurance/patience [hupomene] their souls would be gained (vv. 18-19).

Application: Sermons on this lesson will examine Jesus’ comments on signs of the end, how his remarks are not so much about new events implying the immanent second coming of Christ, but rather events that can prepare the faithful for Christ’s presence. Along with Eschatology, Providence, and Sanctification should receive attention.

Leave a Reply

  • Get Your FREE 30-day Trial Subscription to SermonSuite NOW!
    Chris Keating
    The Double-Dog Dare Days of August
    August’s lazy, hazy dog days quickly became a deadly double-dog dare contest between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Both nations have been at odds with each other for nearly 70 years. During his working golf vacation in New Jersey last week, President Trump responded to North Korea’s rhetorical sword-rattling by launching a verbal preemptive strike of his own.
         Call it the Bedminster bombast, or the putt that rocked Pyongyang. But the duel between the two countries is more than fodder for late-night comedians. It’s a deadly standoff with history-changing repercussions.
         There is no vacation from matters of national security, or the orations of war. Indeed, much of the war of words between Washington and North Korea seems to confirm Jesus’ counsel in Matthew: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” The contrasts between these barbed exchanges and the biblical understanding of peacemaking offers an intriguing opportunity to hear Jesus’ words in a world filled with double-dog (and even triple-dog) dares....more
    Feeding The 5,000
    The assigned Gospel text for this week skips over a couple of sections in Matthew's story. Matthew 14:34-36 cites Jesus' journey to Gennesaret. The crowds of people recognized him immediately and all of the sick came to him for healing. Just a touch of Jesus' garment brought healing to many. The crowd in Gennesaret recognized Jesus. They came to him in their need....more
    Wayne Brouwer
    Religious balkanization
    One dimension of religious life we have in common across faith traditions and denominational lines is the incessant divisiveness that split our seemingly monolithic communities into dozens of similar yet tenaciously varied subgroups. A Jewish professor of psychology said of his tradition, "If there are ten Jewish males in a city we create a synagogue. If there are eleven Jewish males we start thinking about creating a competing synagogue."...more
    C. David McKirachan
    Jesus Is Coming, Look Busy
    Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
    I had a parishioner who would walk out of the sanctuary if he saw a djembe (African drum) out in front to be used in worship.  I asked him about it, in a wonderfully pastoral manner, and he told me that things like that didn’t belong in worship.  I said that it was in the bible to praise God with pipes and drums (I think it is).  He told me he didn’t care what the Bible said, he knew where that thing came from and he wouldn’t have it.  I asked him why things from Africa would bother him.  He told me that he knew I was liberal but that didn’t mean he had to be.  I agreed with him but cautioned him that racism was probably one of the worst examples of evil in our world and I thought he should consider what Christ would think of that.  He asked me who paid my salary, Christ or good Americans....more
    Janice Scott
    No Strings Attached
    In today's gospel reading, Jesus seemed reluctant to heal the Canaanite woman's daughter. He told her that he wasn't sent to help foreigners, but only his own people, the Chosen Race. The words sound unnecessarily harsh, but perhaps this is an interpretation unique to Matthew, for this story only appears in Matthew's gospel, which was written for Jews....more
    Arley K. Fadness
    Great Faith
    Object: Hula Hoop or circle made out of ribbon, twine or rope
    What an amazing morning to come to church today. I am so glad to see you and talk to you about a wonderful story from the bible. Let me begin by showing you this circle. Now let's get into this circle. (Physically, all move into the circle) It's fun for us all to be together in this circle. We don't want anyone to be left out. To be left out is to be sad. To be kept out is even more sad and painful....more

Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen