The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
July 16, 2017
Showdown in the Temple of the Lord!
Then the prophet Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah before the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD. He said, “Amen! May the LORD do so! May the LORD fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of the LORD’s house and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon. Nevertheless, listen to what I have to say in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people: “From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true.” (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The day was
As dramatic as the showdown at the O.K. Corral must have been it certainly is not unique. Down through the history of mankind there have been showdowns of all types— some big, some small, some dramatic, some not so dramatic. Our sermon text for today gives us an opportunity to witness a showdown of a different sort. This is not a showdown that took place in some hot dusty field. This is not a showdown that took place between two groups of men armed with six-shooters. No, my friends, our text for this morning gives us an opportunity to witness: A Showdown in the
Last week I reminded you that the prophet Jeremiah lived and worked in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Lord Himself had commissioned Jeremiah to tell the people of
As you can imagine these were extremely difficult times for the people of
Jeremiah, however, was not the only person who claimed to be a prophet of the Lord. A man by the name of Hananiah also claimed to have a message from the Lord. Hananiah’s message was very different from Jeremiah’s message. Hananiah stood up in the house of the Lord and loudly proclaimed that in just two short years God would break the power and dominion of the Babylonians, that the exile would be over and that both God’s people and the sacred articles that were stolen from the Temple would be returned. A showdown was now on between Hananiah and Jeremiah!
Since Hananiah publicly stood up in the
Jeremiah was certainly not opposed to having the Babylonians stay at home and minding their own business. Jeremiah was certainly not opposed to having both the exiles and the articles that were stolen from the
For the people standing there in the
Do we ever have showdowns today that are similar to the one portrayed here in our text? Yes, we do! How? Where? Why? Let’s answer those questions on three different yet intertwined levels.
The first level is the broadest level. Do you remember when Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13) They responded by saying, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus then asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” The apostle Peter responded with that rock-solid confession of faith upon which the Christian Church is built: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” After praising His heavenly Father for creating that rock-solid conviction in Peter’s heart, Jesus goes on to say something that serves as both a warning and a comfort for the Christian Church right down to this very day. He says, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
There are two kingdoms that are constantly at war here on this earth. There is the Kingdom of God which is built on the rock-solid foundation of the Truth as it is found in the Bible. Then there is the Kingdom of the devil which is built upon the sandy foundation of lies and deception. Wherever and whenever these two Kingdoms collide there is a showdown.
This is why just before He was arrested by His enemies Jesus warned His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). As Christians, as soldiers, in the Kingdom of God you and I should never be surprised when the unbelieving world attacks us because of our relationship with Jesus and because we boldly take a stand on the Truth of Scripture. Why shouldn’t this surprise us? Think about it. The unbelieving world refuses to acknowledge Jesus as the eternal Son of God and this world’s only Savior from sin. The unbelieving world cannot understand or accept God’s Truth! (See 1 Corinthians 2:14) As a result, the unbelieving world clenches its fist and gnashes its teeth every time we strive to faithfully proclaim God’s Truth. Since that’s all they know how to do, since that is the “default setting” of the unbelieving world, it does not surprise us when the unbelieving world acts and reacts, thinks and talks like— unbelievers! Thankfully, Jesus assures us that no matter how often His Church finds herself in a showdown with Satan not even “the gates of Hades” itself will ever be able to overcome the Church that is being built by our crucified, risen and victorious Savior!
From that broad level of the showdown between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan, we also need to recognize that— sadly— we often encounter a showdown between churches which consciously strive to remain faithful to the Lord and to His Word and those churches for whom faithfulness to the Lord and to His Word is, how shall we say, it’s not their main focus. One example of this kind of showdown can be seen in the days of Martin Luther. Martin Luther boldly stood up for the Biblical teaching that we are saved purely by grace alone, by faith alone and by Scripture alone. As a result Luther found himself in a showdown with both the pope and the emperor. Our own church body has found it necessary to boldly take a stand and say that the Bible is the holy, inspired, inerrant Word of God from beginning to end, that God created the world out of nothing in six consecutive twenty-four hour days, that human life begins at the very moment of conception, that marriage is a life-long union between one man and one woman, that the roles which God Himself designed for men and women in the home and in the church still apply today, that it does make a difference what church we belong to because just as a groom expects his bride to remain 100% faithful to him (and vice versa) so also Jesus expects us His Bride, the Church, to remain 100% faithful to Him. And the only way to determine if someone is remaining faithful to Jesus is to see if they are remaining faithful to everything Jesus has revealed to us right here in His holy Word. In the same way we have had to reiterate our stand on Scripture and maintain that Jews and Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God! There is only one true God— the Triune God, God the Father who created us, God the Son who redeemed us and God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us. Clearly and boldly taking such a stand will set us apart on the religious scene of
And finally, as our Lord Himself reminded us in our Gospel lesson for today (Matthew 10:34-42) sometimes we encounter these showdowns on a very personal level— even within our own family. While it may not be as dramatic as the showdown between Jeremiah and Hananiah, while it certainly is not as deadly as the showdown at the O.K. Corral, try convincing that Baptist relative that babies are born sinful and need to be born again through the power of Holy Baptism. Try convincing that Roman Catholic cousin that the Pope has not been designated by God to be Jesus’ substitute here on this earth. Try convincing a family member who plans on joining the ELCA because “Pastor Marie’s” sermons are so much more “fun” than any WELS/ELS pastor she has ever heard, try convincing her that by joining the ELCA she is raising her hand in support of sins such as abortion on demand and same sex marriage. While many people and many churches may outwardly look and sound Christian, unfaithfulness to the Lord and to His Word could prompt this conversation on Judgment Day, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
From Moses’ showdown with Pharaoh to Joshua’s showdown with the city of Jericho, from David’s showdown with Goliath to Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal, from Jeremiah’s showdown with Hananiah in the Temple of the Lord to Jesus’ showdown with Satan on the cross of Calvary’s hill whenever the Truth of God is confronted by false teachings or human opinions there will be a showdown. Remember that, my friends, the next time you come face to face with someone who is promoting or even supporting something that contradicts God’s Word. And also remember this: The Lord your God is always right and if it comes down to a showdown the Lord your God always wins!
To God be the glory!