S-1521 1SIA/3C 11/29/15 Hymns: #331; (S) #332; L.S.# 341; # 342;(C) #348
Texts: Jeremiah 33:1-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36
Theme: “The Promise Keeper?” Jeremiah 33:14-16
Question: “How many promises have you Kept?” (11th sermon at Trinity).
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Blessed The text for our homily today is from the O.T. Reading: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 33:14-16).
In Nomine Iesu
Precious Bride of Christ, YOU, God’s Advent people in this place. This sermon is written for me personally and perhaps it might touch your heart which is my prayers also. Promises, Promises. The world seems to be filled with promises. As the retail and cyber frenzy of Christmas shopping has started, there comes with it the promise that the perfect gift will be under that glittering tree in less than a month. That is also accompanied by the promise that there will be a hefty credit card bill due soon.
Promises, Promises. We heard many of them by Pastors and Politicians, athletes and agents, contractors, candidates and sales people. Promises that we hope they keep, but since we have been disappointed many times before, we become pessimists at any promise made.
Yet Scriptures oozes with promises that are important for us to know. Certainly, the Church of Jesus Christ is built on the promises made by our heavenly Father. Today, on this First Sunday in Advent, by the grace of God, we stand at the beginning of a new year with our ears, eyes and hearts full of promise.
And this promise is so much more than just the promise that we will soon have pews full of people gathered on Christmas Eve. This promise is so much more than just O Little Town of Bethlehem and Silent Night. No, on this First Sunday in Advent, we stand here knowing that the
Promise is on both sides of us. The Promise of Advent is that God HAS KEPT His promise to send the long expected Messiah—the heaven sent Visitor. PAUSE.
Jesus, the Babe of Bethlehem, IS that promise. But we also know that on this day we are looking forward to the fulfillment of a final promise. That promise is the glorious return in judgment and victory of our Lord Jesus. These are the precious promises in which the Church lives and moves and has its being. We really are nothing more than the people of the promise.
Beloved in Christ over the centuries God’s people have lived under these promises: There are past promises, present promises and future promises. The odds of any of God’s promises to be fulfilled are astronomical. Peter Stoner, the chairman of mathematics and astronomy departments at Pasadena City College up to 1953 said, the odds are 31x 1021 (that is 31, 21 0s behind it.) Yet more promises have been fulfilled in Scripture than in ANY other book or religion.
We have Past Promises:
God stated that He will send a deliver in the Garden of Eden and He did. He promised Abraham that his offspring’s will be as the stars in the heaven, he will be the Father of many nations, and the Savior would be one of the descendants of this childless old man. Today, these offspring’s are over 2billion and counting. He told Moses He will guide the Israelites and He did. Promises of the Past have been fulfilled. That is why the Apostle Paul states: “For all of the promises of God find their Yes in Him [Jesus]. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory” (2 Cor. 1:20).
But history tells the sad story of many of Abraham’s seed—those who heard the promises from kings, rulers, princes and people alike, forgot these promises and lived in the pleasure of pleasing themselves. And that failure was very costly and God judged them severely.
In fact, it is in the face of God’s judgment on Judah’s unfaithfulness that Jeremiah speaks as God’s very mouthpiece. And yet, Jeremiah here speaks a word of promise to God’s people. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, rand Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’”
The disobedience of God brought God’s wrath upon Israel and Judah so that they were taken into captivity for a long period of time. And the judgment would be complete. Even Jerusalem would be destroyed. The Temple would be taken down. The best and the brightest would be carried off into a land of exile. But even before that happened; Jeremiah carried God’s Word of promise to Judah. This promise of destruction and exile would not be God’s last word, like it was for the northern tribes. No, even as God promised judgment, He also promised restoration. With the Law comes the Gospel. Promises of the Past fulfilled.
Then there are the present promises. God promised to be with us as we go in His name and make disciples of all nations. This is being carried out today by baptizing and teaching. Through this marvelous work the church grows and the promise of our Immanuel will be with us always. We see it even today, when the Savior comes to us in the humble means of wafer, wine, body and blood and declares I Am among you here today. I will not abandon or forsake you. I will forgive you, your many sins. This is our comfort of hearing and believing this promise from the lips of Jesus Himself.
We know that the Lord has kept His promise in the sending of Jesus. We know that at the cross the head of the ancient serpent has been crushed. But we also know that we live in the now/not yet reality of Advent. Jesus has indeed come. Jesus has indeed won the victory. Jesus has indeed accomplished everything that the Father said He would.
Future promises to be yet fulfilled:
But it isn’t done. We know it isn’t done because the Word of an even greater prophet than Jeremiah. Jesus Himself promised: “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” (Mark 13:26). The same Jesus who did the work of redemption will also lead the charge in restoration. As the people of Advent we live between the promises fulfilled and their ultimate fulfillment. PAUSE.
But as we look into the mirror of God’s law, we know our own current ability to be unfaithful to God’s promises. How often have we mouthed promises to our Lord that we could not or would not keep? How many confirmands promised to die rather than fall away from the faith, only to chase after the things of this world? How many spouses promised “till death do us part” only to have that divine union rent asunder by sin and selfishness? How many parents promise at the font to place in their children’s hands the Holy Scriptures and bring them to the services of the Lord’s house only to not be seen again until confirmation starts? And this is just the tip of the capabilities of our unfaithfulness.
Yet in the face of all of this, He who is the Promise Keeper—our Loving and gracious Savior, calls us to repentance. His Word of promise still stands. As He restored Judah and Jerusalem, He promises to restore you. And this is the Advent promise that we live in for the Lord Jesus has come to give you and me a new name. We see a glimpse of that in our text.
Jeremiah promises a new name for Jerusalem. That name? The Lord is our Righteousness. Notice that name isn’t about Jesus. It is Jerusalem that is called The Lord is our Righteousness. This is God’s gracious promise. You and I are also a part of this Promised Restoration. For this restored Jerusalem is more than just a city in the Middle East. No, it is MUCH more than that. The Jerusalem which will be called the Lord is our Righteousness is none other than the Church.
In this Church relishing in promises made, promises kept and promises to come, we are given the name The Lord is our Righteousness. That is what happens at the baptismal font. Another rebellious sinner has the restorative name put on them. In this restored name is a promise. This promise is nurtured in the preaching of the Word and the reception of the righteousness of God that is the feast of the Holy Supper. These are the ongoing promises to which we cling.
Beautiful people of the promise, on this First Sunday in Advent, by the Spirit’s power keep your eyes on the Promise Keeper—Jesus Christ and that His promises are true tested and tried. This promise won’t come wrapped in shiny paper followed by a credit card bill. This promise carries with it the sure and certain hope of no more promises broken by sin and stolen by death. In that day there will only be the fulfilled promise to you and to me that we will be called The Lord Our Righteousness. This promise is given you by the Promise Keeper Himself—Your God and Savior—for this Advent, this Church Year and for eternity!
By the Spirit’s power we say, blessed be the name of the Promise Keeper—the heaven-sent Savior—Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA