Herrenhuter readings for Friday, the 17th April 2015

Das_Jüngste_Gericht_(Memling)

“The LORD shall judge the people.” (Psalm 7:8 KJV) and “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?” (James 4:12 KJV)

We Christians pray at every death that comes our way and after the obituary is read at the funeral: “May the living God, the Lord over life and death, comfort the bereaved and sorrowing with the sure hope of the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. May He also teach all of us that we too will die and give answer to him the Judge of all for everything we were and did and left undone in thought, word and deed – so that we too may gain wisdom.” At least something in that line and following the lead of Psalm 90:12.

It’s a good reminder for presidents and kings, for pastors and bishops, for teachers and parents, that they will have to answer the living God and righteous judge for all and everything that they were responsible for. We are all accountable to him and he will judge us according to his will and commandment, which he as the lawgiver has revealed to us by apostles and prophets and finally by his very own Son Jesus Christ – the way, the truth and the light. And if you thought that Gerrie Nel was a tough prosecutor, you can rest assured, that the great accuser of all men will dig up even more evidence counting against you – no doubt about that – and he’ll be in the right, because there is no one without guilt and without sin. We are all very much worthy of condemnation in the eyes of the holy law of God. I can’t by my own merit of worthiness get by the impeccable standard and divine benchmark set by the Lord of Lords and God of gods: You shall be holy as I am holy, says the triune God Father, Son and Holy Ghost. (Lev.20:26 & 1.Pt.1:16)

This very God and Lord is not only our Judge, but also our Saviour and Redeemer. He is mighty and powerful to save, redeem and grant life out of death. He has had mercy on us all and has given his only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die for us and for our iniquity and unholiness, but has also raised him from the dead for our justification and the forgiveness of all our sins, so that through him we might have peace with God, live in his favour and come to eternal life with and through him. This gospel of salvation makes us truly grateful and full of joy too, yet it also makes us humble and willing to forgive those, who have sinned and done evil against us. As a fruit of this our justification and salvation, we are freed to pray for those, who slander, curse and condemn us. We are liberated to love even those, who hate us. We are forgiven to commit also those, who discriminate against us, persecute us and harm us into God’s judgement. He will take care of us and them in his righteous judgement that is coming, when his Son Jesus Christ appears again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Obviously we are not just innocent bystanders and sufferes. Obviously we have aggrieved this or that one, have become guilty ourselves and are not just guiltless and irreproachable. We don’t react as harmlessly as we would be expected to as we know the serious warning in the story our Lord tells of the “Schalksknecht” (mischievous servant)  in Matthews 18:23-35. That is why we too pray the 5th petition of the Our Father daily – just like for daily bread: “And remit our debts, as we remit what our debtors owe. What is this? Answer: We ask in this prayer that our heavenly Father would not regard our sins nor deny these petitions on their account, for we are worthy of nothing for which we ask, nor have we earned it. Instead we ask that God would give us all things by grace, for we daily sin much and indeed deserve only punishment. So, on the other hand, we, too, truly want to forgive heartily and to do good gladly to those who sin against us.” (Kolb & Wengert, 358).

This does not apply to those, who are in authority and are duty-bound to judge, to sentence and to proclaim judgement be that in the court of law, in schools or in the church. They are called upon to speak and make right and truthful judgements according to the absolute will and commandment of the Lord. They too will have to answer him at the final Judgement Day on how they carried out their god-given calling and office to judge righteously and just.

So on the one hand this is a dire warning to heed the Judgement Day and realize that we too will have to answer God’s calling and stand accountable before him. On the other side it is a great comfort and joy to know, that the Lord is Judge and he judges rightly and he will surely see to it that all the injustice and harm done here will be overcome, healed and even forgotten then.

  1. Herald, sound the note of judgement, Warning us of right and wrong, Turning us from sin and sadness Till once more we sing the song. Sound the trumpet! Tell the message: Christ, the Saviour king, is come!
  2. Herald, sound the note of gladness; Tell the news that Christ is here; Make a pathway through the desert For the one who brings God near. Sound the trumpet! Tell the message: Christ, the Saviour king, is come!
  3. Herald, sound the note of pardon – Those repenting are forgiv’n; God receives His wayward children, And to them new life is giv’n. Sound the trumpet! Tell the message: Christ, the Saviour king, is come!
  4. Herald, sound the note of triumph; Christ has come to share our life, Bringing God’s own love and power, Granting vict’ry in our strife. Sound the trumpet! Tell the message: Christ, the Saviour king, is come!

Moir A.J.Waters (1906-1980)

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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