Final Judgment Belongs to God
These are the readings for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
“Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” These words of our God place the responsibility for judgment—especially the final judgment—solely into the hands of God himself. Of course, to the person without Christ, that is a frightening notion, for none will escape the judgment of the Lord. But to God’s children, who still struggle daily with temptation and sin, these words are a sobering reminder of our evil nature but also an opportunity to remember that our good Savior has already borne that judgment for us.
First Lesson – Joel 3:12-16
Of what is the harvest a picture?
While a physical harvest of crops seems also to be coming, the symbolism here points to the judgment “harvest,” where God will bind up those who are against him and destroy them in eternal hellfire. (Compare Revelation 14:14-20.)
While God has chastised his people for their wickedness, ultimately, he would judge the heathen nation that oppressed them. What promise of grace does Joel proclaim?
God’s own people, also wicked, had already received punishment at the hands of the oppressors. But, faithful to his promises, the Lord also remembers his people and remains their refuge and stronghold. (See 3:16.)
Second Lesson – Romans 8:26, 27
What assurance do Christians have, even in the worst of times?
Even in the worst of times, God is there to help. Sometimes our situation may be so severe that we don’t even know how or what to pray. When our own spirit fails, the Holy Spirit takes up our petitions for us, and intimately shares our needs with our Father in heaven.
In what manner may we confidently assume our “unspeakable” petitions are prayer?
Since the Holy Spirit is carrying it, and since he and the Father share a common deity—knowing even each other’s minds—our petitions will be conveyed perfectly in accordance with God’s goodwill.
Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Peter 4:1-8
Living as wheat among weeds means leaving our lives of sin behind and living for the will of God with an eye on the coming harvest. Although righteousness and wickedness must coexist until the judgment, Peter reminded his readers that they had spent enough of their lives living in sin. The time had come for a clean break with the world. Just because we have to live in the world doesn’t mean we have to be of it. Yes, this break with the world will lead to our persecution. When it happens, fix your eyes on the coming harvest. As you bear up under suffering, take heart, and know that all mankind will be judged. The end of all things is near, so live like wheat among the weeds of this world by loving each other deeply with that forgiving love found only in Christ.
Gospel – Matthew 13:24-30,36-43
In the parable of the weeds, Jesus indicates that the sons of God will live alongside the sons of evil until the end. How can we tell who’s who?
We will look to outward actions and words as an indication of who the believers and unbelievers are. (Compare 1 John 3:10.)
How will God’s victory finally be seen by all?
While Satan and his evil army are given freedom in this world and even sometimes appear to have the upper hand, yet in the end—the final judgment—all those creatures found outside the family of Christ will be destroyed in everlasting fire, a fact of which Satan’s forces are keenly aware. (See 1 Peter 3:18-20.) God keep us strong in faith and our walk with our Savior and bring us, at last, to our heavenly inheritance!