Lord, Keep Us Mindful of the Judgment
These are the readings for the Second Sunday of End Time—Last Judgment.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
Lord, keep us mindful of the judgment! He will come to judge the living and the dead. We confess it every Sunday but often live like those are empty words. Moses’ psalm on the mortality of man shakes us from our spiritual slumber. Number your days aright and gain a heart of wisdom! Today the church prays that God keeps us ever mindful of the last judgment that we might be found in faith, fruitful in both word and deed. Then there’s no need to fear judgment day; rather, we can look forward to the day of our redemption.
First Lesson – Daniel 7:9,10
Who is the “Ancient of Days”?
The “Ancient of Days” is our eternal God. He is described in these verses as the powerful and holy one who will judge the world.
What are the books that were opened?
The Bible speaks of two kinds of books being opened on the judgment day. The first books are those that contain everything we have ever done in our lives—the evidence for our judgment. The other is the book of life, in which is written the names of all those who are saved—all who have believed in Jesus as their Savior (cf. Revelation 20:11-15).
Second Lesson – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
What does it mean that Jesus will come like a “thief in the night”?
Just as a thief would never come when someone is expecting him, so also will the return of Jesus. Many have tried to predict the end of the world, yet Jesus will come when nobody expects him. It could be in five minutes. It could be in a thousand years. Only God knows.
How have we been made ready for his coming?
Through faith in Jesus, we have been justified—declared innocent of all charges. By believing in Jesus, we are ready for his coming. Paul, in this reading, encourages us to remain alert. We do this by nourishing our faith constantly with the Word and sacraments.
Verse 11 tells us to encourage one another with the message that Jesus is coming in judgment. How is that a comforting message?
Though Jesus will condemn all sinners, we have the confidence that, through faith in him, we have been declared innocent. For us, judgment day will be the day of our deliverance. We will be glorified and sent off to spend an eternity of perfection with God. That is truly a comforting message.
Supplemental Second Lesson – Romans 2:2-11
Being mindful of the judgment means never falling into a self-righteous condemnation of the world around us. You judge them, but you do the same things that they do—do you think that you will escape God’s wrath?
Those are serious words. Paul aims to leave no soul unindicted but make the whole world accountable to God. (See Romans 3:19.) As long as man still has the righteousness, pride, and strength to judge his fellowman, he is not ready for the beggary of faith; he is not ready to receive the radical rescue of the righteousness of God. God will give according to what each person has done—but the point here is the motive, not the actions themselves. Those who live in faith seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness—their actions give evidence of the faith that moves them, and they receive eternal life. Those who live without faith seek only themselves—their actions give evidence that faith is lacking, and they receive wrath and anger. Lord, keep us mindful of the judgment that we might be found in fruitful faith!
Gospel – Matthew 25:31-46
Who are the sheep that are on Jesus’ right and the goats that are on his left?
The sheep are those who will be saved—all those who believed in Jesus. The goats are those who did not believe in him and are, therefore, condemned.
Here Jesus seems to be saying that those who are saved are those who have done good works and lived good lives. In other parts of Scripture, we are told that we are saved by faith and not by good works. Explain.
We are saved by God’s undeserved love, through faith, in Jesus. We are not saved because of the lives we live or the works we do. That said, however, through faith in Jesus, we now want to and are enabled to do works of service and love. These works are evidence of the faith in our hearts. Jesus, in these verses, speaks of our works of service as evidence of our saving faith.