"Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo! here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Matthew 24:23-24.
In this place Christ warns His disciples of false prophets and of false Christs, and this is a very necessary warning, especially at this time, when true Christianity is kept to be false as it was in the Saviour's time. Then the people also kept true Christianity to be false, but the false prophets were held to be right. Especially then when outward persecution had come upon the Christians, than true Christianity was kept to be false, but that old dead faith was kept to be right, as true Christianity has at all times been held to be false by the Jews, heathens, and Catholics. It is not easy to distinguish what true Christianity is, since the Jews preach their faith and keep that to be right, the heathens preach their faith and keep that to be right, so also the Catholics preach their faith and keep that to be right. But the Saviour has, in another gospel, namely for the eighth Sunday after Trinity, given a sign by which the false prophets are distinguished; He says in that place, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravening wolves." Public heathens are not therefore those false prophets of which the disciples of Jesus must beware, for no one would believe them if they would begin to preach of their faith, but the false prophets come under the shadow of godliness, and preach so that even the Jews like their sermons. These false prophets do not demand that the Jews should make true penitence and believe upon the crucified Saviour, nor do the false prophets demand that the Jews would take the cross of Jesus upon themselves and begin to carry it, but the false prophets preach that Christ will come from Heaven to help those Jews who, through disobedience, came under the chastisement of the government. If the Jews become poor through drunkenness, then the false prophets preach: "That poverty has come from God; Christ will come down from Heaven to help the poor drunkards from their poverty." If the Jews commit adultery and become poor and sickly, then the false prophets say, "It is not a sin, surely Christ will come from Heaven to help the whores from the bother of children." If the Jews keep crooked and sinful trade behind the church, and even if such trade takes place in the Lord's temple, then the false prophets say, "It is not a sin, Christ will come from Heaven to help the liquor merchant from his fine." If the Jews would also devour the houses of the widows and would teach their children to say "Corban", the false prophets do not forbid that. Said in a word, the false prophets rebuke no one of sin, nor do they demand confession of sin, nor do the false prophets demand a true penitence and repentance, but they preach only of that false Christ, who is in the skull of the Jews, but not in the heart. If the Jews then come into some natural distress, then the false prophets say, "Christ will come from Heaven to help the liquor merchants from their fines, Christ will come to help the whores from the bother of children, Christ will come to help the thieves from straits, Christ will come to help the drunkards from the earthlings," And then they say to the Jews, "Here is Christ, here is the Messiah. This is the effect of the Spirit of God." When a whore weeps serpent's tears after her honor, then the false prophets say, "This is the effect of the Holy Spirit." This is the best sign of the false prophets, that they comfort the Jews when, because of their own pride, they have to suffer poverty in behalf of body. So it happened to the former Jews when they came into severe distress because of heathenish pride, then the false prophets came to comfort the Jews and to preach, "Do not fear, you Jews, Christ will come from Heaven to help the Jews, Christ will come from Heaven to help the Jewish thieves from straits. Christ will come from Heaven to help the drunkards from the earthlings," And who is that Christ who helps the drunkard from the earthlings? Is it not one great sorcerer who is in league with the earthlings? The Jews do not ask from where the help will come; if God or the devil helps it is all the same to the Jews, only that they get help. False prophets do not accuse the Jews of sin, but they preach of that false Christ, upon which they believe, although such a Christ has not yet come into the world who has promised to help the thieves from straits, the drunkards from the earthlings, and the whores from the bother of children.
But there are also other false prophets, who preach such a doctrine which the heathens like; they preach of such a Christ who is very loving and merciful to impenitent whores and impenitent thieves. These false prophets promise life and salvation to all the bucks and goats. Their first article of faith and teaching is that "you do not have to cry out your sins to the world." This same faith ths thieves also have when they are taken ahold of by the law: "one need not cry out his sins to the world"; and the whore has the same faith when a confession is demanded of her: "one need not cry out his sins to the world." So also the liquor merchant, when he is taken before the court because of selling liquor, says, "One does not need to cry out one's sins to the world." And this kind of doctrine is in the whores´ and thieves' minds the right doctrine. The second article of faith of the doctrine of the false prophets is allowance for sin, that Christ is not so strict if one just drinks moderately, and commits adultery moderately; it is so pleasant to be a Christian and to whore, it is pleasant to be a child of God and to steal. "This is that right doctrine, but the doctrine of the Nazarene is false, which demands a holy life of a Christian." The third article of faith of the doctrine of the false prophets is that freedom that no one needs to repay or pay for their evil deeds. And the fourth article of faith, which is the most important of all of the doctrine of the false prophets, is this, that these followers of Jesus of Nazareth and disciples of Jesus are one false and dangerous sect, or heresy, who do not give honorable people peace of conscience. This is the best article in the doctrine of the false prophets, but it is not saving until they can lap Christians' blood. Then the false prophets will receive a saving faith when they can lap the blood of Christians, then their hearts will become cleansed in the blood of the dragon.
Today the abomination of desolation is portrayed before your eyes. Today you heard, all you hardened ones, what end will come to the hardened who have seen the light of the gospel and have not taken heed in the time of grace when it was a time of visitation. Would there be one here now, who would understand how terrible God's righteousness is when He punishes the whole nation because of the lasciviousness of some? The Jews have heard more of the Word of God than any other nation, they hove also seen more signs and wonders than other people. They have seen Christians and know also from where this Christianity has come and what kind of change it has effected. But they have hardened so that they do not receive the chastisement, therefore God has finally given the Jews into the care of Satan, namely into the care of hardening, so that there is no more grace of penitence. Take better heed of the time of grace than the Jews, so that you do not perish with them, and flee with your life to the mountains of Israel and pray, you disciples of Jesus, that your flight would not occur in the winter or on the Sabbath. Hear, Thou Shepherd of Israel, the sighs of those who have fled from Babel. Our Father, etc.
The Gospel: Matthew 24:15
In the explanation of today's gospel the Saviour prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem, and we have heard how this prophesy was fulfilled, when the unfortunate inhabitants of this city had to also eat their own children because of hunger. It appears to our eyes as though God was terribly wroth with His own people when He gave the whole nation into the care of Satan, so that not even one soul was saved, except chose few souls who had become Christians. We know seriously that not one Christian perished there, although the whole kingdom was destroyed. For the Christians took better heed of the signs than did the Jews. The Christians fled away from the kingdom in time, but the Jews did not believe that God would give them up into Satan's care. The Jews had the same faith as the sorrowless of this time, that God will protect them from all evil. The Jews had that faith that God would help them from the claws of the enemy. And from where did the Jews get such a firm faith and trust in God? No doubt the same hero of faith had strengthened the faith of the Jews as he who has now given the Jews of this tine that firm faith that God protects them from all evil; they allow themselves under the merciful protection of God and say, "Certainly God will protect us as well as the Christians." How do you know that God protects you from all evil? How do the drunkards know that God protects them from poverty, sickness, and the earthlings? God no doubt gave you such a firm faith, namely the god of the drunkards, who lives in the lower heaven. How do the whores get such a faith that God protects their children from syphilis? God no doubt has given them such a faith, namely the god of the whores who lives in the kingdom of adultery. Who has given the thieves such a faith that God protects them from straits? God no doubt has strengthened their faith, namely the god of stealing, who lives in the cave of darkness. Thus has the god of this world strengthened chair faith that the God of heaven protects them from all misfortune; but why did God not protect the Jews although they had such a firm faith upon God? Why did God allow their enemies to split open their bellies with knives? The Christians have not had such a faith that the pagans cannot kill them, but the Jews have such a firm faith that the pagans cannot kill them. From where did the Jews get such a firm faith and trust in God that God will protect them no matter how evil they would live, no matter how they would mock the Parent's tears, no matter how they would throw rocks at the Christians; surely the Jews´ faith will stand. The Jews will not believe before the skin gets hot, that the pagans will open their bellies with knives and dig out the ill-gotten money from their intestines. The Jews of this time do not doubt of their salvation and even yet they are able to believe that God protects them from all evil. Surely the Pharisees also are able to believe that it will not go with them like with the sinful Jews. Surely the drunkards are also able to believe that God protects them from the earthlings, and if God protects them from the earthlings, then certainly the devil will protect them from tribulation of conscience; there probably could be found some sorcerer who could free them from the earthlings if some earthlings would be raised upon them. Surely the whores also are able to believe that a child will not result from the first act of adultery, and if not from the first, then certainly not from the second or the third act of adultery. Surely the thieves also are able to believe that God is able to protect them from straits, and surely the liquor merchants are able to believe that God protects them from the whiskey fine. Are the tax thieves also able to believe that God protects them from the claims of the toll collectors? For sure no doubts have come to them of their salvation, they still have faith like a rock, that God will protect them from all evil in behalf of body and soul.
But now the devil of meekness arises from his den, and dead faith rises from grave and says, "Shouldn't a person trust in God?" Yes, you must trust upon God, but do not trust upon a false god like the Jews; there the Jews became deceived, that they began to trust in a false god. When the Jews do not know the true God, do not comprehend the nature of God, then they must serve a false god. That false god is first Pride, who does not allow the Jews to know and confess how they have lived. The devil of pride does not allow them to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. The devil of anger is one false god who the Jews serve, and that devil of anger teaches them to throw stones at the Christians. The devil of honor is a false god whom the Jews serve; this god preaches to the Jews, "You do not need to cry out your sins to the world." The devil of adultery is one false god which the Jews serve; that god teaches the Jews to commit adultery and to tempt Christ with whores. The devil of adultery teaches the whores to trust upon God that He will protect them from syphilis. And the devil of greed teaches the thieves to believe that God protects them from straits. If the Jews would understand what kind of nature God has, they would not dare to anger God in that way. God must finally give them into the care of Satan; there is no more grace of penitence for the Jews. But God did not give them into Satan's care without warning; certainly it had been said to the Jews'how it would go with them. John has preached how the axe is laid at the root of the tree. Jesus of Nazareth has preached that not one stone would be left upon another of their church building. Peter has preached how they have crucified the Lord of Glory, and Stephen has preached how the Jews have opposed the Holy Spirit. But this preaching of repentance affected nothing, they have just hardened more; they have become more zealous to hate and persecute the Christians. Such is now the story of the life of the Jews. But the Jews of this time do not yet take heed of those signs for themselves; they also are yet able to blaspheme and oppose the Christians. The Jews of this time also are able to drink and fight, commit adultery and steal, are able to be proud, and keep a whiskey trade, are also able to worship idols, but the Christians flee away from the city of corruption when they see what signs of the times begin to appear in the world. The Christians and all of the disciples of Jesus flee with their lives when they see that the end of the world is beginning to come. The Christians believe what the Saviour has said about the abomination of desolation. They flee to the mountain of Israel, where the Shepherd of Israel calls out for His lost sheep. On every house top they are watching what is happening in the city of corruption. Do not step down into the world to take something from your house, no matter how precious substance there would be there to which your hearts would be attached. Whoever wants to save his soul and truly flees from the city of corruption, does not have time to be busy with the world and to tarry there. Because the children of Israel cannot tarry in the heathen land when the enemy attacks, they must quickly flee from their homes and travel to the shore of the Red Sea until that time that Moses raises his staff. Whoever is on the field, let him not return to take his clothes, all the rags of self-righteousness he must leave on the strip of the field next to the ditch when he goes to flee from the city of corruption. This land is not the land of Canaan to the disciples of Jesus when the enemies come to rob and kill and burn the Jews, but theirs is the land of Canaan, that promised land which the meek shall inherit if they are able first to travel through the wilderness of this world. But pray, you disciples of Jesus, that your flight would not come in the winter, when the cold wind of the world blows through the body and, who knows, also makes ice around the heart, from which a sickness of shakes and chills will come on the edge of the grave. When the old rags must be left on the edge of the large field next to the ditch, where the sower has sown seeds, then you who must flee from the city of corruption must leave with your shirt. Certainly the chills will come to many if they must flee in the winter time, and chills have already come to many when the cold wind of the world has blown through the body and has made ice around the heart. Those wretches will probably freeze on the road, who start on the journey with so little clothing that they have not been covered and clothed with the robe of Christ's righteousness. Woe! to the pregnant and those who give suck in those days. Surely it is difficult for the pregnant to flee, especially if they are burdened with the sorrow of the world and cares of the world; but even more difficult for those who give suck, who have such a crying child who always wants to suckle and who constantly wants chewed food. Then must the whore's troubles be such which have never been since the beginning; of the world, nor aver will be, but the Jews do not believe that until the enemy splits open their bellies and straightens out their intestines with a knife. They do not believe that such suffering will come. And if those days were not shortened, then no flesh would be saved, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened; here the elect are such who God has foreseen will be saved. Namely, all have not yet become Christians whom God has foreseen that they must become saved. For their sake the tribulation will be shortened and so those elect will remain living, because all the Christians have fled from the city of corruption. But those elect mentioned in this place are such whom God in His wisdom has foreseen that they will be converted and become Christians, It is one great grace from God that some are spared, but few nevertheless are those elect. Why then are the sorrowless so proud although they know that their life is a very evil and ungodly life? Why do they blaspheme God's truth and travel with all their strength to destruction? Yes, no doubt for that reason that they think as the Jews, that this Christianity is not right; they look at the Christians to be false and wild spirits. They think that Christians have gone on the wrong road and are going to destruction. Why do the sorrowless not seek for the right road if they think this Christianity is wrong? But the matter is such that pride will not allow that they confess this doctrine to be the right doctrine. And then the god of this world has also blinded their consciences that they must believe lies; what the devil brings to their minds, that they believe. Their blind intellect is their leader and their guide. For that reason they oppose, although they know well that their own life is not the right life. Now when distress comes, they must condemn themselves to hell. This awakening has effected so much that all sorrowless must condemn themselves to hell as impenitent, if awakening does not come. The sorrowless cannot accuse the Christians on judgement day, that they have not been able to hear the truth, that they have not been told to where such a life will lead them. In that place the Christians have freed their souls. Amen.