Second Sunday in Advent Sermon Nr.2
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon and in the stars. Luke 21:25
In today's gospel the Saviour speaks of the signs of the last times which appear in the heavens, before the end of this world; and these signs must be in the sun, moon, and stars. We must now first understand that with the sun is meant in the spiritual sense, the light of Christianity, which is as the sun to those who are traveling to eternity. If this sun darkens, then spiritual darkness comes on the earth, so that the travelers no longer see where the road goes to Heaven. The sun does not darken in any other way except when the moon goes in front of it, then the sun becomes dark. But in a spiritual sense, with the moon is understood that natural intellect which is a great hindrance to those who intend to be penitent and repent. The natural intellect is blind, blinded by the lust of sin, as naturally the moon of itself is black and dark, but gives a little light when the sun shines on it, so also from the spiritual sun the intellect gets a little enlightenment so that a person understands how to take care of his natural work and arrange his life so he would get along reasonably in this world.
But man cannot see with his intellect or his wisdom where the road goes to Heaven. The intellect or the knowledge of the skull is that moonlight, by which dim light a person can see to travel the broad road which leads to damnation. But that narrow road no one can see with moonlight or the wisdom of the intellect; there must be full day or perfect enlightenment of God's Word before a person can see where the road goes to Heaven. We hear in Prophet Joel's writing that the sun will become dark and the moon red, before that great day of the Lord shall come. No doubt these are those signs of the last times which the Saviour means when He says that there must be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. The Sun of Christianity will become dark when the moon or the natural intellect goes in front of it. But not many realize that the moon has gone in front of the sun when the sun has become dark, and not many realize that the natural intellect has come in front of the Christianity when the sun of grace has become dark: Certainly now can be seen those signs of the last times in the sun, when the world is in such spiritual darkness, that not many can see where the road goes to Heaven.
Certainly many a night-watcher tries to travel to eternity by moonlight, or by the wisdom of the intellect, but how can he get there when he cannot see by moonlight the narrow way which leads to life. But that is even worse when the moon becomes red, or the natural intellect becomes so darkened, that a person does not understand how he should arrange his life so as to get along in this world. All do not understand for what reason the moon becomes red. It is from that vapour and that smoke which John saw in the Revelation, rising from the well of the abyss from which the sun becomes dark. This black smoke is that which rises from the well of the abyss and raakes the moon red, that people can no longer see how they can get along in this world. The vapour of sin rises from the well of the deep, that is from the deepest wisdom of the world, and confuses the natural reason that the natural government can no longer understand how to keep under control the blind and unruly people.
Then pride, drinking, greed, adultery, finery, cursing and discontent make the subjects rise in rebellion; the people in one country begin to fight among themselves as it now happens in the world. Then there is fault in the natural intellect when the people of one country cannot remain together and the natural government is not able to rule the people. Those totally pagan people have a better intellect who obey their natural government and understand it to be necessary that the natural government has to have subjects, otherwise the whole country will fall apart and come to naught.
But not only does natural pride confuse the natural intellect but also fornication makes the intellect so blind that the whore does not understand that because of fornication distress will come upon her in the end; the lust for drunkenness also makes man's intellect so blind that the drunkard does not understand that he will become poor through drunkenness, Look! This is the smoke that rises from the well of the abyss namely the sinful lusts and desires which come from the flesh where the devil is the ruler; the well of the abyss is the worldly wisdom which makes such sins allowable. The moon or the natural intellect becomes so darkened that man does not understand how he should live so that he could get along in this world. But the signs of the last times appear yet in the stars.
In the Revelation, John saw many stars fall from heaven onto the earth and he also saw the great dragon draw down with his tail a third part of the stars from heaven upon the earth. By the stars are meant the spiritual teachers who show the sinners where the road leads to heaven. Since the sun does not shine and the moon does not give light to one lonely journeyman, how can he travel unless there be a star on the horizon that would show him the course so he could correct his traveling so that he would not be totally lost in this dark world. It would be better that at least one star could be seen. But if the stars fall from heaven onto the earth, if the spiritual teachers become worldly, that they begin to follow after the vanity of the world, where can the hearers of the word find guidance? If his doctrine would still be somewhat or as according to the word of God but his life would war against that doctrine, then the hearers of the word would live according to the example of the teacher they would be godly in the church and ungodly behind the church they would sit peacefully in the church and fight behind the church they would bless in the church and curse behind the church they would weep in the church and laugh behind the church and say "the minister does likewise so it must be right," Such life comes into the congregation when the spiritual teachers become worldly that is the stars fall from heaven. It is lamentable that the great dragon has begun to draw down from heaven on to the earth already in the beginning of Christendom. During the time of Luther he has so entirely drew down the stars from heaven onto the earth. Not even now are many stars in the heaven that have not fallen onto the earth. Only a few stars can be seen on the horizon which a lonely journeyman can see with a telescope. If those few stars fall upon the earth, where must you find guidance you poor journeymen who travel in solitude seeking in the darkness for some sign in the heaven that would show you the way to Bethlehem.
Pray to the great King of heaven, you journeymen to heaven. Sigh you solitary traveler and pray that those few stars that can be seen on the horizon that those few stars, I say would not fall upon the earth and you would then be in total darkness and would be entirely lost from the way of salvation! Pray you solitary traveler and you poor Journeyman so that the dragon with his tail would not be able to draw down those few stars from heaven onto the earth, who now show you the way to salvation! Hear Thou Father of Light the sighs of the poor journeyman! Our Father which art in the heavens.
Gospel Luke 21:25
According to the Holy Gospel we must through the grace of God consider:
1. What are the signs of the last times?
2. What are the prominent sins of that time of which Christians should take heed?
The Saviour says that the signs must appear in the sun, moon, and the stars. As it was before the destruction of Jerusalem many signs appeared in the heavens. So it must actually be the signs in the sun, moon, and stars will be visible to the natural eyes and also the signs will be visible to the children of the world. It happens as a warning to them though they do not make a repentance even then. A great fear comes to the sorrowless as the Saviour testifies "Men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth," Nevertheless the hardened people will not become penitent and make a repentance though they fear that coming wrath and a greater distress will be placed upon them. John saw in the Revelation how they gnashed their teeth because of pain but all the same they blasphemed their Creator, Wherefore we do not doubt that these signs in the sun, moon, and stars will become visible to the eyes of the sorrowless. But a Christian who takes heed of the signs of the times will see the signs for a time before they come before the eyes of the sorrowless. He can see the sun become darkened when the light of Christianity is extinguishing; he can see how the moon goes before the sun when the intellect goes before Christianity. Then the intellect will extinguish the sun of grace when the substance of living Christianity has ceased, when the consciousness of sin has ceased and the feelings of grace have ceased, temptations have ceased, fear and doubts have ceased. Then dead faith will become strengthened, a sinner will begin to commit sin on grace and the intellect makes sin customary, drunkeness becomes allowable, fornication becomes allowable, greed becomes allowable, cursing becomes allowable, and even fighting becomes allowable. The intellect expounds Scripture so that the home sins of old Adam become allowable. Just the same such a slave of sin can believe that the door of grace is open to him and he will become terribly angry when he is reproved for sin. And this blind wretch does not know it to be a sin that he hates and persecutes Christians who encourage him to repentance. The devil has so reversed the eyes of the blind wretch that he imagines the he is doing God a service when he persecutes the Christians. Is not this sign in the sun and the moon a horrifying sign when not only the priests in the faith of the pope but also those who confess the Lutheran faith with their mouth bear spiritual hatred to the children of God and pervert the Scriptures when they expound them with a blind intellect so that the persecuting of Christians not only becomes allowable but also a demand of the conscience. The conscience demands that the children of the world would persecute Christians and they do not find peace in their conscience until they suck the blood of Christians, So dark the sun of Christianity becomes when the moon or natural intellect goes before the sun. For what reason does the sun of grace often become so dark for a Christian? Does not the black and dark moon or the blind intellect cover the sun of grace so that the sun would not begin to shine into the soul of a penitent sinner? When the moon goes before the sun, then darkness comes upon the earth from the sixth hour "till the ninth hour. The Saviour was in darkness for three hours and at the ninth hour He cried, "Eli Eli lama sabachthani," Because that darkness which had covered the face of the Father from the eyes of the only Son, such great agony came to the Saviour because of the ungodly children who let the blood flow from the veins of the heavenly Parent and cried out for the punishment of God to fall upon them, that He had to cry and lament that God the Father had forsaken Him into the care of the prince of darkness and the blood hounds. And so must also a Christian cry and lament that God has forsaken him into the care of the prince of darkness when great darkness comes upon him. But God has not forsaken you forever, but only for one moment until you begin to cry, Eli Eli lama sabachthani. Behold! Such signs are visible in the sun, that the sun has become dark and black as if the soot-devil would have taken soot from hell or the cabin of the abyss and painted the bright sun black and so has the moon become red from the smoke that rises from the well of the abyss.
The natural intellect is black and dark of itself. As the moon receives its light from the sun since it has no light of its own, so also the dark intellect of man receives some light from the effects of the Holy Spirit which are felt in the heart. But what kind of enlightenment can that person΄s intellect receive in whose heart the spirit of the devil affects? In such a heart the intellect of man receives that enlightenment that this light which has now made its appearance is nothing else but the devil's fishing fire and that the Christianity is one wild disease. The intellect also receives light from the liver and spleen where the devil of honor and self-righteousness has prepared itself an abode. The intellect also receives enlightenment from the gall where the devil of hatred dwells and in the stomach where the devil of greed lives. All these angels of the devil give the intellect the enlightenment that Christianity is only one extraordinary witchcraft, Then the moon becomes red from the smoke that rises from the well of the deep. Natural intellect "becomes so "blind from the lusts and desires of the flesh which rise up from the liver, spleen, and stomach that adultery changes into love, drunkeness changes into medication, greed changes into an acceptable livelihood, hate changes into a seal in behalf of the truth, finery changes into raiment to protect the body, and a shameful life changes to honor. Now since the devil has reversed the eyes of the blind wretch by the lusts and desires of the flesh then the intellect begins to see that all sins are allowable then the moon has become red. Such signs are seen in this moon that the children of the world keep all sin allowable such as drunkeness, fornication, small thefts, cursing, finery, greed, pride, fighting, deception and others that are similar, even yet worldly honor of which no one has known before who has given that to man. All have been in that faith before that God has given man honor; no one has guessed that it is the devil that has given man honor.
Behold! Such signs are now in the sun and the moon, that every Christian who can see these signs can certainly think the signs of the last times are now in the world, namely, the sun is dark, that is, the light of Christianity has gone out and the moon has become red, that is, the natural intellect has become confused so that the kings and chief men of the country do not understand anymore how they should rule the vulgar and radical people so the world would stay together. Of the stars there is not much knowledge, are there anymore of them in the heavens, none have been seen for a long time. Without a doubt the dragon has drawn them with his tail and dropped them, to the earth, when it is a wonder that there are a few stars in heaven, from which one poor journeyman and lone traveler can get some guidance only that much so he can see in which way he should travel. But those few stars which are seen on the horizon are so dim because of the smoke that rises from the well of the abyss, so that the; travelers which travel land and sea must look with a telescope to see them. And when such a star appears which is befitting for a guide for the poor and tired journeymen who are; traveling to eternity, then the wise of the world say, "The devil's comet can now be seen!" The reverser of the Byes has reversed their eyes. When they see those bottles of liquor which are shaken well, then they become elated and say, "It is good liquor." But when they see one star which leads the travelers to Bethlehem, then they say, "It is the comet of the devil." John saw the dragon draw a third part of the stars from heaven unto the earth with his tail but now the dragon has taken care of almost all the stars from heaven and for that reason the world has become so black and dark that there are not many souls who can see where the road leads to heaven. The owls with large eyes in their skull love darkness and hate the light and for that reason will not receive correction from the stars of heaven. Screaching they fly around the houses in the dark. The magpies and forest devils also fly around in the dark but when daylight comes they flee away. Such signs can be seen in the heavens. The sun has become dark and there are only a few places in the world where one small edge of the sun can be seen. And the moon has become red from the smoke that rises from the well of the abyss; the dragon draws down a third part of the stars of heaven onto the earth. If there does not come some kind of a change in the faith and life of the people of the world the world will soon fall apart,
2. When the Saviour speaks in the beginning of this gospel of the signs of the last times, He warns His disciples of those sins which are especially ruling then when the signs of the last times begin to appear, "And take heed to yourselves lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkeness and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares!" We see that over-eating and drunkeness are ruling sins in the world, the lords of the world go ahead with a good example and the peasants follow after. When a person is born, they serve the god of the belly, when someone dies, then they again serve the same god of the belly; namedays and birthdays are kept holy for the pleasure of the god of the belly. Sundays are made into feast days, drinking days, days of pleasure, days of cursing, days of fighting. And it seems like the god of the belly gets the most honor and service by the slaves of the world. Has God then created man to eat and to excrete, to drink and to fight, to whore and to steal? For what purpose is man created into this world? The lords of the world anoint their throats with flowing devil's dung and the peasants follow their example, So are they living now in the world and with that life they imagine they are acceptable to God. If some Christian comes to rebuke the children of the world of such a life, they become angry and gnash their teeth; they cannot get peace of conscience before they can make sausages from the blood of Christians. But they cannot see to make sausages before they fetch fire from hell. It can also be surmised that from that kind of a life follows sorrow over the belly; when they have served the god of the belly well, all thoughts go into the same place. So that they would have sufficient to eat and drink well, many have to steal crown; others take from the poor and give to the rich. Some try to get rich through the liquor trade and others through crookedness.
After such a life to some comes poverty, especially to the drunkards whores and thieves, who the devil has made poor, and others who the devil has made rich, accumulate much worldly goods. And after such crooked and ungodly life, they imagine they are ready to step into the kingdom of heaven without penitence, without repentance, without faith and without love. So should it not be necessary for a Christian to beware of over-eating, drunkeness, and cares of natural living, so that day of the Lord would not come too suddenly upon him. So we hope that those few souls, who formerly have lived the same kind of a life which the world lives, but have through the grace of God seen where such a life will lead one, must from now on watch and pray that great Cross-bearer, that He would protect them from such a life. Former drunkards, former wine-merchants, former whores and former thieves, remember without a doubt what their former life was like, as Paul writes to the Christians, "Remember, that ye were in times past Gentiles." Remember that formerly you lived as these pagans who screech here around the Church. But now you see and feel In your hearts, that grace of the great God of Israel, through who you have been pulled like burning coals from hell, from darkness into light, from under Satan's power received unto God. Now you see, you awakened and graced souls, what a bottomless pit the enemy prepared for you. How you see what an unspeakable joy awaits you if you are faithful in your most precious faith until the end. Be therefore watchful and ready praying that that great Cross-bearer who has begun the good work in you, would help you in the last struggle of life, and when these natural eyes close, that the bright eyes would open, which see God and all the holy angels. Amen