Christ the King Sunday
To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His own blood and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father, to him be glory forever and ever amen! In the name of Jesus, who will come as King of kings and Lord of lords to judge the living and the dead, dear brothers and sisters in Christ: How do you feel about things going on in the world today? Last week there was a tragic terrorist bombing in Paris, more threats keep coming, Isis seems to be gaining in power, people are concerned about the possibility of refugees coming to America with evil intentions, political debates are heating up as enter another presidential election season, who is going to be the next leader of our country? How do you feel about the things going on in the world? Or, how do you feel about the things going on in your own life? Maybe your marriage isn’t what it should be, maybe you’re having difficulties at work, maybe you’re dealing with a health issue or someone you love is dealing with a health issue, maybe your finances aren’t quite what you want them to be. How do you feel about things going on in your life? Or, how do you feel about things going on in your church? This past week we had a 3.5 hour long voters meeting as we considered the decisions for the future of our church, some described the mood of our congregation as excited, others as tense. How do you feel about things going on in our church?
It seems like we have questions, questions, and more questions. Well, if we think that we have questions, let’s take a look at Daniel’s time for a bit. We’ll find out that our time in the history of the world isn’t unique. But more importantly, we’re going to see that God has a simple, yet wonderful answer to all those questions which are on our minds.
The prophet Daniel lived at a time when the nation of Judah had been overrun by the nation of Babylon. God used the Babylonians to cause the people of Judah a lot of suffering. Why? Because for the most part, the people of Judah were in rebellion against God – not listening to Him, worshipping false gods, etc. Daniel was exiled to Babylon thousands of miles away probably when he was a teenager. He spent most of his life in Babylon. Now he’s probably about 60 or 65 years old. And our text is really the conclusion to a vision that Daniel had. It was a wild vision. Here’s how it started out: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle.” Ok, a lion with wings. Daniel would have recognized this. Archaeologists have discovered winged lions placed in places to symbolically guard the palace gates. Daniel would have recognized that this represented Babylonian empire.
But what happened next? “I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.” That’s crazy! Next, Daniel sees a bear come out of the churning sea, and it has in its mouth three ribs, and it was told, “Get up and eat your fill of flesh!” Woe! That’s not good! Next came a leopard with four wings, but in addition to it having four wings it also had four heads, and was given authority to rule, so Babylon is clearly out of the picture now. And then came this terrifying beast which Daniel couldn’t even name – it was just terrifying and frightening. It had iron teeth and it trampled on or devoured its victims. Ten horns came out of its head and then one came up and uprooted three horns and spoke great boasts. Wow!
After the dream Daniel asked about its meaning. It was explained to him that the various beasts he had seen were different empires. So, put yourself in Daniels shoes. The first empire was the Babylonian empire. What was that one like? That wasn’t a very nice empire for Daniel. The Babylonians had conquered the Israelites, held them under domination, exacted excruciating tribute from them. They deported thousands of the Israelites, including Daniel, then when the Jews tried to rebel, the Babylonians came destroyed Jerusalem and perhaps worst of all for the Jews was that they leveled the temple. That wasn’t a very nice empire, they weren’t that nice to believers in the true God.
And now this empire is going to “have its wings torn off” and replaced by another empire? One that is told to “eat your fill of flesh”?? Wow! What’s that going to be like for believers? And then a kingdom with four wings and four heads like a leopard to have extra swiftness and extra eating power?? Then one that couldn’t even be compared to an animal, a beast with iron teeth that’s just frightening and terrifying that devours victims and tramples under foot whatever is left?? How do you think Daniel felt about things in the world? Do you think Daniel could have been more worried about the state of the world and the state of the church and the state of his life than you and I?
It was right after seeing that final beast with the boastful horn that we then read that God showed Daniel this: “As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.” Wow! It’s God the Father taking the seat of judgment, with the believers and the angels attending Him! The beast with the boastful horn is tossed into the lake of fire, and that’s when our text takes place: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
Who is this “son of man”? That’s Jesus! And this appearance of Jesus is very different than Jesus’ first appearance on this earth. Jesus’ first appearance on this earth was one of humility, wrapped in cloths, placed in a manger, whipped, beaten, nailed to a cross. THIS appearance, however, is amazingly powerful and glorious! He has authority and power and dominion! His kingdom can never and will never be destroyed! He is and will reign forever and ever!
And…all of a sudden, we’re just not so concerned about the world around us, are we? You know, if Jesus is in charge, it’s going to be okay! Look at His power! Look at His glory! We have an added blessing that Daniel didn’t have. We can look back at history. The Babylonian empire – so cruel to believers- it fell. The Persian empire rose fast, a bear of an empire, it fell. The Greeks with their leopard like phalanx, split into four parts and then fell to the Romans. And through it all, what happened to God’s Church? God’s Church continued! In the midst of all that crazy stuff, the Savior of the world came. It was during the Roman empire – the horrifying, terrifying beast that crushed and devoured – that God’s ultimate saving work was done- Jesus came, Jesus died for our sins, Jesus rose from the dead.
And yes, that one horn still speaks and still boasts- that’s the Anti-Christ opposed to Jesus which sprung up from the Roman empire. And that one horn will continue to bring problems to God’s people, but it can’t win. Because God’s Church continues! Yes, there are times in history when God’s Church struggles and when the Word is attacked and neglected. But no matter what the opposition to God’s Church, to God’s people might be, the opposition can never win!
Why? Because Christ is THE King and He does and will continue to reign forever and ever! So, we’re reminded on this Christ the King Sunday, no matter what’s going on in the world, in our congregation, in our own lives, we rejoice. Why? First, we rejoice that our King is a King of grace. Willingly He stood before Pontius Pilate, willingly he went to the cross to die, willingly He gave up His life, willingly He rose from the dead. He did that because He loves you that dearly, He wanted to pay for your sins, because He wants you in heaven with Him forever!
Second, we rejoice because our God and King alone knows all the details of the future. You don’t, I don’t, Satan doesn’t, the rulers of this world don’t. But God does. He knows the future so even when things might seem to be spinning out of control, He’s in complete control of history guiding it for the good of His people and to one glorious end.
And thirdly, we also rejoice because our Savior is our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Ultimately, HE is in charge, ultimately HE is ruling all things for the good of advancing HIS kingdom. We live in a world full of dark and wicked powers, aggressive nations, wars and rumors of wars will continue to the end. We will also continue to experience attacks on our faith from anti-Christian forces. The devil will continue to play on our sinful natures, continue to try to instigate disunity and disharmony among God’s people, leading people away from God’s Word. But we look forward to that final day when our final deliverance will come. When Christ returns Satan and all his forces, all the evil people and forces of this world will be judged and finally done away with once and for all. All the dead will be raised, unbelievers will be sent to hell, but all God’s saints, his believers, will inherit eternal life, no more pain, no more sickness, no more problems, no more fighting, no more fear, no more tragedy, no more hardship. To that end our King Jesus is guiding all things.
With Him as King, there’s no room for our bickering, fighting, complaining, but just bowing to our eternal King of kings and trusting Him because no matter what is happening around us, our King, Jesus will continue to advance HIS cause, and HIS cause is YOUR cause, for YOUR eternal benefit! Come quickly Lord Jesus! Amen.