Worship Helps for End Times 2

Artwork: The parable of the minas
Artist: Willem Poorter

Worship Theme: The Lord wants you to take his judgment of all people seriously. He also wants to encourage you: Hanging on to his cross until the Last Day is worth all the difficulties that will come your way, for Jesus will call all people to account on the Last Day. Believers in Jesus will keep the eternal life they already have. Unbelievers will go away from Jesus to eternal death.

Old Testament: Ezekiel 9:1-11
Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, "Bring the guards of the city here, each with a weapon in his hand." 2 And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar. 3 Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the LORD called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side 4 and said to him, "Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it." 5 As I listened, he said to the others, "Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 6 Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple. 7 Then he said to them, "Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!" So they went out and began killing throughout the city. 8 While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell facedown, crying out, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?" 9 He answered me, "The sin of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, 'The LORD has forsaken the land; the LORD does not see.' 10 So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done." 11 Then the man in linen with the writing kit at his side brought back word, saying, "I have done as you commanded."

1. After a vision of vile pagan practices in God’s temple in Jerusalem, Ezekiel saw judgment fall. Whom did God's servants spare? (See 9:4.)

2. Why did God say he would show no pity? (See 9:9.)

Epistle: 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10
All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

3. What are the two sides of God’s judgment? (See 1:5-6.)

4. How does the threat of “everlasting destruction” encourage us? (See 1:9.)

5. How might we become complacent? (See 1:10)

Gospel: Luke 19:11-27
While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.' 14 "But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.' 15 "He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. 16 "The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' 17 "'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' 18 "The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned five more.' 19 "His master answered, 'You take charge of five cities.' 20 "Then another servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.' 22 "His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?' 24 "Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.' 25 "'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten!' 26 "He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them-- bring them here and kill them in front of me.'"

6. What happened immediately upon the king’s return? (See 9:15.)

7. What should the last servant have done, instead of burying his talent? (See 19:22)

8. How does the unfaithfulness of the last servant show in our time?

1. In the second part of the vision, Ezekiel saw God’s servants spare those who grieved and lamented over all the detestable things done in Jerusalem. (Do you grieve over this wicked world or take it for granted?)

2. God said that he would show no pity because a) people were filling the land of Judah with bloodshed and b) people claimed that God did not see all the injustice.

3. God’s judgment means; a) he judges the wicked worthy of eternal suffering b) and he also counts those who trust in Christ worthy of living with him in his eternal kingdom.

4. Everlasting destruction may seem a contradiction in terms. But for those who do not believe in Jesus as their Savior, God’s judgment is a process of destruction that will never end. Though we believers suffer persecution, we know a day is coming when persecutors of the gospel will pay the severest price.

5. We must not gloat about our trust in the Word of God which promises that Jesus will come again to take us to heaven. We must also not let down our guard as we struggle to fight the good fight of faith until Christ comes.

6. The newly appointed king called each to account as soon as he returned. The servants who made more minas for their master were given credit, each in proportion to what they had earned.

7. He should have put it on deposit, to increase its value. The king did not accept his flimsy excuses.

8. The last servant shows up when people entrusted with the Word of God claim to be too busy to do the work of God. They neglect it. They say it will not profit them.

Putting your faith into action
We often look down upon the one servant who buried his mina (talent). But legally, this was his minimum responsibility. It was perfectly permissible to do it. However, he did not do what he knew his master expected. As the church year draws to a close, we focus on Christ’s second coming. We all know what to expect. Scripture is clear. Are we operating according to minimum responsibility or the Master’s expectations? How are we managing our investments in the one sure thing, the church? Are we making the most of every opportunity we have to hear and learn God’s Word, attend the Sacrament of the Altar, and be in touch with our Lord? Just as we can lose our worldly wealth if we are careless in our money management, so we can also lose our spiritual wealth if we detach ourselves from Word and sacrament. As the single earthly agency through which people enter God’s kingdom, the church cannot bury the gospel. But to proclaim it boldly takes people. To prepare and sustain people to go into the world takes effort, selective and proper use of talents and abilities, funding for the physical support of those efforts and time to do the work. We know what the Master expects. Let’s do it.

A reading from the Book of Concord for All Saints’ Day (Observed)
If we want to think about our eternal election to salvation helpfully, we must in every way hold firmly to this truth: just as the preaching of repentance is universal, so also the promise of the Gospel is universal, that is, it belongs to all people.  For this reason Christ has given these commands:
Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations. (Luke 24:47)
God loved the world…He gave His only Son. (John 3:16)
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
[Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)
The Lord is not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
The same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. (Romans 10:12)
The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ [is] for all who believe. (Romans 3:22)
My Father wills that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life. (John 6:40)
It is Christ’s command that this promise of the Gospel also should be offered to everyone in common to whom repentance is preached (Luke 24:47; Mark 16:15).– Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article XI, God’s Eternal Election (paragraph 28)

Hymns: 214; 208; 207; 209; 787

1  Jerusalem the golden, With milk and honey blest—
The sight of it refreshes The weary and oppressed.
I know not, oh, I know not What joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory, What bliss beyond compare.

2  They stand, those halls of Zion, All jubilant with song
And bright with many an angel And all the martyr throng.
The Prince is ever in them; The daylight is serene;
The pastures of the blessed Are ever rich and green.

3  There is the throne of David, And there, from care released,
The shout of them that triumph, The song of them that feast;
And they who with their leader Have conquered in the fight
Forever and forever Are clad in robes of white.

4  Oh, sweet and blessed country, The home of God’s elect!
Oh, sweet and blessed country That eager hearts expect!
Jesus, in mercy bring us To that dear land of rest;
You are with God the Father And Spirit ever blest.

Text: Bernard of Cluny, 12th century, abr.; tr. John M. Neale, 1818–66, alt.


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