The Day Of The Lord Is Here
November 7, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Verse: Amos 5:18–5:24
Christ Lutheran Church
November 8, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
The Day Of The Lord Is Here
Woe to you who ardently desire the Day of the Lord. Why would you want the Day of the Lord, for it is darkness and not light – as if a man fled from a roaring lion only to meet a bear; or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall and a serpent bit him. Is not the Day of the Lord darkness, and not light; and gloom without a ray of light?
I hate, I despise your feasts and find no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up your burnt offerings and grain offerings to me, I will not accept them; nor will I regard your plump peace offerings. Spare me the din of your chanting. Let me hear none of your stringed instruments.
But let justice (mishpath) roll down like water, and righteousness (tsedhekah) like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:18-23)
As another year of grace swiftly comes to a close, the church turns our thoughts to the close of the age; the return of Christ to judge the living and the dead; or in the words of Prophet Amos: The Day of the Lord.
We have a similar phrase in Christian vocabulary: the Lord’s Day, but it is not well understood. When we talk of the Lord’s Day the first thing we should know is that the Lord we have in mind is not God in general, but Christ in specific. And so the Lord’s Day is “Christ’s Day”. It is the day when Christ our Lord intervenes into the affairs of men, bodily, bringing judgment and salvation with him.
First our Lord brings judgment for our sins. He comes to judge them, but then to immediately dissolve them by absolution – a sacrament so powerful that it renders us pure as the driven snow. (Isaiah 1:18) Turn that about in your mind for a moment, that in and by absolution you are pure as the driven snow.
Every Eucharist is the Day of the Lord. It is an installment of the Lord’s final coming when sin, death and Satan will be fully and finally wiped out; we will be confirmed in holiness; and the glad promises of celestial joy will be ours without end.
And so this Lord’s Day, or Day of the Lord is not merely a reminder of the Day that Amos predicted, but an actual piece of it. An installment, or down payment of heaven, given us now, to revel in, to enjoy, and, from it, to obtain new faith, hope, love and patience in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
In today’s Old Testament lesson Israel was looking for the Day of the Lord. But there was a problem. In Amos’s day, about 800 years before the birth of Christ, the nation of Israel was one of the most prosperous and glorious nations on earth. Tiny though she was, she sat at the crossroads between the eastern and the western world; and anyone who wanted to travel from one to the other … or sell their products from one to the other … had to pass through Israel; pay the tolls, and leave some of their money behind in the very high-priced local economy.
Israel knew that she was chosen by God, and so she rejoiced in her blessings, and believed that because she was chosen, and because she had God’s earthly residence, the Temple, sitting on her highest mountain, that she was also protected and needed nothing more.
But that was when her moral temperature began a rapid decline. She no longer felt the need to worship God; obey his commands; or to love him with all her heart and soul and mind and strength; or each his neighbor as himself.
Indeed, injustice and unrighteousness became institutionalized. Corruption systemic. Life was cheap. Innocent blood was shed day after day, and her judges decided cases in favor of the highest bidder.
The widows and orphans, society’s most helpless people, were taken advantage of. Theft and fraud abounded. Worship of the pagan fertility gods was the order of the day, and with that came gross sexual sins of the most ghastly sort, by which the LORD’s people committed adultery against him.
But all the while Israel continued to employ a priesthood to offer sacrifices to the LORD to appease him, and make him happy, to keep them safe from judgment, so that the good times … would never, never end.
But God was not happy!
Indeed his happiness meter wasn’t jus zero, but was pegged deep into negative numbers. And so he sent the prophet Amos to call the people to repentance, his message went like this:
“I hate, I despise your feasts and find no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to me your burnt offerings and grain offerings I will not accept them; nor will I regard your plump peace offerings. Spare me the din of your chanting. Let me no longer hear your stringed instruments. But let JUSTICE (mishpath) roll down like water, and RIGHTEOUSNESS (tsedhekah) like an ever-flowing stream.”
Now these are the very feasts that the LORD himself had commanded. But when they are offered without repentance, true faith and above all while living an unbridled life – they mean nothing at all. Less than nothing at all!
This is what Jesus gets at in today’s parable when he talks about 2 kinds of virgins who were waiting for the Day of the Lord. Five were wise, and five were foolish. Five prepared themselves with faith, the Holy Spirit, and a godly life; while the other five, like Amos’s Israel, made no provisions for the future.
They all became drowsy while waiting for the Day of the Lord, for the Bridegroom to come and take them into the wedding hall of heaven, and so do we!
But spiritual drowsiness comes to us all courtesy of the devil, the culture and our own sinful flesh which, truth be told, will easily destroy us with no outside help at all – if we are not sober and vigilant at all times. (1 Peter 5:8)
But finally the clarion call of the Bridegroom’s arrival woke them all up. Even as it wakes us up today from our apathy, sorrow and self-pity as often as we hear the thrilling prophetic words:
“Lift up your hearts.”
And in joyous faith, filled with all the hope of believing, we respond, “We lift them up unto the Lord”.
Because we are baptized, because we are anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit who fills our lamps as often as we empty them: we are going into the feast. The door is open for us. And because of our Beloved Bridegroom’s bleeding love, today is a Day of Light for us. A day of rest from the weariness of our iniquity, a day of supreme gladness.
And so know today O Saddened, Weighed Down, Sorrowing Sinner; your unrighteousness and injustices have all been purged by the blood of the Lamb. And if the Son set you free, you will be Free Indeed! (And let him who is without sin cast the first stone.)
But finally today let us understand what Amos means when he talks of JUSTICE and RIGHTEOUSNESS.
JUSTICE is not only fair play, a child could think of that. But God’s JUSTICE is Jesus on the cross: the innocent for the guilty, the living for the dead, the rich for the poor, God in the flesh nailed to earth’s tree for us men and for our salvation.
Nor does RIGHTEOUSNESS mean culturally acceptable behavior, God forbid!
But in Christian vocabulary RIGHTEOUSNESS is the prevailing condition that results from God’s JUSTICE. From our Lord’s death and resurrection! It is “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinner reconciled.” It is the demoniac of S. Mark chapter 5 sitting “clothed and in his right mind at Jesus feet” even as we are now poised.
Today is the Lord’s Day. Today we meet our Lord in the Bread and Wine, and tomorrow: “In the air, where we will be forever with the Lord, and so comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thes. 4:17-18) Amen.