Is 2012 the Year?
Surfing the cable channels somewhere, I came across a strange prediction. (Maybe you’ve heard this, maybe not.) It seems that there are those who interpret writings of the great physicist, Sir Isaac Newton, to predict that the world will somehow come to an end in 2012.
I had never heard this before, but it reminded me of the group that was predicting the end of the world in 1988. When that didn’t happen, they came back with a tract listing “89 Reasons Christ Will Return in 1989.” Of course, that didn’t happen either.
But will the world come to an end in 2012? Only God knows – and it could be sooner, too – like tomorrow, or 2020, or 2250, or whenever. We believers are called to be ready at any time and, in the meantime, we are called to proclaim the Word of God.
In fact, whatever the situation we face, our primary calling is to bring the saving Word of God to people. Even if the world is about to end, what people need most is God’s Word of Law and Gospel. There is no other way of salvation.
These words are often read at ordinations and installations: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Note that the charge is given “in view of” Christ’s appearing!
And this passage comes directly after Paul had written to Timothy: “From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus…” (2 Timothy 3:15). Only the Word of God can prepare us for the end, whenever it may be. Only the Word of God brings salvation in Christ Jesus.
So… even if they are right about Isaac Newton, preach the Word! Whether people are ready to hear it or not, we have one thing to give: salvation in Christ through His Word. But this thought applies in all kinds of other situations as well.
What if the Middle East explodes in war because of the unrest in Egypt and other countries? Preach the Word of God’s Law and Gospel! What if the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq go on and on? Preach the Word… And if there is some other great calamity? In view of Christ’s appearing and His kingdom, you know the answer.
What about our congregations? We are engaged in witness, mercy and life together, day in and day out, week in and week out, no matter what. We bear witness to Christ, reach out with His mercy and compassion, and seek to live together in peace, moved by the Word that points to Christ. That’s why we are called to preach, teach, study, speak, and tell the Word of God, in season and out.
God makes disciples when the church baptizes people into the triune name and teaches them to hold onto all that Christ has commanded. Thereby God’s Spirit brings us into the worship of the Holy Trinity, the only worship that gives life. Who would draw us away from this task? Only the devil, the world and our flesh, because the devil knows the power for salvation is in the Word of God.
So… whatever happens in 2011, 2012 or whenever, we are called to “preach the Word…” For in the Word of God there is life. Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). His promise: “Your sin is forgiven you, go in peace.” His Word: “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). And His Word again: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:18-19).
We could go on and on with the Scriptures. The Word simply brings life. Whatever is going to happen in the world can only bring death. But in the Word of Jesus there is life. May God richly bless you as you bring that Word of Life, in season and out, because some will hear – and live!
+ Herbert Mueller
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