Abomination of Desolation (Mark 13)

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Sermon Text

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."[1]. The First Amendment to the Constitution provides for a separation of Church and State. The Abomination of Desolation should not happen here.

The Abomination of Desolation isn't just a one-time deal. It is a continuous problem throughout human history. It deals with the Church and State being in the wrong places. Desolation follows when religion and government try to come together. The Northern Kingdom of Israel established government-run religion with Jeroboam's golden calves.[2] King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of Syria sacrificed a pig to Zeus on the altar of the Jerusalem Temple to impose his all-inclusive religion in 168 BC.[3] When the Romans came in AD 66, the Zealots--anti-Roman extremists--sought refuge in the Temple. 8500 were slaughtered, desecrating the Temple with their blood. It continues in European history. When the Holy Roman Empire was set up, the Pope crowned the Emperor and the Emperor installed bishops where he wanted. And even in America, the separation of Church and State has become almost a standardized religion in itself. In end-times preaching, the Abomination of Desolation comes near the end of the world where the two beasts of Revelation 13 set up a one-world government with a one-world religion. Once again, it will be a bad idea.

The Abomination of Desolation causes desolation because it entices people to believe "cleverly devised myths."[4] These myths are plausible and even practical. So many people really believe God wants things this way. "False christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders."[5] Daniel sees this in his prophecies. St. John sees it as well in Revelation. Many buy into the lies. This is how Satan works. It worked in the Garden of Eden among God's elect. Satan believes it will still work today.

But he's wrong. Jesus said, "No one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."[6]. The Abomination of Desolation continues to try to lead God's elect astray, but it cannot. True faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is too strong. Your election as one of God's children is sure and certain. Nothing can take you away from your Lord. You are like a mighty oak because God has elected you to salvation through your Baptism.[7] Even with the Great Tribulation--"such tribulation as has not been from the beginning ... until now, and never will be"[8]--Satan's lies are nothing but the wind blowing through your leaves. You are a member of the host who will be arrayed in white. You will stand before God's throne and praise Him forever.[9] You will be one who comes out of the Great Tribulation, having washed your robe white in the blood of the Lamb.[10]

The Great Tribulation will be like a gentle breeze to the elect. For the sake of the elect, God shortens the days of the Great Tribulation.[11] God continues to shepherd you as His precious flock. Your soul can be still because "the Lord is on your side."[12]. Your Baptism gives you true comfort and assurance of your eternal salvation.

Jesus tells you this is going to happen. He prepares you for the days ahead.[13] Unprepared, you will never be able to find comfort during the Great Tribulation. When your comfort is gone, the Abomination makes its pitch for your soul. It offers comfort through its lying signs and wonders. But you know from Jesus' words that the promised comfort is bogus. True comfort can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ. So that we might believe, Jesus says, "I told you so!" "Be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand."[14]. We can be on guard and comforted because we've been told what's going to happen. We can sing, "Come, Thou long-expected Jesus ... from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee. ... By Thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by Thine all-sufficient merit raise us to Thy glorious throne" [15].

The Abomination of Desolation has come. It is here. It will come again. Not having things in their right spot runs counter to the First Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before Me."[16]. Everything ordered properly finds things working well. Trading places between religion and government misaligns society and brings nothing but desolation. But you, dear Christian, take heart! You will survive the Great Tribulation and find yourself in God's presence forever. Amen.

References

  1. U.S. Constitution
  2. 1 Kings 12:25-33
  3. 1 Maccabees 1:54
  4. 2 Peter 1:16
  5. Mark 13:22
  6. John 10:29
  7. Psalm 1
  8. Mark 13:19
  9. LSB #676.1
  10. Revelation 7:14
  11. Mark 13:20
  12. LSB #752.1
  13. Mark 13:23
  14. Mark 13:23
  15. LSB #338
  16. Exodus 20:3