On July 31, the 10th Sunday after Trinity Sunday, we gave thanks for our new building, but remembered the warnings of the appointed Old Testament and Gospel readings, Jeremiah 7:1-11 and Luke 19:41-48. This was the sermon based on those texts,
|Ciro Mendoza built these entrance doors.|
Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In our text for today we find a prophecy of Jesus, which was fulfilled after His death, resurrection and ascension: The destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its temple. Our reading of the Old Testament (Jeremiah 7.1-11) also speaks of the temple, so we will reflect on that.
Let us again remember the Exodus story. The Israelites escaped slavery in Egypt under the power of Pharaoh, crossed the Red Sea, but did not immediately enter the Promised Land, the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They traveled in the wilderness more than 40 years, lived as refugees in tents. They were in one place for a while, then they folded their tents to go to another place. However, the Israelites wanted a place to worship God.
Why it is good to have a place to worship God? Can we not worship God anywhere at any time? God is in all parties and does not need a house made by human hands. But we need a place dedicated to worship to gather in the same place at the same time to worship and witness to our faith to all around us.
In addition, we are creatures with eyes, ears and other senses. We need to hear the Word of God and receive the water of baptism on our skin, the bread and wine of the sacrament with our lips. It is also good to hear the music of praise and view images, symbols of our Savior.
So God led the Israelites through Moses to build a tabernacle, a tent for worship. With each move, they folded the tend and took the altar, candles and all the other things to another place. For over 40 years they worshiped God in the tabernacle in the wilderness and then in Jerusalem until King Solomon, son of David, built a temple, a permanent building as the house of God.
For over 10 years in our mission we have worshiped God in a caney. Every Sunday we have set up the altar, cross and chairs, and then stored them to use the caney in other ways. Thank God we have a building dedicated to worship almost ready.
However, when the people of Israel strayed from the path of God, judgment fell on them. The northern tribes were defeated by the Assyrians. The southern kingdom, where Jerusalem stood, fell to the king of Babylon and Jerusalem and the temple built by Solomon were destroyed. After 70 years, the emperor of Persia defeated the king of Babylon and allowed the return of the Jews to the land of Palestine. And they rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and the temple. In addition, more or less 40 or 50 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, King Herod the Great enlarged the temple and its grounds. So, at the time of Jesus, the temple was very large and impressive.
But again the people strayed from God's Word. Above all, they rejected the Messiah, the Promised One of Israel and Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Therefore, "And as he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying: O If you had known, at least in this thy day, which belongs unto thy peace! But now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side, and shall lay you even with the ground, and thy children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone upon another; because you knew not the time of your visitation."
This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD. The Jews rose in rebellion against the Roman Empire. The Roman emperor sent his army, crushed the rebellion and destroyed the city and the temple. In time they rebuilt the city again, but to this day there is no temple, there remains on the mount of the great temple complex only one part of a wall, called the Western Wall or the Wailing Wall.
The descendants of Abraham rejected the Messiah, but He, as the son of Abraham and David, fulfilled all the covenant that God made with Abraham. Therefore, the heirs of the promises of Abraham are now believers in Jesus Christ. God's people now are the church, the community of believers in Christ.
Well, now in La Caramuca we have a great temple. People say, how beautiful and wonderful is this temple! And this is good. However, what will happen if the Word of God is not preached in this temple or nobody comes to hear the Word of God? Many people today say that Venezuela is the only country in which people come into a bakery and ask, Is there bread? It's a joke, for what purpose has a bakery if you have no bread? Also, it absurd to have a great temple in which we do not find the Word of God. We must continue to listen to the Word of God or perhaps lose the opportunity to listen.
A large building is good to show others the importance of our faith and to invite them to the worship of God. But, still if we do not show the love of God in our lives, it's worth a great temple. As the reading of the Old Testament says:
|Finishing the stairwell.|
"Amend your ways and your doings, and I will dwell in this place. Trust not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, Jehovah's temple is this...Do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, neither in this place shed innocent blood, neither walk after other gods to your hurt ... Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you know not ?"
The prophet speaks of the 10 commandments. First, have no other gods before me, and furthermore love your neighbor as yourself. The first three commandments, or the first table of the law, deal with our relationship with God and the rest, the second table, deal with our relationship with our neighbor. In this way we show the love of God to others. God loved us first, so with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can show the love of God in our lives. If people do not see this love in our lives, they will not see the value of worshiping God.
We have by way of warning the example of Israel that rejected the Word of God and therefore lost the grace of God. We also have the promise that we abide in the Word of God, the Lord is always with us. Here we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.