November 13, 2022: Saints Triumphant Sunday

Let us pray: Dear Savior,  on this great and glorious day we join with all our departed brothers and sisters in Christ who reside in heaven.  We join them in praising You for Your never-ending goodness and love.  We praise You for welcoming them, and someday us, into the heavenly mansions.  We praise You for transporting us far beyond any remembrance of pain, sorrow, suffering, or death.  We praise You for the gift of eternal life filled with joys beyond words.  All this awaits us.  Lord, thank You for making it certain.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO AWAITS TO WELCOME YOU INTO HEAVENLY GLORY!

TEXT:  Isaiah 65: 17-25

Fellow Redeemed Saints Who Know That Heaven Awaits: 

          History repeats itself.  That’s a truism.  But, in its repetition it always adds a few new twists.  I want to take you back to two huge events in the history of our world.  The first occurred in 1453.  That year, the proud, 1100 year old city of Constantinople fell to the Muslim horde.  It had resisted them, and others, for centuries.  But, like all human empires, with time it decayed from within.  Finally, a huge Muslim army of about 150,000 overwhelmed the 7000 defenders.  Cannon fire finally breached the fabled walls of that city.  Its emperor, fittingly named: Constantine, died with his soldiers trying to fend off this attack.  Unlike many world leaders, he didn’t cower in his palace, but literally “died with his boots on.”  On that day the most famous Christian church in the world, St. Sophia, was taken over and turned into the Moslem mosque it remains today.  On that day the world was turned upside down.

          The second event took place in America during the Revolutionary War.  On October 19, 1781  the British army under Lord Cornwallis surrendered to Gen. Washington and his French allies at Yorktown.  Here was Britain, at the zenith of its power, giving in to the rag-tag American revolutionaries!  Fittingly, the British band played the song: “The World Turned Upside Down” that fateful day.  Again, history was changed, turned on its head. 

          That brings us to the message Isaiah penned to us about 2800 years ago.  It is a prophecy from God about the future of all mankind.  And it speaks of a singular event, a special moment in time which is literally:

THE DAY OUR WORLD TURNS UPSIDE DOWN

I

          “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.”

          God is describing Judgment Day.  He is foretelling a singular day in human history when He will wipe out time and space as we know it and create something entirely new for us.  The past will be so forgotten that it will be impossible to remember the pain God’s saints will leave behind.  Jerusalem here refers not to the physical earthly city—it, too, will be wiped away.  No, it refers to “its people” the saints of God Who cling to Christ, to the Holy Christian Church.  Unlike old Jerusalem which broke God’s heart and which Christ wept over, this new community of saints will be free from all sin and the pain which sin brings.  God’s people are this community.  You and I and all other believers who confess Christ as our Savior will dwell in safety and joy forevermore!  Literally, our world will be turned upside down!

II

          Lest you have any doubts or questions about a world free from any and all pain, from any and all injustice or suffering, God adds more glorious words of promise.  “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.  (Not that any of that can happen in heaven, but by way of comparison for us earthbound sinners, God uses it as a contrast.)  They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.  For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands.  They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendents with them.  Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”

          What a glorious picture of an attentive God serving and meeting His beloved people’s every need!  What a glorious picture of what awaits us!  What a glorious picture of what our Christian family members who have been transported to sainthood in and through the righteousness of Jesus Christ now enjoy!  Work will not be work.  Praise will never be tedious.  Enjoyment will never become hum-drum.  All this awaits you, God’s saints.  Yes, on that day our world will be turned upside down—all because Jesus Christ has turned the world upside down with His innocent death on the cross for you and with His empty tomb!

III

          God, through Isaiah, ends His description of that singular day by portraying the seemingly impossible and how it will come to pass.  “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,’ says the Lord.”

          My friends, we are earthbound.  We think only in terms of our experience.  When that experience is changed, our world is turned upside down.  The unthinkable occurred in 1453 when Constantinople fell.  For Europe it was as if the sky was falling.  And fear gripped the continent.  Likewise, on October 19, 1781 those British soldiers also felt as if the sky was falling upon them.  Anger and fear gripped their hearts.  It was a sad day, the saddest day in their lives.  But when Christ comes with the heavenly hosts and puts a real end to this world, it will be a great and glorious day for all His saints—including you and me!  Peace, real peace will reign.  Wolves and lambs will get along.  Lions and oxen will have peace between them.  Satan and his allies will be destroyed.  No harm, no destruction, no pain will ever afflict God’s saints, His mountain of holy ones, ever again.  So, today we look with longing eyes for that moment in time when Our World Is Turned Upside Down!  Amen

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH…

Pastor Thomas H. Fox