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Watchman for the House of the Lord

Ezekiel 33:7; Romans 13:1-6; Matthew 18:18-20

Rev. Kurt Hering

17th Sunday after Pentecost
Trinity Lutheran Church  
Layton, Utah

Sun, Sep 7, 2008
17th Sunday after Pentecost

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

TEXT: Ezekiel 33:7 So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. (NKJ)

Dear People of God,

Have you had enough of politics, and conventions, and stumping, and positioning, and pandering over the past few weeks? Are you confused over just who to vote for to lead our country as President for the next four, maybe eight years? Are you concerned, even worried that should the wrong candidate triumph that we are doomed as a country and perhaps your own personal life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness will somehow suffer?

Fear not! Let not your hearts be troubled. For you are God's chosen people. You are his elect, of an election that lasts forever - not just for four or eight years according to the whims and desires of man, but according to the good and perfect will of God and for His just and holy purpose.

What is that will and purpose of God?

For "all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim 2:4 And that "He might sanctify and cleanse [His people] with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Eph 5:26-27

But what does any of that have to do with our Presidential elections?

The God's honest truth of the matter, as we hear the Apostle Paul in today's epistle lesson, is that "there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. . . . [intended to be] God's minister to you for good."

And what God means when He says, "for your good," is not what man means by life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It means that, just as Paul says he will "endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory,". 2 Tim 2:10 so to all things, whether it be the election of the President of the United States, or the terrorist bombings of Islamic fanatics in the name of their false god, will be used by the one true God for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, and the people He has "purchased and won . . .  with His holy precious blood, and His innocent suffering and death." [SC Explanation to the Third Article of the Creed]

Now lest you think that your pastor is delving into the realm of politics and trying to tell you, or convince you how or for whom to vote, let me tell you right here and now, that is not within my authority to do. And any man or woman who would try to make the case that God is telling you to vote for this person or that, or that one party or another is the party of God - let them be anathema to you! For no political party, let alone any particular man or woman they put forward as candidates, has the salvation of souls and the preservation of Christ's bride, the Church, as their main purpose or the Word of God as their constituting power.

The Word of God doesn't tell you how to vote, and so the servant of the Word should not tell you either. But the Word of God does tell you what to expect of your elected officials as His earthly authorities and what your relationship and obligations to them are.

Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. . . . [who bear the sword as an] avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.  And you, as a citizen, are to be subject to the governing authorities. . . . not to resist them, . . .  Do what is good, . . . pay taxes, . . . fear and honor them. Why? Because they are better, or wiser, or more important than you? No! By no means. But because they are God's minister to you for good.

As God teaches in the Fourth Commandment, "Honor your father and mother," the fear and honor of earthly authorities proceeds and from and is an extension of our fear and love for God through the fear and love of our parents. "We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them." [SC Explanation]

The Commandment does not say that we should only fear and love our parents, and Paul does not tell us to only fear and honor earthly governing authorities, if we agree with them, or if we think they are doing the right thing, or if they are making us happy. No, we are to submit to them, trusting that God will work good even if it appears to us that they mean evil - that is, unless our parents or other authorities would have or force us to do something contrary to the Commandments by our own words or actions. In that case, we have the examples of Daniel, and Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego. But notice that these did not rebel and fight the authorities. They simply submitted first to God's Word - and then to man's.

And just as God delivered them from the wrath of the authorities, He delivers us also.

Oh, it is true that we may have to suffer adverse consequences such as financial hardships, fines, imprisonment, and even die for our obedience to God when earthly authorities rule contrary to God's commands. But "if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 1 Cor 15:19 For "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Rom 8:28 And that nothing can separate us who are the elect of God through Baptism and the Word from Christ Jesus, His Father, or His kingdom.

And this is where our Old Testament text comes in. So [for this purpose], son of man [that none should be lost and the elect of God be made and kept holy and blameless for Him]: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.

Please understand, the House of Israel as God speaks of it here is not an earthly nation state. It is the nation of His elect, those he has called out of the world and into His marvelous Light.

Likewise, please understand that the United States is not God's chosen nation. The Church is. Chosen for the sake of the Rock on whom we are built, Jesus Christ our Lord "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone," ad "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1 Pet 2:7-10

In the Old Testament that nation was led by prophets who spoke the Word of God to His people in the gathering of the nation of Israel. And the primary work of His prophet leaders was to warn the wicked to turn from his way. That is, to repent, for the kingdom of heaven as it at hand.

Having delivered His people from slavery and gathered them together as a nation living together by the power and grace of His holy Word, God gave them prophets so that they might live in the remission of sin.

Can you imagine going through all the pain and suffering of surgeries, bone marrow transplants, and/or chemotherapy to put cancer into remission only to go back to doing the very thing that caused your cancer in the first place?

But that is precisely what we are prone to do. Having been delivered from the eternally deadly consequences of our sin, we go right back to live in it. We live for ourselves instead of for others. We trust in our Lord and come to Him only when it is convenient for us or when all of our efforts have failed.

"So [says the Lord our God]: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you shall surely die!' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul."

These are not only God's commands to the prophet Ezekiel, but to every man that He calls and sends to watch over His people in the cities of His various congregations and the nation of the whole Christian Church on earth.

Such men are not sent by God to be people pleasers, and church administrators according to . . . [the] desires [of] ears itching for fables and fantastic stories to keep them happy and blissfully ignorant of the dangers surrounding them and seeking to wrest them away from the love of God in Christ. 2 Tim 4:3-4

And such men are not sent by God to tell His people how good they are compared to those miserable sinners amongst whom they live and how blessed they should consider themselves that they are not like them..

No, God calls and sends watchmen, that is pastors, to and for His people to warn them against their own wickedness and rebellion. For it is only that which proceeds from us that can truly do us harm and separate us from Christ. No earthly ruler can do that. Not even the devil can do that.

Trust not in princes, but live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God -- because not only evil Imams and pandering politicians, but even the watchmen, the pastors, that God sends are sinners and prone to evil in and of themselves. But Christ Jesus is the faithful watchman, the proper pastor, indeed the Good Shepherd. And any watchman, pastor, or shepherd that He sends in His place to do His work here on earth is bound to do His will according to His Word, lest you die in your iniquity.

And if you want to know how to identify a true watchman of God, and the nation that truly belongs to God, look for where two or three are gathered together in [Jesus] name, [where He is] in the midst of them - forgiving all your sins, and keeping you holy and without blemish -- in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.

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