Trinity 23

1I lift up my eyes | to the hills.*
         From where does my | help come?

2My help comes | from the LORD,*
         who made | heaven and earth.

3He will not let your | foot be moved;*
         he who keeps you will not | slumber.

4Behold, he who keeps | Israel*
         will neither slum- | ber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your | keeper;*
         the LORD is your shade on your | right hand.

6The sun shall not strike | you by day,*
         nor the | moon by night.

7The LORD will keep you from all | evil;*
         he will | keep your life.

8The LORD will keep your going out and your | coming in*
         from this time forth and for- | evermore.
               —Psalm 121

Additional Psalm: Psalm 135

Old Testament Reading:
Jeremiah 11:1–23
The Broken Covenant
1The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2“Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 3You shall say to them, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Cursed be the man who does not hear the words of this covenant 4that I commanded your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God, 5that I may confirm the oath that I swore to your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day.” Then I answered, “So be it, LORD.”

6And the LORD said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and do them. 7For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. 8Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.”

9Again the LORD said to me, “A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 10They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers. 11Therefore, thus says the LORD, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. 12Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble. 13For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.

14“Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. 15What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds? Can even sacrificial flesh avert your doom? Can you then exult? 16The LORD once called you ‘a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’ But with the roar of a great tempest he will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed. 17The LORD of hosts, who planted you, has decreed disaster against you, because of the evil that the house of Israel and the house of Judah have done, provoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.”

18The LORD made it known to me and I knew;
         then you showed me their deeds.
19But I was like a gentle lamb
         led to the slaughter.
I did not know it was against me
         they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
         let us cut him off from the land of the living,
         that his name be remembered no more.”
20But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously,
         who tests the heart and the mind,
let me see your vengeance upon them,
         for to you have I committed my cause.

21Therefore thus says the LORD concern-ing the men of Anathoth, who seek your life, and say, “Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD, or you will die by our hand”—22therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: “Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine, 23and none of them shall be left. For I will bring disaster upon the men of Anathoth, the year of their punishment.”

Additional Reading: Jeremiah 12:1–19:15

New Testament Reading:
Matthew 24:1–28
Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple
1Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Signs of the Close of the Age
3As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” 4And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

9“Then they will deliver you up to tri-bulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The Abomination of Desolation
15“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25See, I have told you beforehand. 26So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

Although the factions in Christendom have different beliefs, there is none that does not accord Christ His rightful place as the author and authority of its doctrines… [The Church] even appears to be flourishing. Thus the person who regards the present as the horrible end times is thought to be greatly mistaken. But appearances can be deceiving. The cry of “Here is Christ! There is Christ!” that resounds from so many pulpits is precisely what makes our age so dangerous and abominable, and it demonstrates that the final, evil days of the world are approaching. For it is mostly a false Christ who is now being preached and praised in order to deceive even the elect. There are now many preachers and laity, both learned and unlearned individuals, who no longer believe the Bible is God’s Word and faith in Christ is the only way to salvation. With their own imagined virtue and good works, they believe that they have made God their debtor, that He must rightfully receive them into heaven after their death, and that He must eternally reward them. They do not want to think of themselves as sinners who are in need of a Savior. The Word of the cross is foolishness and a stumbling block to them.…

For wherever one preaches Christ as a mere man and not as the true God, fully of the same substance, power, and glory as the heavenly Father, one preaches a false Christ. Wherever one presents Christ only as an example and as a teacher of wisdom and virtue, and not as the Lamb of God who died on the cross for the sins of the world and thereby reconciled mankind with the heavenly Father, one preaches a false Christ. And whoever accepts this Christ of the unbelievers has forsaken the true Christ and placed his confidence in a dream being, one who never existed except in the imagination of unbelieving fools. Christ Himself says, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), and “all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father” (John 5:23).
               —C. F. W. Walther

O Thou, whose coming is with dread
To judge the living and the dead,
Preserve us from the ancient foe
While still we dwell on earth below.
               —Creator of the Stars of Night
(LSB 351:5)

Prayer of the Day
Lord Jesus, when You were lifted up on the cross, the entire world experienced birth pains as the cosmos was rocked as Your death gave birth to a new creation. Focus our eyes on Your holy cross that we may see it as a tree of life preparing us for Your final coming in judgment as the Son of Man; for You live and reign with the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (1104)

Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Apology of the Augsburg Confession XXIV (XII) 68–77