This Sunday is All Saints Sunday when we remember the people of God who have died in faith. We remember their faith and their faithful witness for the Lord. But, more importantly, on All Saints Sunday we remember God’s faithfulness to give eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. As you read through the readings, notice all the ways the Lord gives life!
The First Reading is recorded in Revelation 7:2-17. The book of Revelation is a type of literature called apocalyptic, which often uses numbers and codes as symbols; be careful about taking the numbers and codes literally. For instance, some interpret the 144,000 as only that number being saved, or only that number being saved of the tribes of Israel; 144,000 is a symbolic number and indicates a complete number, i.e. the number redeemed will be complete. The next paragraph shows that more than 144,000 will be redeemed as it talks about a countless multitude from every tribe, language, race, and peoples who stand before the throne of God, redeemed by His grace through faith. Notice as the passage ends that God will wipe every tear from the eyes of His people. This promise is fulfilled at the end of Revelation. This passage gives us hope as we and our brothers and sisters in Christ face increased resistance to Jesus in this world. Remain hopeful in Him.
Lord Jesus Christ, keep us firm in You, especially as we face increased hostility directed toward You. Keep Your children who face persecution safe in Your hands. Receive the martyrs into Your eternal rest. Quickly act to end persecution by turning persecutors to You in repentance, and dealing with the unrepentant with Your justice and mercy. Give us boldness in our proclamation of You as Lord and Savior. Amen.
The psalm is 149. It is a psalm that begins and ends with praise; beginning and ending with praise is a wonderful example for our lives, may we begin and end with praise to the Lord. The middle of the psalm might give us pause and make us uncomfortable. It talks about executing vengeance on sinful nations. This psalm reminds us that God does oppose sin, and one day will finally put an end to it, an end which will be sure because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The psalm sounds like the people of God in the Old Testament are being called to punish the sinful people using swords. This is unsettling for us. One of the techniques in Biblical interpretation is to interpret difficult passages in the light of passages we understand. As we read these verses, let us remember how Jesus treated people caught in sin: He didn’t demand vengeance and destruction, rather He had compassion on them and set them free with the power of His words, calling them to repentance, and winning forgiveness through His death and resurrection. In the New Testament the Word of God is called the Sword of the Spirit. Let us use the Word of God to humbly call people to repentance and new life in Jesus. Let us leave the final judgment of sinful people to Him.
Lord Jesus, set us free each day by the power of Your Word, calling us to daily repentance and new life in You. We thank You that in Baptism by grace through faith You forgive and renew us. Empower us to love as You love, humbly calling others to turn from sin and to turn to You for forgiveness, life, and salvation. To You be all glory and praise because of Your love and mercy. Amen.
The Second Reading is recorded in 1 John 3:1-3. This passage is filled with hope through the love of God. God’s love makes us to be His children, not by our actions or work, but by His grace and mercy. Being children of God will put us into a situation where the world will not understand us and will often resist us, as we see in the lives of our brothers and sisters who face persecution. Yet, this passage is filled with hope. When the Lord appears salvation will be complete in us. What a wonderful Day we can hope for.
Heavenly Father, all thanks and praise to You that You have made us Your children through Jesus. Keep us safe in You as the world resists You by resisting Your people, especially uphold and keep Your children who face persecution and martyrdom because they are Yours. Keep us looking forward to the Day when all sin will be gone and we will be fully made into the people You want us to be. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The Gospel is the Beatitudes as recorded in Matthew 5:1-12. What love and compassion the Lord has for us! Notice how Jesus proclaims, and what He proclaims happens, that those who are in desperate need will have their needs met through the Lord. Read the Beatitudes, let the Lord touch the places in your life that are hurting, let Him bring you hope, help, and healing. If we were to summarize the Beatitudes in one phrase it might be: “Blessed are those who know their need of God, He will meet our need.” Thanks be to God!
Oh Lord, we need You so much every moment of every day. Open the eyes of faith to see how You are there to meet our needs through Your grace and mercy. We especially thank You for the blessings we have through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.