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Archive for November 14th, 2015

 

 
Justinian was emperor of the East from A.D. 527 to 565 when the Roman Empire was in decline. With his
beautiful and capable wife, Theodora, he restored splendor and majesty to the Byzantine court. During
his reign the Empire experienced a renaissance, due in large part to his ambition, intelligence, and
strong religious convictions. Justinian also attempted to bring unity to a divided church. He was a
champion of orthodox Christianity and sought agreement among the parties in the Christological
controversies of the day who were disputing the relation between the divine and human natures in the
Person of Christ. The Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in A.D. 533 was held during his reign
and addressed this dispute. Justinian died in his eighties, not accomplishing his desire for an empire that
was firmly Christian and orthodox.
Introduction:  We  pray that our government will protect our right of religion as strongly as Justinian did for the Christian faith in the Roman Empire.  We also pray that the government protect us from tyranny of itself and others, especially in our day Islamic terrorists.  Yesterday we saw and heard the reports of the coordinated terrorist attacks on the sovereign nation of France.  The quote below is the one chosen for this Commemoration of Justinian in the Treasury of Daily Prayer (LCMS).  It is quite apropos for the day after the terrorist atrocities in France and those continuing in Syria and Iraq.  The Lutheran Reformers taught that God’s Word points out to us that the Lord rules in two ways:  the kingdoms of His left hand, the nations, physically and temporally, and through the Kingdom of God in Christ, spiritually and physically.  Christians serve in both rules as the Lord is ruler of both.  This is our hope in the face of terror.  The quote is from Luther’s Commentary on Psalm 2.  I have bold-faced the portion regarding the Lord’s rule through the nations and italicized those comments in regards to the Kingdom of God.

The office of Christ is described most clearly, namely, that He will not bear the sword, that He will not found a new state, but will be a teacher to instruct men concerning a certain unheard but eternal decree of God.

Therefore, even if other kings must also make laws and govern through laws, nevertheless their chief function is not to teach or to pass laws, but to punish evil men with the sword and to defend good men. They are consequently like lictors or hangmen of God. For, as Paul says, “they bear the sword to terrify the wicked and for vengeance” (Rom. 13:4). Their own duty is, therefore, not to teach, because they do not rule over consciences or hearts, but only to restrain the hands….

Christ left these things to the kings of the world; to His own people He says: “It shall not be so among you” (Matt. 20:26). For His kingdom stands in the Word, and His office is to teach. He left the care of swine to the kings of the world, for they have been provided with a staff with which they can drive cattle. But His office is … to preach, to tell of God’s decree. This definition of the kingdom of Christ is clear enough and the proper distinction. But few truly comprehend it. That harmful mixture of both kingdoms continually clings to people’s hearts to such an extent that it is difficult even for spiritual-minded to distinguish this kingdom properly from the kingdom of the world.  Nevertheless those who believe in another life after this life see that the services of kings and governors are necessary for them in this life, but that they need Christ the King for another and eternal life. 

A tyranny that has been around since Mohammed is his religion.  It is the “harmful mixture” of religion and politics.  I do not want to suggest that Islam is about the Kingdom of God. It is not.  Islam bears the sword.  Luther saw the terrible danger of the Church bearing the sword as it has from time to time as a betrayal of Christ and the Word of God and this is evident in Islam.  Islam bears the sword in the name of it’s god and wants to establish a religious empire over the entire world.  It is written in Romans 13 that the ruler,

“… is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

It is wrong when the ruler does bear the sword in vain, that is, to let temporal evil have another day.  Pray for the government, police and armed forces of France and NATO, and for our own government and armed forces that Islamic terrorism be utterly stopped, as Nazism was crushed.  Still the anti-Christ of Islam and it’s ideology is strong and will probably reappear and will be with us till Christ’s return but as the Church we can do one more thing:  pray for the conversion of Muslims, men and women for whom Christ also died and bore their sins as well as our own.

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