This sermon was preached on 11th November 2018 – the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The Bible reading was 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5.
On 11th November, David Lloyd George announced the Armistice – the ending of hostilities, the truce which, it was hoped, would lead to a better and brighter future.
He looked back, and he looked forward.
Looking back, he described the First World War as “the cruellest and most terrible War that has ever scourged mankind.”
Looking forward, he expressed his hope for the future: “I hope we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came to an end all wars.”
Where are we now, 100 years on from the end of the first World War?
There have been quite a number of wars during these 100 years.
From 1939 to 1945, there was the Second World War.
Since that time, there has been the development of weapons of mass destruction.
There are still wars, and many fear that our world may yet spiral out of control.
Is there any hope for our world?
History warns us: Human sin is very great. We dare not assume that the future will be brighter and better than the past.
Scripture encourages us: God’s love is very great. He is directing our attention beyond this world with all its uncertainties. Many centuries ago, the prophet Daniel spoke of the warnings of history and the encouragement of God’s Word.
He speaks, in Daniel 2, of the rise and fall of the kingdoms of this world.
The rise and fall of the roman Empire, the rise and fall of the Nazi regime – from the ancient world and the modern world, we have terrible warnings about what can happen when power-hungry men try to take control of the world.
Have such things become a thing of the past?
The events of the twenty-first century are not encouraging. 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq – we only need to speak these words to know that there is still much anxiety about the future of our world.
Where can we find encouragement?
We must turn to the Word of God, where we read about God’s eternal love, God’s eternal purpose and God’e eternal Kingdom.
Here are some great words of hope from Daniel 2:44 – “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure for ever.”
The changing circumstances of our world, the unchanging purpose of God – what a great contrast there is between the history of human sin and the Kingdom of God’s love.
When we look back to 11th November 1918, we are reminded of the First World War. It was a time of terrible atrocities. Millions of people lost their lives.
Many of the veterans of the World Wars refuse to speak of these terrible days. The memory of these horrible days is too painful for them.
We look back at these events from a distance of many years. Is it a safe distance? I believe that our gathering together on this Remembrance Day is a reminder to us that we need to pray for our world and its future.
There may still be difficult times ahead of us. We have no guarantee- in our sinful world – that our problems are all behind us.
Is this all that we can say at this Remembrance Day service: – No! There is more than this. There is also a word of encouragement.
We still have to face the fact that, in this world, there are many “wicked and evil men”, who continue to exert a godless influence on our world.
Paul tells us to “pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not every one has faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2).
Standing up for Jesus, in this world, will never be easy. As we sing hymns like, “Onward! Christian soldiers”, “Stand up! Stand up for Jesus” and “Who is on the Lord’s side?”, we are reminded of the spiritual conflict between good and evil, between god and Satan.
We are not, however, left in any doubt about the final outcome. The Lord will be victorious. Satan will be defeated. The Word of God points us beyond the raging conflict to the final victory – “the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:14).The Word of God assures us that God will not leave us, and God will not fail us: “The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
When we hear God’s Word of encouragement, we are able to say, with Paul, “We have confidence in the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 3:4).
On this Remembrance Day, as we recall some terrible times in the history of our nation and our world, let us learn to look beyond our ever-changing world, with all the uncertainties concerning its future. Let us look to the Lord, who is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable in the faithfulness of his love for us. Let us hear his words of encouragement: “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and, by his grace, gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and work … May the Lord, direct your hearts into God’e love and Christ’s perseverance” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 … 3:5).