And I saw, and look, the Lamb–standing upon the mount of Zion and with Him 144,000 having His name and the name of His father written upon their foreheads. And I heard a sound out of heaven as a sound of much water and as a sound of great thunder, and the sound which I heard as harpists harping on their harps. And they sang as a new song before the throne and before the 4 living ones and the elders, yet no one was able to learn the song, if not the 144,000, the ones purchased from the earth. These are the ones–with women not defiled, for they are chaste. These–the ones following the Lamb wherever He goes. These–having been purchased from men–first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was not found a lie; blameless, they are. And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an everlasting gospel to gospelize upon those sitting upon the earth and upon every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a great sound, "Fear God and give to Him glory, because has come, the hour of His judgment, and worship the Maker of the heavens and the earth and the sea and the springs of waters."
The Lutheran Reformation was all about freedom. The Roman church of Luther's day had kept men in shackles. The people were burdened by guilt for their sins, and the emphasis of the church was constantly on what *they* should do about it. Indulgences were sold so folks could purchase their own forgiveness. Relics were revered for their supposed ability to give merits to people. Everywhere the emphasis was on man's duty to God. Even worship had become an obligation for man.
When Luther and others re-discovered the sweetness of the Gospel, they began to taste freedom once again! God didn't want men to remain shacked with the burdens of the Law. So for their liberty, He set them free from a religion of obligation to one of God's free grace! No longer did men have strive to be "good enough" for God to love them. Instead, they could believe the gospel message that God was fully pleased with them in Christ Jesus, His Son, Who paid their redemption price cross in full!
Luther and the other evangelicals had their eyes opened to a new way to view God's judgment. Luther and many like him had viewed God as an angry Judge Who only condemned sinners. But they had been missing out on the other half of God's judgment–the verdict of "not guilty" which He freely gives to believers in Christ Jesus! For when the Father condemns His only-begotten Son at the cross, the price is paid in full by Jesus Who bears the burden, guilt and punishment for your sinning!
Indeed, you have been set free by Jesus' once-for-all sacrifice at Calvary. So don't re-shackle yourself with the burden of the Law. You would never do that, right? Yet you do. Whenever you try so hard to do what is God-pleasing as though your life depended on it, you shackle yourself. If you dread God's judgment on the last day, fearing that you haven't done enough, you remain shackled. If you ever think that the things of the Church are primarily about what *you* do, you are shackled.
OK, so we all shackle ourselves in one way or another. What can we do to get ourselves free? Nothing. That's God's job...and that's what worship is all about. Worship is God's favorable judgment for you. You come as a shackled-sinner each Sunday, and God forgives/removes your sins from you with His proclaimed word! For He has cleansed you by water and the Word, freeing you from all your sins in Holy Baptism. He has judged you worthy to come to the wedding banquet of His body and blood.
Don't you see, you are those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes! He's washing you from your sins at baptism, and you are there! He is there in His word proclaimed to gospelize you, and you are there to hear it!. Your heart is heavy with the guilty burden of sin, and Jesus proclaims it absolutely forgiven through your Pastor's voice. The Lamb is really present with His body given unto death for you, and His blood shed for you at the +, and you are at the communion rail to eat & drink it!
So, there is no reason whatsoever to fear God's judgment. None at all. Because He judges you to be forgiven, set free from sin, death and the devil by His victory at the cross! You are judged not as goats, but as sheep of His flock! You are judged not as chaff to be blown away and burned up, but as the grain He stores in His everlasting barns. The water of judgment saves you in the ark of your baptism, as by daily contrition and repentance your sinful self, that Old Adam drowns and dies with all sins and evil lusts.
Yes, Reformation Day, is all about freedom--your freedom. This liberty God gives to you in Christ Jesus, that your worship always be about His freeing Word–the great sound of the recovered gospel!
Hymns today from LSB:
#661 Onward Christian Soldiers
#656 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
#555 Salvation Unto Us Has Come
#655 Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word