Description / Transcription
O God of Abraham, we praise you, Ancient of everlasting days and God of love. You are the great I am, by earth and heaven confessed. We bow and bless Your sacred name, forever blessed. Speak to us, we pray. Give us ears to hear Your voice. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I’ve heard before that it can be a little overwhelming when you’re new to this church that there’s just so much covenant everywhere. Of course, it’s the name, Christ Covenant. We also have classes in covenant theology, some in our midst have written books on covenant theology. We talk about being a covenant community. You can join a covenant group. We baptize covenant children. You can send your kids to Covenant Day School. When they’re done there, you might want to consider Covenant College. So you might say please, take your covenant prize and just go home. Enough, enough already. I submit.
So what is the big deal about covenant? Maybe you grew up and that word was everywhere, or if you’re new to the church, or even new to a Presbyterian church, perhaps it seems a little strange. You’ve seen the big trucks, Covenant Transport, before and you’ve heard the word once or twice, but why does it seem to be so central?
We’ve already seen the concept in Genesis 1 and 2. We believe there was a covenant made with Adam, it’s called that in Hosea. We saw the word for the first time in Genesis 15, but here now in Genesis 17, front and center, we have the theology of the covenant, and it provides a foundation, I hope you’ll see, for the rest of the Old Testament and for the New Testament, and is foundational for how we think about and how we live our Christian lives today.
So follow along as I read Genesis 17, first book of the Bible, beginning at verse 1 of the chapter.
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between Me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between Me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.””
“And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.””
“And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.””
“When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.”
Let me give you a quick overview of what’s going on in this chapter before we focus in on covenant. So the Lord appears to Abram some 13 years later, because Ishmael we see at the end is now 13 years old and Abram was 86, now he’s 99, so 13 years have passed from chapter 16 to chapter 17. The Lord appears. We’re not told if it was in a physical visible appearance again. It may be that the appearing was simply in speech. Often we see in the Bible that we “see” God by hearing God. He comes and He declares, verse 1, “I am God Almighty.”
Now you notice the one speaking earlier is called the Lord, that is Yahweh, so Yahweh identifies here with El or Elohim. It’s not as liberal scholars would have us think that different manuscript traditions or different sort of deity traditions. No, Yahweh is El or Elohim and here in particular He says “I am El Shaddai,” translated God Almighty.
The Septuagint, Greek translation of the Hebrew, renders it as God Almighty. That’s what most of our English translations follow, but no one really knows exactly what it means. It may mean God of the mountain or be a reference to God of blessing. But God says “I am El Shaddai.”
And then there are two divine speeches. The first one is very short, verses 2 and 3, and you see following that first divine speech, Abram fell on his face, verse 3, with a little twist that will be his response after the second speech as well. So he falls on his face, reverence, fear, worship.
And then a much longer second divine speech, and this one from verse 3, second half, through verse 16, is divided into three sections, and you can see it clearly because each section begins with the language “and God said.”
So look at verse 3, “Abram fell on his face, and God said to him.” So each of these are God speaking to Abraham, but they identify, or at least they concern, a different party to the covenant. So this first speech in verses 3 through 8 is God’s end of the bargain, what He will do. And this section is memorialized by a change of Abram’s name, Abram meant “exalted father” and now it’s Abraham, father of multitudes.
Look at the second section, verse 9, “And God said.” Now before it was “as for Me,” now it’s “as for you.” So here’s what Abraham is to do and this is memorialized with the sign of circumcision, which we’ll come back to shortly.
And then the third section, verse 15, “And God said,” there it is again, and this time it’s “as for Sarai,” and so she, too, receives a name change from Sarai to Sarah, though both names mean basically “princess,” but here it may be indicating as it says for both Abraham and Sarah, now for the first time not only will they be a great nation, but from their offspring will come kings.
So Sarah, who we saw in chapter 23, is the only woman in the Bible whose age is given at her death, now we see she’s the only woman in the Bible who is given a new name by God. And just as Abram responded in verse 3 by falling on his face, now look at verse 17, after the second divine speech, “Then Abraham fell on his face,” little twist, “and laughed.”
You may not have noticed before, but laughter is about to be a significant theme for the next several chapters. Abraham laughs in chapter 17, Sarah laughs in chapter 18, Lot’s sons-in-law laugh in chapter 19, those who hear of Isaac’s birth laugh in chapter 21, and in chapter 24 we have Isaac and Rebecca laughing.
Now it’s ambiguous as laughter often is. If anyone’s every said to you, “I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you,” which often means I’m actually laughing at you. We don’t know what sort of laughter Abraham had. In chapter 18, we know that Sarah’s laughter is met with disapproval, and so you could say, well, clearly then Abraham’s must be a lack of faith. Or you could argue the reverse, that if it’s met with explicit disapproval in 18 but in chapter 17 it doesn’t say anything, then maybe Abraham’s laughter wasn’t a lack of faith. We just don’t know.
Was he laughing with joy? Wow, we’re going to have a kid. You don’t say. Or was it just sort of wide-eyed amazement? Well, if that don’t beat all. Or was it really a lack of faith? Haha, that’s a good one, oh, now I’ve heard everything, God.
Whatever it was, it certainly underscored the fact that God’s promise to Sarah is on a human level utterly absurd. That’s kind of the point. Of course Hagar can get pregnant. But God doesn’t want the promise to seem easy, obvious. Hey, you’re young, you’re healthy, you are going to have a kid. Oh, that’s great, good news.
Well, how about this? How about you’ve been trying for your whole life and you haven’t had a kid? And you’re just getting older and older and now that he’s 99 and your 90, now, now I can really show that I’m sovereign. Now I can really prove the invincibility of My promise. Next time, count on it, now He gets specific, next, this time next year you’re going to have a son.
Abraham says, “Well, Ishmael,” and God says, “Well, I haven’t forgotten Ishmael. The covenant line will not be through him, but I will bless him. And just like Jacob will have 12 sons, so Ishmael will have 12 princes.”
And then finally the last paragraph, verse 22 through 27, Abraham obeys on that very day as God had said. All right, yes, me, my whole household, we’re all circumcised, we are in this covenant with you.
That’s an overview of the chapter. Now I want to zero in on covenant. That’s clearly the central theme. The Hebrew word berith occurs 13 times in 9 different verses in this chapter.
So here’s my question: What was the nature of this covenant?
Let’s try to keep it as straightforward as we can. Let me make seven statements in answer to that question.
Number 1: The covenant in chapter 17 builds upon the covenant we saw in chapter 15. That one stresses the promise of the land. Remember all the names at the end of chapter 15? This one stresses the promise of a multitude. You might think, well, are they, are they two different things that we have the walking through the animal carcasses and now we have circumcision? No, you can think of one as a kind of introduction to the deeper explanation of the covenant. Same Abrahamic covenant.
We see this connection, interestingly enough, in Nehemiah chapter 9 as Nehemiah links the promise of the land with, that’s chapter 15, with the name change in chapter 17. Listen, Nehemiah 9:7 & 8: “You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham,” so that’s chapter 17; “You found his heart faithful before You, made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite,” all those “ites” are at the end of chapter 15. So Nehemiah sees this as one covenant. This is the Abrahamic covenant. Chapter 17 builds on 15.
Here’s the second statement: The stipulations of the covenant called upon Abraham to walk with God. This takes a little bit of explanation. Because maybe you were really fired up in chapter 15, oh, I love that, only God the smoking fire pot walks through the carcasses and He puts upon Himself the oath of malediction, Abraham didn’t walk through, and that’s all wonderfully true, that God will see to it that ultimately the covenant promises for Abraham and the people of faith are fulfilled.
But we would be wrong to think that, well, God chooses, God calls, God saves, now just binge watch Netflix. No, there is a summons for discipleship. While it’s true we do nothing to contribute to our justification, remember Genesis 15:6, Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness. So the command that starts chapter 17 is not, well, do this and then you’ll be justified. No, that’s happened, but there is a summons now to follow God. The fundamental covenantal obligation is given in verse 1. Look at it. It’s given in two commands: Walk before Me and be blameless.
“Walk before Me” was sometimes used in the ancient world to denote loyalty to a king. Serve your sovereign, God is saying.
And then “be blameless.” Now that word trips us up. We hear that and we think God is telling Abraham to be sinlessly perfect. But that’s not usually what blameless means in the Old Testament.
Job, we are told, was a man who was “blameless before the Lord.” Now the Lord didn’t mean that he had never, ever sinned in his life, but rather he walked a life that was marked by integrity, a brightness, wholeness.
What God is saying in essence to Abraham is this: Follow Me and My ways. I’ve made promises, I’m going to reiterate those promises, but as we enter into this covenant together, follow Me and follow My ways.
And Abraham did as he was told. Look at verse 23: He circumcised the flesh of their foreskins, end of that verse, that very day as God had said to him. That very day. Immediate obedience.
Now any parent who’s read a Christian parenting book knows that obedience only counts if it’s immediate obedience, which means we have never had obedience in our household. And if you have, then you can tell me what books I should be reading. Of course, that’s the goal, it rarely happens.
But here it does with Abraham. Just think about what this obedience entailed. Think about circumcision. I promise you, just for a moment, we’re not going to get into details. I remember when I was in Sunday school in fourth or fifth grade and some smart aleck kids, it wasn’t me, asked their Sunday school teacher, and they knew, they were Christian school kids, they knew, they had a little twinkle in their eye: “Teacher, could you please explain circumcision to us? We don’t know what it is.” And they squirmed, they said, “Really, could you explain it to us more?” and all the words came out and everything and they had a little hardy-har-har.
Well, I’m not going to do that because you can’t ask questions, but just think for a moment, and I don’t mean this to be, I mean this as a serious point, not to be flippant, whatever hard thing you believe that God is calling you to do, in this next week, whatever command that is feeling to you to be very costly, a relational command, a self-sacrifice, die to yourself, whatever it is, I dare say it will not be as painful as Abraham at 99 years old, Ishmael at 13, all of the males in the household, without a hospital, without anesthesia, in obedience to God, being circumcised. It was a costly, painful, and immediate obedience.
Of course, this wasn’t the end of it. They needed to walk with God. But this was the way to show that they had listened to God and they were entering into this covenant with him.
Third statement. Notice that God promised three things, three basic promises in the Abrahamic covenant. Number one, land, we saw that more in chapter 15, we see it here again, though, in verse 9, “give you the land of your sojournings, the land of Canaan.” So that’s one land. Two, offspring. We see it here that you will be a great nation and you will have from you a multitude. And now we have hints not just a multitude, but a Messiah. Both to Abraham and to Sarah, it’s promised, kings will come from you.
And we now later in their history it’s actually a sin that they would ask for a king. I think some of them would have already connected that this is no ordinary king who will come from this line. Just as there was a promise to Eve in the garden that there will come One who will crush the head of the serpent, so now from the line of Abraham, from his very seed, there will be a multitude and there will be a kingly Messiah. Land, offspring, and now we have clearly for the first time, the very heart of the covenantal promise.
Look at verse 7: “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your offspring after you, throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant,” and here it is, “to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” Or as it says at the end of verse 8: “and I will be their God.”
Now we’ve heard over and over again, and we’ll hear it repeated, land, offspring, land, offspring. But all of that is to find its richest fulfillment, and this broader and deeper and better promise of the covenant. If you were to distill it into one single sentence, here it is: I will be your God. And it’s the promise that’s here and can be traced literally from Genesis to Revelation. That’s the promise of the covenant.
Fourth statement. We see the covenant was made with Abraham and his offspring. Six times we have the language “and your seed after you.” So this is not just with Abraham, but with his family. We see in verses 10 through 12, if you look there there’s a bunch of you’s. Well, except for “your descendants after you” in verse 10 and “your seed” verse 12 at the end, all the other “you’s” are “y’alls,” “you’s guys,” plural. So this is a word that God is establishing a covenant not just with Abraham singular but with you plural. The obligations are for the whole household. The promises are for the whole household. The identification is for the whole household.
Now as we’ll see, those within the household, some will prove to be covenant keepers and some covenant breakers. The sign is going to be given to Ishmael, who is not of the elect. They must appropriate the realities by faith. So there is always a danger as we talk about covenant that we could have a sort of covenant presumption, and it’s true for you hear today, especially young people, kids, that you would not just think, “well, I’ve been baptized and I’m in a church and I know the Bible and I know stuff about Jesus.” What I say here at the baptism, I hope you really pray, that these little ones make these promises their own, that kids, you move from simply thinking, “This is good, I’m okay with this, mom and dad are into this and I can go, I can put up with it for a little bit more than an hour it looks like today,” to really believing for yourself, “I want to know this God, I want to follow this God.”
The covenant is made with Abraham and with his children that they, too, would walk in faith.
Fifth statement. Circumcision was a sign of the covenant. Sometimes it’s called the covenant, just like Jesus will say “this cup is the new covenant in My blood.” He didn’t mean, well, the only thing you do is drink the cup; He meant one is a sign for the other.
So verse 10 says “this is My covenant,” circumcision, but verse 11 calls it a “sign of the covenant.” And as a sign, it pointed to spiritual realities. This is really important, because sometimes you hear people say, “Well, circumcision in the Old Testament was really just an ethnic boundary marker. It was just a bit about being a Jew. It really wasn’t spiritual in nature.”
Well, clearly that’s not the case. Leviticus 26: “If then their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, I will remember My covenant with Jacob and with Isaac and with Abraham.” There we see that circumcision speaks to a circumcision of the heart.
Similarly, Deuteronomy 36: “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants.”
Jeremiah 4:4: “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord. Circumcise your hearts.”
See, the cutting away of the foreskin of the male was meant to be a spiritual sign of the cutting away of the flesh of the heart. It pointed to rebirth, regeneration. And we see in the New Testament, clearly, that this was not just a later metaphor that the Old Testament developed, but this was from the very beginning what the covenant was about.
This is a very important verse, Romans 4:11: “And Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a seal,” so if you’ve ever heard us say a sign and a seal, where do you get that language? It’s from Romans 4:11, “A sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.” That’s really important. It shows that circumcision was never about how you get saved. Abraham, Genesis 15, believed, it was credited to righteousness, justified by faith.
Circumcision was a sign and a seal of that righteousness that comes by faith. It always had spiritual significance. It pointed both to blessing for those who walk and keep the covenant and to cursing for those who break the covenant.
Look at verse 14: “Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
It’s thinking about that as a symbolic representation of the whole covenant. Do you see the play on words? If your foreskin is not cut off, you will be cut off. In other words, if you prove to not walk with me in integrity, and prove to be a covenant breaker, you will face the consequences of the covenant. So there’s blessings, the cutting away of the foreskin was to be the cutting away of the flesh, that it was meant to be appropriated by faith, and also the warning is that if you don’t take this seriously, you, too, will be cut off.
Which begs the question why is circumcision then given to 8-day-old infants? That’s the command going forward in this chapter, 8 days. Well, God knows Ishmael is not going to be of the chosen line, and Romans tells us that it’s a sign of justification by faith, a sign of union and communion with God, and yet he is to give the sign to his 8-day-old sons. Why? Because God is also their God.
Now they must appropriate that by faith. We completely agree with, I agree with all of my wonderful Baptist friends, and this may be some of you here who say well, the sign must always be joined with faith. Absolutely. But what we see with circumcision is the faith can come after this sign, that it can appropriate it later, that there are both external and internal aspects to this covenant, that objectively and externally, an 8-day-old son belonged to the covenant.
Now, the daughters did, too, but really I think as an act of kindness, female circumcision is a brutal, horrible practice, so later in the New Testament baptism incorporates both sons and daughters, but here it’s 8-day-old sons. And you know your Bible, you know that 8 is a kind of a number of re-creation. Creation is seven days, so the eighth days is a day of re-creation, rebirth. How many people were in the ark when they experienced the re-creation? There were eight people in the ark. Jesus in a way was resurrected, it says literally on the Sabbath plus one, a week plus one day, He was resurrected on the eighth day, eight being a symbol of new life, re-creation.
So they, too, are marked out. Just like Joshua will say, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” It’s not as if they were raising around the table, well, here’s me and my wife, and we’re Israelites, and then here’s an Amalekite, and here’s a little Girgashite, and here’s a little Jebusite. They were all Israelites. They all had a covenant loyalty to Yahweh, and so they were all marked out with the sign of belonging to Yahweh, a sign which they had to appropriate by faith and make their own.
Six. We see that the covenant was never just a Jewish covenant. We see in verse 12, verse 13, verse 27, not only those who are your offspring, but those who are bought, slaves, servants, from foreigners must receive this sign. Though it will become almost exclusively a Jewish rite, or at least the Jews would think of it in those terms, we see from the very beginning there was always a provision that you could come in and you could enter and enjoy these covenant blessings. It wasn’t just some badge of ethnic pride.
And then seventh statement. It is an everlasting covenant. We see that several times in these verses. Now to be fair, everlasting in the Old Testament can sometimes mean simply a very long time. But we know that the New Testament has both continuity and discontinuity. So discontinuity Paul says, 1 Corinthians 7, Galatians 5, that circumcision is no longer necessary as a spiritual rite. You may do it for health reasons, for traditional reasons, it’s not necessary as a spiritual rite.
On the other hand, that does not mean that the Abrahamic covenant itself has been abolished. Listen to Galatians 3:17: “The law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.” Paul’s talking about the Mosaic covenant, that’s the law, did not annul the Abrahamic covenant, that’s the promise that came 430 years after.
So when you think of the new covenant, the new covenant replaced the old covenant, which is the Mosaic covenant. The new covenant did not abolish the Abrahamic covenant, it is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. So there is still a principle of the Abrahamic covenant that is surely operative in our day.
Which leads then, in closing, to just think about why this matters. Why does this matter? Why does this Abrahamic covenant matter? What is good news here?
Well, one, it means God still deals with us as families. The promise, think of Peter’s sermon as Pentecost, the promise is for you and for your children and every Jew there would have understood, “This is Genesis 17, for you and your offspring, you and your offspring.” They know he’s speaking with covenantal language. The promise is for you and for your children and for all those who are far off.
So the blessings have not contracted, that children are no longer a part of it, but it’s expanded, that now it’s even reaching out more fully to Gentiles, that they may come in. We see household baptisms by that same schema in the New Testament. We see that officers in the church are required to have children who are well-behaved and faithful. Not that we can control our children, not that once they leave our authority we are responsible for all of their actions, but insofar as they are under our authority, that we ought to show that our whole household is walking in obedience and loyalty to Christ.
Baptism points to the same spiritual realities of circumcision. It points to cleansing and forgiveness. It points to union and communion with God. It points to justification by faith. And so like circumcision, there is an internal and an external component. Some theologians call it the essence and the administration of the covenant, or the legal relationship and the communion of life. In other words, children belong objectively to the covenant administration and so they receive the covenant sign, but they must still appropriate that reality subjectively and internally.
So again, when I raise my children, I want them to repent, to have faith. I don’t presume that because they’re in a believing household that they are believers. But neither do I raise them as if they’re little Amalekites and Jebusites around the table. No, we are a family that follows Christ. And so God marks them as His with all the covenantal blessings that they may appropriate, we pray.
There’s a second blessing. God still calls us and, in fact, for the elect, enables us to walk with him. In essence, what God says to Abraham is if you want to be whole, walk before Me and walk with Me. It’s like a sheep and a shepherd. The shepherd doesn’t go to the sheep and say, “All right. Do some tricks. No, no, I’m not going to be your shepherd, I want to see you jump through the hoop, I want you to walk.” No. But the shepherd does say, “Look, I’m your shepherd, I’m a good shepherd. Now follow me. Trust me. I’ll feed you, I’ll take care of you, but you need to go with me.”
The covenantal obligations are like a parent reaching down a hand to a child, “I love you, I’ll protect you, so you need to grab my hand, you need to walk with me.” It’s like a coach with an athlete. It’s like Jesus calling the disciples. Jesus didn’t say to the disciples, “Um, prove yourself and then I’ll love you.” No. “I love you, I’m calling you, but there is something to do. You must walk with Me.”
I like how one commentator puts it: “The essence of the covenant is God saying to Abraham, ‘Be mine and I will be yours.'”
Which leads to this final bit of good news in the covenant. God still promises His presence. That is truly the promise of promises in the covenant. And you may not have noticed before, it’s there throughout the whole Bible, this Abrahamic thread. When God promises to deliver His people from Egypt, He repeats the promise. Exodus 6:7: “I will be Your God and you shall know that I’m the Lord Your God.”
Later, when He confirms the Mosaic covenant, Leviticus 26:12: “I will walk among you and will be your God and you shall be My people.”
Later, facing captivity in Babylon, God says the same refrain in Jeremiah 24:7: “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord and they shall be My people and I will be their God.”
Same refrain in Jeremiah 30, Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36, and have you ever noticed, this same promise with its ultimate fulfillment, in Revelation? Revelation 21:3: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.”
It’s the promise made to Abraham as an everlasting covenant, to him and to the multitude of nations after him, and to all of those who prove to be true children of Abraham by faith. It’s the same promise. Do you see at the heart of the Abrahamic covenant is the promise of Immanuel? God with us. Ultimately, the land is about a place where God can dwell with His people. Ultimately the promise of offspring is about the God-man who would come so that God can dwell with His people.
This is the promise. This has always been the promise. Always will be the promise. God reaching down His hand and saying to us, “Be mine, and I will be yours, now and forever.”
Let’s pray. Gracious heavenly Father, we thank You that You have given us these great and precious promises. Give us a heart and a will that we may be faithful to walk before You, with uprightness and integrity, and when we fail, give us to walk in repentance and faith, knowing that You will give us the perseverance we could not have on our own and that You have fulfilled the law’s demands that we never could. So Lord, keep us faithful and give us confidence that You and Your faithfulness are great. In Jesus we pray. Amen.