Description / Transcription
I think it’s true for most of us that we live in the midst of a lot of noise. I’m not thinking so much of sheer decibel volume, but constant distraction, constant pulling at our attention. This is the struggle that we have in our digital information age. And it’s unique to us. Now it’s not that human nature has changed. People have always been sinners, people have always been distracted, prone to wander. But it is unprecedented how much noise we have to deal with. Not ambient noise of cars or trucks or animals, but the digital noise that comes at us, and if we’re honest, that we often invite into our lives.
Think about how some of us go about our days. You might wake up and your alarm goes off and there’s noise and maybe the first thing you do is check your phone, or maybe you listen to something as you’re brushing your teeth and getting ready in the morning. Maybe you turn on the TV for some background noise as you get ready with your cup of coffee.
And when you get in the car you can turn on the radio there. You can listen to music, you can listen to talk radio, to sports talk. You can sync up with your phone and listen to music or Audible or a podcast. And throughout the day you’ll check, many of us, whatever your preferred social media app is, Facebook. Years ago when all the parents got on Facebook, all the kids got off Facebook. Or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat, Tik-Tok or whatever the kids are into. A constant bombardment of images, videos, information, opinions, controversies, hot takes.
That’s to say nothing of e-mail. One study of e-mail use in the workplace tracked the anonymous behavior of over 50,000 people in their offices. Half of the users were checking devices like e-mail every six minutes, or fewer. More than a third were checking e-mail every three minutes. The most common average checking time for these people in the office was one minute. Two-thirds of the users never had so much as an hour of uninterrupted time in the office and the most common average longest time was only 20 minutes, whether by necessity or what we bring upon ourselves.
Of course, it’s not all bad. We’re grateful for easy, efficient ways to communicate with people, grateful to connect with friends. I like listening to music and listening to books on Audible and podcasts. Maybe you even to out and you listen to some good sermons.
But, as we live lives of constant noise, it’s not any one thing, but the cumulative effect is often to stress us out, make us feel pressed for time. Make us feel as if we’re always behind or we always have the fear of missing out or we feel frazzled, stressed, anxious, constantly aware of what’s going on in the world and if you just look at what’s going on in the world, it seems like always bad news.
That’s not to mention all of the ways in which social media connects us with people and ideas and opinions that frustrate us. It used to be that you just wouldn’t know those people and their opinions and you’d be blissfully ignorant of what you’re great-aunt or uncle or nephew or niece thought. But now we can all know what everyone thinks and be frustrated about it, and then we can respond to them and be their source of frustration.
Constant noise, opinions, frazzled, anxious, we are.
I want you to put the noise away as best you can, even though some of you are feeling an urge right now, I haven’t checked my phone in 30 minutes, and some of you, truth be told, it’s only been 10 minutes. I want you to put that away, try as best as you can, and I want you to think about for these next 30 minutes, two questions. They may be the most important questions you can ask today. They’re relevant questions no matter how old you are.
Here they are: Do you trust God? And, can God be trusted?
You need to ask those two questions whether you’re 9 or 90. You may be 9 years old and you need to ask that question, because there are things a 9-year-old will struggle with. Trying to figure out what you look like and what friends you have and how to get your homework done and what to do with fears you sometimes have. You have struggles at 9.
And you have struggles of faith at 90. Your body falling apart, and seeing the world the way you wish it wasn’t.
Whatever age you are, those are relevant questions, and every age in between.
Do you trust God? And, can God be trusted?
Simple, straightforward, profound. No two more important questions you can think about today. Set aside all the noise, all the distraction, all the hot takes, all the other voices out there and think about those questions. And that’s what this passage is about.
Follow along as I read from Genesis 15, returning to Genesis after a spring break week and two weeks for missions week. Here to one of the great chapters in all the Bible. Genesis 15.
“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O LORD GOD, what will You give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, You have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness.”
“And He said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O LORD GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought Him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.”
“As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
“When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”
Two questions. Do you trust God, can God be trusted?
The first question directs our attention to verses 1 through 6. You look at verse 1, the chapter begins after these things. What things? The things of chapter 14, Abram’s great victory over the Eastern kings, the rescue of Lot, the routing of these superpowers, and then meeting this mysterious high king of Salem, the priest Melchizedek. After this, here’s a new scene.
“The word of the LORD came to Abram.” We have that twice in this chapter, only time we have that sort of language in Genesis. Abram later in chapter 20 will be called a prophet, but here he’s being introduced to us in quintessential Old Testament prophetic terms: “The word of the LORD came to Abram.”
God initiates the conversation and He says to Abram, “I am your shield and your reward shall be very great,” verse 1. In other words, “I will protect you, I will provide for you.” And notice what He says first: Fear not.
Why might Abraham be afraid? It may be that he’s afraid of the Eastern kings. He just routed this alliance and maybe he’s nervous that they’re going to reform their alliance and they’re going to find where he is and they’re going to come back and seek their vengeance. Could be nervous. Could be afraid.
Maybe it’s simply a fear at the presence of the Lord. That would make sense and God speaks to him.
Perhaps the fear is that God’s promises will not come true. Certainly we’re going to see that in just a moment, that he is wondering if all that God has promised is really going to come to pass. I certainly think it may include all three of those elements, but certainly the last. So quite rightly, God says to him, “Abram, don’t be afraid.”
Abram has seen some amazing stuff in his life. Chapter 12 he’s there, a pagan, an Ur of the Chaldees, and God announces to him, calls him to leave, and gives him the promise of sevenfold blessing. And then immediately that promise is threatened, first in chapter 12 with the famine and Abram goes down, he lies about his wife, but the promise is invincible and so Abram ends up leaving Pharaoh a richer man than when he came.
And then the promise is threatened a second time when the herdsmen of Lot and the herdsmen of Abram don’t have enough land to dwell in, now Abram is more honorable, “Lot, you pick first,” he goes down to Sodom, bad choice. Abram gets the Promised Land, and at the end he’s promised everything in the land and that his descendants shall be as the dust of the earth.
The third threat to the promise is this alliance of the Eastern kings, and so his nephew Lot is captured and Abram gets 318 of his fighting men, he rescues them, they pursue this great superpower, and they rout them.
Three times the promise has been threatened. Three times Abram has seen the invincibility of the promise, and so he’s already a great nation, and all those who curse him are being cursed. Abram has seen some amazing stuff.
In fact, it seems like in politics, in his extended family, in battle, seemingly in everything, Abram is coming out on top. And yet, the thing that he no doubt wants more than anything else has not yet come to pass. In fact, with every passing week and month and year, it seems as if this promise will not be fulfilled. It is destined to fail. So Abram says, in verse 2, “O LORD GOD, I still don’t have a child.”
Have you noticed this is the first time in Genesis we have record of Abram speaking to God? Every other time God is speaking to Abram, but here we have record, here’s the first thing we know that Abram said to God, and we can understand why he might say it: “I am continuing childless,” you could literally translate, “I am one who is walking stripped. I’m at my wit’s end. I’m devastated. I have this servant, Eliezer from Damascus.” He probably got this servant when he chased the Eastern kings up to Syria and this was maybe part of the spoils. He says, “This man right here, this, this foreigner in my midst, Eliezer from Damascus, he’s my heir right now. Is this what you had in mind, Lord?”
Incidentally, some of you know this pain. It may look on the outside that everything in your life is going great. House, job, vacation, learning, honors, everything, but you don’t have a child. Or you always carry with you the loss of a child. Or you have children who are struggling.
I remember Tim Keller saying one time, once you have children, you will never be happier than your least happy child.
Slight exaggeration, but there’s a real truth in that.
This is not a promise that you will have a child, or that things will all turn out well for your children. This is a specific promise to Abram. But we see here the sort of experience that many of God’s people have had. Everything seems to be going amazingly well for Abram, except for his family: “God, you promised a child, the one thing nearest and dearest to my heart, and I have Eliezer of Damascus. Is that what you have in mind?”
And the Lord replies to him, “You’re right, Abram. That’s not what I have in mind. Eliezer will not be your heir. You will have your very own son, in fact.”
Just imagine what this must have been like. Abram presumably in a tent and the Lord speaking to him, says “I want you to go outside, look up there, look.” Of course, they don’t have any of the sky drowned out with city lights, just stars. “Abram, I want you to count ’em.” You wonder what Abraham thought. “Really?” “Yeah, go ahead, count them.” “Okay, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and how long do you want me to count?” “Keep counting.” “I can’t count them all.” “That’s the point. You see those stars? You can’t count all the stars you see up in the sky, so shall your offspring be. From your very own flesh and blood.”
Genesis is a big book about a lot of things, but it is nothing less than the story of promise after promise after promise.
I love this line from Geerhardus Vos: “God does not begin with working upon the inward psychological states of the patriarchs as though they were subjects for reform, an unbiblical attitude which is unfortunately characteristic of too much of modern religion. He begins by giving them promises. The keynote is not what Abraham has to do for God, but what God will do for Abraham. Then in response to this, the subjective frame of mind that changes the inner and outer life is cultivated.”
In other words, God does not come to the patriarchs and say, “I gotta clean up your life, I want you to, I want to first shape something in you.” He comes announcing big, bold promises. And this is a real doozy. This is an old man, he’s just getting older. Now must of us know the story and so we know what’s coming and Sarai’s going to laugh, but amazingly in their old age they’re going to have Isaac. It’s great.
But Abraham wasn’t there yet. This was a hard thing the Lord was promising. Not hard for God, of course, but hard for Abram. It’d be like God coming to me, “Kevin, you will run a sub-4 minute mile.” Whewww. Well, in my fastest days I was over a minute away from that, and the last minute I think is probably the hardest to shave off. And I’m not getting faster. In fact, by every passing month and year, this seems less and less likely, Lord. It’s not like a promise you’ll be, you know, have a million dollars in the bank and maybe you accrue little by little. We’re getting closer. No, each passing year this seems more and more impossible.
You’re going to have a child; you might as well say you’re going to be the President of the United States. Or that may even be possible. No, you’re going to be the Queen of England. Well, how is that going to happen?
Even as an old man, Abram, you will have a child, and from you will come a great multitude, and Abram, already an old man and only getting older, hears this from the Lord’s mouth and he says, apparently, “I trust you. You can do that for me. You will do that for me.”
Genesis 15:6 is one of the greatest verses in all the Bible, which is why the Apostle Paul makes so much of it. It’s not that this is the first time that Abram has every believed the promises of God. This is really the story and the posture and the attitude of his life. But here we have it again in specific reference to this promise, “and he believed.”
Believe means to stand firm. The noun form of the verb is used in 2 Kings 18:16 with reference to the pillars, or the doorposts, of the temple. I will be steadied, I will stand firm, I will be confident, I will be like concrete in Your promises.
Faith has typically been described as having three elements: Notitia, assensus, and fiducia; knowledge, assent, and trust. So you need to know something, and not just know it but assent to it, yup, that’s right, that’s true, but not just assent to it intellectually, but then the most important element is that fiduciary trust. The Westminster Confession describes it a receiving and arresting. It is to believe that God with us is also God for us. Yes, God, You will do it.
And this faith of Abraham, verse 6, was counted to him as righteousness.
Not that the faith was the meritorious cause of his being justified. It’s not as if God looks at us and says, well, you have all these bad deeds, but faith, really, faith is such a really wonderful deed that faith tilts the balance, and if you have faith that counts enough good work that you’ll be justified.
No, faith is not the ground. It is not the meritorious cause, it is the instrumental cause. That is, faith is the means by which we acquire this righteousness. To use a homely illustration: Faith is not the drink, faith is the straw. Faith is the straw in the drink by which the water comes into your mouth and satiates your thirst. Faith is so valuable because of its object, because it joins us to God, it links us to the promises, so his faith was counted to him.
You could translate this Hebrew word, “chashab,” as “credited,” “counted,” “reckoned,” or “to assign value.” It’s no wonder that Paul relies on this verse in articulating the great doctrine of justification by faith alone.
Now we’ll come back tonight, and all of you will come back as well, to James chapter 2 and we’ll see that that faith alone justifies, but that faith is never alone, and we’ll look at what sort of living faith looks like.
But the point that we want to make in verse 6, and that Paul makes in Romans 4:3 and Galatians 3:6, is that Abram was declared righteous by faith before circumcision. That comes in chapter 17. So you can’t say that the works of the law contributed in any way to his right standing. You can’t say that it was his willingness to sacrifice Isaac; now that was a great work and in a way it revealed what his faith was all about, but you can’t say that that work is what forensically made him right with God, because that has not happened yet.
No, this faith and this faith alone is the instrument whereby Abram is declared righteous. And so it is for each of us. God makes promises, and insofar as we trust in those promises, God looks at you and He says, “That’s enough. That’s just the sort of person I’m looking for. That’s just the sort of life and heart I’m looking for. Not what you’ve done, not what you’ve accomplished, what you have received. Upon whom you rest.”
God made all of these great promises to Abram, and his part as it were was simply to say yes.
Now it’s no doubt the case that many of you this morning would struggle to believe the promises of God, in ways that any human being eventually struggles to believe the promises of God. You look at your life, maybe middle aged, and you say this isn’t what I thought I was going to be doing or where I’d be at. You look at your children, or spouse, or lack thereof, perhaps you’ve gotten a diagnosis or someone you love has some frightening medical occurrence. Any of you can have any number of reasons for saying, “Is this really going to turn out? Does God really know what He’s doing? Can I really trust God?”
Which leads to the second of these dialogues in chapter 15. The first six verses show that Abram, yes, he trusted God. Verses through 21 show us yes, God can be trusted. So we move from the first dialogue to the second.
Look at verse 7: ” I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”
This is the establishment of a formal covenant with Abram. Verse 7 is, in keeping with many ancient near Eastern treaties or covenants, the historical prologue. It sets the historical context; What I did for you, I brought you out of Ur. It establishes the parties of the covenant; the Lord God and you.
You should hear echoes of the Mosaic covenant that will come later. Think of Exodus chapter 20: I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, you shall have no other gods before Me.
There is a prologue to the covenant treaty, and then there are the stipulations, and there are the promises.
Abram asks, verse 8, “How can I know? I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” And God gives him this strange ceremony, which he doesn’t immediately explain. “I want you to take several animals, cut them in half, lay them opposite each other so that there are a stinking mass of animal carcasses on either side and there’s a pathway in between.” Animals that later would be set apart for the sacrificial system, most of them are said to be three years old, which simply means they’re fully grown, they’re mature. “I want you to cut them in half.” There is going to be a ratification ceremony for the oath and the promises that God has delivered.
God comes to us and in covenant ceremonies He always gives a verbal declaration, and then some sort of visual demonstration. This is, as it were, the beginning of word and sacrament. Oath and ritual. Declaration and demonstration. I’m going to verbally make promises to you, and then I’m going to ratify and show these promises to you with a covenant sign.
Same thing we have in the Church. Word, sacrament.
The birds of prey are sort of strange, in verse 11. It’s hard to know what they’re doing here. Some say, well, this shows how Abram didn’t let distractions get in the way, or others think they’re symbolic of foreign nations trying to intrude upon the Promised Land. Others think they represent a demonic attack. I think the birds of prey symbolize the trouble that Abram’s offspring will soon face, that they will endure 400 years of bondage in a foreign land before they finally return and fully possess the Promised Land, to these are like the birds of prey who are coming and seem to spoil the promise of God. Abram shoos them away.
Verse 12, the sun goes down, and a deep sleep falls on Abram. The last time we saw someone enter this deep sleep was when Adam went to sleep and when he awoke there was Eve. Something solemn is going to happen here. The ceremony about to unfold is solemn and dreadful. So is the presence of the Lord. A dreadful great darkness fell upon him, and the message that God delivers to Abram is at first not an encouraging one.
Remember up in verse 8 Abram says, “How am I to know that I shall possess the land?” and then in verse 13 the Lord answers and says, “Know for certain that before you possess the land, you’re going to be sojourners in another land.” There’s bad news before there’s good news.
Think about it. Abram doesn’t even have a son yet, let alone a family, or a great nation, and already God says when you do have this family, when you are this great nation, before you get the land, you’re going to be slaves for 400 years. 400 years, rounded, 430 other places will say. That’s from the landing of the pilgrims at the Mayflower until now. That’s a long time.
Look at verse 16. This makes a very important ethical point: “They,” your family, “shall come back here in the fourth generation for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
The Amorites is another word for all of the Canaanite people in the land. You look at verses 19, 20, and 21, and there are 10 people mentioned in the land. Now there’s more than 10, but 10 is a number of fullness. It’s a way of saying the Promised Land is filled with these other people, with these Canaanites, with these Amorites.
And one of the most difficult ethical questions in the Old Testament has to do with the so-called Canaanite genocide. It’s not exactly a genocide, but that’s what it’s called sometimes. How could God command His people in Joshua to go wipe out all these other people, putting them to the sword, driving them out, and taking their land? Well, here in verse 16 is one of the reasons. God judges nations. God looks upon nations, even those with whom He may not have a formal covenant like He did with Israel, nevertheless He looks upon them and He counts their sins.
And who knows where the United States of America hangs in the balance with the Lord.
He waited 400 years before He drove out the Amorites and gave the land to the Israelites. Why? Because that’s how long it took before they deserved what they got. So far from being some capricious tyrant, God actually waited for four centuries before His giving of the Promised Land to the descendants of Abraham would be a just handing over of the land.
We come then to this final mysterious paragraph, the Lord makes a covenant, verse 18, or you could translate, “He cuts a covenant.” It’s probably why we still have the language of somebody cuts you a deal. Cut, a covenant, literally the covenant was done by cutting, cutting the animals and tearing them apart. Later the covenant of circumcision was the cutting away of the foreskin of male flesh.
So you have the animals strewn apart with a pathway in between, and what does Abram see? A smoking oven. A smoking fire pot, and a flaming torch.
Well, that should say something to you. Smoke and fire, smoke and fire. This is a theophany, a God-appearing. Think of Exodus 13: The Lord led the people by a pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Or Exodus 19 and 20, when God descended upon Mount Sinai with the scene of pyrotechnics, it was chiefly a brilliant display of smoke and fire.
This is a vision of God, walking through the animals. Why?
There’s an ancient Hittite covenant ritual which lends some background to this covenant ceremony. It says if the troops have been beaten by the enemy, they perform a ritual behind the river as follows: They cut through a man, a goat, a puppy, and a little pig. They place half on this side and half on that side, and in front of them they make a gate of wood and stretch a cover over it and in front of the gate they light fires on this side and on that, and the troops walk right through and then they come to the river, they sprinkle water over them.
There’s another one of these documents that says “Abban placed himself under oath to Iarimlim and cut the neck of the sheep, saying ‘Let me so die if I take back that which I have given thee.'”
This was a way in the ancient world of cutting a covenant, of making a promise and then ratifying the promise with this oath-making ceremony. The Old Testament gives us perhaps the clearest indication of what’s happening, even though this is 500 years later, it’s hard not to see a parallel in Jeremiah chapter 34. Let me read verse 18: “And the men who transgress My covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before Me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and pass between its parts.”
Did you hear that? Jeremiah 34:18 says the men who did not keep My covenant, I will make them like the calf, like the young cow, that I tore in two.
In other words, as you pass through, the animal carcasses on either side, it is to say, “May it happen to me should I fail to keep my end of the covenant. May I be torn in two, may I be severed limb from limb if I am not true to my word.”
If that’s what’s going on here, notice who does and who doesn’t pass through the animals. Not Abram. He doesn’t walk through. God does. This is God’s unilateral covenant.
Yes, there are conditions in a way that Abram must believe the promise, but all Abram has to do is to trust. God is the one making all the promises to Abram, and He walks through first and smoke. Normally both parties walk through because both parties are saying, “Yes, may it be to me.” You know, you sign on the dotted line, I sign on the dotted line, cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. Torn apart.
But Abram doesn’t go through. God is taking full responsibility for the promises. God alone will ensure the realization of these promises.
Here’s how Meredith Klein puts it: “Graphically symbolized by the slain and halved animals soon to be consumed by the birds of prey, was the curse of death, violent and forsaken. To pass through the way between the rows of severed carcasses was to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The frightful horror of this death curse was overwhelmingly communicated to Abraham and his experience of the abyss of sleep and the terrors of unnatural darkness, such was the malediction that the Lord conditionally invoked upon Himself.”
In other words, God says to Abram, “May it happen to me, be it ever so severely, if I should fail to keep every word of the promise that I’m giving to you today. Your name shall be great. You shall have your very own heir. You will be a great nation. You will come back in 400 years and you will possess the land. If any one of these words should fall to the ground, null and void, may I be torn apart.”
It’s God’s way of saying, “You can trust Me. You can trust Me.”
Any of you who have had children, and some of you have little children now or grandchildren, you’ve almost all had the experience of walking with a child through a crowded city street or maybe you’re hiking through some hilly terrain, and the child, of 4, or 5, or 6, is a bit nervous, fearful. Maybe you’re crossing a busy road and the child hesitates. And what do you do as a big brother or sister, grandma, grandpa, mom, or dad? You put your hand down, you reach your hand down as if to say, “You can trust me. You can trust me. I know where I’m going. I won’t let you go. I know how to get to the other side. I know it’s fearful for you, but I can see the way and I will get you there. And all the child needs to do is reach up and grab the hand and walk and believe.
Do you trust God? God is saying, “You can trust Me.”
Isn’t it the case that faith so often involves waiting? God reiterates this promise to Abram, and I bet he would have liked to say, “Okay, the child is coming. Where are you, Sarah?” But if you know Genesis 16, it’s not Sarah; he goes to Hagar. Maybe that’s what it’s going to take. He has to wait and wait and wait.
Hebrews 11 tells us all of these men and women who did not receive in this life the things that had been promised. They had to wait.
2 Peter 3 tells us we wait for the new heavens and the new earth.
The life of faith for the Christian is the life of waiting. It’s not just checking off on an orthodox statement of faith, as critical as that is. It’s to grab hold of the hand of God, not just with knowledge, not just with assent, but with trust. To wait.
And in the end, we who live on the other side of the cross of Christ, which we will be reminded of again this week, have even more reason to trust, because as we know in the story of the cross, as righteousness was imputed to Abram by faith and righteousness reckoned to us by faith, so sin was counted to Christ.
And so even though God was and always is the covenant keeping God, and even though we proved to be the covenant breakers over and over again, God’s people exiled to Babylon, forfeiting the promises it seemed, over and over we proved to be faithless to the covenant, yet who would be torn in pieces?
Not Abram, not his descendants, but God’s very own son, who would come as a son of Abraham, as a son of David, to bear the curse for God’s covenant breaking children, that He would be pierced through, that He would be torn apart, that His flesh would be the curtain open for us that we may enter through.
Brothers and sisters, we have such great and precious promises. Every reason for confidence and trust. Hebrews 10: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience, our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
Let’s pray. Father in heaven, as we are presented again this week verbally with the sight of Your Son, the Lord Jesus hanging on the cross, so we are reminded that this self-maledictory oath, which You did not deserve, which Your Son did not deserve, yet You paid for our sakes. And so as we anticipate the cries of the Galilean pilgrims singing Hosanna, to the chants of the crowd in Jerusalem screaming “Crucify Him,” we can see ourselves numbered among the transgressors, in need of Your blood and Your sacrifice. By faith, O Lord, give us all that we lack, count to us all that are not, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.