Well, we are just speeding our way along through the Gospel of Luke aren’t we? Already to chapter 18? So you can turn there to Luke 18 this morning and we’re gonna look at a crucial, crucial concern that comes out of Jesus’ teaching on eschatology. We are turning the page into another chapter, entering into Chapter 18. But you need to know that this is still the same occasion and we are still in a section on the last days. The section started back in chapter 17, verse 20 with the Pharisees’ question about the coming Kingdom of God. And Jesus answered that question rather quickly, briefly, but clearly. And then he turned to his disciples and for the rest of Chapter 17, as we saw, he teaches them.
When he started teaching them. When he turned to address them in Luke 17:22, he really revealed there, he spoke of a, a delayed return. He says, “The days are coming when you will desire to see [remember we talked about that being he’s, they will greatly desire to see, they will long to see just] one of the days of the Son of Man [and Jesus says] and you will not see it.” There will be some sort of delay between his first coming, and his second coming.
The period of time that Jesus intimated there, that he hinted at is, is the time we are living in right now. This is the church age, we are living in the last days, the time between his first and second advents, his first and second comings. And as we read in verse 23, and as we know by our own experience, it is a time of great distraction. Temptations to get sidetracked away from the main thing are abounding.
Temptations to follow false leads, to pursue all kinds of dead ends. We can see in verse 24 another aspect of this we can expect that following the Son of Man is going to be for us. If we’re going to follow him, it’s going to be a time of trial. It’s going to be a time of suffering. It’s gonna be a time of rejection for the godly. The rejection, the shame that we bear, the reproach that we bear for the sake of Christ, for naming his name in verses 26 to 30.
We could see that the time that we’re living, in the last days, is going to be a time marked by worldly mindedness. People who are consumed, intoxicated you might say, with temporal interests. They are idolaters who follow their own lusts, those who are led around by covetous desire. They’re like the sodomites of old who loved this world, and their hearts are always adrift, unmoored, not anchored, and so they’re always adrift, and that means they are ever descending into the grossest forms of immorality.
Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, that in the last days difficult times will come for the godly. And so, knowing all of that ahead of time, Jesus, verse, says in Luke 18:1, Jesus told them a parable. He told his disciples a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. The parable is going to occupy our attention for today.
So we’re gonna start by reading that, but we’ll also read its application at the end of the parable. But let’s start in verse 1 with our reading. And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man, and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, give me justice against my adversary. For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ And the Lord said, ‘HYear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cried to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on Earth?’”
Leaves us with a question. Something to ponder, something to reflect on for ourselves. If he were to return right now, what’s the condition of your faith? If you measure it by your prayer life, what’s the condition of your faith? We can divide that section of verses into three points. In verse 1 we have the point, that’s the point of the parable, and in verses 2-5 we have the parable itself. And then in verses 6-8, we have the practical application. We’re going to look at the point in the parable today and then we’ll save the practical application for next week. Because there is so much to see in those few short verses, so much to see in the practical application, we want to devote a whole sermon to that.
But first point for today, as I said, it’s called the point. So you can write down the point, number one, the point and the point is just quite simply stay encouraged. The point, colon, stay encouraged. It’s not common in our reading of the Gospels just to, to get the key to unlocking the meaning of a parable before even reading the parable. But that’s exactly what we see here. That’s exactly what the narrator, Luke, has done for us. Giving us the key to the parable before he even records the parable.
He tells us in verse 1 exactly what the point is. He tells us what this parable is about. So that we don’t get off track, we don’t lose focus, we don’t misinterpret it. He says that the point of this parable, what this parable is about, is that the disciples ought always to pray and not lose heart. He’s going to do the same thing in verse 9 for that next parable, that next section, he’s going to introduce the next parable by giving us the key. By telling us what it means, how to unlock it.
But why does he do this? Why does he give us the key upfront? Why does he record this? Why does he insert this into his narration? He hasn’t done it before, but here he chooses to do this. Luke published his Gospel, somewhere between AD 60 to 62. That’s the time of Paul’s first Roman imprisonment. And around that time when he published this Gospel that he’d written, Jesus had been ascended into heaven less than thirty years.
Less than three decades had passed since he had gone to heaven, ascending bodily, physically in heaven with the Father right now. And so while traveling the empire and planting churches with Paul for about a decade, Luke saw all these early Christians, all these brand new Christians, and these fledgling churches that are growing and yet in the soil they were planted, whether it was the Greco-Roman soil, the Roman Empire with all its paganism, or whether he was closer to Jerusalem, closer to home, so to speak, closer to Antioch where he was probably from, closer to Paul’s homeland in Jerusalem and Judea taking, trying to take root in native Jewish soil, where there was so much hostility, so much persecution, these early Christians were in great, great need of encouragement.
Strong encouragement, deep, abiding encouragement to help them to persevere. The Jews were constant agitators, even chasing down the Christians going from city to city. If you read the book of Acts, you’ll see that. They chased them down. They were like the hounds of Hell, always nipping at the heels of Paul and his companions. Luke experienced some of that.
The Greeks, they were all too eager to rally against them, to be useful vessels of Satan himself, to persecute and stamp out this Gospel message. And so Luke, as he is addressing this Gospel to his friend and benefactor, Theophilus. The man who probably funded the travel and funded the, the research and funded the writing of this Gospel, Theophilus, Luke is thinking about him as he writes this. He’s thinking about all subsequent readers of this Gospel, and Luke wants to make sure that they understand and that there is no doubt whatsoever about what will carry them through this time of waiting. This time of waiting for Christ to return.
Where did Luke, get this emphasis in his thinking? Why has he added it here? He got this emphasis, no doubt, by watching the life of the apostle Paul who was a prayerful warrior. You can see that in every one of his epistles how he, he talks about, he gives prayer reports and praise reports and thanksgiving reports, speaking to the churches about what he is the subject of his prayers. He reveals his heart to them.
In fact, I was just talking with a young man Wednesday night we were, he was asking me, “How do I tell me, give me some tips maybe on how I can be praying in a more effective way.” And I said, “You know, if you want to, D.A. Carson wrote a book, I can’t remember what it’s called now, but it used to be called a, A Call to Spiritual Formation. But it was, it was basically praying through the letters of Paul, using the letters of Paul to guide your thinking.
As you pray, let his prayers become your prayers and just change the objects of your prayers, of the subjects of your prayers. From the people he’s praying about to the people that you know. Pray for us, in this way is the way Paul prays. Luke watched that. He traveled with the apostle Paul, watched his life, watched the prayer life of the missionary company. They subsisted not on food and water, but on prayer as they moved from place to place, and sought the direction and the protection of the Spirit of God. They were men of prayer. That’s the key to Christians thriving.
That’s the key to our fruitfulness as Christians as we wait for the Lord’s return in Luke 18:1, that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Don’t give up hope. Keep on believing. Stay encouraged. And how do you do that? By reciting the things that you know back to God in prayer, by reciting his word back to him in prayer, it reinforces what you believe. And it shapes the way you think.
“Pray always, for all things, in all circumstances,” in light of a sure and certain hope. And what is that hope? It’s the certainty of Christ’s return, this note in verse one. It really does fit with Luke’s purpose in writing. We saw this. Just a little while ago back in Luke 1:4.
He says he’s writing so that you, Theophilus, may have certainty concerning the things that you’ve been taught. I want you, Theophilus, to have certainty to know for sure. If all of this is up for grabs. If the truth and particularly the truth about the end. If it’s not known. If it can’t be known. If it’s too mysterious. If it’s a different genre and we just can’t get to it unless you have several degrees. How does all that encourage praying? I can tell you it doesn’t.
It’s certainty, confidence in the truth that will encourage and fuel your prayer life. The more confident you are about what you know, the Bible reveals about the certainty of what’s coming. The more eagerly you pray, the more zealously you hope. Certainty. Strong confidence in the truth, and particularly the truth, as Jesus has just taught us here at the end of Luke 17, about the end. This is the bedrock of all of our hope and confidence.
It’s the foundation of all of our praying, and listen, there is no virtue at all in eschatological agnosticism. That is, you know that joke, I’m not pre millennial, amillennial, post millennial, I’m pan millennial, I think it’s all gonna pan out in the end. It’s a funny joke, but don’t make that your mantra for living. It’s foolishness, to be agnostic about what Christ has endeavored to be so clear about. There’s no virtue in agnosticism. There’s no virtue in willful ignorance.
Don’t be lazy. Read your Bibles, study your Bibles, and come to certainty and conviction because it will fuel your prayer life. And your prayer life must be strong. So that you may stay encouraged and not lose heart. It’s important and we’ll get to that. Whether Christians have waited for, two or three decades like Luke and Theophilus had, or for two millennia like Christians today, they struggle to wait well.
It’s a struggle to wait in hope. It’s a struggle to never lose heart, but to persevere in faith. That’s the fight, is in persistent prayer. It’s the perennial challenge of the Christian life. As a pastor, I see this all the time. The Christians struggle to remain hopeful in the Gospel, stay current, encouraged, keep standing firm, keep moving forward, all that fueled by a robust prayer life. That is what I see day in, day out as a pastor. It’s my own struggle. It’s my own fight, and it’s a fight that I share with so many of you.
“Don’t be lazy. Read your Bibles, study your Bibles, and come to certainty and conviction because it will fuel your prayer life.”Travis Allen
In fact, in the past few weeks, I’ve encountered a number of Christians, and several of them, many of them within our church, who’ve been facing their own battles, struggles with weariness, with discouragement. Some have suffered an ongoing sorrow after death has visited their homes. Death taking a loved one from their marriage. Some have been saddened by ongoing conflict from a Christ rejecting family. As their family loves the world and they find themselves on the outs with their own flesh and blood.
They see their family embracing the world and its wicked ideologies. Pursuing moral corruption. And it makes family gatherings and holidays just a bit more awkward, harder, sometimes even hostile. For Christians today, the workplace has become a battlefield, as wicked ideologies have politicized absolutely everything, and now people’s jobs are on the line.
Not to mention there’s a sadness that I think all of us feel as we have a front row seat to the madness of the sexual revolution, the woke revolution and all, as all this causes and sows confusion for coming generations of young people who are growing up with absolute lunacy. Ludicrous thinking, inconsistency, they don’t know how to reason anymore. We see that politically, it’s affected the politics in our nation. Things are not getting any better.
We have to face the sad fact that our friends and our neighbors, they want all of this. Loving people that we’ve known for many years, many decades, they’re, they’re voting in this immoral direction. Or at least they don’t care enough about the way things are going to make any meaningful change in their voting habits and take a stand against it.
We see all this happening all around us, whether it’s personal and striking close to home, or whether it’s cultural, social, political, whatever it is, there’s a lot of. There’s a lot of cause for, if you’re not anchored in, there’s a lot of cause for discouragement, a lot of cause for concern. We’re certainly not oblivious to all that. We live in this world too. But enough handwringing, right?
What’s to be done about all this? What we see going on around us? I mean, think about it this way. What were things really better for the early church planted in pagan soil? When you had emperors named Caligula, Nero, where those guys better than some of our politicians?
What’s to be done? Paul told pastor Timothy exactly what’s to be done. He gave him counsel on exactly what to command the churches. He says in first Timothy 2:1-4, that Christians are to pray. They’re to pray. First of all, then, that is not to say I’ve got a big list and here’s number one out of list of ten, he’s saying of primary importance. I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made for all people.
Is he talking about us putting the entire seven billion people of the world on our prayer list? No, he’s not talking about all people without exception. He’s talking about all people without distinction. How do I know that? Because he’s staying I want you to be making prayer supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings for all people, even kings and those who are in high positions.
You touch the throne when you pray. You realize that? You reach right into the sacred dark halls of Washington, DC, into secret chambers, into secret meetings, and you affect what’s happening there in prayer. He says, “I want you to be praying for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good and it’s pleasing in the sight of God, our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Listen, that section is not, get this, it is not about changing the culture. Our prayers are not about changing the culture. That’s about the salvation of men.
That’s not about changing politics, not changing society. It’s not about changing the culture. This is not about changing things through praying for better laws or limited government or lower taxes so that we can finally all live a peaceful and quiet life. I mean, if we just get Washington right, then we’d have it easy. That’s what we want as a peaceful and quiet life.
Until we get that, we’re going to war. Now, that’s not, that’s not the idea here. When we pray, we take matters of concern to our God, who is sovereign over all, who has the power to change the heart should he will to do so. The hearts of all people and all kinds of people, even kings and all who are in high positions. The effect of our praying upon us, who cares? Leave it to the Lord to deal with them. And whatever’s happening there, we don’t know his sovereign will, we don’t know his plans, but the effect of that praying upon us is that when we unburden our hearts, we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
To be a prayerful Christian, is to be a peaceful and quiet Christian. To be a prayerful Christian is to be a godly, dignified Christian. When you see somebody who excels in praying, excels in believing and taking their, their hearts and their, their heart and their concerns to God in prayer you’re seeing a dignified Christian. You’re seeing somebody who is worthy of emulation.
You’re not seeing somebody who’s constantly wringing their hands and anxious and angry and churning and ready to pick up guns and fight and all that malcontentedness. That’s not someone to follow. Paul tells Timothy to instruct men, in particular down a few verses in 1 Timothy 2 to lead out in prayer. They’re not to lead out in heated political debate. Therefore, in verse 8, “I want the man in every pra, place to pray, lifting up holy hands without wrath and dissension.”
Men, focus all that energy and zeal on your personal holiness. Don’t look out at the horizon and all the things that trouble you. Look no further than your own heart and watch Proverbs 4:23, “watch your heart with all diligence for from it flow the issues of life.” Focus your zeal on personal holiness. Praying always, so you lead a peaceful and quiet life, so you lead a godly, dignified life.
Again, all these things we’re talking about here. Things that tempt us to consternation and worry and anxiety and even indignation and anger. All these trials, temptations, various forms of sufferings, all of these are the challenges that face those of us who let’s, let’s face it, Luke 17:22. We long to see just one of the days of the son of man, we’re heartsick.
We want him. We want him back. We want him physically present. We want him to put an end to all this chaos. We want it, we want it now. God says wait, he says, “I know, just wait.” And in this time of trial, let’s call it the trial of waiting. Trial of waiting well, the trial of patiently enduring, however you want to write it down. This trial, it’s made all the more difficult, isn’t it, by the extended nature of it.
Not knowing when all this will ever end. We’re two thousand years hence. We’re waiting. That adds to the trial, doesn’t it? When we don’t know when it’s going to end. Think about it just in your own life, whether it’s physical pain, you got a chronic condition, or whether it’s emotional pain, relational pain, issues in your family. And then you can’t, especially in family issues, you can’t do anything to change somebody else’s will.
I mean, for physical issues, you can, you can, you know, roll the dice and go to your doctors and, you know, physicians and try medicines and surgeries and all the things that we try to do to mitigate the suffering of our bodies when it comes to suffering relationally with other people. There’s only so much you can do.
Because that other person has a will and has desires and has hidden motivations and thoughts that, I’m making apparent to you. Chronic nature of the trial whether it’s, unrelenting pain, in any form, when you can’t see the finish line. When there seems to be no end in sight, and that just ratchets up the trial level to a, the level 10, doesn’t it?
At the risk of weakening this point. Let me illustrate by an experience I’ve had just in some in a former life military training, a bit of torture. I was once subjected to correction. I voluntarily subjected myself to this torture. So it was my own fault. Don’t allow yourself to feel one ounce of sympathy for me, because I don’t deserve it at all. I chose this.
But, nonetheless, we were subjected to these evolutions that the instructors deceptively called conditioning runs. But make no mistake, they were torture sessions. I know exactly what was going on. These instructors would take our class out to, you know, you ever, you like to go to the beach?
After these conditioning runs, there was a time when every time I looked at a beach made me curl up in a corner and suck my thumb. But they’d take us out to the beach and instead of running us on nice hard packed sand close to the water’s edge, we ran in the soft sand in and out of the dunes wearing steel plated Vietnam era jungle boots.
And sometimes, as we’re lining up for one of these runs, knowing what’s about to befall me. Sometimes my heart would, I’m not a great runner, I, you know, I had to do it, but I don’t really like it. But, when we lined up for runs, sometimes my heart would lift just a little. Just a little bit of hope. Whenever I saw the instructor leading the run was built a little bit more like me, somewhat stocky. Big thick legs, ran at a slower pace and I think, hey, this won’t be so bad. Nope.
They were experts in making everything miserable. They could make a warm bath miserable. They could make a bowl of ice cream miserable. They had a knack for it when this stocky statured instructor got tired of running. He’d switch out with some guy who’s built more like a gazelle, long and lean, and he’d take over. This is a guy who ran triathlons, marathons, for fun. And I mean that, like, he would actually take vacations away from all of his hardcore work so that he could run more. I don’t understand people like that.
So here’s gazelle man, running us up and down the beach, and when we come back to our starting point, he’d turn into the compound as if, okay the run’s finally over. I’m dying. I have no energy. Only to lead us right back out. He turned us in and then he, ha ha ha, and lead us right back out onto the beach.
Just run back in the soft sand, more running conditioning to run at a faster pace and that happened over and over and over again. Fake the end of the run, just to break us down physically, but also to use that added feature of the unknown to break us down mentally. And believe me, he could hear, hear my eggshell like mind snapping every single time he turned back out.
Some of our trials can be like that, right? And we know intellectually, we know that we are learning to wait on the Lord. He’s teaching us to wait patiently. To endure in hope, not knowing what the end is going to be. That we’re to strive onward anyway in obedient faith. We’re learning to trust the Lord in all this. To know that he’s got it. He’s a good leader. He loves us. He cares for us.
And when he says it’s conditioning, he doesn’t mean torture, he means conditioning. He means strengthening. We’re learning to know that he will call time on the trial whenever he deems best. And not before that time, and not one moment after that time either. Interesting, isn’t it? That the Father has chosen to keep the time of our Lord’s return a secret.
The most important thing to us, Peter says, “Though you do not see him, you believe in him, and though you do not see him now, you believe in him and hope with joy.” Matthew 24:36, Jesus says “Concerning that day. That day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
So this aspect of the unknown and adds another dimension to the trial which is designed to test, get this to test every single believer, every single one of us are living under that same aspect of the trial that we don’t know when it’s going to happen. All of us living before Christ’s Millennial Kingdom were subjected to the same trial. Why? Because he wants all of us to be ready. To wait in watchful faith. To live in joyful anticipation. It’s what characterizes us as believers.
We don’t have to see to believe. We wait in faith. We’re gonna obey him even when we don’t know the day and the hour. “Watch, therefore [Jesus says Matthew 25:13] for you know neither the day nor the hour.” We’ve watched false professors of the Christian faith. We’ve watched false shepherds who are wicked at heart, and they are exposed by the delay. They cannot, they cannot handle the delay. And So what happened? That’s why we say time and truth go hand in hand.
Jesus says you’ll know them by their fruits. Why? Because the false can’t come to the truth. They will just continue to go to seed and then you will see their false fruits, their bad fruits coming out. The waiting exposes the false, exposes the wicked. They’re exposed by the delay. Jesus taught this back in Luke chapter 12, we studied that, verse 45, he talks about some of his servants. They identify as his servants, but they aren’t truly his servants.
But knowing that the master is delayed in his return, what do they do? They’re eating and they’re drinking and they’re getting drunk. And then they’re turning around and they’re abusing their fellow servants. They’re bringing by their behavior, by their, their wicked behavior. They bring reproach to Christ’s good name. I’ve seen, I’ve just watched in my Christian life as one after the other of these so called up and coming cool hipster pastors, edgy pastors, emergent church pastors, seeker pastors, whatever they are, whatever their innovative model of ministry is, one after another, they fall dead in the water.
Why? Because their character catches up with them. Because they’re heart comes out. Time and truth go hand in hand. And their wickedness is exposed. And why? And what’s exposing it? The delay. Even for true disciples, though, even for us, this time of waiting, it’s a test for us too. And what does it do?
It doesn’t expose our wicked heart. I mean, it exposes some sinful thinking, right? But that’s for our good, so that we will repent and be sanctified. So God’s strengthening us by this. Again, Luke 18:1, Jesus is telling us this parable to the effect, for the purpose that, we ought always to pray and not lose heart. That word ought in the text there a wooden literal translation, translation of the language there is, goes like this.
And he was telling them a parable in order that he’s pointing to the purpose in order that it is necessary. He’s using a word for moral necessity, which is why the translation here is ought or should. But don’t. It’s a small word, so I just want to unpack it for you. He’s talking about moral necessity. This is morally necessary for you always to pray, not to lose heart.
Now by always praying, Jesus is not referring to time. He’s not referring to time that every second that passes on your watch, you better be praying, that’s not what he’s saying. He’s not talking about us continuously praying, constantly verbalizing a stream of words to God. In fact, he condemns the gentiles for doing that kind of praying, muttering all the time and repeating phrases and mantras and all those things. Jesus said to his disciples, you know, just to show that he was not always constantly praying and constantly, you know, engaged.
He told them, sit here, remember in the garden of Gethsemane, sit here while I go over there, and do what, and pray. Which means he had not been praying as he’s talking to them, but he soon would be praying as he separates from them and prays to the Father. So Jesus isn’t praying constantly, continually muttering things all the time. He doesn’t have one, you know, line connected to God, and he’s praying all the time in his mind while he’s talking to his disciples. He’s not a multitasker. He’s a human being like we are.
We do one thing at a time, so Jesus means that we’ll be praying, we’re to be praying at all times. Under all circumstances, in every situation we’re to be regular in prayer. And it’s not simply about praying for the Lord’s return, though it is at least that Luke 11:2, the Lord taught us to pray, what, “thy Kingdom come.” Okay, so we that is that does feature in our prayers. Features in my prayers a lot.
But in what seems like a delay in the Lord’s return, we’re to pray always. Why? Because it’s in the light of the hope of our Lord’s imminent return, we have no reason to become weary in well doing. We have every reason to pray and to seek his will, to find his help, to do his will. We’re confident, we’re hopeful, we’re energetic. We’re postured with a positive outlook for the future because we know that our God is guiding us in everything that we do.
Exciting to be on doing his work, doing his will. So the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:18. We’re to pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication, and to that end we’re to keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. We’re to be persistent in prayer, persevering in prayer. And conversely, he’s telling this parable in order that and for the purpose of the moral necessity that we do not lose heart.
It is a moral necessity that you and I do not lose heart. Don’t become discouraged. That’s the verb ekkakeo. Actually, that verb has a darker meaning than just our concept of discouragement. You might tend to feel sympathetic towards someone who succumbs to discouragement, who feels weak of heart. But if someone is guilty in the actual sense of this verb, you wouldn’t feel sympathy, you’d feel indignation toward this person. Why is that?
Well, the verb ekkakeo has it at its root the, the word kakos, which means bad. And it can mean bad in two senses. It can mean the practical opposite of what is kalos, what is wholesome, or sound or healthy. So it’s kind of a bad in in the sense that it’s unhealthy, unsound, it’s going to unravel your life. That’s not good. But it’s also the moral opposite of what’s good, what is agathos, what is virtuous, what is true piety, what is pleasing to God.
So the word kakos is a contrast to two words for goodness, in a moral sense and in a practical sense. So this verb, with kakos at its root, the verb ekkakeo, means to conduct oneself badly. To act badly in a given circumstance.
And in a more particular, more pointed way, it refers to acting in a cowardly manner. It’s, and it refers, in context, to soldiers who shrink back from doing their duty in battle. A cowardly soldier is not a sympathetic figure. By succumbing to fear, that soldier has not remained watchful, when he’s supposed to be on watch. He hasn’t been awake when he’s supposed to be awake, he fails to hold the line, and as a consequence, the enemy gets through and kills his fellow soldiers. There’s no virtue in that. There’s no excuse for that.
It’s his job to be watchful. It’s his job to be a soldier. Lexicographer Ceslas Spicq. That’s S, P, I, C, Q. Ceslas Spicq it’s a Greek name, but he says that this verb indicates quote “not so much a matter of omission as of relaxing one’s efforts. Losing heart in the midst of difficulties, letting go. Interrupting one’s perseverance before attaining one’s goal. Giving up rather than continuing the fight.” End Quote.
It’s cowardice. It’s dropping the line you’re supposed to hold. It’s backing away when you need to press in. It’s running away when you ought to be running forward. The way not to lose heart, to never let go, to keep at it and never give up, is by remaining constant in prayer, by persevering in prayer even when it seems like prayer is having absolutely no effect at all.
In fact, especially when it feels to you like prayer is not working. That’s precisely what Jesus has in mind as he addresses his disciples here. Christians have been praying for two thousand years, maranatha, our Lord come. Has he come? Not yet.
Have their prayers been ineffectual? Worthless. Meaningless. No. That’s a lie. Don’t believe it. Don’t allow yourself to believe it. Jesus intends to strengthen our resolve so that we never give up, so we never ever give up. And again, according to that same source, Ceslas Spicq, he says, “The exhortation is to overcome lethargy, boredom, duration, even distress and tribulation. One must not give in. It’s to overcome the succumbing to exhaustion and on the contrary, to overcome fatigue and continue in prayer without yielding, without softening.” End Quote.
Okay, so that’s the point. Point number one, the point of our Lord’s parable. Stay encouraged. How do we do that? Praying, and don’t be a coward. While we await the Lord’s return, are we going to drift back into the world? No. Are you going to become lazy, self-satisfied, loving comfort and ease? Refusing to strive, refusing to be uncomfortable in this life? No, we’re not going to do that.
We’ll we become distracted or uninterested? We’ll become disheartened and lose hope and become cowardly, staggering in faith, prayerless, cowardly, failing to do our duty? No, we’re not gonna do that. We’re gonna be encouraged as the Lord intends us to be, always to pray and never to lose heart. That’s why he’s telling us this parable.
So let’s get into the parable and just see some of the rich detail here. Second point in this two point outline for today, the parable. And you can write down next to the parable, number two parable, the parable, and then keep praying. Be persistent in prayer. However you wanna render that in your notes. The parable. Keep praying.
Listen. If you ever feel like shrinking back, let the impossible plight of this widow encourage you to keep on praying no matter what. Let’s look at those verses again verses 2 to 5. “Jesus said in a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying give me justice against my adversary. For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, though I neither fear God nor respect man yet because this widow keeps bothering me. I will give her justice so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.”
Jesus tells a simple story here, but it’s a profound story, of a contest between two very opposite characters, and the point of contrast are several and couldn’t be starker between these two characters. It’s judge versus widow. It’s male versus female. It’s wealth versus poverty. It’s powerful versus powerless. It’s influential versus inconsequential. It’s politically connected versus one who is legally, socially, and utterly forsaken.
Could there be any starker contrast? As any way you look at this, the deck is stacked decidedly in favor of the judge and against this poor widow. This is the ultimate David and Goliath story. We in fact, if this were written first, we call it the judge and the widow story. It wouldn’t be David and Goliath themes and movies. It would be judge and window themes and movies.
So we have every expectation here that this widow, she’s gonna lose and she’s going to lose big time, She doesn’t have a chance. He calls the judge unrighteous in verse 6, the word adikia. The alpha privative, ah, it’s added to the word for righteous, and it means unjust, it means lawless, it means wicked. And just having a general disregard for what is right and all righteousness and that just basically crystallizes and summarizes for us the man’s character there in verse 6. But here in verse 2 Jesus is describing this man by his attitudes.
So, give you several sub-points, so you can kind of track with this, sub-point A, the unrighteous judge and his attitudes. Sub-point A, the unrighteous judge and his attitudes. In verse 2, in a certain city there’s a certain judge, and he neither feared God nor respected man. I give that to you just a little bit more literally and you can hear Jesus’ emphasis more clearly.
In a certain city is a certain judge, God not fearing and man not respecting. Here’s a stark emphasis, strong emphasis on this guy’s lack of regard for either God or mankind. He is the master of his fate, the captain of his soul. He can’t be told to do anything. He’s the ultimate modern man.
As A.T. Robertson put it, this is a hard boiled judge who knew no one as his superior, and it wasn’t just the fact that he didn’t respect other people. That’s the translation, here, the verb Jesus uses is entrepo, which at its root means to turn about literal, referring literally to a change of position. The figurative meaning, though, is to be ashamed.
So this is a guy who is. Not ashamed, he’s shameless. Kenneth Bailey is an Arabic scholar and professor in Beirut and Jerusalem for more than 40 years. He’s now with the Lord. But he said that in eastern translations of the New Testament that translate this verb entrepo, they don’t translate it as respected like our Western translations do, or regarded, according to Bailey, he says, starting with the old Syriac and down through all the other Syriac and all the Arabic versions for another thousand years, the only translation we have had here in the Middle East it, Middle East is he is not ashamed before people. That’s the idea.
This guy has no shame, and what Jesus is describing here is the most despicable kind of a person. This guy’s become so accustomed to sinning against God, seemingly so with impunity, because he hasn’t been judged and killed and cast off this earth. And all of God’s patience is only reinforced his pride in his arrogance against God. But he’s lost any sense of morality. With any, no sense of morality, he’s lost the ability to sense any guilt. He has no inner sensation of conscience, no feeling that would make him ashamed before anybody. So he’s chosen to give up entirely on treating anyone else with any ethical integrity at all. In order to serve himself, in order to do what’s best for he and his.
So since nothing, to include God himself, makes him afraid, nothing makes him afraid. Since nothing shames him, there is nothing to appeal to in this guy. This guy’s a rock. There’s nothing there. There’s no feeling. No sense of decency, no sense of propriety. One commentator puts it this way that there’s no spark of honor left in his soul to which anyone can appeal. What are you going to do when a guy like that’s in charge?
I don’t know. I guess we could ask those who lived under the Iron Curtain, who lived under the Soviet Union and saw all kinds of people whose worldview taught them to be heartless like this, to say there is no God and I have no regard except, for anything except the interests of the party. Tell all the young people learning socialism today in our schools, tell them that that’s the end, the tyranny, and point to this unrighteous judge and say you want a guy like this to appeal to. You want a guy like this making decisions for you and your family, making decisions for you and your money. That’s what they’re voting for.
Listen. In our country, in our time, we’re becoming increasingly familiar with people just like this, aren’t we? No moral principles, no scruples at all. They’re called politicians. Now, I’m just, just kidding there. They’re actually called lawyers. No, I’m just, that’s not fair either.
There’s a lot of good politicians, a lot of good lawyers. Many politicians, many lawyers, do have a moral compass. They do endeavor to operate with ethical integrity, and in fact I’d argue most of them do. Maybe not the most prominent, the most notorious of them, but we don’t let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch and ruin the whole profession. But we do make jokes about lawyers and politicians because there are enough bad examples out there, and some of us have had run ins with those kinds of people. That there are enough unscrupulous ones, they do spoil the reputation of the entire profession. They create a stereotype that we make jokes about.
“You ought always to pray. And don’t lose heart. Pray persistently, intently, sincerely unbare your burdens.”Travis Allen
It’s not totally fair, but that’s the way of stereotypes. Same thing happened in ancient Israel with judges, magistrates. Only in many cases the example that Jesus uses of an unjust judge hit an all too familiar note. Common enough that everybody had a story, especially living close in to the city of Jerusalem. Everybody had a story about one of these guys.
Some judges were mun, municipal authorities appointed by Herod of the Romans, and they were paid a stipend out of the temple treasury, and that meant they had a fixed income and it usually wasn’t a great income. They wanted more. So bribery was a common practice. And therefore, as Alfred Edersheim says, “Such a one was perhaps a Jew but not a Jewish judge.” Get the distinction he’s making? He may be a Jew of his ethnicity and his heritage, but he didn’t operate according to any Jewish law.
He didn’t judge impartially. He didn’t fear God. He had no shame about joining with the Herodians, the Romans, to rape the Jewish people, to fleece the Jewish flock. In fact, the common people, they made a word play on their judicial title instead of calling them by their actual title, which is dianegizaroth with an R sound in there gizaroth, probition judges. They changed the R sound to an L sound and called them dianegizaloath, robber judges.
Edersheim says the reputation of these local magistrates and judges, it didn’t improve either the further away you got from Jerusalem. When you get away into the smaller cities and the towns are, these judges are just as much prone to corruption. In fact, with a lack of oversight from the capital city, maybe even more, they know they’re out in the middle of nowhere, so no one can hear the people that are victimized by their injustice. No one can hear them scream. They just continue on. They’re the sole authority in these villages, some of these guys.
Edersheim says this, “The Talmud speaks in very deprecatory terms of these village judges and accuses them of ignorance, arbitrariness and covetousness, so that for a dish of meat they would pervert justice.” End Quote. And that is not what you want in a judge. Arbitrariness, can’t count on him from one day to the next. Capriciousness.
You have no idea what he’s how he’s going to decide. And usually it’s gonna be malintended toward you and favorable toward himself or his cronies. It’s this kind of a judge that Jesus makes the main character in this parable. He’s a man who had abandoned any fear of God, any sense of shame before people.
The wider culture of our country haven’t we lost that sense of public shame? Many of our celebrated public figures live lives that are morally bankrupt, utterly shameful. We should hide our eyes and ears from them. And sadly, we’ve become pretty accustomed to this. We’ve become sullied just in reading the articles. Stop reading the articles. Stop taking an interest in their corrupt, morally defiled lives.
So we’ve become pretty accustomed to this, but that was not the case, and is not the case in Middle Eastern culture even today, about shame. Cultures of the east, southwest Asia, southeast Asia, the Middle East, Far East, those are shame, honor cultures. Shame and honor are massively important. In the way they think, like any culture. Positives and negatives for sure. But what they do understand and what is commendable in those cultures that there are some words, there are some actions, there are some behaviors that are completely and totally out of bounds, you do not do for the sake of honor.
So when Jesus makes this unjust judge the central character in his story, he’s got everybody’s attention. It’s probably a chorus of hisses that came out of the crowd, hissing at this guy. Booing him, he’s truly a contemptible man, and the only way to move someone like this is with force. Physical threat of physical violence, or by getting to his heart. Appealing to his covetousness, appealing to his greed, and giving him money.
Enter the next character in the parable, the one who had challenged the unjust judge. She’s got neither force nor money. She’s got nothing. This is this week, destitute, unprotected widow, doesn’t seem like much of a contest, but Jesus shows us here, and this is verse 3. You can put this down as sub-point B, sub-point B, the righteous widow and her actions. The righteous widow and her actions.
There’s a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, give me justice against my adversary. Vindicate me, she’s pleading. She’s doing it over and over and over. The fact that she’s coming to court herself means she’s entirely alone. Because in Middle Eastern culture, patriarchal cultures in the Middle East, women are not allowed to appear like that in court alone without a male family member accompanying them, representing them, speaking for them.
So clearly by the fact that she’s speaking, she is all alone. She is fending for herself. She’s got no one. We can safely say that the issue here at stake what’s, what’s happened. She’s been taken advantage of financially. Commentator Joaquim Jeremiah says a debt, a pledge or a portion of an inheritance is being withheld from her. She needs that. She needs that money. She got no power of earning. So it’s a reasonable supposition that this is a financial matter. Jesus isn’t specific, but that’s reasonable. That money and provision is at stake.
It’s always at stake in Old Testament protections for widows and orphans. Our ESV translation it’s portrayed the imperfect tense here, accurately that she kept coming to him. As in, she kept coming, often repeatedly, over and over. In spite of this man’s refusals to hear her case, in spite of his ignoring her and refusing to give her justice, not giving, not vindicating her cause, not protecting her from her enemy, she kept coming.
Why did he refuse her? Wouldn’t it just be easy to grant her the justice she saw it? Well, he refused her because, to put it plainly, she can’t threaten him physically and she can’t buy him off. She’s got nothing to persuade him with. A.B. Bruce says this widow is too weak to compel and too poor to buy justice.
Alfred Plummer says she had neither a protector to coerce the judge nor money to bribe him. And yet she keeps coming. She comes repeatedly. She comes at different times, she comes at, on different occasions. And why? Why does she keep coming?
I mean, when it seems so hopeless? What is it that’s compelling her? What’s given her the energy to keep after it? What gives her the motivation to keep on coming to this guy? Most certainly we could say the desperation of her situation could keep her coming. That could fuel her for a while anyway.
But listen if she’s not motivated deep down inside by a basic sense of righteousness of her cause. Listen, she would have given this up long ago. She would close that chapter of her life knowing she’s facing yet another dead end. She’d move on, find gainful employment, do what it takes. This, judge is a waste of time. I got things to do. I got a life to live.
But no, she keeps coming. Why? She knows she’s in the right. Something’s driving her. Something comes from deep inside a deep place. It gives her energy that’s greater than any physical exhaustion. It’s a sense of justice that compels her, and though she’s got no other recourse but this unjust judge, she is not about to let his bad character prevent her from getting the justice that she knows she deserves.
Leon Morris says this widow, she is a symbol of helplessness. She’s in no position to bribe the judge, and she had no protector to put pressure on him. She’s armed with nothing but the fact that right was evidently on her side. This is how Jesus has set up the story for us to come to these conclusions. They’re inescapable.
This is how he wants us to think, and it’s certainly how the people who listen to him on that day were thinking. This is the very scenario that they’re picturing. She keeps coming. She’s in the right. She’s being denied the justice she knows that she deserves. The judge refuses to hear her case, refuses to give her justice.
But instead, for the time being, he has chosen to favor her adversary over her. How do we know that? Well, it’s easy to assume that her adversary is influential and has paid him bribes, and she has not. And so she’s stuck. Stuck. Until we get to verse four, here’s where we see a crack forming in this judge’s impenetrable armor.
Sub-point C, sub-point C you can write down. We see how righteous actions prevail over unrighteous attitudes. Righteous actions, that is her persistence, prevail over unrighteous attitudes. That’s the judge’s lack of fear for God and lack of being ashamed in front of mankind.
Look again, verse 4 and 5, for a while he refused the widow’s petitions, but afterward he said to himself, “Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.” I cited Kenneth Bailey earlier. He relays a fascinating account in his book “Through Peasant eyes,” and he talks about what a western traveler witnessed in Iraq in the 1890s.
The account helps us picture the scene that Jesus is portraying here in this parable. And here’s what this traveler, this Western traveler, observed in his trip, to Iraq at the end of the 19th century. It was in the ancient city of Nisibis, in Mesopotamia. Immediately on entering the gate of the city, on one side stood the prison with its barred windows, through which the prisoners thrust their arms and begged for alms.
Opposite was a large open hall, the Court of Justice of the place, and on a slightly raised dias, at the further end sat the Kadi or judge. Kadi is spelled K A D I. This judge half buried in cushions. Around him squatted various secretaries and other notables, and the populace crowded into the rest of the hall, a dozen voices clamoring at once, each claiming that his cause should be the first heard.
The more prudent litigants joined not in the fray, but held whispered communications with the secretaries, passing bribes that they called fees. Into the hands of one another or one or another. When the greed of the underlings was satisfied, one of them would whisper to the Kadi, who would promptly call such and such a case.
It seemed to be ordinarily taken for granted, the judgment would go for the litigant who had bribed the highest. Meantime, a poor woman on the skirts of the crowd perpetually interrupted the proceedings with loud cries for justice. She’s sternly bidden to be quiet, reproachfully told that she came there every day.
And so I will, she cried out, until the Kadi hears me. At length, at the end of a suit, the judge impatiently demanded, “What does that woman want?” Her story was soon told. Her only son had been taken for a soldier and she was alone and, could not till her piece of ground. And yet the tax gatherer had forced her to pay the impost, that is the tax, from which as a lone widow she should be exempt. The judge asked a few questions and said let her be exempt. Thus her perseverance was rewarded.
In Middle Eastern culture, even today, a man could not get away with screaming to get his attention. He couldn’t get away with that. If he tried that in any kind of a court in a Middle Eastern setting, he’d be humiliated. Thrown out, probably beaten a bit. If he continued to come back and continue to press his case, he’d probably be taken by, out back and shot.
A woman though, a woman in the Middle East. There’s a chivalry among men toward women. Even though in the Middle East in many places women are second class citizens, they don’t have the rights of a man in public. And yet they’re treated with honor, treated as the weaker vessel, one that should be protected. One of the ways that the Middle Easterners and the Arabs look down upon the United States is because we let our women serve in war.
They say, “aren’t you protecting your women?” They look at the what, what’s coming out of Hollywood and say, “Don’t you clothe your daughters? Don’t you tell us this is what your Christian nation is, what your Christianity looks like,” they say “I prefer Islam.” With that story does make the point. Kadi, in this traveler story is well, he’s really a lightweight when compared against the unjust judge that Jesus tells about in his parable.
But whether lightweight or heavyweight. Neither are able to hold out against the righteous appeal persistently made by this woman. The unjust judge, he speaks to himself. We kind of, come kind of accustomed, to these soliloquies and these parables, right? These, these people speaking to themselves. It’s, it’s kind of a way that we get insight into the mindset of a character in the story. And it’s how Jesus reveals to us key information that we need to understand what’s going on.
So the judge says to himself, he knows what he’s about to do. He’s about to compromise his own fixed principles, and so he reinforces his I stand alone, though, I neither fear God nor respect man. Yeah, I’m gonna make an exception because this woman, well, widow keeps on bothering me. I’ll give her justice so she won’t beat me down by your continual coming.
Wow, what a whiner, right? She’s bothering you. Oh, well, considering the fact that you contributed to the theft of her entire livelihood, and considering the fact that you’ve conspired to rob her of her subsistence and that you’ve used your vaunted position for cruelty and oppression. You’re upset because she’s bothering you.
Could Jesus have portrayed a more self-centered, despicable human being who’s oblivious to anybody else but himself? He’s kind of a drama queen, too. It’s actually a bit humorous, he says. I’ll give her justice because she won’t beat me down. Oh, really. Beat me down by your continual coming. He becomes convinced that by her persistence, she’s never gonna drop this, she’s never gonna give up, and he’s going to be beaten down by her words.
Now, I’ve been in the company before of some nagging women, Okay, and it can be, onerous. It can really beat somebody down, right? But this guy’s going a bit far. He is being a drama queen. I’m going to show you that fear of God has not moved him.
Exodus 22:22 very clearly says “You shall not mistreat any widow or any father’s child. If you do mistreat them and they cry out to me, God says I will surely hear it.” Then Deuteronomy 10:18, “God executes justice for the fatherless and the widow.” Man, you do not want to get in the way of that, but he does. Deuteronomy 27:19. “Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.”
None of that affected him, none of it. Public opinion meant nothing to him. He went walking through town, everybody knowing he’s a cheat, knowing he’s unjust, despicable, perverted, and he has the shameless audacity to walk down the middle of the street, hold his head up high, flaunt his, his arrogant wealth and eat in public restaurants, taking in the nightlife whatever it was.
But the persistent nagging of this woman, where there is nothing else that affects him that does, it’s a terrifying thought in his mind that he should be subjected to this, which he imagines would go on for the rest of his life. Ladies, don’t get any bright ideas about nagging. Okay, the Proverbs and remember the Proverbs. Nagging wives are bad. But the terrifying thought in his mind? Is that the continual visitation, persistent pleading of this woman, it reminds him continually of her righteous cause, her pleading for justice.
He’ll take his chances with God, he’ll despise the opinions of men. But this woman’s persistence, he can’t take it anymore. Beat me down. Okay, here’s the drama queen stuff. The verb hypopiazo. Hypopiazo. It’s a boxing term. Literally means to strike beneath the eye, to give a give someone a black eye. That’s the word.
Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I buffet my body and make it my slave.” He’s talking about boxing himself in order to exercise self-discipline. The figurative meaning of this word is to wear somebody out, to browbeat them, to annoy them greatly, and so the judge doesn’t see any signs of her letting up. He’s ready to call it quits. He’s throwing in the towel. He’s done with his boxing match.
I mean, this was an uneven match from the start, and who’s winning? Fascinating his unrighteous attitudes. Had seemed to form this impenetrable shield against being moved upon by anyone or anything. Remember his boast? “I neither fear God nor have shame before mankind at all.”
Prideful barrier against any and all influence, against any affectation has come crumbling down like so much sand. The demise of this man’s shield, it wasn’t due to him being threatened with any physical violence. It wasn’t due to someone inflicting physical pain upon his tender, rather well-fed body, though that’s the way he’s portrayed this. I’m going to get a black eye, all this black eye talk, his shield didn’t crumble because he’s threatened with a lawsuit.
So I’m going to ruin him financially. In fact, what’s even more interesting about this is to remember that he’s favored somebody else over the widow. That means he’s taken a bribe against her to decide in this other person’s case, this is going to cost him financially to give in to the widow. He’s gonna have to return the bribe to his crooked buddy.
This gives this woman justice as he rectifies her case. So even though he couldn’t care less about having a righteous reputation, you know what’s just happened? He’s put future bribes at risk because now he can’t be relied upon when he’s bribed. Put his future of receiving bribes at risk by reversing course with this widow.
She’s the most unlikely of victors, but victor she is. This widow has become the unlikely hero of this story. She’s the true David fighting a Goliath. She’s a champion. And what has she done? She’s had a righteous concern and she’s pursued it. She won’t let it alone.
One of the reasons I think it’s so important for young men to find a wife, find her quickly, rather quickly get married. Go and have a family. Is because there is something in a woman that sees issues of moral and moral issues with moral clarity. They don’t care about who’s favoring who and what the consequences are going to be when they see an issue of moral justice and injustice they cry foul. They blow the whistle, they throw the flag, and they say something’s got to be done about that.
And for men who live in a man versus man world where there can be compromise and, you know, respecting the other guy’s territory and, well, this has been the way it’s been going on. I don’t want to upset the apple cart. I don’t want to rock the boat here. A woman will step in and say, uh uh, you get in there and do something about that. The strength of a woman’s moral voice.
It’s health for a marriage. It’s health for a family. It’s health for a church. It’s health for a nation. That’s what Jesus has just portrayed for us here in this widow’s strength of her moral cause. The rightness of her cause, and her persistence in pursuing it.
He’s portrayed a widow that has everything stacked against her. She’s up against absolutely impossible odds, and nevertheless she prevails. She triumphs. The unjust judge not only gives in to hear her case, but he decides to settle the case in her favor, and he does so to his own harm.
A greater reversal could not be foreseen here. Now look back at verse 7, “and will not God give justice to his elect? Who cry to him day and night. Will he delay long over them? I tell you he will give justice to them speedily.” Believer, suffering believer. Sorrowing believer, are you hearing me?
You ought always to pray. And don’t lose heart. Pray persistently, intently, sincerely unbare your burdens. Cast all your cares upon him because, what? He cares for you. Next week we’re going to see how Jesus nails this down so that we have no question about praying to him constantly and never losing heart. Let’s pray.
Our Father, we thank you for the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, and how clear he is and how encouraging he is, how strengthening his words are. So, so powerful, and the imagination and what, the illustrations that flood his mind in a moment, and how much is packed into them. We struggle to keep up, but we’re so thankful that you have helped us and taught us and we pray that you would give us every encouragement, great encouragement, deep conviction about the end of days. About the Son of Man’s coming, about the Kingdom that’s going to be set up, our place in it, our role in the future. Help us to understand our role now. Our role is to be your witnesses, to proclaim your Gospel, to make disciples of all the nations, to evangelize and disciple, and to teach your people to obey everything that Jesus taught.
And in our duty, in our stewardship of this Gospel, as your church, as your people help us to pray always, at all times, in all circumstances. Never to lose heart, not to become cowardly, not to tuck and run, but to lean in and pray when we’re perplexed to pray, when we’re afraid to pray, when we are joyful, to pray and give thanks. When we’re fearful, to find refuge in you. To pray for your help against the adversary. To ask for your justice when we are treated unjustly.
And we do ask for your justice, Father, in many cases, in our church in particular. We ask that you would be favorable to your people here. We ask that you would comfort the widow, comfort those who are sorrowing. We ask that you would provide encouragement for those who are ostracized and marginalized and persecuted by friends and family and coworkers and neighbors.
We ask that you would strengthen us, that we would not be fragile, cowardly people with thin skins. But that you would help us to grow extra layers of skin and enter into this world with boldness and deep, deep conviction because we are a praying people. We are backed by an all powerful, almighty sovereign God. We thank you for making us your people. We thank you for giving us such great hope and confidence and certainty in the truth. We thank you in Jesus name. Amen.