Wednesday in Holy Week

20I have found David, my | servant;*
         with my holy oil I have a- | nointed him,

21so that my hand shall be estab- | lished with him;*
         my arm also shall | strengthen him.

22The enemy shall not out- | wit him;*
         the wicked shall not | humble him.

23I will crush his foes be- | fore him*
         and strike down those who | hate him.

24My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall | be with him,*
         and in my name shall his horn
be ex- | alted.

25I will set his hand | on the sea*
         and his right hand on the | rivers.

26He shall cry to me, “You are my | Father,*
         my God, and the Rock of
my sal- | vation.”

27And I will make him the | firstborn,*
         the highest of the kings | of the earth.
         —Psalm 89:20–27

Additional Psalm: Psalm 89, Psalm 32

Old Testament Reading:
Exodus 10:21–11:10
The Ninth Plague: Darkness

21Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” 22So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived. 24Then Pharaoh called Moses and said, “Go, serve the LORD; your little ones also may go with you; only let your flocks and your herds remain behind.” 25But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. 26Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the LORD our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there.” 27But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. 28Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me; take care never to see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.” 29Moses said, “As you say! I will not see your face again.”

A Final Plague Threatened

11:1The LORD said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely. 2Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry.” 3And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.

4So Moses said, “Thus says the LORD: About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, 5and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. 6There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. 7But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. 9Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”

10Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.

Additional Reading: Lamentations 3:1–66

New Testament Reading: Hebrews 4:1–16
[A Rest for the People of God]

1Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

6Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Jesus the Great High Priest

14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Such hard heads imagine that God overlooks and allows them to rest in security, or that He is entirely ignorant or cares nothing about such matters. Therefore, God must deal a smashing blow and punish them, so that He cannot forget their sin unto their children’s children. In that way, everyone may take note and see that this is no joke to Him. These are the people He means when He says, “those who hate Me” [Exodus 20:5]; i.e., those who persist in their defiance and pride. Whatever is preached or said to them, they will not listen. When they are rebuked, in order that they may learn to know themselves and make amends before the punishment begins, they become mad and foolish. They rightly deserve wrath, as we see daily in bishops and princes now.

But as terrible as these threatenings are, so much more powerful is the consolation in the promise. For those who cling to God alone should be sure that He will show them mercy. In other words, He will show them pure goodness and blessing, not only for themselves, but also to their children and their children’s children, even to the thousandth generation and beyond that. This ought certainly to move and impel us to risk our hearts in all confidence with God [Hebrews 4:16; 10:19–23], if we wish all temporal and eternal good. For the supreme Majesty makes such outstanding offers and presents such heartfelt encouragements and such rich promises.
         —Large Catechism I 37–40

Lord Jesus, think on me,
         By anxious thoughts oppressed;
Let me Your loving servant be
         And taste Your promised rest.
         —Lord Jesus, Think on Me (LSB 610:2)

Prayer of the Day
Merciful and everlasting God, You did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all to bear our sins on the cross. Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him that we fear not the power of sin, death, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (L31)

Lenten Catechesis: How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things? / Who receives the power and benefit of this Sacrament?
We speak about the bread and wine that is Christ’s body and blood and has the words attached to it. That, we say, is truly the treasure—and nothing else—through which such forgiveness is gained. Now the only way this treasure is passed along and made our very own is in the words “Given … and shed for you.” For in the words you have both truths, that it is Christ’s body and blood, and that it is yours as a treasure and gift.

Although the work is done and the forgiveness of sins is secured by the cross [John 19:30], it cannot come to us in any other way than through the Word. How would we know about it otherwise, that such a thing was accomplished or was to be given to us, unless it were presented by preaching or the oral Word [Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 1:21]? … But now the entire Gospel and the article of the Creed—I believe in … the holy Christian Church, … the forgiveness of sins, and so on—are embodied by the Word in this Sacrament and presented to us. … [The fanatics] cannot say that these words in the Sacrament are of no use, just as they dare not say that the entire Gospel or God’s Word, apart from the Sacrament, is of no use.
         —Large Catechism V 28–29, 31–32

Whoever believes the words has what they declare and bring. … Because [Christ] offers and promises forgiveness of sin, it cannot be received except by faith. This faith He Himself demands in the Word when He says, “Given … and shed for you,” as if He said, “For this reason I give it, and ask you to eat and drink it, that you may claim it as yours and enjoy it.” Whoever now accepts these words and believes that what they declare is true has forgiveness.
         —Large Catechism V 33–35

Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Solid Declaration of the Formula
of Concord V 11–15