Sunday, June 09, 2013


HEBREWS 6:13-20

A major theme of this book is “persevere to the end”. In the passage we studied last week, he ended by telling the Hebrews he wanted them to have the full assurance of hope until the end so that they, through faith and patience would inherit the promises.

So, verse 13 starts a passage that uses Abraham as an example of one who had faith and persevered to the end.

FIRST WE SEE IN VERSE 13 THAT GOD MADE A PROMISE TO ABRAHAM AND HE MADE AN OATH, OR SWORE TO PERFORM IT. SO, WHAT PROMISE IS HE TALKING ABOUT?

GOD MADE SEVERAL PROMISES TO ABRAHAM, BUT IN GENESIS 22 HE MADE A PROMISE AND TOOK AN OATH TO FULFILL IT. ABRAHAM HAD JUST PROVED HIS FAITHFULNESS BY HIS WILLINGNESS TO SACRIFICE HIS SON, ISAAC TO GOD. GOD HAD ALREADY PROMISED (IN GENESIS 13) THAT ABRAHAM WOULD HAVE MANY OFFSPRING, THAT HE WOULD HAVE A GREAT REWARD AND HE WOULD HAVE A SON (GENESIS 17). THE DEATH OF ISAAC WOULD CAUSE THE PROMISE TO FAIL. YET ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD AND PROCEEDED WITH THE SACRIFICE. GOD DID NOT MAKE HIM GO THROUGH WITH IT, BUT ABRAHAM WAS FAITHFUL. THEREFORE, GOD MADE A PROMISE TO HIM AND TOOK AN OATH TO FULFILL IT.

GENESIS 22:15-19 SAYS:

AND THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CALLED TO ABRAHAM A SECOND TIME FROM HEAVEN AND SAID “BY MYSELF I HAVE SWORN, DECLARES THE LORD, BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE THIS AND HAVE OT WITHHELD YOUR SON, YOUR ONLY SON, I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU, AND I WILL MULTIPLY YOUR OFFSPRING AS THE STARTS OF HEAVEN AND AS THE SAND THAT IS ON THE SEASHORE. AND YOUR OFFSPRING SHALL POSSESS THE GATE OF HIS ENEMIES AND IN YOUR OFFSPRING SHALL ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED BECAUSE YOU HAVE OBEYED MY VOICE.

THE WRITER OF HEBREWS QUOTES PART OF THIS IN VERSE 14 “SURELY I WILL BLESS YOU AND MULTIPLY YOU”. HE KNEW HIS JEWISH AUDIENCE WOULD KNOW THE REMAINDER OF THE PASSAGE.

BUT AFTER THE PROMISE, WHAT HAPPENED? REALLY, NOTHING HAPPENED IN HUMAN TERMS. ISAAC GREW UP TO BE A MAN. HE HAD TWO KIDS, TWIN BOYS ESAU AND JACOB. YET, HEBREWS SAID HE PATIENTLY WAITED AND HE OBTAINED THE PROMISE. HE WAITED 25 YEARS FOR ISAAC TO BE BORN. HE PATIENTLY WAITED WHEN GOD COMMANDED HIM TO SACRIFICE ISAAC. SO, HE SAW THE PROMISE FULFILLED IN THE BIRTH OF ISAAC. BUT HE ACTUALLY DID NOT SEE GOD MAKE A GREAT MULTITUDE COME FROM HIM. HE DID, HOWEVER, BELIEVE GOD WOULD DO IT.

WHY DID GOD SWEAR AN OATH TO ABRAHAM? HEBREWS 6:13 DISCUSSES THAT. FIRST, IN VERSE 13, IT SAYS GOD HAD NO ONE GREATER BY WHOM TO SWEAR, SO HE SWORE ON HIMSELF. NORMALLY, A PERSON TAKES AN OATH TO INVOKE A HIGHER POWER TO HOLD HIM TO THE TRUTH. IN AMERICA, WHEN A PERSON TAKES THE WITNESS STAND TO TESTIFY IN A TRIAL, HE SWEARS TO THE TELL THE TRUTH “SO HELP ME GOD”. HE IS SAYING, GOD IS THE WITNESS TO MY TESTIMONY AND MAY PUNISH ME IF I DO NOT TELL THE TRUTH.

BY WHOM THEN WOULD GOD SWEAR? AS VERSE 13 SAYS, THERE IS NO ONE GREATER. THERE IS NO HIGHER POWER. SO HE SWORE BY HIMSELF.

GOD DID NOT HAVE TO SWEAR AN OATH. HE WORD IS TRUE AND HE ALWAYS KEEPS HIS PROMISE. SO, IF HE SAID HE WOULD MULTIPLY ABRAHAM’S FAMILY INTO A GREAT MULTITUDE, HE WOULD DO IT. BUT HERE, HE WANTED TO REINFORCE THE TRUTH AND POWER OF THE PROMISE, SO, IN ADDITION TO HIS WORD, HE SWORE AND OATH TO PEFORM IT.

VERSE 17 SWITCHES THE EMPHASIS FROM ABRAHAM TO THE “HEIRS OF THE PROMISE”. THOSE ARE WE WHO RECEIVE THE BENEFITS OF THE PROMISE MADE TO ABRAHAM. AND WHO ARE THOSE HEIRS? THEY ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST AND FOLLOW HIM. FOR NOW, IN THE CHURCH THROUGH THE AGES, THERE ARE MULTITUDES OF THOSE WHO HAVE BELIEVED GOD AND RECEIVED HIS SALVATION.

THIS FACT, THAT WE ARE HEIRS TO THE PROMISE, IS ASSUMED IN THIS PASSAGE. IT IS, HOWEVER, STATED PLAINLY IN THE BOOK OF GALATIANS. GALATIANS IS A LETTER FROM THE APOSTLE PAUL TO THE CHURCH IN GALATIA. THE PURPOSE OF THE LETTER IS TO REFUTE THOSE WHO TAUGHT YOU HAD TO PRACTICE THE JEWISH LAW IN ADDITION TO FAITH IN ORDER TO BE SAVED.

IN GALATIANS 3:7-9, PAUL SAID:

 KNOW THEN THAT IT IS THOSE OF FAITH WHO ARE THE SONS OF ABRAHAM. AND THE SCRIPTURE, FORESEEING THAT GOD WOULD JUSTIFY THE GENTILES BY FAITH, PREACHED THE GOSPEL BEFOREHAND TO ABRAHAM SAYING “IN YOU SHALL ALL THE NATIONS BE BLESSED”. SO THEN, THOS WHO ARE OF FAITH ARE BLESSED ALONG WITH ABRAHAM, THE MAN OF FAITH.

THEN, IN GALATIANS 4:7, PAUL SAID IF WE ARE SONS, WE ARE HEIRS.

SO, WE WHO BELIEVE IN CHRIST ARE THE SONS OF ABRAHAM AND THE HEIRS OF THE PROMISE. AND HEBREWS 6:17 TELLS US GOD DESIRED TO SHOW US MORE CONVINCINGLY THE UNCHANGEABLE CHARACTER OF HIS PURPOSE, SO HE NOT ONLY MADE THE PROMISE, HE GUARANTEED IT WITH AN OATH. THAT MEANS, WHEN GOD MADE THE PROMISE TO ABRAHAM, HE WAS THINKING OF EVERY PERSON WHO WOULD BELIEVE IN CHRIST THROUGHOUT HISTORY, AND HE WANTED TO MAKE ALL OF THOSE BELIEVERS CONVINCED THAT HIS PURPOSE AND PROMISE NEVER CHANGED, SO HE BACKED UP HIS PROMISE WITH AN OATH.

THIS MEANS THAT GOD PURPOSED TO CREATE A PEOPLE FOR HIMSELF. THOSE PEOPLE WOULD BE THOSE WHO CAME TO HIM BY FAITH IN THE REDEMPTION ACCOMPLISHED BY GOD’S SON, JESUS CHRIST. HE MADE THEM A PROMISE THROUGH ABRAHAM THAT HE WOULD MAKE THEM HIS PEOPLE AND GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE.

VERSE 18 SHOWS US THAT WE HAVE TWO THINGS TO GIVE US CONFIDENCE. THOSE TWO THINGS ARE GOD’S PROMISE (WORD) AND HIS OATH. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO LIE, OF COURSE, SO HE MUST KEEP HIS PROMISE AND HIS OATH.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO US? VERSE 18 SAYS IT MEANS WE HAVE STRONG ENCOURAGEMENT FROM GOD TO HOLD FAST TO THE HOPE SET BEFORE US. WE ARE “THOSE WHO HAVE FLED FOR REFUGE”. WE HAVE ABANDONED HOPE IN OURSELVES, IN OUR STRENGTH, IN OUR POSSESSION, IN ALL EARTHLY THINGS. AND WE HAVE FLED THOSE THINGS TO TAKE REFUGE IN GOD THROUGH CHRIST.

YOU SEE, GOD DOES NOT WANT YOU TO FEAR. HE DOES NOT WANT YOU TO DOUBT. IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED HIS SON, JESUS, AS SAVIOR AND LORD, HE GIVES YOU ETERNAL LIFE. YOU WILL GO TO HEAVEN WHEN YOU DIE. HE WILL RESURRECT YOUR PHYSICAL BODY AND CHANGE IT INTO A GLORIFIED BODY. HE WILL CREATE A PLACE IN THE NEW EARTH FOR US TO LIVE FOREVER IN HIS PRESENCE. HE WANTS YOU TO HAVE ASSURANCE OF THIS. HE WANTS YOU TO BE ENCOURAGED IN ALL OF YOUR TRIALS THAT YOUR HOPE IS SECURE. BECAUSE HE WANTS YOU TO HAVE THIS ASSURANCE, HE GAVE YOU A PROMISE AND AN OATH TO ENCOURAGE YOU.

REMEMBER THAT “HOPE” IN THE BIBLE IS NOT A WISH. IT IS A CERTAINTY THAT BRINGS ENCOURAGEMENT. THIS HOPE IS A SURE AND STEADFAST ANCHOR OF OUR SOULS. AN ANCHOR KEEPS A SHIP IN ONE PLACE. IT KEEPS IT SECURE. IT KEEPS IT STABLE. OUR HOPE IN GOD’S PROMISE AND HIS UNCHANGING CHARACTER IS THE ANCHOR FOR OUR SOUL. WE NEED NOT BE TOSSED ABOUT IN A STORM OR STRONG WAVES, BECAUSE WE ARE ANCHORED TO HIS PROMISE. IN EPHESIANS 4:14, PAUL TOLD THEM NOT TO BE “TOSSED TO AND FRO BY THE WAVES AND CARRIED ABOUT BY EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE, BY HUMAN CUNNING, BY CRAFTINESS IN DECEITFUL SCHEMES”.

SO, WHEN THE “NEW ATHEISTS” ATTACK THE TRUTH OF THE BIBLE AND THE DEITY OF CHRIST, YOU ARE NOT TOSSES AROUND, YOUR BOAT IS SECURELY ANCHORED TO THE PROMISE AND OATH OF GOD.

WHEN DAN BROWN AND OTHERS WRITE BOOKS SAYING THE GOSPELS ARE NOT TRUE AND THE CHURCH HID THE TRUTH, YOU ARE NOT TOSSED, YOU ARE ANCHORED BY GOD’S PROMISE AND OATH.

AND WHEN PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH SAY THEY HAVE FOUND A NEW TRUTH OR A NEW SECRET, YOU ARE NOT LED ASTRAY.

VERSE 19 SAYS OUR HOPE LEADS US RIGHT INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD. THE WRITER MAKES A REFERENCE TO THE TEMPLE OR TABERNACLE. HE SAID IT ENTERS INTO THE INNER PLACE BEHIND THE CURTAIN. HE IS SPEAKING OF THE MOST HOLY PLACE, WHERE GOD’S PRESENCE DWELT IN ISRAEL.

OF COURSE, OUR HOPE IS NOT ABSTRACT. OUR HOPE IS IN CHRIST. HE PAID THE PENALTY FOR OUR SINS. HE GAVE HIMSELF AS A SACRIFICE FOR US. SO, HE IS OUR FORERUNNER, AS VERSE 20 SAYS.

BEFORE WE COULD GO INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD THE FATHER, THE MOST HOLY PLACE, JESUS HAD TO GO AND MAKE A SACRIFICE. THE IMAGE HERE IS AGAIN THE DAY OF ATONEMENT WHEN THE HIGH PRIEST WENT INTO THE MOST HOLY PLACE AND MADE ATONEMENT FOR THE SINS OF ISRAEL. JESUS WENT INTO THE MOST HOLY PLACE IN HEAVEN, INTO GOD’S PRESENCE, AND PRESENTED HIMSELF AS THE SACRIFICE OF ATONEMENT FOR US. BECAUSE HE WENT INTO GOD’S PRESENCE ON OUR BEHALF, OR FOR US, WE CAN GO INTO GOD’S PRESENCE. WE DO IT NOW SPIRITUALLY IN PRAYER, BUT LATER WILL DWELL IN HIS PRESENCE FOREVER.

THE LAST PHRASE OF VERSE 20 IS A TRANSITION. IT SAYS JESUS DID THIS ON OUR BEHALF AND HE COULD DO SO BECAUSE HE WAS A HIGH PRIEST FOREVER AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEK. AND WITH THAT, THE WRITER TRANSITIONS BACK TO THE DISCUSSION OF JESUS AS PRIEST AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEK.

 

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