“God’s Promise” – Hebrews 6:13-20

October 7th, 2018

Hebrews 6:13-20

“God’s Promise”

Aux. Text: Rom 4:13-25

Call to Worship:  Psalm 62

 

Service Orientation:  Imitate the faith of Abraham because he trusted in God’s promises.  If we will do the same and find hope in the promises of God, they will be an anchor for our soul that will be firm and secure because our promise is far superior to anything Abraham experienced (Heb 8:6).

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. — Hebrews 6:19-20

 

Background Information:

  • (v. 18) The phrase “we who have fled to him for refuge” pictures a person who fled to one of the cities of refuge that provided protection for someone who accidentally killed another (Nm 35). Christians also have fled for safety to the place of security and protection from the punishment against them.  Christ provides the safest place, the hope we count on, the encouragement we need.  We must “hold on to his promise,” grasping it, refusing to let go no matter what might happen around us.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 88)
  • (v. 19) “Safe,” that is safely fixed; and “firm,” that is strong, so as not to be bent nor broken. . .The anchor as having been made of good materials. . . Signifying that it is firmly fixed. (John Calvin, Commentaries: Hebrews, 153)
  • (v. 20) He has gone into the holy presence of God as the forerunner. This term (prodromos) was used in Greek literature to describe the function of a small party of soldiers sent fully to explore the way ahead prior to the advance of an army.  Christ is our prodromos.  He has gone ahead of us.  He prepares our way to glory (2:10).  With such a leader who has opened the way through his own sacrificial death (10:20), there is no room for anxiety regarding his future purposes or doubt concerning his former promises.  With such an anchor here and such a priest there, we must not fear and we need not fail.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 122)
  • Our writer stopped at 5:10 to scold his readers for their immaturity. He wanted to move on to the deeper truth of Christ’s priesthood, but first he had to give his readers a spiritual spanking to shake them out of their mental sluggishness.  So he encouraged them by assuring them of his confidence in them and turning their eyes to their great hope in the heavens.  That led him to Jesus as our forerunner and finally as our high priest.  He has now returned to his main theme.  The last verse of this chapter picks up where he left off in 5:10, i.e., that Jesus had become a perpetual high priest after the order of Melchizedek.  He is now ready to discuss Melchizedek and show that his priesthood was superior to that of Aaron.  The key idea is that of a perpetual priesthood, one which last forever.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 143)

 

The questions to be answered are . . . Why does Abraham’s faith in the promises of God matter?  And how do those promises anchor our soul?

 

Answer:  Abraham knows that God cannot lie; therefore the promises of God are a done deal.  God promises our souls can be firmly and securely anchored . . . especially when those promises are superior to Abraham’s.

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Hope

 

But what is Hope?  Nothing but the paint on the face of Existence; the least touch of truth rubs it off, and then we see what a hollow-cheeked harlot we have got hold of.  –Lord Byron

 

Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.  –playwright Jean Kerr

 

TDNT – Hope #1680 OT view of hope: “The righteous are always referred to what God will do, so that hope is not directed to anything specific, nor does it project its own view of the future, but it consists rather in general confidence in God’s protection and help.  It may thus be said that God is the hope or confidence of the righteous.” (Gerhard Kittle, Theological Dictionary of the NT Vol II, 522-3)

 

“Confidence based on works cannot be assurance, and fear triumphs over faith”.  This fact is not altered by the confidence of some Rabbis in their last hours.  The basic mood of the Rabbis in face of judgment was pessimistic, and it finds classical expression in the steady development of casuistry.  There is perhaps no more striking proof of this thesis than in the fact that the schools of Hillel and Shammai disputed for more than two years whether it were better for man not to have been created or whether it is good for him to have been created, and that they finally agreed that it were better for him not to have been created (bErub., Bar)).  No other view is really possible under the Law.

That there is no universal hope possible under nomism is nowhere more clearly stated than by the Johannine Jesus in Jn. 5:45:  “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.  (Gerhard Kittle, Theological Dictionary of the NT Vol II, 527-8)

 

Thus Christian hope rest on the divine acts of salvation accomplished by Christ, and, since this is eschatological, help itself is an eschatological blessing, i.e., now is the time when we may have confidence. (Gerhard Kittle, Theological Dictionary of the NT Vol II, 532)

 

In light of the OT concept of hope it may also be understood why Paul can say that “hope” endures even though we attain to “Sight”(1 Cor 13:12), for hope is not concerned with the realization of a human dream of the future but with the confidence which, directed away from the world to God, waits patiently for God’s gift, and when it is received does not rest in possession but in the assurance that God will maintain what He has given.  (Gerhard Kittle, Theological Dictionary of the NT Vol II, 532)

 

Hope is one of the Theological virtues.  This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.  It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is.  If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.  The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.  Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.  It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters.  Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you.  You are only likely to get health provided you want other things more–food, games, work, fun, open air.  In the same way, we shall never save civilization as long as civilization is our main object.  We must learn to want something else even more.  (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 118-9)

 

Hope is a commodity in short supply in a world without revelation.  (John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, 408)

 

Hope is the very stuff of life; it keeps the farmer on the tractor, the prisoner alive, the student at the books, and the patient watching for the morning. Hope fills present sacrifices with joy and keeps us at worthy tasks even though rewards are small and those who say “Thank you” are few.   This hope is not whistling in the dark nor is it activated only by spring flowers.  Rather it is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  — Fred Craddock

 

What is Hebrews 6:13-20 trying to tell us?:

I-  Abraham knows when God promises it is a done deal.  (Heb 6:13-18; see also: Gn 12:1-7; 15; 17:1-17; 22:1-18; Nm 23:19; 1 Sm 15:29; Ps 33:11; 145:13; Isa 38:7; Jn 17:17; Rom 4:13-25; Gal 3:7-29; Ti 1:2; Heb 10:23; 11:8-19)

 

Two unchangeable things:  God’s promise and God’s oath are both dependent upon God’s Word which come from the God Who cannot lie.

 

No one in the universe is greater than God.  And the reason He cannot lie is that He invented truth.  He is truth.  By definition, whatever He says is true.  By the very nature of His person, He cannot lie.  He has no capacity to lie.  His promises, then, are first of all secured by His Person.  Whatever He does has to be right and whatever He says has to be true.  If God makes a promise, therefore, He not only will keep it, He must keep it.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 162)

 

Powerful encouragement indeed is here if we will address ourselves to the marrow of this text because the “two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie” are his word of promise and his oath.  His promise to Abraham, and to us, can do nothing other than come true because God’s “word is truth” (Jn 17:17) and because God “does not lie” (Ti 1:2).  He is the author of truth, the essence of truth.  His oath, though unnecessary, is the double assurance that he cannot lie.  Truth has sworn by itself that its truth shall truly be fulfilled.  There is no more possibility of God’s promises failing us than of God falling out of Heaven!  His Word is eternally sealed with the double surety of promise and oath.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 177)

 

If there is anyone in OT times who exemplifies the concept hope, it is Abraham.  “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations” (Rom 4:18).  Exhorting his readers to have the full assurance of hope, the author illustrates his admonition by calling attention to Abraham.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 170)

 

Why, then, does God swear an oath?  He wants to effectively show the heirs of the promise that they can rely fully on his Word.  Accommodating himself to human customs, God swears an oath.  He is conscious of man’s weak faith.  Therefore, to give man added assurance of the complete reliability of God’s Word, God provides the extra affirmation.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 174)

 

In spite of Abram’s profound faith described in verse 6, he nevertheless questions the divine promise regarding the land:  “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” (15:8).  God does not give a direct answer to this query, but commands Abram to prepare certain animals for a covenant-making ceremony.  God in his mercy enters into a Covenant relation with Abram to assure him of his faithfulness to his word.  (Charles T. Fritsch, The Layman’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 2, 61)

 

The great Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission, used to say that the right way to translate the text, ‘Have faith in God’ (Mk 11:22) is this:  ‘Trust the faithfulness of God.’  This translation does not put the emphasis on your faith and say that you have to hold on desperately to God.  (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The All-Sufficient God: Sermons on Isaiah 40, 71-2)

 

It shouldn’t surprise us that Abraham is the author’s “go-to” man for an example of persevering faith.  The writer has just exhorted his readers to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (6:12).  Now, in placing Abraham in the spotlight, he draws attention to a classic example of a man of God who waited. . . and waited. . . and waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 99)

 

In Heb 6:16, the author transitions from the example of Abraham’s patient waiting to offer encouragement for his audience to continue in their own steadfastness.  And just as Abraham trusted in the absolute faithfulness of God to see him through the times of confusion and doubt, believers in Christ can lean on the same unchangeable nature of the promise-keeping God.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 100)

 

If then God accommodates himself to man’s custom of swearing an oath to establish the truth, the implication is that when a Christian refuses to accept this oath-confirmed promise of salvation and turns to sin or another religion, he risks being blasphemous.  This person intimates that God’s Word cannot be trusted and that God is a perjurer.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 175)

 

In 6:19-20, the author of Hebrews takes the anchor metaphor in an unexpected direction.  He doesn’t envision the anchor of hope as buried in the earth to help us keep our feet on firm ground or dropped to the bottom of the sea to help us simply weather the storm.  This anchor is not of this world.  Keeping his focus on our heavenly longing, and returning our attention to the center and source of all hope, Jesus Christ, the writer to the Hebrews says that this hope “enters within the veil” (6:19).  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 101)

 

Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.  In Hebrew the repetition of a verb is meant to give force to what is said, to express the certainty and the greatness of what is asserted.  In the mouth of God the repetition, Blessing I will bless, multiplying I will multiply, was meant to waken in Abraham’s heart the confidence that the blessing was indeed to be something very wonderful and worthy of God, blessing in divine power and fullness. (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 216)

 

It should be remembered, first of all, that Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount are oriented to the frailty of the human condition.  The swearing of oaths was a prevalent practice in the first century, and Jesus addresses the use of oaths as a means of compensating for one’s lack of integrity.  Disciples of the kingdom should be such persons of integrity that their words alone, unadorned with exclamatory oaths, should suffice as reflections of the truth.  In Hebrews, however, the orientation is different.  The focus here is on the purposes and character of God as he meets the needs of people.  Rather than needing oaths to shore up the veracity of his words, God employs oaths to provide assurance and encouragement to his people (Heb 6:18).  In other words, the reason for God’s oaths is found in our need, not his.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 246)

 

Of course the idea of God taking an oath against himself is inconceivable.  But that Abraham should in his vision see God–or rather the two mysterious fiery objects which represented him–passing between the separate pieces of the animals he had laid out was clearly to him, as it would be to every Hebrew after him, a highly significant symbolism.  It was the sign he had craved.  It meant that God was entering into a treaty or, as the Bible usually says, a covenant with him.  By his willingness to go through in front of his servant a procedure similar to the one by which men sealed their human bargains, God was letting him know that nothing could stand in the way of the fulfillment of his promises, for his own divine honor was at stake in the matter.  (John C. L. Gibson, The Daily Study Bible Series, Genesis, Vol. 2, 55)

 

Then the glowing furnace moved, gliding down the aisle lined with the animal parts that glistened in the fire’s light.  Surely an ecstasy gripped Abram’s soul!  He had not been asked to join in the pageant–to pass with God between the pieces.  It was God alone. This was an unconditional, unilateral covenant.  God (with astounding condescension) was symbolizing that if he were to break his word, he would be sundered like the butchered animals.  It was an acted-out curse, a divine self-imprecation guaranteeing that Abram’s descendants would get the land or God would die.  And God cannot die.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Genesis, 234)

 

In the silence after the oracle, a fearful light burst the darkness.  Searing lightning passed down the aisle formed by the divided pieces.  The same terminology used in this account to describe both the darkness and the fire is used later to tell of the fire of the Lord at Sinai, where God appeared in fire and cloud (Gn 15:12, 17; Ex 19:18; 20:18, 21).  The symbolism is clear from the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer 34:18-20).  To walk between the divided parts of an animal sacrifice is an oath-taking ceremony.  The oath is plainly self-maledictory in its symbolism:  “If I do not keep the oath that I swear, may I be divided as this animal has been.”

The wonder of this vision is that God Himself takes the oath.  He swears to Abram by His own life that He will perform the word that He has promised.  (Edmund P. Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament, 47)

 

The significance of this from the perspective of the writer of Hebrews is that whereas God had repeatedly promised Abraham he would make a great nation from him, he here swore an oath to do so.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 175)

 

God was so pleased with Abraham’s supreme act of faith that he did something he had never done before–he swore that the promise would come to pass.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 175)

 

In the context of ancient culture (when people generally feared God), swearing by a greater thing helped assure truth.  And if one swore by God, it served to end an argument.  This was especially true in Hebrew culture where lying while making an oath was a transgression of the Third Commandment against misusing the name of God and so deserved the punishment of God (cf. Dt 5:11).  Therefore, we see that human oaths were a powerful assurance of carrying out one’s word.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 176)

 

Rabbi Eleazar stated the principle this way:

Lord of the world, if thou hadst sworn by heaven or by earth, I would have been able to say:  As heaven and earth shall pass away, so also thine oath shall pass away.  But now that thou hast sworn by thy great Name (by thyself), as thy great Name lives and abides eternally, so shall thine oath continue secure in all eternity.”  (Berakhot 32)  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 176)

 

I believe the pledge of God’s oath is the Holy Spirit.  Three times Paul refers to the Holy Spirit as God’s pledge to believers (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14).  In modern Greek, the same basic word used by Paul (arrabōn, “pledge”) means engagement ring, an earnest of marriage.  As if His bare promise were not more than enough, God swears an oath on Himself and gives us the presence of the Holy Spirit as a pledge, an earnest, on the oath.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 168)

 

During an especially trying time in the work of the China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor wrote to his wife, “We have twenty-five cents—and all the promises of God!  (W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, 242)

 

II-  As children of Abraham, our souls can be firmly and securely anchored because we have a promise that is superior to Abraham’s and Moses’.  (Heb 6:19-20; see also: Ps 119:57-58, 116, 140; Rom 4:13-25; 9:8-9; 15:4; 2 Cor 3:12; Gal 3:7-29; Heb 11:8-19)

 

Abraham rested his hope in the promise and oath of God; but we have more than that to rest our hope upon:  we have the fulfillment of his promise in the exaltation of Christ.  No wonder that our hope is secure and stable.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 155)

 

Our God does not intend His people to be shipwrecked.  Shipwrecked and lost, however, they would be if they were not held fast in the hour of temptation.  If every wind of doctrine whirled you about at its will, you would soon be drifted far away from the truth as it is in Jesus, and concerning it you would make shipwreck.  But you cost your Lord too dear for Him to lose you.  He bought you at too great a price, and sets too great a store by you for Him to see you broken to pieces on the rocks.  Therefore He has provided for you a glorious holdfast, that when Satan’s temptations, your own corruptions, and the trials of the world assail you, hope may be the anchor of your soul, both sure and steadfast.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 163)

 

That promise was, as it were, doubly binding.  It was God’s word which in itself made it sure, but in addition it was confirmed by an oath.  Now that promise was that all Abraham’s descendants would be blessed; therefore it was to the Christian Church, for it was the true Israel and the true seed of Abraham.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 62)

 

Ishmael was the heir according to flesh, but he did not obtain the inheritance: “It is not the children by human descent who are children of God” (Rom 9:8).  Isaac was born not through his father’s or his mother’s strength, for they were well stricken in years, but he was the child of promise, the fruit of divine visitation.

Then this excludes those who are heirs according to their own will, who scoff at the mighty work of grace, and believe that their own free choice has saved them!  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 158)

 

The servant in your house, however diligent, is not your heir; a servant claiming to be the heir would not be tolerated for a moment in a court of law.  The servant may be able truthfully to say, “I have been in my master’s house these many years, neither have I transgressed at any time his commandments; and all that is right for a servant to do, I have done for him from my youth up.”  But if he were to go on to ask, “What do I yet lack?” the reply would be, “You lack the one thing that is absolutely essential to heirship, namely, sonship.”

How this truth cuts at the root of all the efforts of those who hope to win heaven by merit, or to obtain the favor of God by their own exertions!  To them, God says what Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”  Birth alone can make you children, and you must be children if you are to be heirs.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 159)

 

Reading Gn 22:16-17, we receive the impression that God gave the promise to Abraham, for he is the one who obtains the blessing.  “I will surely bless you,” God says to Abraham.  But the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews makes the divine blessing applicable to all believers by calling them heirs of the promise.  That means that God’s promise to Abraham transcends the centuries and is in Christ as relevant today as it was in Abraham’s time (Gal 3:7, 9, 29).  The oath God swore to Abraham was meant for us to strengthen us in our faith.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 174)

 

What is true for Abraham is true also for his seed.  The “heirs” is a comprehensive term for the true children of Abraham and is not exclusively a reference to the people of Israel.  Jesus, when addressing Jews who claimed to be Abraham’s children, said “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do what Abraham did” (Jn 8:39).  The apostle Paul, in writing to the Romans, can refer to “those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all” (Rom 4:16).  The heirs of the promise are therefore distinct from the natural descendants.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 151)

 

Few things were more important to the sailor in a storm than a good anchor and a good ground for it.  Believers in Christ have both.  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 65)

 

I believe the promises of God enough to venture an eternity on them. –Isaac Watts

 

Worship Point:  Worship the God who cannot lie and all His promises are 100% so as to create a hope in us that is an anchor for our soul, firm and secure.

 

The author’s antidote for apostasy is waiting patiently.  Abraham waited patiently, and that patience was rewarded.  Abraham’s patient wait lasted for twenty-five years–from the time God had promised him a son (Gn 17:16) to Isaac’s birth (Gn 21:1-3).  Because our trials and temptations are often so intense, they seem to last for an eternity.  Both the Bible and the testimony of mature Christians encourage us to wait for God to act in his timing, even when our needs seem too great to wait any longer.  God’s promises always come true–we can count on him.  It may take a while.  The answers may not come as soon as we expect or in the timing that we think is perfect, but we must trust in our sovereign God.  We will receive what he has promised.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 85)

 

Gospel Application:  Through faith in Christ we all become children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise (Gal 3:29).

 

The close connection between Christian hope and our exalted high priest is one of the major themes in this epistle.  Hope is based on the finished and yet continuing work of Jesus as high priest.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 154)

 

Under the Old Covenant it was made yearly by the high priest.  Under the New it has been made once for all time by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  Our anchored soul is, in God’s mind, already secure within the veil, secure within His eternal sanctuary.  When Jesus entered the heavenly Holy of Holies, he did not leave after the sacrifice as did the Aaronic high priests, but “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb 1:3).  In other words, Jesus remains there forever as Guardian of our souls.  Such absolute security is almost incomprehensible.  Not only are our souls anchored within the impregnable, inviolable heavenly sanctuary, but our Savior, Jesus Christ, stands guard over them as well!  How can the Christian’s security be described as anything but eternal?  Truly we can trust God and His Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, with our souls.  That is good cause to come all the way to salvation and to enjoy its security.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 169)

 

By what figure could God have demonstrated his commitment more graphically to Abram?  How could it have been displayed more vividly?  The only way would have been for the figure to become a reality, for the ever living God to take on human nature and taste death in the place of the covenant-breaking children of Abram.  And that is precisely what God did in Jesus Christ.  On the cross, the covenant curse fell completely on Jesus, so that the guilty ones who place their trust in him might experience the blessings of the covenant.  Jesus bore the punishment for our sins, so that God might be our God and we might be his people.  (Iain M. Duguid, Living in the Gap Between Promise and Reality, 59)

 

What a tremendous encouragement:  “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain” (v. 19).  But there is something more, for there is another who has pierced the veil, one who actually tore it in two–Jesus:  “Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.  He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (v. 20; cf. Mt 27:50, 51).  We are anchored in the Father’s presence for eternity–and Jesus at his right hand perpetually intercedes for his Church.  His continual priestly prayer for us is the medium for our survival.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 178-9)

 

What is a tomb?  It’s the place where hope ends, where dreams end, where life ends, where everything ends.  The tomb is the place of the end.  But in God, the tomb, the place of the end, becomes the place of the beginning.  (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 65)

 

If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless.  But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again.

…Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness.  It therefore has nothing (as far as I know) to say to people who do not know that they need any forgiveness.  It is after you have realized that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power–it is after all this and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk.  When you are sick, you will listen to the doctor. (C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, 38-9)

 

The Jewish priest went into the holy place of the earthly sanctuary once a year as a representative of the people.  He did not go as a “prodromos,” for no one would dare follow him in there.  In fact he got out as fast as he could.  It was dangerous to linger in the presence of God.  But it’s different with Jesus.  He has gone in to the most holy place of heaven and remains there.  Not only that, He is preparing the place for us that we might follow him there.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 143)

 

The author singles out the virtue of hope and encourages them to make hope a priority in their spiritual lives.  He commends them for their loving care shown to people in need and assures them that they are the recipients of the blessings of salvation.  He exhorts them to cultivate hope.  He points to Jesus, the forerunner who has entered heaven as high priest and who by his presence in heaven guarantees them entrance.

Hope is anchored in the finished work of Christ, who atoned for the sins of his people.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 180)

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Know the promises of God.  Trust in the promises of God.  Allow your soul to be firmly and securely anchored in the hope that comes from the promises of God Who cannot lie.

 

Without Jesus we face a hopeless end.  But with Jesus we have an endless hope.

 

A HOPELESS CHRISTIAN IS A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS.

 

This is the sheet anchor of the Christian’s conviction.  He knows his assurance depends not on the stability or strength of his own faith, but on the absolute trustworthiness of God’s word.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 152)

 

“The hope set before us” is the assurance that at last we shall be with Christ and be like Christ (Jn 14:3; 1 Jn 3:2), that ours will be the ultimate joy of witnessing and sharing in his eternal glory (Jn 17:24), the experience, in short, of that imperishable inheritance which is ours in Christ (1 Cor 2:9; 1 Pt 1:3ff.).  This is indeed a hope worth seizing; and, while it is appropriated by faith, it is far removed from all the uncertainties and disappointments that attend merely human hopes, for it is founded on the infallible and irrevocable verities of God’s promise and God’s oath.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 234)

 

Some situations are hopeless in human terms, but we can remain under and endure them because our hope lies elsewhere.  Instead of despairing over such situations, we find our hilarity in that which really matters.  This is a victory of a different sort.  We don’t overcome the situations, but we overcome ourselves and learn to rest in God’s grace, which is sufficient to carry us through the tribulations that don’t ultimately matter.  In the things that do, our hope is sure to give us Joy.  (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community:  Romans 12, 197)

 

The fact that only God walked between the pieces signified that the total responsibility for fulfilling the covenant was His.  Abraham was not a party to the covenant, only a witness to it and a vehicle for its fulfillment.  The covenant was with Abraham in the sense that, humanly speaking, it revolved around him.  But its conditions and obligations were God’s alone.  The covenant was made between God and Himself.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 165)

 

Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God.  No one sins out of duty.  We sin because it holds out some promise of happiness.  That promise enslaves us until we believe that God is more to be desired than life itself (Ps 63:3).  Which means that the power of sin’s promise is broken by the power of God’s.  All that God promises to be for us in Jesus stands over against what sin promises to be for us without him.  (John Piper, Future Grace, 9-10)

 

Promises like Ps 118:6 can help us handle such situations better.  If you feed those fears, your faith will starve; but if you feed your faith, your fears will starve instead.  (Simon Guillebaud, Choose Life, 365 Readings for Radical Disciples, 10-22)

 

Jim Wallis of Sojourners defines hope as “trusting God in spite of all the evidence, then watching the evidence change.”  This is also a good working definition of faith (trust in God) and of faithfulness (obedience to God in spite of all cost).  “No lack of trust made him waver,” says Paul, holding up Abraham as the model of the one who trusts God, “but he grew powerful in his faith as he gave glory to God” (4:20).  (A. Katherine Grieb, The Story of Romans, 53)

 

I should like you to feel as that man did who had a forged bank note and some counterfeit coin in his possession.  When the policeman came to his house, he was anxious not to have any of it near him; so shake off your self-righteousness.  You will be as surely damned by your righteousness, if you trust in it, as you will by your unrighteousness.  Christ alone, the gift of the free grace of God–this is the gate of heaven.  But all self-satisfaction, all boasting, all exaltation of yourself above your fellow men, is mischievous and ruinous, and will surely be deadly to your spirit forever.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 167)

 

Some of you people who have never known affliction, you rich people who never knew want, you healthy folks who were never ill a week, you have not half a grip of the glorious hope that the tried ones have.  Much of the unbelief in the Christian Church comes out of the easy lives of professors.  When you come to rough it, you need solid gospel.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 166)

 

The hope of dying is the only thing that keeps me alive.  -Vance Havner

 

Ultimately, cynicism protects you from commitment.  If things are not really going to change, why try so hard to make a difference?  And if you have middle-class economic security (as many cynics do), things don’t have to change for you to remain secure.  That is not intended to sound harsh, just realistic.  Cynics are finally free just to look after themselves. . . Perhaps the only people who view the world realistically are the cynics and the saints.  Everybody else may be living in some kind of denial about what is really going on and how things really are.  And the only difference between the cynics and the saints is the presence, power, and possibility of hope. . . Hope is not a feeling; it is a decision.  And the decision for hope is based on what you believe at the deepest levels.  You choose hope, not as a naive wish, but as a choice, with your eyes wide open to the reality of the world–just like the cynics who have not made the decision for hope.  (Simon Guillebaud, Choose Life, 365 Readings for Radical Disciples, 4-7)

 

It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self: to Jesus: but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.  He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.”  All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.  But, the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.”  Remember, therefore, it is not your hold of Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.  We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.  If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “Looking unto Jesus.”   Keep your eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon your mind; when you wake in the morning look to him; when you lie down at night look to him.  Do not let your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail you.  (Alistair Begg quoting Charles. H. Spurgeon in Pathway to Freedom, 228-9)

 

God’s promises must not be employed in an attempt to coerce him.  In “health-and-wealth” preaching the reasoning too often goes as follows: “Does not God’s Word say that he will give you whatever you ask in Jesus’ name?”  The congregation answers, “Yes!”  The preacher then asks, “Is God true to his Word?!”  Again the congregation shouts, “Yes!”  Then the speaker concludes with an inference: “If God doesn’t fulfill this promise to you (e.g., give you a house, a car, healing, etc.), then God is a liar, and we know that God is not a liar!”  So if God said it and you step out in faith on what God said, then God must come through.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 246-7)

 

So What?:  Jesus gives us hope as an anchor for our soul so we might live without fear, anxiety, worry, despair or discouragement.  But, we must believe in the sure promises of God and not in ourselves.  

 

Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered on anything short of God and His will for us. — Dr. Billy Graham

 

God never promises that our lives will be free of obstacles, problems, crises, and adversities.  He promises something better.  He will use every obstacle in your life to bring to fulfillment the very purposes He has planned for your life.  Every problem, every crisis, every adversity, every setback, and every sorrow will be turned around to bring breakthrough, blessing, and triumph.  And in God, every mountain, every obstacle that has hindered God’s purposes in your life, will, in the end, be turned around and become a capstone to bring about the completion of those very purposes.  (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 313)

 

Jesus says that the root of anxiety is inadequate faith in our Father’s future grace.  As unbelief gets the upper hand in our hearts, one of the effects is anxiety.  The root cause of anxiety is a failure to trust all that God has promised to be for us in Jesus.  (John Piper, Future Grace, 54)

 

We have our hope anchored in the right spot.  He’s in “the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,” a reference to the Holy of Holies, into which only the high priest entered and only on the Day of Atonement.  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 65)

 

My own weakness makes me shrink, but God’s promise makes me brave. — C. H. Spurgeon

 

Suffering is a wedge forcing us to choose between hope and despair. — Unknown

 

“To know the value of an anchor you must feel the stress of the storm.”  (Bishop Kendall @ Annual Conference ‘09)

 

Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength. (G.K. Chesterton, Signs of the Times, 6)

 

If you are hoping and trusting in the Lord, and suddenly your health, wealth or future are taken from you and your hope is gone; then, you need to confess that it was not the Lord you were hoping in.  It was what you have just lost.  Hope in the Lord NEVER disappoints.— Buddy Briggs

 

Failure is the best time to determine if you are a man after God’s heart.  The difference between David and Saul was this: When David failed his failure drove him TO God.  When Saul failed, his failure drove him AWAY from God.  Saul was trying to save himself and when he was forced to face his inadequacies, he despaired of even trying.  David looked to God for his salvation and so when he failed he simply clung tighter to God who was the Rock of his salvation. — Pastor Keith

 

The essence of Satan’s strategy, however, is to weaken a Christian’s faith in such precious and great promises as, e.g., Rom 8:28 (“in everything God works for good with those who love him”), by means of the lie that the tribulations and misfortunes that befall Christians can deprive them of any hope for a bright future (1 Thess 3:2-5).  Satan’s game plan is to destroy the Christian’s confidence that God’s plans are “for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11).  So to be victorious against Satan, Christians must understand the necessity of being armed with “the shield of faith” i.e., of having an arsenal of promises from God’s word (cf. Rom 10:17) ready for use as a shield to quench all the fiery darts of Satan (Eph 6:16).  According to 1 Pt 5:9 Christians must resist the devil steadfastly in the faith.  Since the promises of Scripture are the proper object of faith (Rom 4:20), Christians must use, against each temptation to become discouraged, at least one of God’s “many and very great promises” (2 Pt 1:4).  If tempted, e.g., to be covetous and despondent about not having enough of this world’s goods to be financially secure, the Christian must “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tm 6:12) by affirming that, since God will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5f.), covetousness is totally contrary to childlike faith in God.  By meditating on this and similar promises of “the faithful God” (Dt 7:9; cf. Heb 10:23; Ti 1:2) until filled by “all joy and peace in believing” (Rom 15:13), Christians perform the essential task of holding their “first confidence firm unto the end” (Heb 3:14). (Geoffrey W. Bromiley; The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Volume Four, 343)

 

The heavenly hope is reflected in the depiction of believers as already possessing a heavenly citizenship (Phil 3:20), with the result that they are sojourners in this world (1 Pt 2:11) awaiting their summons to a better land.  A similar outlook characterized the OT saints whose faith gave them assurance of things hope for (Heb 11:1, 13).  Christ’s followers are in the world but not of it (Jn 17:14).  This does not imply isolation from unsaved society, making witness impossible, but only a determination not to be conformed to its ideals and manner of life.  Believers belong to the (coming) day, so they are challenged to live a life of sobriety and alertness, ready for participation in eschatological salvation (1 Thess 5:4-11; Rom 13:11-14).   They are expected as well to be sufficiently informed about the implications of their faith to be able to explain their hope to those who inquire about it (1 Pt 3:15). (Geoffrey W. Bromiley; The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol Two, 753)

 

If we focus on God and not ourselves, we will be more self-confident and have more self-esteem.  God is a constant.  It is we who are variables.

 

Abraham’s twenty-five years of patience is stunning!  God promised, and then delivered twenty-five years later.  Yet God did eventually deliver.  We, by contrast, have such a hard time waiting.

Sometimes patience requires an hour–waiting for an important phone call, a doctor’s report after surgery, a late plane to arrive.

Sometimes patience requires a day–tomorrow’s mail brings the letter, tomorrow’s recital determines the future, tomorrow’s interview changes your plans.

Sometimes patience requires a year–for a spouse in the military to complete overseas duty, for graduation, for retirement.

Patience means that time doesn’t dim our hope, because time has no bearing on the promise’s delivery.  Waiting is OK.  It’s easy time.  Soon the promise comes.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 87)

 

Don’t lose in the dark what you knew to be true in the light.

 

JESUS:

THE HOPE OF GLORY

 

 

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