Hebrews 6 has been a warning to these Christians because of their dullness of hearing. The writer has warned them that they must be moving from the basics and the milk and grow in their spiritual maturity or else they will fall away. But the writer has hope that these Christians will press forward and have the same diligence to the end, imitating the faith and patience of those who inherit the promises. In Hebrews 6:13 we see that the writer is going to use the need to imitate the faith of those who inherit the promises as a springboard for hope for these Christians, as well as give hope to us. The writer is going to use Abraham has his example as he begins in Hebrews 6:13.
The Promise to Abraham (6:13-15)
The writer reminds us of the promise made to Abraham and quotes from Genesis 22:15-18, which occurs immediately after Abraham passed the test regarding offering his son, Isaac.
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 not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars 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.” (Genesis 22:15–18 ESV)
Now the writer of Hebrews wants to make a point about this event. God not only made a promise to Abraham and also took an oath, swearing by himself since there is no one greater for God to swear by. He swore by himself because he is the highest power. Now verse 15 contains the first key teaching the author wants to make in his paragraph. “And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.” Remember that the primary purpose of this book is to give courage to these Christians to not give up, even though they are suffering and having difficulties because they are followers of Jesus. He wants us to consider what happened with Abraham. Abraham waited patiently for the promises.
This is something we are typically not too good at, especially in our society: waiting patiently. We have grown so accustomed to instant satisfaction in our culture that it is difficult to say that you have to wait for anything. Amazon is testing same day drone dropping of your purchases because two day shipping is not fast enough. New smartphones come out showing that it is worth paying another $1000 because your apps will open three milliseconds faster than last year’s model. We have on demand programming so that we do not have to wait through commercials anymore. We just do not want to wait for anything. We just want everything to work out now. We want everything to be right now. We want our comfort and joy now. If you recall, Abraham had the same struggle as he waited for the promises to be fulfilled. Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands trying to help and hurry the process along. But God expressed the need for Abraham to wait and trust that God will fulfill his promise. So what did God do to help the waiting? God made an oath.
God’s Desire (6:16-18)
The writer points out why people take an oath in verse 16. The purpose of an oath is to end all dispute. The oath is the confirmation. That is why a person takes an oath. The oath is to remove all doubting. The oath is to remove all concern. The oath is to remove all arguing or disputing. Now listen to verse 17.
“So when God desires to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath.”
This is amazing and beautiful. I love this about our God. God desired to convince you about his promises. God desired to show us in an even more convincing fashion regarding his promise. In particular, God desired to show us “the unchangeable character of his purpose.” God’s purposes do not change. God is going to do exactly what he says. We can trust that. But God desired to prove that all the more so that we would be fully convinced about the unchangeable nature of his purpose. God wants you to have a foundation for your faith. God wants to you have something you can hold on to during the hard times of your life.
Now look at verse 18. Therefore God has given us two unchangeable things to give us hope. The first unchangeable thing God gave is his promise. God said that we have promises and it is impossible for God to lie. There is no evil or deception in our God. Here is another “impossible” statement. It is impossible for God to lie. He cannot do it. So when he says that something is going to happen, it must happen. So when God says that you have very great and precious promises, God cannot lie. It must happen. The second unchangeable thing God gave was his oath. God desired to prove to us beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have these promises.
Why did God do this? Look at verse 18. “So that we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” God wants us to have a solid, strong encouragement. God does not simply say, “Trust me.” God wants us to have a strong encouragement to hold on to. Who gets this strong encouragement? Who will be greatly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that God has promised and taken an oath over? Look at verse 18 again: “We who have fled for refuge.” The picture is that in our difficulty that we run to God for help. When we suffer and when times are hard, God is the fortress that we run to. This is the repeated picture in the Psalms. Think about how often God is described as a rock or fortress that God’s people run to. Listen to the beginning of Psalm 18.
I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:1–3 ESV)
Listen to the beginning of Psalm 62.
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. (Psalm 62:1–2 ESV)
This is what God is saying to us. This promise and oath is not simply to Abraham or to David. This is also to us. When we run to Christ as our strength, we have strong encouragement to hold on to hope set before us.
Anchor of the Soul (6:19-20)
Now look at verses 19-20. We have this hope as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. We have a hope that rests in the very presence of God. What is the purpose of an anchor? What makes an anchor good? An anchor is to keep you in place. An anchor keeps you from drifting. An anchor keeps you from going where you do not want to go. This anchor that God gives to us will keep us from spiritual shipwreck and avoid eternal loss.
God is telling us that we need an anchor for life. We need an anchor for life to give us the hope we need. We need to ask ourselves what our life anchor is. We can have all kinds of false anchors. We try to make our life anchors out of money, careers, parents, children, homes, friends, and so many other things. Here is the problem with using any of these things as an anchor: all of these things change and move. People die and people let us down. Jobs change and money disappoints. Everything in this life is always shifting. None of these things can give us the anchor that we need. Only God does not change and does not move. God is the refuge we need to run to. When we run to Jesus as our refuge and anchor then we are given a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls. We are given the hope we need.
Jesus has secured our hope. Jesus has gone into the inner place behind the curtain as a forerunner on our behalf. He has become the high priest we need so that we can have a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls. We have a hope that does not disappoint because God made a promise and took an oath so that we can be fully convinced of the hope that lies ahead of us. But there are two actions that are given to us. First, wait patiently to receive what is promised. Our hope is not now. Our hope is not in this world. Our hope is not in the near term. God calls for us to wait for what is promised. Second, the hope is for those who have fled to the Lord for refuge. Where are we running when times are difficult? Where is our hope placed? Is our hope placed on something or someone that is not and cannot be an anchor or in Jesus who has gone as a forerunner on our behalf into the inner place? God has promised and sworn with an oath that you have a hope set before. Let us hold fast to that hope with strong encouragement.