Meditation on Hebrews 6

I’ve always loved the last part of Hebrews 6, specifically verses 13-20. I can remember exactly where I was when the truth of hope as the anchor of my soul truly gripped me.

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf…”

Today I was meditating on a different verse that has always puzzled me.

“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.”

Great stuff, but what are the two unchangeable things? For years I have gone over these verses and never dug deep to figure it out. This is where comprehension comes in. Bible study is really a lot like literature comprehension. We don’t always like that because it’s hard and it reminds us of those questions on the SAT, but this is God’s word and the treasure available for us to unearth when we dig deep is precious.

Back in verse 13 it talks about God making a promise to Abraham and goes on to describe what happens when people make promises or covenants with each other. They swear by something greater than themselves. They take an oath. An oath is basically an appeal to a higher authority or something very precious that communicates your commitment to following through on your promise. Jesus gave an example of how not to do this in the Sermon on the Mount. He spoke against flippant oath taking. People were promising to do something and then swearing by the temple or Jerusalem or their heads.

Here in Hebrews, the whole point is that God does not make flippant promises. He actually doubles down to show us what kind of promise maker he is. He made his promise to Abraham (Genesis 22:16) which was to bless him and multiply his descendants. And he took an oath. Did God swear by the temple or the sun or the moon? No. He swore by himself. He swore by the most valuable thing, his own name.

These are the two unchangeable things.

The promise and the oath.

Did God have to double up here? Isn’t it enough that he promised? From God’s perspective it is. God never lies and what he says he will do. (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2)

God could’ve stopped at the promise so why did he take that extra step of swearing by himself?

Carefully read verses 17-18 again being sure to unfold the grammar:

“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.”

God desired to show us what kind of a promise maker and promise keeper he is. Remember, he didn’t have to do this.

More convincingly.

That we may have strong encouragement.

God wants us to really believe him, to know that he is rock-solid trustworthy.

Read John Piper’s words about this passage and bask in the knowledge that this is your God.

He is utterly committed to working for our hope. He insists that we be people of confident hope, not of worry and uncertainty. He wants us to think about the future, and to be totally confident and assured about how it will turn out. That’s what this text is about.

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