Truth For Life E59 | Exhortation & Call To Remain Steady Hebrews 6:9 -12

The certainty of God's promise
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Welcome back to our study of the book of Hebrews, today we’ll be closing chapter 6 as we zero in on Hebrews 6:13-20, the Certainty Of God’s Promise. But before we move on, let’s recall the background to this letter. The writer was primarily addressing Jewish believers who were going through severe persecution as a result of the gospel. Many of them were being tempter to go back to Judaism and the old system to avoid being persecuted. So the writer began his letter by presenting Jesus as the Great High Priest of a better hope. Then in the beginning chapter 6, he confronted his readers about their spiritual immaturity and the consequences thereof. Now that he had their undivided attention, he dedicated the rest of chapter 6 to exhorting and encouraging his readers, and also showing them the certainty of God’s promise in the midst of their weariness.

The Certainty Of God’s Promise

The Passage: Hebrews 6:13-20 

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham,[a] having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 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, 18 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. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Notes

  • Verses13-15

The writer has been encouraging his readers to remain steadfast and diligent in their walk. He started by exposing their current problem- spiritual immaturity. Then he talked about the consequences and dangers of spiritual immaturity. Now that he had their undivided attention, he called them to repentance and a renewed commitment. They were drifting away from the promises of God and just going through the motions, just like many of us. Their spiritual fervor and zeal from the beginning had significantly diminished and the persecution made it worse. We also need to recall that they were long term believers, not just new converts. They knew the promises of God- the redemption of their bodies, salvation of their souls. While they might have been excited in the beginning, after several years of serving God and not seeing the promises materialize fully just yet, apathy began to settle in. So to encourage them to remain steady in their walk, the writer chose to show them the exemplary faith of Abraham ( the father of faith) one of the most respected figures of the Old Testament.  He could’ve used the example of any other OT figures. I would’ve personally chosen Joseph and his story. But that’s not what the Holy Spirit prompted the writer to do. I can only speculate as to why I believe the writer chose Abraham. It all relates to the context of this passage. The believers were facing trials and some had probably failed and might have doubted their own salvation as a result. And the writer didn’t make things easy by exposing their spiritual immaturity. They were probably very discouraged, felt convicted and some may have felt condemned. In verses 9-10 he reassured his readers and in verses 11-12 he exhorted them to follow the examples of the former saints who remained steadfast. And exhibit A of this pattern is Abraham. Why Abraham? His walk with the Lord was not without times of failures. He failed some of the tests, passed others but finally triumphed. He remained steadfast in His walk. Let’s look at some key moments in Abraham’s life.

Abraham’s call started in Genesis 12 :2-3 with a blessing. He was tested in Egypt and led his wife Sarah into sin. Yet God rescued both of them by afflicting the Egyptians. A few years later, in Genesis 15:3, God promises Abraham that he will have a son and that via this son, he will have descendants as many as the stars in the sky. Abraham had received God’s promise, but in Genesis 16, we read that he listens to Sarah and tries to fulfill God’s plan by doing his own thing, which results in the birth of Ishmael, indicating that Abraham failed this test once more. Abraham is around 86 years old at this point. God reiterates His promise to Abraham 13 years later in Genesis 17, telling him that he will have a son. Abraham and Sarah are both past childbearing age at this point, at 99 and 90 years old, respectively. We see in Genesis 20 that Abraham almost thwarts God’s plan by almost leading  his wife Sarah to commit adultery for the second time. God, on the other hand, saves both Abraham and Sarah. Finally, Sarah carries a child, whom she names Isaac, in accordance with the Lord’s word and promise. In Genesis 22, Abraham is put to the ultimate test when God asks him to sacrifice Isaac. When he passes the test, God says the following,

 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.”

It took many years between Abraham’s call until the fulfillment of God’s final promise which HE promised with an oath. In spite of Abraham’s failures at times, God remained faithful and safely guarded His word by preserving Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, basically preserving the integrity of His plan. The believers the writer was addressing were growing weary, tired and probably were doubting the promises of God. So he shows them Abraham’s example to encourage them to remain steadfast in their walk, and not give in to laziness or stagnation. They might have failed some of the tests, but just like Abraham and Peter, God would restore them and us ultimately. Abraham grew in his faith through his trials, in the same way the people were going to grow through the trials and persecution, it was allowed by God for the purpose of stretching and maturing them in the process, and the same applies to us today.

Let’s go to Galatians 3:8-14 to understand the nature of the promise God made to Abraham with an oath. Basically Abraham was preached the gospel and believed it as Scriptures tell us. When he was asked to sacrifice Isaac, God was painting to Abraham a picture of how all the families of the earth were going to be blessed through His ultimate offspring that is Christ. Abraham’s reward was made possible by God’s covenant which He established by nailing Jesus to the cross. The reward is the eternal life in the city of God. Abraham received Isaac as a guarantee that God was going to indeed keep His promise. Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise because through Him, we all have been made righteous like Abraham by believing the gospel. Let’s also look at Hebrews 11:8-16 to conclude the nature of the promise Abraham received.

  • Verses 17-18

God not only gave a promise to Abraham but HE confirmed it with an oath. HE didn’t have to do that because HIS word alone was sufficient. The writer brings up the fact that ordinary people usually settle their matters with an oath, swearing by God. When a witness takes an oath in court, he is confronted with the words, so help me God. Back to the writer’s point. God wanted to show the gravity and weight of His promise so HE confirmed it with an oath to Abraham. Like I said earlier, God cannot lie because it’s against His character, HE cannot break His promise because HE is faithful to His Word. We also inherit Abraham’s blessing because we’ve put our trust in Jesus and His work on the cross, which was the same gospel that was preached to Abraham, we mentioned that in the previous slides. Scriptures said of Abraham that He would be the father of many nations through His offspring, that is Christ. Christ is essential and the foundation of this promise that Abraham has secured with the help of God. I want to also zero in on the phase “we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us”. In the OT, we read in numbers 35 about the 6 cities of refuge God appointed for any man that committed manslaughter, this is the idea that is being conveyed in this passage. The writer is addressing his readers and us who have fled for refuge in JESUS, HE is our eternal refuge against the wrath of God. Jesus has paid the penalty and our security is eternal. The writer is giving these words to his readers and us to keep us from discouragement. The promises may have not been materialized just yet, but they are secure and will someday be ultimately fulfilled. In the meantime, we are told to keep our spiritual fervor on. That’s the main goal of these words, encouragement and exhortation to keep up the good work.

  • Verses 19-20

In verses 16 to 18, we talked about the nature of the promise and hope God has given by His oath to Abraham and those who would believe like Abraham.  God has promised that we will be redeemed fully and HE has proven it by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. He hasn’t left us without any proofs, we have verified proofs that one day we will be clothed with a perfect body, incapable of sinning, pleasing to God. And we will reign with Christ because we saw in earlier chapters that He has restored God’s mandate to man by His work on the cross. So this hope that we have serve as anchor for our soul, and it is firm and secure because God Himself has given it to Abraham as an oath and it was fulfilled in Christ. We have many convincing proofs that this hope is firm and secure. We talked about the weakness of the Old system under the Levitical priesthood. The hope that we have enters the inner sanctuary ( the Holy of Holies) behind the curtain. Jesus as we saw in the earlier chapters has passed through the heavens and is seated at the right hand of God ministering and interceding for us as a great High priest in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus has opened the way for us with His own blood and His blood is worthy for that matter. He didn’t enter the inner sanctuary in the heavenly realms with the blood of goats and bulls but by His own blood. He has become a priest with an endless life, a priest of better things that ministers in the very presence of God. I could go on and on but you get the point the writer is trying to make- don’t grow weary, come to the throne of grace with confidence because we have a great high priest who understands the human experience, who is able to help to the utmost those who come to Him unlike the Levitical priests who weren’t quite adequate. Instead of remaining in a state of weariness, leading to immaturity, come to Him.

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