We saw how the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wanted his readers to grow up on solid food, and there is plenty in this letter. Here’s some more. It’s breathtaking. The certainty of God’s promise is spelled out here in Hebrews 6, verses 13 to 20 for these Hebrew believers.
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 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. 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, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
It has become fashionable in some religious circles to denounce such certainty, to sanctify doubt. So people argue that to be certain of God is to have abandoned faith. The only thing that is certain is death and taxes, it is said often.
Well, the writer of this old letter would deny the certainty of both death and taxes! He strongly advocates the certainty of God’s promise for his children. Certainty for the first followers of Jesus was firmly anchored in the character, works, passion and resurrection from death of Jesus of Nazareth.
Look, this is a serious matter, what these people had done. They had turned all their attention to this Jewish teacher, Yeshua (Jesus) and in doing so they faced fierce opposition from former family members and friends in their community who were angry, scandalised, that true blue Jews should put their trust in Jesus instead of Moses, Moses! Offended at the idea of Jesus’ ascent as Lord of all at the ultimate place at God’s right hand. Offended that these preferred Jesus to angelic messengers, preferred him to the goings-on in the daily rituals of the temple in Jerusalem and the obligations imposed on them by Judaism in their local community. These ‘heretics’ saw Jesus as their only mediator—the great high priest who officiates in the holiest place of all, in the very presence of the Lord of creation, the Living God.
In the face of such a great calling, such serious demands, the constant threat of loss of property, safety and their lives, their Lord knows His people need to be certain of his great promise of help and grace. So we are reminded of Abraham’s experience—how could he possibly maintain faith in such marvellous promises, given his circumstances—both he and Sarah well past parenthood? Yet, he made the choice to be Mr Stickability, to wait patiently trusting for the most part, though sometimes faltering, in the loving, unchanging character of the One who promised, who guaranteed.
So, as He did with Abraham, the Lord does so with these people. To the promise, He adds an oath—a rock-solid guarantee. People expect earthly promises to be confirmed by a guarantor, someone superior. Now marvel that the King of all Creation was prepared to address human frailty in this way! So, God swore by Himself, there being no higher authority.Two things here: two unchangeable things—firstly, a promise and secondly, an oath (a warranty, a guarantee) to assure them—and us also—that it is impossible for God to lie.
This gives us, who are serious about following Messiah Jesus, strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. It anchors our soul in our flight into the refuge of the Rock of Ages. We can hold fast to that hope which takes us into the holiest place of all! It’s all worth it! Jesus is there now, waiting for us –behind the curtain This certainty must be not just a feeling but a firm decision in the character, the words of the God who cannot lie. There is simply no real alternative.
Well, what are we waiting for? Certainty?