Christ is Superior to Aaron Part 6 “The Foundation of our Eternal Security” – Hebrews 6:13-20
Pastor Mark Hardy August 23, 2015
Since Africa at that time was not a safe environment, a missionary woman who ministered there was often asked by people, “In order for you to go to West Africa, did you have to trust in God’s protection.” She always responded to that question by saying, “I can show you the grave of a 15-year-old missionary’s child who died of hepatitis and a 4-year-old missionary’s child who died of malaria. If my trust were in God’s protection, my trust would crumble under such heartbreaking circumstances. My trust is in God Himself, in the belief that He is in control and that whatever happens He will cause to work together for my good and for His glory.”
Her response was shocking but true. Our God is the God of the impossible, who can do anything at any time: Protect us from harm, restore a broken marriage, save a lost loved one, heal our body of illness or disease, deliver us from a besetting sin, the list goes on and on. He wants us to draw near to Him and pray about all these things, but if we mistakenly place our trust in Him doing such things for us which He has never promised to do, rather than in God Himself alone, then such misplaced trust will eventually lead to spiritual disillusionment. We will end up angry at God for what He has allowed to happen and for not using His almighty power to make our lives better.
But God doesn’t promise to make our lives better, He promises to make us more like Christ. And He calls us to trust Him with all our heart, for He alone is the foundation of our eternal security. This is what we will be looking at this morning.
Now having just exhorted believers to “…not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” in Hebrews 6:12, the author of Hebrews now puts forth the patriarch Abraham as the supreme example of faith in the promises of God and patience in the midst of uncertainty, adversity and seeming impossibility while awaiting their fulfillment. And he wants us as believers to imitate and follow Abraham’s example in our own lives.
In Hebrews 6:13-20 we see four grounds on which we as believers can trust in God and the promises of His Word with an unwavering faith.
The first ground is:
I. God’s Character of Trustworthiness
A. Look at v. 13: For when God made the promise to Abraham, (Stop there)
1. The story of Abraham is seen in Genesis 11:26-25:18. But it is in Genesis 12:1-3 that God first gave him a sevenfold promise: Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
2. In response, Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
3. With no guarantee but God’s word that he would get there, Abraham believed God, taking his wife Sarah, father Terah and nephew Lot they traveled from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan by way of Haran.
4. God’s promise to Abraham was not made just once, but was reiterated on numerous occasions (Gen. 12:1-7; 13:14-17; 15:4-5; 17:5-8; 22:15-18). And Abraham believed that God would make him a great nation, even though at that time he and Sarah were childless.
5. In Genesis 15:4-5 God promised him a son from whom his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. And in v. 6 we read, “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” (Rom. 4:5; Jam. 2:23).
6. Abraham was saved by faith 14 years before he was circumcised (Gen. 17; 18:19) and 430 years before the Mosaic Law (Gal. 3:17). Salvation has always been by faith.
7. Now although Paul said in Romans 4:20, “…with respect to the promise of God, he (i.e. Abraham) did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,” he knew that Abraham did not have a perfect faith.
8. Like all of us, he had some momentary lapses in his spiritual journey of faith. Twice we see him lying about his beautiful wife being his sister (Gen. 12:11-20; 20), and he impatiently listened to Sarah to take her Egyptian maid Hagar as his wife, from whom came Ishmael when he was 86-years-old (Gen. 16), who has a thorn in Israel’s side from that day to this.
9. However, although Abraham had some momentary lapses in faith what Paul and others are focusing on is the overall pattern and direction that characterized his life was one of trust in God not doubt.
10. Finally, when Abraham was 100-years-old and Sarah was 90 she gave birth to the promised son Isaac. But Abraham’s most severe test of faith was still to come.
11. When Isaac had become a teenager God then commanded Abraham to sacrifice him on Mt. Moriah (Gen. 22:15-18). Imagine the numbing horror that must have spread over Abraham’s soul when God told him what to do.
12. But although all of God’s promises to him were bound up in Isaac, Abraham obeyed without question and early the next morning he, along with two of his servants and Isaac, split wood for the sacrifice and began the terrible journey.
13. When they arrived at Mt. Moriah Abraham took Isaac up the mountain, bound and placed him on the altar he had made and lifted the knife to kill his son. Genesis 22:11-14 says: But the angel of the LORD (i.e. the Lord Himself) called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham! And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
14. We know the rest of the story how God provided a ram for the sacrifice. And we understand how Abraham could do such a thing when he said to his two servants before he and Isaac went up the mountain in v. 5, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.”
15. Abraham believed God would keep his promise, and was convinced that if need be, He would raise Isaac from the dead. Hebrews 11:19 says, “He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.”
B. All of this showed that Abraham’s faith rested on the trustworthy character of God.
1. That is always where our faith must rest as well. Whenever God makes a promise He puts His integrity on the line.
2. Since God is truth (Jn. 14:6) and describes Himself as the “God of truth” (Isa. 65:16), then He is absolutely faithful, dependable and trustworthy in all He says and does (Deut. 7:9; Isa. 49:7; 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Pet. 4:19; Rev. 19:11).
3. Every promise is secured by His character. Therefore, just as surely as God kept His promise to Abraham, He will keep His promises to us.
4. We can trust God because He is trustworthy! The second ground on which we can trust God is:
II. God’s Purpose to Bless
A. Look at vv. 13-14: For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.”
1. This is the essence of God’s promise to Abraham. It is a quotation of Genesis 22:17, which is in the context of God’s response to Abraham’s obedience in sacrificing Isaac on Mt. Moriah.
2. Genesis 22:15-18 says: Then 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 thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of your enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
3. Here we see that this reiteration of God’s promise to Abraham takes the form of an oath. When Abraham displayed his unwavering faith by offering Isaac, God responded to him with an oath.
4. God’s sovereign purpose behind His promise to Abraham is to “bless” him, his descendants through Isaac and “all the nations of the earth.” This was God’s purpose because He had predetermined it, not because there was something special about Abraham (Deut. 7:7-8).
5. God’s predetermined plan was that Abraham would be the father of His chosen people, Israel, who would be God’s earthly channel of revelation and redemption. He called them to proclaim the true God (Isa. 43:21), to be God’s priest-nation (Ex. 19:6), to preserve and transmit Scripture (Rom. 9:4), to reveal the way of salvation to everyone through the promised “Seed” of Abraham, the Messiah (Ps. 110; Isa. 42; 49-57; Zech. 6:12-13; Jn. 4:22), to show the faithfulness of God (Rom. 11:26, 31), the blessedness of serving God (Ps. 144:15), and the grace of God in dealing with sin (Heb. 9:11-14).
6. All of God’s purpose to bless was bound up in the promise of Isaac and his descendants that He made to Abraham. But the fulfillment of God’s promise didn’t come quickly.
B. This is why we are told in v. 15: And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.
1. Abraham “patiently waited” for at least 25 years before his promised son Isaac was born. He also received him back, as though from the dead (Heb. 11:19) after God stopped him from killing Isaac on Mt. Moriah.
2. And he “patiently waited” another sixty years (Gen. 25:26) before he saw the beginning of Isaac’s descendants, his grandchildren Jacob and Esau, just 15 years before he died at 175 years old (Gen. 25:7).
3. In this way Abraham “obtained the promise” in the beginning of its fulfillment. But he did not live to see all of God’s sevenfold promise to him fulfilled (Heb. 11:13).
4. Now as believers, we are a part of God’s purpose to bless through Abraham. And just as God gave promises to Abraham, so He has also given promises to us in His Word.
5. Although we must not claim as a promise what God has never promised us to do, we are to tenaciously cling to numerous promises He has given us. He has promised such things as:
• He is life for our soul and we are eternally secure in Him;
• He is always with us and will never leave us or forsake us;
• He always hears our prayers and answers according to His will that is best for us;
• He will provide a way of escape from our temptations;
• His grace is sufficient for whatever we are going through;
• He will meet our needs not always our wants.
6. But like Abraham, we too are called to trust God and His promises and to “patiently wait” on Him, although no one likes to wait. Isaiah 40:29-31, one of my favorite verses says it so well, “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
7. Do you need God’s strength for your life’s journey today? God is always at work in our lives as His children, but He does so in His time and His way, not ours.
8. Therefore, we must patiently “wait for the LORD.” The third ground on which we can trust God is:
III. God’s Oath of Confirmation
A. Look again at v. 13: For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself. (Verses 16-17) For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,
1. Having introduced God’s oath in v. 13, the author now brings out the importance of it by comparing it to human oaths. The necessity for making oaths arises because of the unreliability of human words and promises due to sin.
2. Now when a man swears an “oath” he is solemnly calling on someone (or something) greater than himself, such as God (i.e. courtroom “so help me God”), heaven, earth, Jerusalem, a mother’s grave, etc., as a witness to the truth of what he says or the promise he has made. This oath is intended to be the “confirmation” or legal guarantee that puts “an end to every dispute” because people are naturally liars; so the oath gives them credibility.
3. However, God’s promised word to Abraham does not need any confirmation because His word spoken once is guarantee enough. It is reliable because God Himself is trustworthy.
4. As we saw in v. 13, since no one is greater than God, “He swore by Himself” in providing an oath, thus binding Himself to His promise by His own eternal person.
5. God “interposed (confirmed or mediated) with an oath” by willingly accommodating and condescended Himself to human beings who desire the confirmation because of the characteristic unreliability of human promises. confirming His promise with an oath to make assurance doubly sure.
6. In so doing He gave a “double assurance” because He desired “…to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose.” The “heirs of the promise” here include not only Abraham and his physical descendants through Isaac, but also all of his spiritual descendants.
7. In Romans 4:11 we are told that Abraham is “the father of all who believe.” Galatians 3:7 says, “Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.” (Verse 29) “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”
B. And we see God’s reason for doing this in v. 18: so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
1. The “two unchangeable things” are the promise of God and the oath by which He swore to fulfill that promise. Together they are the strongest assurance imaginable for trusting God.
2. The irrevocability of God’s promise and oath is underscored by the statement “in which it is impossible for God to lie.” God’s promise and oath are “unchangeable” like a legal will, and therefore, can do nothing but come true because God’s “word is truth” (Jn. 17:17) and God “cannot lie” (Tit. 1:2).
3. And it is because of this that, “…we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.” The word “refuge” here is used of the six “cities of refuge,” three on each side of the Jordan River, into which a man could seek protection from avengers if he had accidentally killed someone (Ex. 21:13; Num. 35:6, 9-34; Deut. 4:42; 19:1-13; Josh. 20:1-9; Acts 14:5-6).
4. As Christians, we have “taken refuge” in Jesus Christ from the deserved wrath of God against our sin. Because we are eternally secure we have nothing to fear!
5. And God wants us to understand His unchangeable promise and oath so that this will be a “…strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This objective “hope set before us” is centered in Christ Himself, for He is our hope (Col. 1:27; 1 Tim. 1:1).
6. We are to “take hold” of the confident expectation that the fulfillment of God’s salvation promises to us will happen, and so we must patiently wait and trust Him for its certain fulfillment.
7. The fourth ground on which we can trust God is:
IV. Christ’s Priesthood in Heaven
A. Look at vv. 19-20: This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
1. The nautical metaphor of an anchor was widespread in the ancient world. Just as an “anchor” keeps a ship steady and secures from drifting in the midst of the winds and waves of the sea, so our hope in Christ for the fulfillment of God’s salvation promises steady’s and secures our soul, our very being, in the midst of the storms of life.
2. We all need an anchor for our souls! Who or what is your anchor?
3. Only the anchor of hope in Christ is both “sure and steadfast.” It is “sure” in that, we are secure because He will never fail; and it is “steadfast,” in that, we are secure because He is immovable and we can never slip.
4. Now whereas a physical anchor descends to the depths of the sea and is fixed on the bottom, notice that our spiritual anchor of hope in Christ ascends to the heights of heaven where it is fixed and is “one which enters within the veil.”
5. The phrase “enters within the veil” is a reference to Christ Himself who has entered into God’s presence in the heavenly Holy of Holies on our behalf. Remember how there was a thick “veil” made of fabric that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple.
B. Our hope in Christ reaches into the very presence of God in the heavenly Holy of Holies “…where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us.” I
1. In the Old Covenant only once a year on the Day of Atonement could the Levitical (Aaronic) high priest enter the Holy of Holies to make sacrifice of an animal on behalf of the people and then he had to quickly leave (Lev. 16:2). But in the New Covenant, after sacrificing Himself once for all time Jesus entered into the very presence of God and “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3).
2. This is why Jesus Christ is far superior to Aaron and all of the other Levitical priests.
3. Notice again that Jesus is “a forerunner for us.” The word “forerunner” means that Jesus went ahead of us to heaven, having guaranteed our entrance through His atoning death and is now preparing a place for us (Jn. 14:2-4), so that we may one day follow Him there.
4. And in the meantime, because He has torn the veil “from top to bottom” (Matt. 27:51) we now have direct access into the very presence of God anytime and anywhere. He calls us to continually and boldly draw near to His throne of grace, “…so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16; 10:19-22).
5. And having entered the heavenly Holy of Holies as our forerunner, Jesus has “…become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
6. He is our eternal high priest at the right hand of God, who continually intercedes on our behalf. He is the One who keeps us secure and persevering in faithfulness to Him to the end.
7. With the mention of the priesthood of Melchizedek, the author returns to the topic he was discussing in 5:7-10 before he interrupted his discussion with a third warning passage. Hoping that he has addressed the problem of being “dull in hearing,” “sluggish” or spiritually apathetic that these believers’ were having, he is now ready to resume this topic in chapter 7, which we will begin to look at next time.
Because of God’s character of trustworthiness, purpose to bless, oath of confirmation and Christ’s priesthood in heaven we as believers can trust in God and the promises of His Word with an unwavering faith. God Himself is the foundation of our eternal security.
But are we truly putting our trust in Him alone this morning? Do we continue to trust Him when things don’t go the way we want? Or do we trust in something else? D. L. Moody once said, “Trust in yourself, and you are doomed to disappointment. Trust in your friends, and they will die and leave you. Trust in money, and you may have it taken from you. Trust in reputation, and some slanderous tongue may blast it. But trust in God, and you are never to be confounded in time or eternity.”
May each one of us find Jesus Christ, our hope, to truly be the sure and steadfast anchor of our soul that we all so desperately need as we encounter the various storms on the sea of life.