For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater to swear by, He swore by Himself:
I will indeed bless you,
and I will greatly multiply you.
And so, after waiting patiently, Abraham obtained the promise. For men swear by something greater than themselves, and for them a confirming oath ends every dispute. Because God wanted to show His unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. – Hebrews 6:13-20 (HCSB)
Today’s section is brief, but there is a great joy within it.
Starting out by indicating that God’s promise to Abraham was assured because God swore by himself, he recounts the promise to Abraham. This is different than how men swear oaths. Men, as our author explains, swear on something or someone greater than themselves. The reason this “ends every dispute” is that the veracity of the oath is testified by to the greater one upon whom the oath is sworn. Usually a god or king in the Ancient Near East, by swearing on that greater thing the oath taker is saying “If what I am saying is not true, then may the person on whom I am swearing on take vengeance upon me.” However, since there is nothing and no one higher than God, he swore the oath upon himself.
He does this, so says our Author, to clearly show his purposes to the heirs of the promise. The most amazing thing about this, is that we are the heirs to the promise. He swore the oath to Abraham to show us his unchangeable promises! Our author makes reference here to the two unchangeable things that God puts in place to give us encouragement and hope. The first being God himself, and the second being God’s word.
Furthermore, the hope that is set before us is not some ethereal thing. It is Christ himself. This hope is an anchor for our lives. The author identifies this anchor as Christ by saying that “it enters the inner sanctuary” and then “Jesus has entered there.” This is one of the many places in Scripture where we see that Christ is the surety of the covenant. It is Christ who secures the covenant, and because Christ is secure and unchanging, so also is our security in the covenant. He can be this surety because of his status as a Melchizedekian priest.
- Probably intended here to have covenant making in view.
- Although here God’s spoken word is in view, the author makes no distinction between what is written in Scripture and what was spoken to Abraham. God’s promise is sure because it is God’s promise, and while Abraham knew that promise by spoken word, we know it by means of the written word.