Hebrews 6:13-20 – The steadfast anchor!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 9, 2012 AM
Recently, during the Democratic National Convention, leaders were angrily booed by the delegates when they decided to insert the word “God” back into their party’s platform. In another startling note, President Barack Obama enjoys a massive lead over Mitt Romney among registered voters who say they have no religion whatsoever, according to the Gallup tracking poll of the presidential race. Why are these two things important? They remind us that when people do not have a spiritual core or an anchor in life they will drift away from God. The warning we need to heed is that as individuals go, so goes the nation they live in as well.
The writer of Hebrews wrote his sermon because he saw early Christians drifting away from their relationship with Jesus Christ. He warned them about their spiritual drift and he began to share with them the basics of their faith but now wanted to go into deeper theological water. As he did he knew that they would need to be reminded of the steadfast anchor in which they were to base their faith. Let’s discover what he teaches his listeners…
In the 1951 Walt Disney cartoon version of Alice in Wonderland, a caterpillar asks Alice, “Who are you?” He wants to know from her why he should answer her questions. It is not an unfair question to ask. In fact, more people should be willing to ask why they should trust what a person says, especially during election season. Here in Hebrews we discover that we can trust God’s promise because…
I. God’s anchor is based on who he is! (Vv. 13-15)
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
1. The writer immediately states that “When God made his promise to Abraham” the promise that he would be the source of “many descendants,” there “was no one greater for him to swear by” so “he swore by himself!” This is important because God has the authority to make a promise secured by the fact that he made it! He is God! But why would the writer of Hebrews choose Abraham as an example? He used Abraham as a pattern, because he was the father of the Hebrews, and thereby of all believers. Also, Jewish believers were interested in the promise made to Abraham, and had a right to the same blessing as his descendants. The inference is that all Christians do as well! As Peter proclaimed on Pentecost, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:39 NIV) And we also know that Abraham was remarkable for his faith and patience! Remember, he was married to Sarah! “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” Of course the “patience” Abraham displayed was waiting so long for a son, from whom the Messiah would eventually come! When God promises he will do something in our lives he does it but how long are we willing to endure until he completes his promise? Abraham’s promise was not fulfilled until Jesus was born, several thousands of years later. In fact, the promise of a son was not fulfilled until Abraham was quite old! Abraham never saw the final outcome in his lifetime but he remained confident, if not sometimes humanly dubious, that God would do exactly what he said he would do because God’s anchor is based on who he is!
EXAMPLE: I was surprised the other day when I received a phone call by a telemarketer, who in a very thick accent tried to sell me something. I hung up on her. I was surprised because she immediately called me back and exclaimed, “Hey! You hung up on me!” I answered her, “Hey! I don’t know you!” she then said something that made me laugh out loud. She retorted, “You can trust me.” I reminded her that I had not just fallen off a turnip truck. That remark puzzled her and so I explained that I never buy anything over the phone, ever, from anyone at any time period. I then hung up. I do not know about you but I barely trust sales-folks I speak to face-to-face with let alone over the phone! How wonderful to learn we can trust in God’s promises because God’s anchor is based on who he is!
Knowing that we can trust God is the first step in trusting his promises. I learned at a very early age that if my dad promised something, he would do whatever it took to make sure his promises came true. Now, of course, there were times when he could not keep his promises, but he was always willing to share with us why. In a world of uncertainty and distrust, Hebrews reminds us that…
II. God’s oath is our assured anchor! (Vv. 16-18)
Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.
1. We often incorrectly think that when we say we will “do” something, that should put an end to any argument concerning whether we will do it or not, but for some of us it does not. The reason is simple: Far too often we have the misconception that if we feel it or think it, then that is as good as doing it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Actions and character speak louder than mere words! There was a time when two people made an agreement and shook on it, it was a done deal. Nowadays, we often want contracts, lawyers, and witnesses to be involved! However, the writer notes that when “Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.” They would swear an oath according to God as their witness. They would swear by God! This is why it is so important to understand that God “confirmed” his promise with his own “oath.” By this it made “the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear” to Abraham’s “heirs of what was promised.” No one would dare argue against this because of who actually made the promise and the oath that was made! It “is impossible for God to lie!” God’s promise and his truthfulness are “two unchangeable things” we can rely on! Therefore, “we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged!” We know for certain we can trust Jesus is the Messiah because God promised Abraham, and God does not lie! God’s oath is our assured anchor!
EXAMPLE: I will never forget going into buy a used van and my wife had the salesman scurrying around looking for answers. When they gave us the figures on the van we were about to purchase, the figures did not add up. It was an supposed to be an interest-free loan but they kept tacking all kinds of “extras” onto the purchase price. My wife whipped out a pencil and flipped over the piece of paper the hand-written agreement was written on and began doing long division. She immediately pointed out their faulty math. Incredulous that she could figure it out so quickly using long division the salesman went to get the manager, who then tried to convince my skeptical spouse. I just sat back and enjoyed the show. They wanted us to shake hands immediately on a deal based on faulty math and my wife would have none of it. We both refused until they agreed to my wife’s terms. It was only after all the legal documents reflected my wife’s math, that we signed them and purchased the van. How much more wonderful therefore is it to learn that God’s oath is our assured anchor!
One of my favorite hymns is “It Is Well with My Soul,” by H G Spafford: “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul… Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.” The writer of Hebrews reminds us that…
III. Jesus is our anchor! (Vv. 19-20)
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
1. Two of the most sought after things we run to, when the storms and threats of life besiege us, is a refuge from the turmoil and a fortress from the invader. This is the graphic language used by the writer of Hebrews! We can take hold of the hand of hope held out to us by the promise of God to Abraham. Why? Because, “We have this hope as an anchor for our soul,” a quiet haven that is “firm and secure,” like the mighty stone seawalls of a fortified city harbor! We can put down our anchor and rest from the buffeting waves of doubt because God has given us a haven of rest! His Messiah promised to Abraham and it was culminated in Jesus! So much so that this assurance “enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf!” Our anchor has been dropped in the most secure and safest harbor of all, God’s inner sanctuary! The terminology here “recalls the role of sailors who leave their ship in a smaller craft in order to carry the anchor forward to a place where it can be firmly lodged!” (Bible Knowledge Commentary) Jesus has “entered on our behalf” the heavenly sanctuary where He functions as a High Priest forever, has given all believers a secure hope an anchorage from which the storms of life cannot shake it loose! Matthew Henry, a 17th Century commentator, wrote that our hope “is an anchor that is cast upon the rock, the Rock of ages. It does not seek to fasten in the sands, but enters within the veil, and fixes there upon Christ; he is the object, he is the anchor – hold of the believer’s hope.” Jesus is our anchor!
EXAMPLE: In our area there is a local church that has handed out literally thousands of little black and white bumper stickers that state “Only God.” While I know for certain that not everyone who has placed one of those stickers on their vehicle actually believes what it says, the placement of the statement is a testimony to God. We could argue that it has reduced God to a pithy two-word catch phrase, that those who place them on their bumpers may not be able to tell you why the statement is true, or that the witness is ruined when the driver speeds or runs a red light. However, I would like to think that those tiny stickers reflect the view that only God has the answers one seeks or that only God can save. But perhaps, in the light of today’s verses, we can now safely state with confidence that it is truly, “Only Jesus.” Only Jesus is our anchor!
Hebrews has taught us that God’s anchor is based on who he is, God’s oath is our assured anchor, and Jesus is our anchor!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.