Series on Hebrews, III Superior Priest, C Superior by Pact, Text:6:13-20, Title: God under Oath

Introduction:

Having just warned the people about the frightening prospect of drawing back from Christ to Judaism, the author of Hebrews now reminds them in verses 13-15 that their Father Abraham persisted in believing in spite of great difficulty and long delay. 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. This is calculated to shame them because their situation is far better than that of Abraham whose children they claim to be. In John Chapter 8 Jesus tells the religious leaders of the Jewish people, I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word... If you were Abraham’s children…then you would do the things that Abraham did…Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day, he saw it and was glad. The promise to Abraham was fulfilled in Jesus Christ in whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed because He is the high priest who reconciles us to God. Abraham’s confidence has been rewarded. Such confidence and certainty most motivate both them and us to persevere. So let us ponder the arguments that are used here. They not only show the folly of turning away from Jesus, they also show the value in following Christ AT ANY COST  because we hope in Him. Behold this hope attested in Jesus’ birth, authenticated in Jesus death, and assured through Jesus resurrection..

I Hope Attested in Jesus’ Birth

God made three gracious promises to Abraham. Two of them involved his offspring. God said your offspring will be as numerous as the stars of heaven or the sand of the seashore. And God said in your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed. With regard to these promises Abraham was severely tested in more ways than we can enumerate today. But God kept repeating these promises to Abraham while he and Sarah were childless, and rejected all their efforts to have a family through someone other than Sarah who was barren. When they were so old it was laughable Abraham 100 and Sarah 90 the child of promise came. It is foolish to suggest that they were younger than we think or that time was reckoned differently. Sarah says in Genesis 18: 12 after I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure? This was impossible. But impossibility is one of God’s favorite words. Is anything too hard for the Lord. Then after Isaac was born God ordered Abraham to place him upon the altar of Sacrifice on Mount Moriah and in Hebrews 11:19 we read that Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. Abraham was a sinner like us, but by the grace of God he grew to believe in the Lord working the impossible. That God should send his son to save us is impossible. A life that is based only on sight, or in the realm of possibility is a life without hope. A work of the Lord that does not affirm the God of the impossible is dead in the water. We should be growing tired of holding back instead of holding on. God embraces us, God cuddles us, and we need to embrace him.

II Hope Authenticated in Jesus’ Death

We must follow God because He is trustworthy. In this fallen world we long for stability. We can choose to live meaningless lives or we can find fulfill the desire of our hearts and the longing of our lives in the Creator who is the source of meaning in life. How does God demonstrate this??  The author of Hebrews says, in verses 16-18, God not only made promise to Abraham but he sealed it with an oath, 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. Here are two unchangeable things from an unchangeable God, His word and His oath. God could not swear by anything less than Himself because he alone is unchangeable. In Genesis 22: 15-18 at the point where Abraham does not withhold his only son, God reminds him that he has confirmed His promise with an oath with the words, I swear by myself. A promise is a word, but an oath is an act in which you pledge your life for your word. It’s personal, and it’s active and God did this for Abraham in Genesis 15:8-21 But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.   Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” This is a self-maledictory oath. The parties to a covenant indicate their willingness to accept the punishment for breaking the covenant. In this case God graciously accepts the penalty for the other party. His dependability is not an abstract word or doctrine, but an historical act in which He confirms his covenant with us personally. Of course the fulfillment of this is when God sacrifices his only begotten son on Calvary. This is why Paul says in Romans 8:32 if God spared not his own son but delivered him up for us all, how will he not also along with Him give us all things.

III Hope Assured in Jesus’ Resurrection

The certainty of God’s promise is confirmed first by Abraham’s experience and then by God’s condescension to Abraham, But MOST OF ALL, It is confirmed by Jesus resurrection! Not only did God fulfill his promise to Abraham in his life, not only did he fulfill his promise by keeping his word and fulfilling his oath in Jesus Christ, but the work of Christ did not end on the cross. This son of Adam, this descendant of Abraham, Jesus, entered the inner sanctuary of God on our behalf. Jesus resurrection and ascension to heaven demonstrates the reality of our hope.  Every year once a year on Yom Kippur the High priest of Israel went behind the veil to make atonement for the sins of the people. Israel waited with baited breath to see the High Priest emerge as a sign that the blood on the mercy seat was accepted. If you look at the first Christian sermon in Acts 2, you will see this exact argument. Peter says in essence v.22-33, you saw Him you heard him, you, touched Him, you crucified Him, but God raised him from the dead. And the miracles you see today are the result. Therefore be sure!! The author of Hebrews uses this very same word in verses 19 and 20 describing the anchor of our soul as firm, literally, “sure.” 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. The evidence is with us. He lives. The high priest emerged from behind the veil in the work of the Holy Spirit in the world. If Jesus is the Son of God as He said, and as the apostles proclaimed, then we murdered him. Instead of obliterating us, God has sent forth his Spirit to save us as Peter declares in Acts 2:38 and 39, Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Conclusion

Dear friends: look behind the veil. G. K. Chesterton said when things look hopeful, hope is a platitude. As someone else put it, he who lives in hope dances without music. Isaac Asimov tells the story of a rough ocean crossing during which a Mr. Jones became terribly seasick.  At an especially rough time, a kindly steward patted Jones on the shoulder and said, "I know, sir, that it seems awful.  But remember, no man ever died of sea-sickness." Mr. Jones lifted his green countenance to the steward's concerned face and replied, "Man, don't say that!  It's only the wonderful hope of dying that keeps me alive." Well, as believers we do have a wonderful hope ahead of us even at death.  Just the thought of that first glimpse of heaven, keeps us motivated to live for our Savior.