Believers Will Experience Fulfillment
(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh in 1978.)
Verse 13 ties directly to what the writer has just said in verse 12. He begins 'For when God made the promise....' They are inheriting the promise 'through faith and patience' (verse 12).
What is the proof that a promise is being inherited? The writer uses an illustration from the past to prove his point. He says that 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.' And thus, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.' Two aspects of God's promises are brought out in this passage: (1.) God's promises are firm and reliable. (2.) Those who believe God's promises will experience the fulfillment of those promises.
The promise that the writer refers to is from Genesis 12, where God promised Abraham that He would make him a great nation and greatly multiply his descendents. This same promise is repeated in Genesis 15, 17, and in chapter 22 as an oath from God. God swears by Himself in Genesis 22:16-18 '... 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 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 their enemies And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.' God makes a promise, then takes an oath that He will fulfill that promise.
The writer continues to quote from Genesis 22 in verses 14-15; 'saying, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you.' And thus, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.' Abraham serves as a perfect example of God promising something to someone who believes it, and as a result that person realizes the fulfillment of God's promise. In this situation, the focal point is the birth of Isaac.
Some have said that this is a contradiction to Hebrews 11:13 which states, 'All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.' But as always, these 'contradictions' are only misinterpretations. God is the author of the Bible, from beginning to end, and He does not contradict Himself. Hebrews 11:13 is referring to the fact that Abraham died before he saw one of his decedents (Jesus Christ) bring blessing to all the nations of the earth. But he did see the fulfillment of the birth of Isaac, who was his heir and through whom his descendants would be multiplied, and that is the focal point of Hebrews 6:14,15.
Abraham was almost 100 years old when Sarah became pregnant with Isaac. Now, most of us would probably laugh out loud if we were told that we would have a son when we were 100 years old, but Abraham did not doubt. Instead, '...with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform' (Romans 4:21-22). This is probably the clearest definition of faith that we have in the Bible. Abraham was 'fully assured' that God would do what He promised. Abraham, after considering his age, and the inability of Sarah to bear children, was still completely convinced that God would do what He promised.
Another point that must be made is the patience of Abraham in waiting for this promise to be fulfilled. We know that Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. But how old was he when God first promised him that he would have an heir? According to Genesis 12:4, he was 75! Abraham waited 25 years before the promise of God was realized. Most of us become impatient when we do not see fulfillment of our prayers within a week. But Abraham did not waiver in his belief for a quarter of a century. We need to live like Abraham today as well. Often, when things do not go the way we want them to go, we say 'I know God says this, BUT... .' We must remember that God's promises are sure and He will fulfill them in His time, not in our time.
Verse 16 gives us the explanation of what an oath is. The writer says, 'For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath, given as confirmation, is an end of every dispute.' On the human level, an oath is the final, binding word. What God does is accommodate Himself to our understanding to demonstrate that His word is firm and final.
The writer illustrates the fact that God comes down to our level in verse 17; '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....' Notice that two unchangeable things are emphasized in verse 17: 'the promise,' and the 'oath.' God added an unchangeable oath to an unchangeable promise to demonstrate to man that His promises are final. He not only promises us that He will do something, but then He makes an oath that He will follow through on His promise.
For whom does God do this? '...to show the heirs of the promise... .' The proof of God's fulfillment of His promises is given to believers. Why do we need it? Because sometimes we get shaken in our faith. We need to be reassured that God always does what He says He will do.
The writer continues to illustrate God's faithfulness in verse 18; 'in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.' One will note the stress on the fact that it is 'impossible for God to lie.' He cannot lie regarding His promises, and He cannot lie regarding His oath.
Why does He want us to know that He cannot lie? 'In order that...we may have strong encouragement.' God wants us to be so sure about His promises that we will be encouraged. This is why He made both a promise and an oath. The word that is used for 'encouragement' is 'paracoleo' meaning 'to give aid or encouragement, or strength.' God gives those, who believe His promises, the strength and aid that they need to continue with their lives.
The writer demonstrates how safe and sure we are in Christ by illustrating that He is our hope and the One to whom we 'fled for refuge.' This expression is the same as that which is used in Deuteronomy 4:42 to describe two cities to which people who were wrongly accused of murder could flee for safety. The 'hope' and safety we have as believers, is the salvation that has been provided for us through Jesus Christ. We are forgiven, cleansed, and guaranteed that we will spend eternity in the presence of God because we have believed in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The writer elaborates on this hope in verse 19. He says, 'This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.' The emphasis changes to illustrate the security we have in our place of safety. We are not only safe, but secure as well. We have come to a place of safety, but we are secure because we will never lose our safety. How do we know that? God has made a promise and an oath that we will spend eternity in His presence. This fact is proved by the fact that the term 'sure and steadfast' means 'that which is unbending or unwavering.' It is immovable and confirmed for eternity. In order to be 'steadfast' and hold a vessel steady, an anchor must be tied to something immovable outside of the ship itself. A believer, like a sailing vessel, has an unbreakable, immovable anchor tied to his soul that gives him stability and security for his life - Jesus Christ. What an encouragement!
Where is this anchor secured? The writer says '...within the veil.' Now, for the Jew, this phrase conjures up pictures of the Tabernacle, or temple, with the outer court, the Holy Place, and then there is the Holy of Holies within the veil, where the very presence of God was manifested. What the writer is telling us is that our hope, our anchor, is secured in the presence of God because Jesus has already gone and sat down at the right hand of God. This is the same idea that is repeated time and again in Ephesians: we have been seated with Christ in the heavenlies.
2 Corinthians 1:20 underscores the finality of the promises of God; 'For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.' Every promise from God through Christ is 'Yes.' They are eternally sure and firm. This is our 'Amen' - 'so be it.'
Paul continues in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 'Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.' God promised us that all who would believe in His Son for forgiveness would have that promise guaranteed by sealing us with the Holy Spirit. This a parallel with the oath in Hebrews 6. First He makes a promise, then He seals that promise by sealing us with the Holy Spirit.
As we are told in Ephesians 1, 1 John 1 and 1 John 3, that we are to live in light of the hope which we have. What is that hope? We anticipate at any moment that we could be face to face with our Savior. And when we are face to face with our Lord, we will be like Him, and we will be with Him. This is to be the all encompassing focus in our lives!
Titus 2:11-13 says, 'For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.' As believers, our hope is tied to the moment that we believed in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and it continues into the present as well as the future when we will come to the full realization of our salvation.
Romans 5:1-5 illustrates our hope as well. Paul says that we enter the refuge of God the moment we believe in His Son for salvation (vs. 1). This hope is sealed by the Holy Spirit (vs. 5). It is a present reality as well as a future reality. We will not be disappointed because God has given us a promise.
The writer illustrates the truth that Christ has entered God's presence before us, and we will realize the full assurance of His hope when we follow Him; 'where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.' The writer is bringing us right back to where we left off in 5:10. Remember, he wanted to tell the Hebrews about Melchizedek then, but the Hebrews were sluggish and could not understand what the writer was trying to tell them. Some of them had not even responded to the ministry of Christ in His sacrifice, therefore how could they have understood Christ's future ministry as our high priest?
Chapter 7 details the Melchizedekian priesthood of Christ. Verse 25 says, 'Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.' Christ's present ministry in the presence of God is a guarantee that a believer is eternally secure.
The point is this: just as Abraham had God's promise, believed God's promise, and came to realize the fulfillment of that promise, we also have a promise from God. The promise is that those who come to believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins, will be cleansed and secured for eternity, as Christ's present ministry as our high priest proves. God has promised us this, and has guaranteed this promise by sealing those who believe with the Holy Spirit.
Are you eternally secure? Have you come to the point in your life where you recognized your sinfulness before God? Have you ever placed your faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of your sins? If you have, you are eternally sealed and secure, and you will spend eternity in God's presence. If you have not, you are destined for an eternity in a very horrible hell, apart from the presence of God. Where do you stand? Make sure of your eternal destination today!
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