Hebrews 6:13-20

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 10
The desire that the saints should imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises at once recalls the father of the faithful in a way intended to strengthen their confidence.
“For God having made promise to Abraham, since He could swear by none greater, swore by Himself saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee; and thus having patiently endured he obtained the promise. For men swear by the greater, and to them the oath [is] an end of all dispute for confirmation: wherein God, being minded to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His counsel, intervened by an oath; that through two unchangeable things, in which [it was] impossible for God to lie, we might have strong encouragement, who fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before [us], which we have as anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and entering into the [part] within the veil; where as forerunner for us entered Jesus, become forever high priest according to the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 6:13-2013For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, 14Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. 15And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. 17Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 6:13‑20)).
When faith grows dim, earthly things take the place of the heavenly objects that once filled the heart. The danger for these believing Jews remains for others and indeed is urgent in the actual state of Christendom. A religion of antiquity has great attraction for some; so has social position for others. Both are of the earth, and irreconcilable with Him Who was crucified by priests and governors (the highest that the world then knew), and is now crowned with glory in heaven. The faith of Him thus presented (and it is the essence of the gospel) is intended to form the heart and life of all that bear His name. When the truth shines brightly within according to the word, the Holy Spirit makes it energetic; and the world is judged alike in its religious pretensions and in its external ease and honors. Doubtless there is far more revealed by and in the Savior than the patriarchs ever knew. Yet substantially the sight of Abraham a pilgrim as scripture points out was an appeal of no small power to act on the soul of a believing Jew, in danger of retrograding to that which was once his boast through losing sight of Christ in heavenly glory and the hope of sharing all with Him. Abraham possessed nothing in Canaan, having to buy even a grave; he hung on the promise of God. The Christian Jews were so far in a similar position; they were waiting to inherit the promises. Abraham and his son, and his son's son, (the most honored of the fathers in general estimation, and surely ancient enough to satisfy the most ardent of those who affected antiquity,) all died in faith, not in possession. They saw and greeted the promises from afar and confessed themselves strangers on the earth. Why should Christians repine when called to a like path? It is unbelief that despises the hope and craves some present enjoyment of an earthly sort.
Now God had even then given good ground of assurance to Abraham who led the way. He had added His oath to His promise: a blessed confirmation for the tried, even though they were far from being gainsayers. Only theorists would think lightly of such a gracious provision; only those who dream of pilgrimage in a palace and have no purpose of heart to live out the truth. When conscience is in earnest, our own weakness is felt, and the way of Christ seems difficult, dangerous, and repulsive. Hence the gracious wisdom of God gave His oath in addition to His promise, as we may read in Gen. 22:17-1817That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:17‑18): a precious cheer to him who at that very time received back his son as from the dead in a parable.
Nor was it for Abraham's sake only or those who immediately succeeded that God gave this twofold solemn guarantee. He was minded thus to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His counsel. Therefore did He mediate or interpose with an oath to lift up the eyes of all who believe from present and seen things to that hope which rests on His word confirmed by His oath. What loving condescension to those who march through an enemy's land! Such are clearly the “two unchangeable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie;” the application of which is made, not to the fathers of old, but to the children now, “that we might have strong encouragement, that fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”
Thus the chapter opens with a most serious warning. On the one hand the brightest light, the highest testimony, the participation of the Holy Spirit, the sweetness of the gospel, the powers of the age to come in token of Christ's triumph, are the chief external privileges of Christianity. Yet men might have them all, and utterly fall away so as to have no renewal to repentance possible. They are not life, eternal life in Christ; they include not the love of God shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit that was given to us. Neither illumination nor power is the same as being born again, which is not said or supposed here. On the other hand, when the good cheer of divine grace follows, these closing verses point out the lowest faith ever described in gospel days, “those who fled for refuge” (an allusion to the beautiful figure of the man-slayer only just saved from his pursuers) enabled “to lay hold of the hope set before us": a truly “strong encouragement” for the weak and trembling faithful.
Nor is this all. The hope set now before the believer far transcends all that could be for the saints in O. T. times. We have it as “anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil, where as forerunner for us entered Jesus, become forever high priest according to the order of Melchisedek.” Here the security is enhanced and crowned by One Who is God no less than man, Jehovah-Messiah the Saviour, Who is gone back to heaven for us, after having made the purification of sins and found an eternal redemption.
In Him and His work all is made sure. The rights of God are conciliated with His grace. Sin has been judged so as to vindicate the nicest regard for injured majesty and holiness. Mercy can flow freely, yet on a basis of righteousness, no longer sought in vain from flesh and guilty man, but established by God as due to Christ (John 12) and ministered by the Spirit in the gospel (2 Cor. 3). He Who is exalted in heaven is the promised Messiah, the object, securer, and dispenser of all the promises of God. Thus will the earth be best blessed in due time: but meanwhile those who believe in Him before He appears are associated with Him in a heavenly relationship even while they are here, that they too on clearer and fairer ground than Moses could occupy may account the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. He as forerunner for us has entered within the veil—heaven itself: which none could know or claim till He had come here, suffered for sins, and been received up in glory. If this does not win the believer from an earthly mind, from a sanctuary of the world, nothing else can. He Who has loved us, our forerunner in heaven, being rejected of men, draws and binds our hearts to Himself where He is; and God reveals Him to us there to this express end.