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The Certainty Of God’s Promise  (ch. 6:13-20)


In verse 13 we see that God made a promise to Abraham to give him many descendents.  There is no one greater than God to swear by, so God swore by Himself.  When God makes a promise, whether a positive one or a negative one, He keeps it.  Abraham patiently waited, and the beginning of the promise came true with the birth of his son. 


We should understand that the word "descendents" here is specifically speaking of Israel, not what some call "spiritual Israel" who they also call the church.  I won't get into the discussion here because I've done it elsewhere, but God promised Abraham's descendents certain things, and his descendents are clearly Israel.  At the same time, God promised Abraham's offspring, who Paul says is Jesus in Galatians 3:16, certain things as well.  Both Israel and Jesus are recipients of the Abrahamic Covenant.     


The writer goes on to speak about human oaths, or covenants.  When man makes oaths with one another they appeal to someone that is greater than them to stop all arguments about the oath.  This is why we swear on the Bible in a court room.


Verse 13 is important.  If you read Genesis 15, the chapter where God confirmed what He promised Abraham in a covenant ceremony, you will notice that God put Abraham to sleep.  This is significant because this tells us that God did not covenant, or agree, with Abraham.  This covenant, known as the Abrahamic Covenant was not a covenant between God and Abraham.  It was a covenant between God and God.  In other words, God agreed with Himself to fulfill what He promised.  This was an unconditional promise, meaning, Abraham, nor his descendents. have anything to do with the fulfillment of the promises.  God, and God alone, will bring about what was promised, despite the failures of Israel.  He will do this for His name sake, not Israel's name sake (Ezekiel 36:22). 


Verse 14 tells us specifically that the covenant that the author is speaking about is the Abrahamic Covent when he speaks of God blessing Abraham with many descendents. 


Verse 15 tells us that Abraham waited patiently and did get to see his many descendents.  Obviously, Abraham had many more descendents after he died.  Some might suggest that because of this verse God's promise of many descendents has been fulfilled, but I think there are sufficient Scriptural reasons why the fulfillment of this promise goes far beyond Abraham's day.


Verse 16 repeats what I said a couple of paragraphs back.  In human terms, a covenant, or an oath, is confirmed by someone greater than the parties making the covenant.  That is meant to end all arguments.  The covenant, as verse 17 states, was to confirm to Abraham's descendents that God's promises will be realized. 


Note the words "heirs" in verse 17.  God wanted Abraham's descendents, or heirs, to realize the importance of the promises, and for this reason God covenanted with Himself in a ceremonial blood covenant to confirm His promises to subsequent generations of Jews. 


Verse 17 also speaks to the "unchanging" nature of God's purposes.  God had a specific purpose in mind when He covenanted with Himself to bless Abraham and his descendents.  The author says that this purpose is unchangeable.  God will not change His mind about what He promised Israel.  The Apostle Paul said the same thing in Romans 11:29 when he told his readers that concerning Israel, his promises and his callings are irrevocable.                 


Verse 18 says, “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”.  What are the two unchangeable things that the writer talks about here?  Traditionally speaking, the two unchangeable things that the oath is based on is God Himself in two different aspects.  First God Himself gives the promise and that should be good enough for us.  Second of all, He is the one who guarantees the promise.  He is both the Giver and the Guarantor of the promise.  It is all His idea, ands He will carry it through to its completion.  He is not depending on us to carry out His unchangeable plan.  That is to say, at some point His plan will be finished whether you or I participate or not.


We commonly say that all things are possible with God, but that is not quite true.  Here in verse 18 it says that God is not capable of telling a lie.  That is sure good for us.  God is not capable of falsehood.  Therefore, what He says will happen, will happen.  This should also confirm what I said earlier.  If God told Abraham that his descendents would become a great nation possessing a certain portion of land in the Middle East , He will bring about what He has promised.  He cannot lie.  He cannot deceive.  What God promised Abraham will be realized as Abraham understood the promises.


Note the word "fled" in verse 18.  The author says that "we who have fled to hold of the hope offered."  He is using the guaranteed promises God spoke to Abraham as an example.  God will fulfill His promises to Abraham, so we should be convinced that He will fulfill other promises as well, example, the promise of New Testament salvation. The word "fled" in this context suggest an eagerness to run and jump into the promises of God.        


The word "fled" tells us something about the way the first generation Christians thought.  When speaking about repenting, this is important.  The first generation Christians did not simply think in terms of getting saved and going to heaven.  Part of the salvation process was being rescued from both our sin and the world in which they live.  Repentance, therefore, involves a fleeing from our own ways.  You can picture people running fast out of a house inflamed with fire.  This is how the New Testament writers view repentance.  They were fleeing from their old lifestyle.  They felt that they were being rescued from the world and their sin.


There should be great hope in us that God’s ultimate plan will be reached.  Verse 19 says that "We have this hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure."  It is vital to feel this way in the depth of our hearts.  In all we believe, and hold true as Christians, we need to hold strong and deep convictions.  We cannot be wishy washy.  We cannot be tossed to and for in our thinking.  We must be convinced of our hope in the truth. 


Verses 19 and 20 speak of Jesus going behind the curtain and acting as high priest on our behalf.  This reference to the curtain is in relation to the heavenly temple that the Old Testament temple was a shadowy copy of.  In order to get to the most holy place where the presence of God was, you had to go behind a curtain.  Not everyone could do this, only the high priest, and only once a year, but, we know that at the resurrection of Jesus that curtain was ripped open.  Now in one real sense of the word, Jesus is has entered beyond the curtain in the heavenly temple to represent us to God.  He is our lawyer, acting on our behalf as satan attempts to discredit us before God.  Once again, Jesus is forever our high priest.  Now and forever through eternity, the only way in which we will be able to come before the Living God is to have Jesus come with us. 

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