The writer, after exhorting his hearers
to be 'followers or imitators of them who through faith and patience
inherit the promises,' gives an illustration of the long-suffering
of faith in the life of Abraham. The need for emphasizing this
element of faith lay in the growing discouragement of the Jewish
Christians at the long delay of Christ's coming. He seeks to comfort
his hearers by saying, "yet a little while, and He that shall
come will come, and will not tarry." (10:37) All the instances
cited in the eleventh chapter illustrate the long outlook of faith,
involving patient waiting and endurance.
The example of Abraham shows first
that the promise of God is sure. (11:9,10)
It was in Chaldea that the God of glory
appeared to Abraham , and made him the great sevenfold promise
recorded in Genesis 12: 1-3. Abraham
was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. How long he patiently
waited before his father's death, we are not told. God's great
covenant with Abraham is recorded in Genesis 15. Here
we have Abraham believing Jehovah, and God reckoning it to him
for righteousness. Later Ishmael was born, an effort of Abraham's
flesh to help God out. Abraham was then eighty-six years of age.
Then at the age of ninety-nine, God's promise is renewed and the
birth of Isaac is prophesied. Following the birth of Isaac, came
the great testing from Jehovah, of offering up Isaac a sacrifice.
It is after this great testing that God confirmed the covenant,
made with Abraham, with an oath,
To encourage his hearers, the writer makes
mention of God's oath to Abraham. "For when God made promise
to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, He sware by
Himself." The patience of Abraham commenced from the
date of the original promise. The birth of Isaac in due time fulfilled
his hope, as touching the true seed of his inheritance. But its
final confirmation and security was the oath of God, pronounced
when the decisive trial of his faith was past, and he had received
the child of promise from the dead." The phrase, "Blessing
I will bless" is a Hebraism, emphasizing the idea contained
in the verb. "And so after he had patiently endured (pointing
back to the lonsuffering in verse twelve), he obtained the promise."
The word "obtained," says Vincent, "indicates
that Abraham did not personally receive the entire fulfillment
of the promise, but only the germ of its fulfillment. It was partially
fulfilled in the birth of Isaac." (Rom 4:18)
"For men verily swear by the greater,
and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife."
The oath is final for confirmation. Here
the writer to the Hebrews illustrated the security of the divine
promise. God gave His oath, thus confirming the covenant. "Wherein
(in accordance with the universal human custom) God willing (
being minded) more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise
the immutability (unchangeableness) of His counsel, confirmed
(interposed) it by an oath." God pledged Himself with an
oath. Vincent said, "He placed Himself between Himself
and the heritors of the promise. " A promise is an assertion
of intention made. In giving an oath the person's character is
publicly and solemnly put behind the assertion. In a promise we
look at the words. In an oath we look at who, and what the promiser
is. Think of the condescension to human custom. God gave His oath
to Abraham. He swore by Himself, Govett said, "Had He
sworn by Heaven and earth, I might have feared, lest , as they
shall pass away, so His word might. But when the most High sears
by Himself, Who abides forever, my fears are gone." Andrew
Murray said: "God points to Himself, His divine being,
His Glory, His power, and pledges Himself as security as hostage,
that as sure as He lives, He will fulfill His promise."
Two Immutable things:
"That by two immutable things ( the
promise and the oath) in which it was impossible for God to lie,
we might have a strong consolation. The word translated 'things'
means 'accomplished facts' - that is the promise made by God,
and the act of God taking an oath. These are not subject to change.
They are unchangeable. These two immutable facts are the foundation
for 'strong consolation' or strong encouragement. God's promise
and God's oath to Abraham were not for Abraham's encouragement
alone, but also for our encouragement. They guarantee the believer's
eternal salvation. "That we ( not Abraham only) might
have a strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold
upon the hope ( Christ ) set before us." Vincent brings
out the full meaning of the word 'strong." He says:
"Strong implies indwelling strength embodied or put forth
either aggressively or as an obstacle to resistance; as an army
or a fortress."
These two unchangeable facts did two
First: They demonstrated to the heirs
of the promise the immutability of His counsel. God's promise
rests upon the council of the Triune God who brought forth this
counsel. This counsel is immutable. God will not change His position
as to His promise. God's promises are not written upon the sand,
but upon the brass of His unchangeable nature.
Second: God's immutability thus displayed,
we have strong encouragement. We dare to believe God. Our faith
rests in His faithfulness.
Who have fled for refuge. v18
Compare Deut. 4:24 where we have pictured
the slayer who killed his neighbour unawares, and who, to escape
the avenger, flees for refuge to one of the cities of refuge.
The picture depicted in Hebrews is that of a sinner, who believing,
flees from the penalty of sin to the High Priest, the Lord Jesus
Christ who has offered atonement for Him. The heirs of God's promise
need not be discouraged. God's oath guarantees His word. There
is refuge in the Christ, and in Him alone.
The Hope set before us.
This hope we have an an anchor of the
soul. Note three things concerning this anchor of the soul.
2. It is sure
2. It is steadfast
3. It is within the veil.
The two adjectives 'sure and 'steadfast'
express the relation of the same object to different tests applied
from without. The word 'sure' is made up of a negative 'not and
the verb 'to make totter.' Thus it means 'not to make totter'
not to baffle or fail. The anchor is sure. It cannot be made to
totter when put to the test. Hence secure against all attempts
to break the hold. "Steadfast" means 'sustaining one's
steps in going' - not breaking down under the weight of what steps
on it. The Lord Jesus Christ is our Anchor. He will not break
under stress or strain. His Anchor is within the veil. The veil
of the Temple in Jerusalem separated the Holy Place from the Holy
of Holies, but the writer to the Hebrews is not referring to the
Holy of Holies in the Temple, but to the Holy of Holies of heaven
itself. The Anchor of the believer is therefore fastened within
the veil of the Holy of Holies of heaven.
The forerunner is for us entered even
Aaron the high priest of the Old Covenant
did not enter the sanctuary as a forerunner, but only as the people's
representative. No one dare follow him in the Holy Place. But
Christ our Priest goes nowhere where His people cannot follow
Him.. He introduces man into full fellowship with God. He has
become a High Priest after the order of Melchisedec.