World English Bible translation
6:13For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he could swear by none greater, he swore by himself, 6:14 saying, "Most surely I will bless you, and I will surely multiply you." 6:15 Thus, having patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 6:16 For men indeed swear by a greater one, and in every dispute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation. 6:17 In this way God, being determined to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath; 6:18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to take hold of the hope set before us. 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil; 6:20 where as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Having rebuked these Jewish Christians, the author of this Epistle to the Hebrews tells them that he has reason to believe that they will be saved. He knows of the work of God in their lives, how they have labored with love for their fellow Christians. God will not forget their work. All they must do is hold on to their hope until the end. To this end, the author held forth the example of Abraham as one who persevered in their hope.
Abraham was the first of the patriarchs. The nation of Israel began with the promise of God to Abraham. God called Abram when he was a wealthy pagan living in the land of his fathers. Abram was seventy-five years old when he heard the call of God. He led Abram into foreign lands, giving him new rules to live by and many promises. God spoke to Abram face to face and gave him a new name, Abraham.
The greatest promise that Abraham was given was the promise that he would have a child through his wife, Sarah. God gave him this promise even though Abram and Sarah were already beyond childbearing years. Abraham was a wealthy man when he began to follow God, over the years God blessed him with greater wealth. He had vast herds and many slaves for these things were the measure of a man's greatness in his day. But one thing continued to allude Abraham. As the years passed, God's greatest promise was not yet delivered.
In order to assure Abraham that His promise was true, God made a covenant with Abraham and took an oath that He would multiply the descendants of Abraham to as many stars as were in the sky. Our author emphasizes that God made an oath and cannot lie. God swore by Himself, thereby making the promise immutable, or unchangeable. By this promise and this oath, Abraham's faith was strengthened and he was able to patiently endure until the promise was fulfilled when he had already passed the age of one hundred.
The author has two purposes behind bringing up Abraham at this juncture. First, he wants to set before these Christians an example of enduring in the faith. Abraham was considered to be the father of the Jewish nation. They need to be more like their father, Abraham. Having received the promise of God through Jesus Christ, they need to endure until that promise is fulfilled in their lives.
And the second reason for bringing up Abraham? It was through Abraham that we first hear about the mysterious figure of Melchizedek. Tomorrow's lesson will be all about Melchizedek, I promise (and hereby take an oath).
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