July 6 Bible Studies for Life: God is faithful
Jun 26, 2014
By W. WILEY RICHARDS
HEBREWS 6:17-20; 10:19-23
Abraham, originally known as Abram (Gen. 12:1), stands out as one of the most significant men in history. Followers of three world religions—Judaism, Islam and Christianity—trace their physical and/or spiritual heritage back to him. Christians look to him as the clearest example of the meaning of saving faith. Genesis 15:6 says, “Abram believed the Lord; and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3 quotes these words approvingly. Romans 4:5 adds for clarification, “But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who declares righteous the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness.” Our study in the Book of Hebrews highlights some of God’s qualities that point to our reasons for loving and trusting Him.
We begin by noting that God always keeps His promises (6:17-18). In the immediate background for the verses, the Bible describes God as making promises to Abraham about the land He would give to him. These are recorded in Genesis 12:1-3, 7. The promises were contingent upon Abraham and his descendants occupying the land in accordance with God’s requirements. Under the later leadership of Joshua, Israel conquered the land as their wars with the occupants ended (Josh. 10:40; 11:23). Even today, Israel rests their rights of occupying Canaan on the promises to Abraham.
God reinforced His promises to Abraham by making a covenant with him (v. 20). Abraham began to fret that he had no children. How could God fulfill the promise (Gen. 15:3)? In answer to Abraham’s request for assurance, God directed him to make a suitable offering. That night, God appeared to Abraham, giving him a synopsis of future events (Gen. 15:9-17). The Bible says on that same day God made a covenant with Abraham and enlarged on the designated land (15:18-21).
I have summarized the main events of the circumstances because the Bible says God made a covenant with Abraham. Hebrews 6:18 mentions without explanation “two immutable things,” but what were these? In my summary they would be God’s promise and His oath.
Having given the background for the hope based in God’s power and forgiveness, the Bible then makes a bold application that we have an anchor for the soul (v. 19). The attention hereby shifts from Israel’s national history to the Ark of the Covenant in general to the relationship between the holy place, the area in which the priests ministered daily to the Holy of Holies. It was the area behind the veil into which the high priest could enter only once a year, on the day of atonement in September. That veil was ripped from top to bottom at the moment Jesus died (Matt. 22:51; Mk. 15:38; Lk. 23:45).
We have access to the Holy of Holies based on two realities. First, Jesus is a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, a high priest forever (v. 20). Second, in Jesus we have an “anchor of the soul” (v. 19). The “anchor” and “forerunner” refer to His work for us. Picture a ship anchor lodged on an obstruction. A diver goes down to determine the problem. It’s caught on a trunk full of gold. In application, we are anchored in Jesus, who, inside the veil, pulls us inside to Himself, who is the Mercy Seat. As the forerunner, He has set out the way for His armies to follow, to the security behind the veil.
The access to the Holy of Holies has been secured by the blood of Jesus (10:19-21). The Bible emphasizes decisively that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin (Heb. 9:22). In dying on the cross, the veil (His flesh) was torn, opening the way for us boldly to enter the Holy of Holies. Once in, we are greeted by Jesus, our great high priest, who is the victim/priest, to use a thought from theology.
We can come boldly to the mercy seat because we are clean (vv. 22-23). Our hearts are “sprinkled,” that is, clean from an evil conscience while our bodies have been washed in pure water. That spiritual washing is explained in Titus 3:5, Jesus saved us, by the “washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, “let us hold on to the profession of our hope without wavering” (v. 23). Our God is faithful.
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