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Hebrews 6:13-14 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:53 mins 5 secs

Hebrews Lesson 77    February 8, 2007 

 

NKJ John 17:17 "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

 

We are in Hebrews 6 moving on to the next paragraph which is really an explanation of what concludes the previous paragraph that is in verses 11 and 12.  So we need to pick up the context. The end of the last section focused on the encouragement from the writer to these stumbling, slow, questioning believers that have been on the verge of giving up their Christianity and going back into Judaism. Here he concludes and says…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

Here the idea of patience is not the word for endurance, but the word for patience as used in James 5 a couple of times. It is used almost synonymously with endurance, but it has a slightly different meaning. We studied this and we were finishing up talking about inheriting the promises. We covered this last time because this is the foundation for understanding the explanation that comes up in the next paragraph. Now the next paragraph runs from verse 13 down through verse 20. The function of this paragraph aside from the fact that significant doctrinal references in it is to orient the reader's thinking to this concept of promise which is used in verse 12 and then is repeated again in verse 13, verse 15, and verse 17. So we have an emphasis on promise which is not yet fulfilled focusing again on the future. The function of the section from 13 to 20 is to transition back from this reprimand that the writer has given his readers because they have according to 5:11…

 

NKJ Hebrews 5:11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

 

He broke off his discussion of Melchizedek. He was building to a discussion of the importance of the priesthood of Jesus Christ as priesthood after the order of the royal Gentile priesthood of Melchizedek. He broke off suddenly in verse 11. 

 

Then there is this exhortation and warning from 5:11 down through 6:20. The warning section is from 6:4-8. So in this exhortation section in the final paragraph he transitions back to the subject of Melchizedek, which we see in verse 20.

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. 

 

So when he picks up in chapter 7 he picks up where he left off in chapter 5, verse 10. So we get into this concept of inheritance which is the verb form used here in this passage where it is an articular participle – those who are inheriting the promises - indicating those Old Testament saints that inherit the promises. Of course the premiere example is going to come from Abraham. So we have 3 forms of this word that appear in Hebrews.

 

The forms of the word include…

 

  1. The first is the verb form kleronomeo which is used 18 times in the New Testament and 4 times in Hebrews. In total there are 9 uses of the cognate of this word, either the verb or one of the noun forms showing that inheritance is a major theme in the book of Hebrews. So this is used 18 times and 4 times in Hebrews.
  2. Second, we have the noun (kleronomia) for inheritance or property (that which is inherited) which is used 14 times in the New Testament and twice in Hebrews – in 9:15 and again in Hebrews 11:8 which is in reference again to Abraham.
  3. Then we have the third use, the third form of the word which is the noun indicating the heir or the designated recipient kleronomos which is used 15 times in the New Testament, 3 times in Hebrews. We see from the emphasis in this epistle that the concept of inheritance is very important and fundamental to understand. 

 

Our second point is that inherit has the core semantic meaning of possession, property, or ownership. This is particularly important when we come to those difficult passages in I Corinthians 6 and Galatians 5:19-21 which you have this list of sins. It concludes by saying that...

 

NKJ Galatians 5:21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

At first blush too many people go to those passages and think that inheriting the kingdom is synonymous with entering the kingdom or gaining eternal life or being saved. But it is a different concept. It relates to rewards. We have gone through detailed studies of that in the past. The core idea to remember is that inheritance means possession, property, or ownership. We have this mentioned in Hebrews 11:8 and 1:2.

 

NKJ Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

 

There we learned that it doesn't have the idea that somebody has to die before you get the inheritance. That is typical in our culture and in many other cultures. So to inherit, somebody has to die. But that is not the concept in the New Testament. Maybe there is a secondary idea depending on the context, but the primary idea is just possession. 

 

Abraham in 11:8 has the land as an inheritance. Nobody died and left it to him. In Hebrews 1:2 Christ is appointed heir of all things. Nobody dies and leaves it to Christ. It is emphasizing ownership and possession.

 

Our third point of summary on inheritance is that inheritance in relationship to Abraham can be related to either the land promise or the seed promise in the New Testament. It is always related to the idea of the divine promise. Inheritance in relation to Abraham is based on grace. It was God's freely given covenant to Abraham that is the foundation of his ownership of the land. Galatians 3:18 connects it. Inheritance is not based on the law; it is based on the promise of God. Also Romans 4:13 and 14. 

 

Then our fourth point was that inheritance is also related to rewards, for what is earned for service, whereas salvation is a free gift,

 

NKJ Colossians 3:24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

 

So this gives us a summary of the concept of inheritance. This under girds the passage. Hebrews 6:12 says again…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

They became possessors of the promise. Now the particular promise that he has in mind isn't the land promise. It is the seed promise. In verse 13 we have the explanation. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,

 

"For" is the Greek word gar which always introduces an explanation. It gives a reason for something. So we have just had a principle laid down in terms of encouragement that to Church Age believers in Israel, these Jewish believers are encouraged to follow the example of Old Testament saints. 

 

Now where is that going to happen again? See this is how the writer of Hebrews introduces the concept. He builds on it later on and builds on it even more.  We have had Abraham mentioned once. He is mentioned a little more here. Then we are going to have a whole chapter in chapter 11 where the writer of Hebrews is going to go through all of these Old Testament saints and how they served as (according to Hebrews 12:1) a great cloud of witnesses for us. So they served as examples in terms of their orientation to the Lord Jesus Christ. Their orientation of course was future, but the exhortation in Hebrews 12:2 is to keep our focus on the author and completer of our faith, the pioneer of our faith who is the Lord Jesus Christ. So this is where we first begin to see the idea introduced that we can go back to Old Testament examples to form a pattern for our lives. Now this is not in the sense of following the law, but in the sense that they were using the same basic principles for spiritual growth and spiritual maturity that we are. So we see this connection that even though there are differences between the age of Israel in the Old Testament and the Church Age in the New Testament, differences between the basic administrative mandate in the Old Testament which was the law, and the New Covenant that supplants the Old Covenant which is what we will get into as we get into chapter 9 and chapter 10. We start getting into the differences between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant. There is still something that is the same in both dispensations. So that gives us the pattern where we can go back and look at these Old Testament examples. It is so important. 

 

I try to emphasize this again and again that the Old Testament takes the abstract doctrines that we have in the New Testament and it puts them into shoe leather. It puts them into flesh and blood examples of people's lives. That is really important especially if you are teaching your kids or your grandkids or you are teaching in prep school. You need to think in terms of these Old Testament images for teaching New Testament doctrines. For example, we have just seen what I have done that with confession on Tuesday night. We go back and the premiere example of confession is in the Old Testament is what happened on the Day of Atonement when you have the two goats. One is for the sin offering; one goat is for the scapegoat offering. Then also on the Day of Atonement you have the High Priest bringing the blood into the Holy of Holies and putting it on the Mercy Seat as a picture of propitiation. So it is these pictures that we have that serve as visual aids that help us capture the significance of these important doctrines that we have in the New Testament. We are going to see another one of those tonight in the background for verse 14. So verse 13 is going to explain how by giving one example of how one Old Testament believer had faith and patience to inherit the promise. That's what the next section is all about. So we come to 13 and we read…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,

 

What we have here is the beginning of this verse. "When God made a promise" actually translates an aorist middle participle in the Greek epaggello.  Epaggello means to make a promise, give a promise or make a declaration. As an aorist participle it precedes the action of the main verb. The main verb is given down at the last phrase – He swore by Himself. Now when you have a participle like this at the beginning, you have to determine what its relationship is to the main verb. So as an adverbial participle it should be translated with the idea of "when". 

 

Now when did this happen? This happens in Geneses 22 and that is where the quote comes from in verse 14. The other thing to note that we get out of the original and you don't pick up in the English is that the name for God has an article with it in the Greek. The article in the Greek functions very differently from the article in English. It doesn't mean that it should be translated "the God", but it is a use of the article that is defined as the par excellence use of the article where the article is used to point to the noun that it is associated with to indicate that the noun is in a class by itself. So you don't translate it "the God". It emphasizes that the noun is a distinct entity, different from anything else. It is in a class by itself. So the emphasis is going to be on this uniqueness of God. We see this brought out by the grammar. Look at how the verse reads. 

 

There is nothing greater than God. 

 

So, God couldn't say, "Here is how I am going to swear this oath so that you will know that I am going to do it." 

 

There was nothing superior to God that He could use as a pattern or as an ultimate criterion. So He swore by Himself. So the main phrase here that God swore by Himself indicates that uniqueness of God. He is completely distinct from His creation. He is the creator. Everything else is the creation. Even the grammar by using this definite article with a noun reinforces that uniqueness and distinctiveness of God. So the focus is on the fact that God's word is enough. In order to reinforce the certainty of the promise, He swears this oath on the basis of His own character. The oath that He expresses is actually a little bit larger than the quote in verse 14. But we see that in verse 14. 

 

NKJ Genesis 22:17 "blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.

 

The Hebrew quotes it and quotes it directly out of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.

NKJ Hebrews 6:14 saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you."

 

So it is quoted "surely" which is a better translation.  I would challenge both translations.

 

"Blessing I will bless you" is a literal translation of the Greek; but in the Hebrew you don't have what we would call a participle or a gerund (blessing and multiplying). What you have in the original is the same kind of construction that you have back in Genesis 2:17, which was wrongly translated "dying you will die." What you have is an infinitive absolute in the Hebrew that duplicates the main verb. The main verb is usually an imperfect tense of the verb. This is a Hebrew idiom that expresses the certainty of the action. It is not "blessing I will bless you." Blessing is a gerund or it is a participle. It is like a long term action like running or shopping or eating. This is something that takes place over a long period of time. How do you say eating I will eat? What does that really mean if you parse it out? It doesn't mean anything. By putting the participle there in front of a finite verb in the English, it doesn't say that there are two different blessing that happened there or two different kinds of multiplying. In Hebrew idiom it is simply a way of expressing the absolute certainty of the idea. In the past I have gone through every use – there are about 25 of these in the book of Genesis. They just don't make sense in this kind of construction in English. It should have been translated as the English tried to do by introducing the word surely... 

 

Literal translation:  Surely (or certainly) I will bless you and multiply your descendents.

 

That is the force. It is God. It is the strongest possible way God can put this to say that you have absolute unconditional certainty that this is going to happen.

 

In Genesis 22 it expands this by saying…

 

NKJ Genesis 22:17 "blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.

 

This is an idiom indicating conquest because the gate of these cities was like city hall. That is where all of the transactions took place. That is where judicial decisions were made. That is often where any sort of land transaction was recorded. To possess the gate of their enemies means to conquer the cities of their enemies and take over complete control. Now this goes back to the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12:2c-3 where the Lord said to Abraham... 

 

NKJ Genesis 12:2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.

 

NKJ Genesis 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

 

"Families of the earth" refers to the Gentile nations.

 

At the foundation of the Abrahamic Covenant (you knew this was coming) you have land, seed and blessing - the three elements of that promise. God promised Abraham a specific piece of real estate, that he would have a seed of descendents and that through them He would bless all of the nations. So we have the Abrahamic Covenant and the blessing component that is laid out in Genesis 12 is then restated several times in Genesis 15, 18, and then finally it is reconfirmed. The final statement of it for Abraham is given in chapter 22 which is where this quote comes from. Hebrews 6:14 isn't coming out of Genesis 12; it is coming out of Genesis 22. 

 

If you remember when we went through Genesis, I talked about the fact that the New Testament goes to Abraham for various different ideas and various different doctrines. He goes to Abraham as an illustration of justification by faith at the beginning of the believer's new life. It goes to Abraham for illustrations of spiritual growth. This is what we see in Hebrews 12. He goes to Abraham as an example of the mature Christian who has passed those various tests leading up to spiritual maturity and vindicates his faith by that maturity test that he passes. This is how Abraham is referred to in James 2.  Abraham is also the father of missions and several other things that we covered there. What we have here is the focus on Abraham in terms of his spiritual growth and spiritual maturity because the quote comes out of Genesis 22, which is the thirteenth and last test that Abraham went through in his spiritual growth process. There are no more tests for Abraham recorded in Genesis after Genesis 22. When we come to Hebrews 6:15 we read…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

 

There are a couple of things that we ought to note here in terms of the Greek structure. The words "and so" translate a little Greek word houtos. This is the same word that begins John 3:16. Most of you know John 3:16.

 

NKJ John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 

That really doesn't communicate what the Greek says. When you have this word at the beginning of a sentence it often means "in this manner" or "in the way" or "in the way that I am about to tell you" or "in the manner I am about to tell you something happened." So John 3:16 should be understood as…

 

Literal translation:  For in this manner God love the world; He gave His Son.

 

That is how God loved the World. It is an adverb in the Greek indicating what follows in the text. So here we have the same text. It is the same thing that we have in this text. 

 

I am going to give you an illustration of how Abraham had faith and patience and patiently endured and obtained the promise. 

 

The second thing we note is that we have the same kind of construction that we have in verse 13. We have an aorist participle preceding an aorist verb which indicates that the action of the participle to endure which is the word makrothumeo again which should be translated patience. That precedes the action of the main verb which is to obtain the promise. So it should be translated "after having been patient he received something or he obtained it." That word for obtain doesn't mean purchase. We just got through talking about kleronomeo and those cognates meaning possession. You would think that if you read in the English "obtain" that it has to do with something like purchasing the possession. But don't get that idea at all. Obtain is a bad word to use in the English because for us it has this purchase concept. The Greek word is epitunchano which means to be successful in achieving or gaining your goals or your ends. So here it has the idea of finally reaching that goal of realizing the promise. 

 

The promise that is mentioned here is the promise related to the seed. Let's think a minute about Abraham. Let's go back and kind of review it a little bit in our minds. God comes along and He gives a promise to Abraham related to the fact that he is going to have children. 

 

"You are going to have a promised son."

 

Abraham is getting pretty old. Fifteen years go by and there is no seed. 

 

Sarah comes along and says, "I have got an idea. We can make this happen. I can't have children, but why don't you try Hagar? We are going to use a little substitute here and try to work this out on our own energy and in our own effort." 

 

So Abraham has a child with Hagar which is Ishmael. That is not the child of the promise. I skipped one. We have Eleazar. The first thing he tried to do is use his servant as the seed. 

 

God said, "No."

 

He reiterated the promise to him and established the covenant with him. Then we have the attempt with Hagar. 

 

Then God says, "No. It is not Ishmael. Ishmael is not the seed. You will have a son from you and Sarah."

 

So then finally, after ten years when Abraham is 100 and Sara is 90, Sarah got pregnant and had Isaac. So then Isaac is growing up and this is finally the seed that God has promised. There have been all of these various tests that came along in the mean time. 

 

You get to chapter 22 and God says, "Okay. Now you are going to have the son that I promised you and you will go sacrifice him." 

 

That is his final test. That test is what he passes in chapter 22. This is when God reaffirms for the last time the covenant promise with Abraham which is the quote that we have in verse 14. So that tells us where we are headed. 

 

Now there are a couple of other things that we ought to note here to pick up the significance of verse 15.

 

So after he had patiently endured. 

 

The patience, the endurance is first; and then you realize the promise. After this test in Genesis 22 there is no longer a test for Abraham related to the seed.  He now can rest in confidence. He knows that Isaac is going to live. He can relax. The next thing he is concerned about is making sure that Isaac has a wife. 

 

Now when we look at this word makrothumeo, there are two ways we can understand this. The first time I read this and after I read it for a couple of times, I was wrestling with this because I thought about "after he patiently endured". I am thinking in terms of the totality of Abraham's life.  Was he patient when he tried to make Eleazar his heir? Was he being patient when he tried to make Hagar the mother of the promised seed? That doesn't fit the idea of patience. It turns out that makrothumeo can have one of two ideas. One is to wait patiently over the period from the beginning of the promise. That doesn't apply. But the other idea is to patiently endure during that particular test. That is what we see exemplified with Abraham in that final Genesis 22 test. He has a relaxed mental attitude. Up to that point we don't see Abraham relaxing in the grace provision and promise of God. 

 

He always seems to be saying, "Okay God. You promised me a son. Let me figure out how I can make that happen."

 

But finally when he gets there, God says, "Sacrifice him."

 

Abraham doesn't say anything but, "Yes, sir."

 

He is very relaxed and puts everything together and heads to Mt. Moriah in order to sacrifice Isaac. 

 

So let's turn in our Bibles and go back and review what happens in Genesis 22. 

 

This has always been one of my favorite episodes in the Old Testament because it is such a perfect picture of the whole concept of substitutionary salvation.

 

NKJ Genesis 22:1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."

 

So some time has passed between the birth of Isaac and this time. Now he is a young man. He is anywhere from 15 to 30 years of age I think. 

 

It makes a point out of the fact that this is a test. Almost any decision you make in life is a test in one sense. You have to decide whether or not you are going to apply or if you are going to do it out of your own energy and your own ability. In that sense almost any decision that we make as we plan our day, as we conduct our business, as we respond to whatever things happen during the day whatever people do, that's a test. It is an opportunity to apply the Word or not apply the Word. There are specific tests that God brings into our lives that are designed to move us to the next stage of spiritual growth. We have identified 13 of those in the life of Abraham. 

 

So God brings this final test to Abraham. He decides to test Abraham and he calls to him. The word here for test is the Hebrew word nasa. It means to test, try, or approve. It's similar to the New Testament word dokimazo which means to prove the value of something. It's not there to show where you are going to fail, but how you are going to succeed. The quality of you spiritual growth is evaluated. So God tests Abraham. Abraham responds. 

 

He says, "I am here.  I am ready." 

 

NKJ Genesis 22:2 Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."

 

In the Hebrew it is unusual. God doesn't just give him a mandate. He starts off and the best way to translate is "Abraham, would you please take your son." It is a very polite expression. I think it indicates that God recognizes how serious this is. This is not a trivial request. This is going to be a tough situation for a father to take his son and offer him as a human sacrifice. 

 

So He says, "Abraham, would you please take your son." 

 

He repeats it with emphasis – your only son, Isaac - your only Isaac. Why? Because He is emphasizing that this is the seed. 

 

"This is the one that I promised that we went through (25 years of spiritual growth development) before you were finally ready for Me to give you what I had promised you 25 years earlier."

 

Now what I am going to ask you is to take him (the product of all these years of development) to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. 

 

The command there to go to the land of Moriah is the same form of the verb that you have in 12:1 where God commanded Abraham to go and to leave his parents. It indicates that he is to go alone. This is a test for him. Just as he was tested initially to trust God and leave the land of his fathers and to go to the land that God would show him, now he is being tested in relationship to the seed. This is the final test so there is a certain parallelism there. He is asked to offer Isaac as a burnt offering, an olah. It is from the Hebrew word meaning to go up, to climb, or to ascend. It is the idea that when you offer burnt offering the smoke from the offering ascends up to God. So olah always refers to a burnt offering where you kill the sacrifice and then you have wood piled around the altar and you burn it and everything burns up and goes up to God. So God isn't saying just go up there and slit his throat as a sacrifice.

 

God is saying. "Go slit his throat, kill him and burn him and completely destroy everything." 

 

Now the Old Testament doesn't really tell you what is going on with Abraham's attitude other than it shows this immediate compliance of Abraham where he gets Isaac. They get a servant to go with them part of the way. But Hebrews 11:17-19 gives us Abraham's thought processes. By faith Abraham does this. Now remember what verse 11 said in Hebrews 6. "By faith and endurance he inherited the promise." 

 

Now the focus in 13 and 14 is on the patience – by faith and patience. Here in 11:17 we have the faith aspect - by faith. That is by means of the doctrine that Abraham has learned, he finally has come to realize by Genesis 22 that God is the God of His word. God has faithfully fulfilled every promise that He has made to Abraham and God is completely trustworthy. He can trust God with everything. God promised him a seed. So he is sitting there thinking that if God promised him, then in order for God to fulfill the promise that even if I kill him, God is going to bring him back to life. That is exactly what the writer of Hebrews said. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

 

NKJ Hebrews 11:18 of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called,"

 

NKJ Hebrews 11:19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

 

So what Hebrews 11 is showing us is that Abraham is relaxed because he has figured it out. God said that his seed is going to come through Isaac and there is nothing that is going to prevent that. Even if he slits Isaac's throat and has to burn the body to fulfill the command to offer up an olah to God, God is going to bring him back from the dead. That is the only way that God can fulfill His promise and God always keeps His word. So he has tremendous confidence. With that confidence in God, he has a relaxed mental attitude about the whole thing. He can move through the whole situation with a tremendous degree of calm. 

 

NKJ Genesis 22:3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

 

Again we have a burnt offering. Six times this word is restated in the text to make sure we understand that it is a burnt offering. 

 

Every time I see this word I am reminded about the story over in Judges 11 that deals with Jephthah. Jephthah made the vow that he is going to offer his daughter as a burnt offering. 

 

Every mamby-pamby evangelical comes along and says, "You know, he is a great hero of the faith. He isn't going to offer his daughter as a sacrifice. He did something else."

 

But this word never indicates it means anything else. They miss the purpose of many of those Judges stories, which is to show that on the one hand these guys trust God at key moments; but then at other times because everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes, they completely blow it. Sound familiar?

 

So burnt offering means burnt offering. 

 

NKJ Genesis 22:4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.

 

Now this shows how God ties everything together. Mt. Moriah is later identified in Chronicles as the place where Solomon builds the temple. The temple is built. The threshing floor of Araunah is right on the same spot. So you see this pattern that the Holy of Holies is set on the rock that is at the center of the Dome of the Rock now. That is where the Holy of Holies was in Solomon's Temple. That is the site where Abraham offered Isaac. Now the Moslems want to say that it is where he offered Ishmael, but they never do get anything right. 

 

NKJ Genesis 22:5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."

 

On Sunday mornings we are going to be studying this whole concept of worship. This is one reason I wanted to go back through this. It connects several of our studies together. The word for worship here is the word hishtafel imperfect of saha. In the hishtafel it means to prostrate oneself, to bow down. It is the position of the lowest slave to the highest superior. The concept is expressed in Persian customs where an equal would kiss the cheek of an individual. Someone who is a notch or two below would kiss the higher officials hand and then the lowest slave (the one down at the bottom of the food chain) almost grovels. That is the core word that is used for worship in both Old Testament and New Testament. There is something in the mentality of an American because of our emphasis on the value of the individual and the equality of all people and democracy. We haven't grown up in a monarchy where you have all of this protocol where people virtually grovel before the monarch. We lose this concept in our understanding of worship. Yet this is the core biblical idea. We are just a lowly creature before the great creator God of heaven. The core idea of worship is submitting everything in our thinking to the authority of God. That is the ultimate idea of worship. That is what he is saying. We are going to worship. We are going to do exactly what God says to do and completely submit everything that we do to the authority of God, even if that demands the sacrifice of Isaac. So we will worship. 

 

Notice what Abraham says then. 

 

"We will return to you."

 

It is a third person plural of both verbs. 

 

So he has great confidence that they are going to go up there.

 

"I am going to offer Isaac as a burnt offering and God is going to raise him up from the dead and we are coming back." 

 

So he has tremendous confidence and relaxation in this test. But Isaac kind of catches on to this and he says in verse 7…

 

NKJ Genesis 22:7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"

 

He said, "Wait a minute. We have got everything for this burnt offering, but where is the sacrifice?"

 

NKJ Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.

 

This guy is as calm and relaxed as he can be. He has figured it out. As I pointed out in the last couple of lessons, what makes the difference between these great heroes of the faith and many of us is that they finally figure that it is all about God and it is not about us. It is not an issue anymore. Abraham figures that out and so he knows that God is going to be faithful to His word no matter what He asks him to do. So he is just going to do what God wants him to do and let God take care of the situation.

 

NKJ Genesis 22:9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.

 

I have often wondered what happens here. The Holy Spirit glosses over this.

 

Abraham says, "Okay son. You are the sacrifice and we have to put you on the altar. So just to make sure that you don't panic at the last minute, come over here and turn around and let me tie your hands behind your back and let me put you on the altar on the wood." 

 

This has to also say something about Isaac's authority orientation to his father and to God and his own spiritual maturity at this point that he is going to do this. 

 

I wonder if Abraham had to say, "Okay. We are going to have a little teaching moment here. Remember that you are the child of promise. God said that it would all come through you. God has always fulfilled His word so that no matter what happens, we know that we are both going to walk out of here because God is going to be true to His word."

 

Great teaching moment! 

 

NKJ Genesis 22:10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

 

The word there for slay indicates the kind of violent action necessary in a sacrifice. This is the typical word used in sacrificial narrative. 

 

Then verse 12. At the last minute God stops him and says… 

 

NKJ Genesis 22:12 And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."

 

You see, Abraham believed God. It is not the belief of God that was accounted to him as righteousness in Genesis 15:7. This is the James 2:24 passage where now he is believing God as a vindication of the whole spiritual growth process revealing his spiritual maturity. 

 

Of course we have to remember that fear of God isn't merely respect. This shows how much our culture influences how we think about these things. We don't want to think about fearing God; but if you were ever dragged to the principle's office when you were in about the fourth or fifth grade, you understand what fearing God is about to some degree. You know that there is accountability. That is what the concept of fearing God is. It is a respect for who He is as the creator. There is this sense of dread because we are accountable to Him. It is the fear of God (that sense of awe and accountability) that is the beginning of wisdom that the writer of Proverbs talks about several times.

 

NKJ Genesis 22:13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.

 

This is the picture in the Old Testament for substitutionary atonement. The ram is offered as the burnt offering instead of Isaac. I remember when I was a young kid at Camp Peniel and every night we would have a camp fire. They would tell Bible stories. I always remember (this is one of Gordon Whitelock's favorite stories to tell) because it  burned itself into my memory year after year - him telling this story that Jesus Christ is the ram that is sacrificed in our place. It is such a perfect picture of salvation.

 

NKJ Genesis 22:14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided."

 

NKJ Genesis 22:15 Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven,

 

This is where we get the quote that is used in Hebrews 6. 

 

NKJ Genesis 22:16 and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son --

 

This is what Hebrews 6:13 refers to.

 

That is the third time we have that phrase. 

 

NKJ Genesis 22:17 "blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.

 

The promise that is referred to here is not the land promise but the promise related to blessing and seed. The blessing would come through his seed. 

 

Literal translation: I will certainly bless you and certainly multiply your descendents as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore.

 

NKJ Genesis 22:18 "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

 

By faith (trusting God) and by patience and by the way he has such a relaxed mental attitude – from the time God called him to take his only son to sacrifice him on Mt. Moriah until the very end of the process – he never panicked. He never got impatient. He never lost his relaxed mental attitude. He had a constant focus on God's character and God's promise and God's faithfulness to His promise. As a result he obtained, he realized the promise. God reiterates it for the last time. It is securely Abraham's. This brings him to that final stage of spiritual maturity

 

Now let's go back to our passage in Hebrews 6. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:14 saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you."

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

 

Now we are going to have another explanation that develops in verse 16. We have a principle introduced at the beginning of verse 16. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.

 

So now the focus is going to be on what God does in His action of swearing by Himself. So this shifts the focus from the concept of inheriting the promise to the God who is behind the promise. We will see that emphasis on God in the next 5 verses, from 16 down to 20. That will set us up for understanding the high priesthood of Christ. So we will come back to verse 16 next week.