Hebrews Lesson 78 February 15, 2007
NKJ Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
We are in Hebrews 6 and we are nearing the end of this particular section in Hebrews which started off leading to a discussion on the Melchizedekean priesthood, the priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek which is distinct from the Jewish Levitical priesthood. As the writer is about to embark on an in depth discussion of Christ's priesthood, he stops. He abruptly changes subjects and shifts to a spiritual challenge – almost a rebuke. The tone gets pretty sharp in a few places at the end of chapter 5 leading to one of the most debated warning passages in the New Testament in chapters 6:4-8 where some people say that it indicates that if you commit certain sins or if you are not faithful then you will lose your salvation.
We went through that in detail and showed that it isn't true. The tone of the writer as he challenges them. Because they have become dull of hearing according to verse 11, because they have come to need milk and not solid food in verse 12, and because they are unskilled in the word of righteousness, he rebukes them. It seems rather harshly, and then he changes his tone in verse 9 and comes back and says…
NKJ Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.
That is a word (salvation) that is loaded with phase 3 sense rather than phase 1.
NKJ Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
That is spiritual advance – the divine good that you already have and your labor of love. The way you have ministered to others in the body of Christ
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.
He wants them to show the same diligence that Old Testament saints who have pushed through to spiritual maturity. So he is thinking in terms of Old Testament examples. This leads him to verse 12 where he says…
NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Then he is going to give an illustration. There is one illustration that he uses beginning in verse 13 where he talks about God making the promise to Abraham. Throughout this section we have this emphasis on promise – promise in verse 12, promise in verse 13, promise in verse 15, and promise in verse 17. What under girds and what are the hidden girders, as it were, the strength of this whole argument is that it is based on the character of God. That is His overt purpose - to challenge them to press forward because of what is in front of them. It is based upon God's immutability and His veracity.
We start off being reminded of the character of God. There are two aspects of the character of God that are brought out in this passage. The first is God's immutability which means His unchangeableness. It is related to the doctrine of God's faithfulness. When we look at the Old Testament Hebrew words for faithfulness, one of the word groups that is used is translated faithfulness is the word group based on Hebrew three letter word group IMN. It comes across in some forms as amen or aman and in some forms it is amuna which indicates faithfulness and in other passages it indicates truth. One of the passages where this word is used in a different context gives us a different sense of its meaning. It refers in a passage in Chronicles to the foundation stones under the door posts of the temple. These would be those bedrock stones that were used to support the foundation of the entryway to the temple.
Now when we were over in Israel last summer, we saw some of the foundation stones from the Second Temple period. Some of those may have been from the First Temple period which would have been this period. They were estimated to weigh as much as 530 tons. If you are familiar with the Great Pyramid at Giza, people tend to taught that as being a great architectural wonder and the largest stone in the Great Pyramid at Giza is 30 tones. Let's see – 30 tons – 530 tons – 30 tones – 530 tones. These are impressive. You just don't move them very easily. We can say they are immovable. That is the idea of God's faithfulness. It is immoveable, unshakable. It is unchangeable. We can always count on and depend upon God's faithfulness.
Because God is faithful He is also truth. His Word is dependable. This leads to the other direction that the word group takes. That is truthfulness or veracity. So both ideas -faithfulness on the one hand and veracity on the other hand - come out of this same basic word group. When we talk these two aspects of God's character the attributes, His immutability and His veracity - they are interdependent upon one another. They connect to one another. They are not independent autonomous concepts. We have an emphasis on those two attributes in this passage.
The other thing that lies in the background here is the creator-creature distinction that God is completely different from us. He is distinct as the creator and we are the creatures. Nothing within the creaturely frame of reference is dependable as God is dependable. Nothing in human experience is truth in the sense that God is truth. We can talk about things that are true with a small "t", but God is TRUTH. He is the source of TRUTH. He isn't true because God in His character somehow fits an abstract external standard of what truth is. That would be a Greek concept that somehow truth or these abstract principles – that the material universe is based on and exemplified. In Greek thought there is no person behind the impersonal physical universe. You just have matter out there – an eternal matter. But what we have in Scripture is that God is a person and He is completely distinct from anything within the creation. Therefore you can't have truth in God or righteousness in God or any moral judgment in God being moral, right or true because it fits a standard external to God. God is His own standard. He is the ultimate reference point for everything in creation. That is part of the importance of the creator-creature distinction. Therefore you have passages that talk about God's thought being higher than our thoughts and God's ways being different from our ways. He is totally different.
So our understanding of God is something that theologians will say is analogical. Analogical simply means we understand God by way of analogy. We don't understand Him or know Him exhaustively or completely or even directly. We understand Him indirectly. The Bible uses numerous comparisons and metaphors and figures of speech like anthropopathisms and anthropomorphisms to communicate to us within our limited, finite frame of reference. We can know God truly, but we can't know God exhaustively. It is on the basis of His character that we can learn to relax no matter what the problems are. So a place where one doctrine that the writer of Hebrews is headed toward here is that it is the truth of God and it is Jesus Christ who provides this anchor for the soul. This is verse 19. That is something that holds us stable.
Obviously he is dealing with a group of believers who because of persecution, who because they have left the priesthood (They are Jewish Christians) they have left their families. They are going through rejection. They are going through persecution. They are going through a number of different things of that nature. They are unstable at this point because of their uncertainty with doctrine. This goes back to phrases used earlier that they have come to need milk and not solid food. They have become dull of hearing. As a result of that he is challenging them to return to the only point of stability that exists in the universe.
So what under girds the section that we are studying this evening from verse 16 down to 20 is the immutability and veracity of God. This is what gives us stability in life. It is not from anything in creation. It is not from your circumstances, emotions, feelings, how people respond to you, how people treat you, your job. Nothing gives us certainty or stability other than God.
So let us review where the passage is going. In verse 13 the writer is reviewing or giving a reason why they should imitate Old Testament saints through faith and patience. The example comes from Abraham. So he explains.
NKJ Hebrews 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,
Verse 13 brings in this idea of . Verse 16 will come back and develop this idea as will verse 17 ending up with the phrase "confirmed by an oath". That comes directly out of Genesis 22 as we studied it last time. God tested Abraham by telling him to take Isaac up to Mt. Moriah and to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. This is a quote from Hebrews 6:14 that is lifted directly out of Genesis 22:17. At the end of the test after Abraham has passed the whole test, from the time God first ordered him to take Isaac to Mt. Moriah to the time that he completes the test and God stays his hand and provides the substitute ram, when this is all over with, God gives his last confirmation, reiteration of the Abrahamic Covenant to Abraham. He says…
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.
Literal translation: I will certainly bless you and I will certainly multiply your descendents.
The focal point here is on the seed which was the issue of the test – whether or not Abraham was willing to trust God with the life of Isaac. Hebrews 6:14 translates it simply as (lifts out that first part)…
NKJ Hebrews 6:14 saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you."
Now when we look at verse 15, we read….
NKJ Hebrews 6:15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
I pointed out last time that the concept of patience here isn't talking about his patience from the first time God gave him the promise of the seed, when he was 75 years old until the seed was finally realized when he was 100. He didn't. He had to learn to trust God. When that final test came, he was patient and had a relaxed mental attitude about it because he knew God could resurrect Isaac even if he had to sacrifice him. God would bring him back from the dead. So he had a relaxed mental attitude. He trusted God and had patience – faith and patience – throughout that test. He obtained the promise, that is the security of that particular quote. What is interesting is Hebrews tends to reverse the emphasis of these verses a little bit from Genesis 22. Genesis 22:16 talks about God's swearing an oath to Abraham. Genesis 22:17 gives us the content of the oath whereas in Hebrews, although it mentions the swearing in verse 13, verse 14 quotes from Genesis 22:17. Then verses 16 and 17 come back to further explain the significance of God swearing an oath.
Why is it important that God swore and oath?
So we come to verse 16. Verse 16 reads…
NKJ Hebrews 6:16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.
The explanation that the writer gives here is based first on human experience. Rather than starting with God, which is what we would expect, he is explaining why God used an oath. God doesn't need to give an oath because God is truth. He is truth. His word is truth. He doesn't need to swear an oath. He just needs to say it. It is as true and sure as if He had sworn an oath. But God swears the oath in order to reinforce the certainty of the promise for the sake of the frailty of human beings. So verse 16 is simply a statement that confirms normal human practice.
The word translated "men" is the word anthropos which can mean human beings as a whole. In this passage, even though it can mean human beings as a whole and it doesn't necessarily mean males as opposed to males and females, it is probably talking about men because the context of oath swearing is based on the Mosaic Law. In the Hebrew Old Testament you don't have any examples of women swearing of an oath. Swearing of an oath was a legal and a covenant issue so the restrictions are such that it applied to men as opposed to women. So it is talking about the Jewish practice. Men indeed swear by the greater. It is typical of men to come along and swear an oath in the name of a deity.
The word there in the Greek for an oath is the word omnuo which means to affirm the veracity or the truthfulness of a statement by invoking a transcendent entity. Frequently it is associated with an implied invitation of punishment if one is untruthful. In other words, if my words don't come true then cut off my arm or take my life or something of that nature. So that is the idea of an oath. So they make an oath of confirmation. In Exodus 22:11 gives us one example of that in the Old Testament.
NKJ Exodus 22:11 "then an oath of the LORD shall be between them both, that he has not put his hand into his neighbor's goods; and the owner of it shall accept that, and he shall not make it good.
The issue here has to do with a case law in the Mosaic Law where there is concern that one person has stolen from another. The one who has been accused of thievery is supposed to take an oath of the Lord. This is a very serious matter. It would take place at the tabernacle or the temple. It involved the sacrifice of an animal and swearing before God that this act had not taken place.
Verse 16 goes on to say that this oath is for confirmation. That word for confirmation is the word bebaiosis which means to establish or to ratify a treaty or to confirm a covenant. Now we are going to go to Galatians 3:15ff in a few minutes. You have a different word for ratify there. But, these are synonyms. Bebaiosis means to establish or to ratify a treaty or to confirm a treaty. Now if you look down a little bit ahead in Hebrews 6 to verse 19, you will see the word steadfast. It is translated steadfast in the English. This is a cognate of this same word. I think that is why the writer of Hebrews uses this. It establishes a confirming of a covenant. It has certainty. That is steadfast. So he is using this similar vocabulary because it reinforces what under girds this whole passage which is the absolute certainty of God's word and that it can be depended upon despite what our feelings might be or what the circumstances may indicate. So in the human realm men are involved in a disagreement or a dispute would swear an oath.
This would bring an end to the dispute which is the Greek word antilogia meaning a controversy, some sort of question of law or dispute or where there is an antagonism. So we have this idea of antilogia or a substitute word which comes to mean a dispute. So we have a simple illustration in verse 16 to explain the significance of an oath. It is that men come and swear by a deity. They invoke the name of a god or goddess or whatever. It is something greater than them.
To whom is God going to appeal as greater than He? There is no one. That is the point. This has a lot of applications one of which is one you get into in apologetics. How are you going to prove the Bible? What standard are you going to use? If the Bible is what it claims to be which is the very word of God, how are you going to prove it by appealing to a greater standard? There is not a greater standard. Now this leads to what a lot of non-Christians will say is a circular argument.
"Why do you believe the Bible?"
"Because it is the Word of God."
"How do you know it is the word of God?"
"Because it says so."
"How do you know it is true?"
"Because it is the Word of God.".
It sounds like a circular argument, but in fact it can be presented that way. A lot of people do. It is not circular. What we are arguing is that we know it is the Word of God because there are confirming evidences that it is true. In other words if there are claims that the Bible is true, then you look at various things that document or support that.
For example you can look at archeology today and how archeology has confirmed things historically that the Bible said happened. You can look at prophecies that were made in the Old Testament. You can go to prophecies made about the destruction of Tyre. You can go to prophecies like Daniel's 70 weeks in Daniel 9. You can go to other prophecies that were made from Isaiah's time some 200 to 300 years before the Babylonian captivity where Isaiah makes it clear that they are going to be taken out and destroyed by the Babylonians. Not only that, but somebody named Cyrus is going to be responsible for bringing everybody back. So you have the specificity of numerous Old Testament prophecies that reinforce the veracity of God's word. So you look at these things as confirmations and evidences.
You do the same thing with claims on the deity of Christ.
"How do you know that Jesus is God?"
"The Bible says so."
"How do you know the Bible is true?"
"Because Jesus said it was true."
"Well, how do you know that Jesus is telling the truth?"
You get into what appears to be a circular argument. But the problem that you have in some kinds of apologetics is that they treat truth and history as if they are autonomously absolute and you can't do that. Let me give you an example of that. You can prove Jesus is God because of the resurrection.
There are unbelievers, non-Christian skeptics who say, "Great. Jesus rose from the dead. There are all kinds of things that happened in history that I can't explain. That doesn't prove that He is God."
What has happened in that apologetic approach is that there is an assumption that we can all agree if something happened in history it means something. So history is treated as if proves as opposed to confirming the Bible. So these may seem like some nice little fine tuned things that you shouldn't be concerned with. But if you talk to somebody that has any snap between their ears, they come back with these kinds of things. So it is important to recognize that if you are explaining, giving an answer for the hope that is in you - you don't make the mistake of setting up either abstract concepts of truth, right or wrong, history or any of these other things as autonomous absolutes that God is then answerable to as if it is a truth.
Sometimes you will hear someone say, "God wouldn't do that because God is fair."
I just heard something that I didn't like. That is that a lot of people have their own idea of what fair is. Then God conforms to it. See God by definition determines from His character what fairness is, what righteousness is, and what justice is. There is not this abstract autonomous concept. He defines what everything is. So you can't slip around this. That is what the writer is pointing out. When men swear by something it is greater than them. But God is going to swear by something, but what is greater than God? We come to our next verse.
In the New King James it begins, "Thus God" which is a way to try to smooth out the Greek. It literally says, "In which."
NKJ Hebrews 6:17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath,
Literal translation: In this act of swearing an oath.
God is the subject. Then you have a participle.
That's the point. In the practice of swearing an oath, God confirmed what He was going to do with Abraham. So why did He do it this way? He did it in order to give us a greater sense. He is condescending to us. He is lowering Himself to our level of frame of reference so that we can understand what He is doing. So He gives us confirmation through this oath ceremony. So He is going to show us something.
The word epideiknumi means to show, to exhibit, to show something off before something or to demonstrate something before an audience. That is what the writer is saying here. This is exhibit A for God's faithfulness. God swore an oath by Himself. So He does this as a testimony, as a witness for all generations to come back and see this thing that God did in space-time and history with Abraham. He does it to demonstrate something before an audience. The audience is defined here as the heirs of promise. That would apply to believers.
He does so more abundantly. The word translated "more abundantly" brings up the concept of going beyond what is expected. It is from the Greek word perisoteros which is a comparative word indicating that it goes far beyond any other expectation. It is an exceeding manner. It is more than abundant. It is super abundant. God wants to do more than anyone could ever ask or hope for or think. So He is going to go far beyond what might be simply acceptable in order to make this demonstration to the heirs of promise that His word is immutable.
The word for immutability is the word ametathetos which means it is unalterable, it is unchangeable or impossible. We get this word a couple of times. We get it in verse 17 and we are going to get it again in verse 18. The New King James translates it immutable in both places. It can be immutable, unchangeable. Metatithemi refers to something that is changeable. The alpha (the a at the beginning) is like our prefix un. It negates the word so it literally means unchangeable or immutable.
What is immutable is His counsel. This is the Greek word boulomai. As soon as some people hear the word counsel, they immediately jump to the doctrine of divine decrees. This passage doesn't have anything to do with the doctrine of divine decrees. You don't see anything like that. The word boulomai simply expresses His wish, His desire or His plan for something.
If we are in the middle of an illustration, a biblical illustration, of God's promise to Abraham, what is the plan that we are talking about? God's plan for Israel – God's plan to bring in a Savior through the descendents of Abraham in relationship to His promise in the covenant - that God is going to give Abraham descendents and a piece of real estate (the land). He is going to give him specific descendents under the category of seed. Through them all nations are going to be blessed. If you go back to verse 14 where you have the quote from Genesis 22:17, the focus of that quote in Genesis 22:17 is on the seed, on His blessing for all people. So God determines to show more abundantly. This is His grace that goes beyond anything that we can imagine to the heirs of promise (that is in context to the Jews), the immutability to His counsel. That is that God is not going to go back on His promise to Abraham.
God is not someone who is going to come along and say, "You Jews, you failed to accept the Messiah so therefore I am going to cut you out."
That is called replacement theology. You have a lot of people today who think replacement theology is great. In fact, there is a scholarly paper that was published on the website for John Knox Seminary. John Knox Seminary is associated with James Kennedy's Presbyterian Church in Coral Gables, California. You see James Kennedy on television all the time. He is probably Lordship. He is very Calvinistic, very reformed in his theology. The faculty there wrote a paper Why Evangelicals Don't Need to Support Israel. That is the gist of the title. That is because as far as they are concerned Israel forfeited any special place in God' plan in history because they rejected the Messiah. That is replacement theology.
Surprise, surprise! If you are a pre-millennial dispensationalist, you reject replacement theology. You believe that God still has a future plan for Israel. We are in the minority. We are in a shrinking minority because as you throw out literal interpretation of Scripture and you throw a number of these other biblical distinctives, with the pressure that is being put on Israel by the world and everybody in America is scared to death to fight a war anymore - we have all turned yellow and chicken and nobody wants to do what needs to be done to destroy radical Islam. What happens is people have compromised for so long with the agenda of the Arabs that nobody has the framework, the politics, or the backbone to stand up anymore. So let's find some justification in Scripture not to support Israel anymore.
It is amazing that we have a President who supports Israel for the most part. His policies support Israel. As long as we have men in the White House who continue to do that, then God is going to (I think) continue to protect America. Once we start letting anybody near the White House who has an agenda to mollify the radical Arab agenda to destroy Israel, then we probably going to see things like 9/11 happen on a much greater order.
So the focus here is on the fact God's counsel (His will, His plan for Israel) is immutable. He is not going to go back on the Abrahamic Covenant. This is why he confirmed it by an oath.
The word there translated confirm is the Greek word mesiteuodoesn't really mean confirm. We have that in some other words. Bebaiaoo has that idea in some passages. This is a different word. It means to act as a guarantor, to mediate a struggle, to act as a guarantor of something. In other words God steps into the middle of this situation and He is going to guarantee the promise Himself by means of His own oath. So that is how it should be translated.
Literal translation: In which (in this practice of oath swearing) God determining to show through His abundant grace to the heirs of the promise (that is to Israel) the immutability of His plan, confirmed it (or guaranteed it) by means of an oath.
Now let's hold our place here and turn over to Galatians 3. Galatians 3 uses the same kind of vocabulary to talk about this same promise. So hold your place and turn to Galatians 3.
In Galatians 2-6 the focus is on sanctification – that it is not by means of the law; it is by means of the Holy Spirit. Before he gets to talking about the role of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:16, Paul builds a case showing why the law (and what God did through the Jews) was not only temporary; but it cannot be the basis of the spiritual life. So chapter 3 fits in the middle of that discussion where he is reinforcing the fact that we have been redeemed by Christ; not by the law.
Then verse 14 gives us the purpose for that redemption that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus. That is part of the Genesis 22:17 promise that God would bless all the nations through Abraham.
NKJ Galatians 3:14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
With the purpose, clause he is connecting Christ Jesus, the redemption, the justification that was the sub issue in Galatians 1 and 2 with the coming of the Holy Spirit as a basis for the blessings of the Church Age believer.
Now verse 15.
NKJ Galatians 3:15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.
Isn't that what the writer of Hebrews did? He starts off in verse 16. He is talking about human practices.
NKJ Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.
Paul does the same thing in Galatians 3:15.
I am not making a case for Pauline authorship of Hebrews. Don't worry. They use different vocabulary and different styles; but they are saying the same thing. These two passages sort of reinforce each other.
When you go out and buy a house and sign a real estate contract with a realtor or you get a mortgage and you sign a contract for the mortgages or you get a credit card and you sign that contract - any time in life you sign a contract, you sign a covenant. It is a human covenant. Even though you have a human covenant, it is confirmed.
Once it is confirmed, it is ratified. This is the Greek word kuroo. It is not a form of bebaioo like we had in Hebrews. It is kuroo which refers to authority or confirmation to establish something as valid. Once it is confirmed, once you sign the document and it gets notarized, you don't come back and add to it. You can't change it.
You don't wake up the next morning and go, "Well, the market dropped yesterday. Interest rates are now 5% and not 5 ¼ so I am just going to start paying 5% interest on my loan."
You can't change it. Once it is established, it is set. That is the point.
Now we get into verse 16. Verse 16 says...
NKJ Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.
This is a great promise. Paul is going to take this one passage and he is going to digress. He is going to take the short rabbit trail here in order to make a very important point.
This is the Abrahamic Covenant.
He did not say "and to seed". Paul's point isn't that it goes to all the Jews.
The blessing goes through one person. That is the Lord Jesus Christ. So Paul builds his whole point here on the fact that you have a noun in the singular and not in the plural. This is what lies behind our emphasis on the doctrine of inspiration and word-by-word exegesis. It is the words of Scripture that are inspired not the idea. It is important to look at the grammar. It is said this way instead of that way for a purpose. It is not simply just for literary variation.
One of the things that happens when you are writing is that a general rule of writing is don't use the same word again and again in a paragraph or over two or three paragraphs. There should be variation of style and variation of vocabulary. But sometimes if you are making a point about something, you'll repeat the same word. I pointed out in Hebrews 6 that Paul uses the word promise 3 or 4 times. Four times I think. You have that kind of thing happen in other parts of Scripture where Paul will use the same word 5 or 6 times in three verses and you will have four or five different English words used to translate the same Greek word. What happens there is you just changed the emphasis of the Scripture. God the Holy Spirit inspired the writer through inspiration to use that same word 5 times for emphasis - in order to pull attention to that one word in that one concept. God the Holy Spirit didn't think that you needed various styles in order to keep people from falling asleep or to think He was a bad writer. He was making a point that way. That is how it was done in ancient literature. So when a translator comes along and uses three of four different English words to translate one Greek word that is used four or five times in those same verses, it changes the emphasis of the passage ever so subtly. But it changes the thrust of the passage. The English reader can't catch on to the thread that the Holy Spirit set up there by repeating the same word 5 or 6 times throughout the passage.
Just to give you a little review on the doctrine of inspiration. Our word inspiration is not the best word. The word that is the English translation of the Greek word theopneustos literally means God-breathed. God the Holy Spirit so supernaturally directed the human writers of Scripture in such a way that they are breathing out Scripture. It is not that they somehow have some sort of a lofty idea all of a sudden. We talk about Shakespeare being inspired or some artist being inspired or some sudden new ideas or something being such an inspiration or somebody being motivated or motivating us by their behavior. That is not what we mean. It means to – outspire is what it should be. God breathed out through these human writers of Scripture so that without waiving their human intelligence, vocabulary, individuality, literary style, personality, their personal feelings, or any other human factor, His complete and coherent message to mankind was recorded with perfect accuracy in the original languages of Scripture, the very words bearing the authority of the divine authorship.
That is what we refer to as verbal inspiration. The words are inspired. That is very important.
Plenary is another word that has been introduced. That means that the totality of Scripture is equally inspired so that the genealogies of I Chronicles 1-9 are just as inspired as the Sermon on the Mount. They are just as much the words of Christ because the whole Bible is the mind of Christ. They are just as much the words of Christ as those red-letter sections in your red-letter Bible.
I always get a kick out of this. Dr. Ryrie would drill that into us when I had him for Bibliology in my first year of seminary. The whole Bible is the Word of God – not just what Jesus said. It is all what Jesus said. At home I have a copy of the red-letter edition of the Ryrie Study Bible. I know that he must have had battles with Moody Press over that. Maybe he didn't have any editorial control. That is a problem with these Christian publishing houses. They are so tied to the market place that they are going to produce what they perceive the market wants and not what is right.
Anyhow that is our emphasis. That is the application of this in verse 16. Whether it is singular or plural, present tense or aorist tense - these are important because God said it that way. That is our digression.
Now we get to verse 17.
NKJ Galatians 3:17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.
That is 430 years after Abraham.
That's the Abrahamic Covenant.
Paul is arguing the same thing. The Abrahamic Covenant is still in effect. It was a permanent contract as opposed to the temporary nature of the Mosaic Covenant.
NKJ Galatians 3:18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
See how that ties right in. We are talking about inheritance. It is no longer a promise. It is the same word that we have in Hebrews.
It is God's promise that we can count on. He is not going to go back on His word
So He established it by a promise. He swore by Himself because there was none greater. So that brings us to verse 18 in Hebrews 6. So turn back with me to Hebrews 6. Now here the writer says…
NKJ Hebrews 6:18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
What are the two immutable things? The first immutable thing is Himself – His character. The second immutable thing is the oath. So remember under the Mosaic Law in order for something to be confirmed there had to be two witnesses. So you have two witnesses: His own character and His unchangeable oath. So there are two unchangeable things, two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie. We have two other passages that reiterate this same principle – Number 23:19.
NKJ Numbers 23:19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
And then Titus 1:2.
NKJ Titus 1:2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
Lying is impossible for God because He is perfectly righteous. It violates His character. It doesn't violate some external standard. He can't do it ontologically. It is impossible for Him in terms of His basic being for that to ever happen. It just can't happen anymore than water can run uphill. It is not in its nature.
Here is where he is making an application that in order that we can have strong consolation. That is, that we can be strengthened, that we can be encouraged not on the basis of experience but on the basis of God and the historical record.
We may come from different backgrounds. You may come from a Jewish background. You may be involved with persecution or hostility from the Jewish segment. You may come out of a Greek or Gentile background, a Roman background whatever it may be. There is always pressure in Satan's world to do it Satan's way, to follow your sin nature. But we have a refuge where we flee to lay hold of the hope that is set before us.
The word for hope is our confident expectation. It is before us. That means that it is set out there ahead of us. This is something we look toward; we look to. It is the future that God has promised us. It is certain. It is not something that we might lose.
Don't misinterpret Hebrews 6:4-6 as the possibility of losing your salvation. Our salvation is guaranteed by the promise of God that no matter what happens we still are saved. We can't lose our justification. We can't lose the destiny that God has for us. There is an inheritance set out there and so it is the reality of that inheritance that hope that is set out there that gives us strength for today. It gives us stability because it isn't based on who and what we are, but who and what God is.
Then we come to verse 19. He uses the illustration or the metaphor of an anchor of the soul in order to communicate that sense of stability – something that can't be moved, something that can't have its anchor cut and go off course.
He has already talked about the hope. It is supplied by most translations for the ease of reading.
It is this confident expectation – what is going to happen in the future – the promise that God has made. Here he has made a transition from the promise that God made to the Jews in the Old Testament to the promise of the future destiny for the Church Age believer. It is this hope, this promise of what is to come that serves as a basis of stability in our lives today. No matter how things look around you, no matter what may be going on, no matter what pressures what adversities are taking place in your life, no matter how uncertain the circumstances may appear; our certainty, our stability is not based on day-to-day circumstances. They are based on the certainty of God's Word.
We may lose everything that we have in this life. We may end up – those of us in this room may see a time when this country is defeated militarily. With what is going on with the fact that most sane people (or what we thought were sane people in this country) are insane. They don't understand the difference between illegal immigration and legal immigration. Nobody ever wants to talk about it. It is amazing how anybody who has any public platform runs from the truth. As soon as they get in a position that they can talk about it, they refuse to talk about it.
We are being attacked subtly through our borders. There are untold number of illegal Arab immigrants (illegal Muslim immigrants) who have come across the border who seek to do us harm. Who knows how many sleeper cells are here. From what I have heard talking to people in law enforcement in a position to know, Houston is as radicalized a city as far as the Islamic faction is concerned as any place in the country. It could happen here. It could happen anywhere. In the next 20-30 years (many of us are going to live 20, 30, 40 more years) we could see unbelievable disasters take place in our lives.
We could see the economy completely collapse. The United States has so much extended debt it would boggle our minds if we understood how frail the basis of our economy is. It is based on the good word of the government. That is it. There is nothing else there. It is just held up by empty faith. We could lose these things through natural disaster. You could live in Florida for heaven sakes and have lost everything three or four times in the last three or four years. Or you could live in New Orleans. Many people who go through things like that physically, their life will never be the same. They don't have the opportunity to rebuild the kind of house they had or have the job that they had or those circumstances.
So the one thing that we have in life that will never change – the one thing that we can count on, the one thing that is sure – is Jesus Christ. The one thing that is certain is the Word of God and the promise of God. No matter what the winds of adversity may blow our way, God is always true to His word and His word is always true. We may have to go through all kinds of things, but God will always be faithful. So we have one place to run for stability. That is the imagery here. We have one place to run to lay hold of the hope set before us - this anchor of the soul, the one thing that gives stability to your soul both sure and steadfast.
The first word is asphales which means firm, sure, steady, immoveable, safe, and certain. It is a word that is often used in context related to truth.
The second word is steadfast – bebaios. That is related to the word used earlier for the confirmation of a covenant. It is a cognate word.
So we have asphales for a firm, sure, immovable word and steadfast. It is steadfast. It is unshakable. This anchor of the soul enters the presence behind the veil.
Now he makes a shift here. What he has been talking about here is the hope that we have. He connects the hope to Jesus Christ. He ties it into the tabernacle. He says that he enters the presence behind the veil. That was the high priest in the tabernacle.
In the tabernacle you had the outer courtyard and one entryway indicating that there is only one way to enter into God's presence. The Word of God has this exclusivity down throughout all the books of the Bible. One way to go in – you have the outer courtyard where the priests would come. You have various worshippers who would go as far as the altar of burnt offering where they would bring a sacrifice to God. The priest would wash his hands and feet at the laver and then enter into the holy place.
Now the holy place was dividing in two sections. The back third there is a veil on the interior. It separates the inner Holy of Holies from the outer holy place. That is what is being talked about. It is that inner Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant rested, where the High Priest would go on the Day of Atonement. That is the place where God dwelt between the cherubs, as the psalmist would say frequently.
NKJ Hebrews 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,
This hope is what enters the Presence behind the veil.
That is the one who runs ahead, prodromos, the one who is the precursor. It is another word that is used that is similar to the one who is used back in Hebrews 2:10 where it talks about Jesus as the captain, the pioneer, or the leader of our salvation, the author and completer of our faith - Hebrews 12:2. This is another word related that way that He is the one who leads the way for us.
So we are right back to where we left off before we entered into this digression back in verse 10 of chapter 5. We focus on Jesus Christ's royal priesthood as being based on the order of Melchizedek.
NKJ Hebrews 6:20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
The focus here is that this is the only certainty that we have. It is related to Jesus in hypostatic union who has opened the veil for us so that we can enter into the presence of God. It is that orientation to God and His immutability and veracity that is the only basis for hope and certainty in our lives.
So next time we will come back and get into chapter 7 where we start getting into a development of the Melchizedekean priesthood in 7:1. This will be the fourth section of Hebrews.