5th August 2023
Read (Hebrews 6v13-20)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
First posted 15th October 2022
Do you know the difference between an oath and a vow? A vow is a promise made directly to God, for example "Lord I vow that for the next thirty days I will pray each morning". An oath on the other hand is a promise made to another person with God called as a witness, for example "Joe, I promise that I have told you the truth as God is my witness".
In both cases we are to act with all seriousness. If you make a vow to God then be sure to carry it out and if you call upon God as your witness make sure you deal truthfully. But what about the Lord? If He makes a promise how does He prove His faithfulness? Paul's answer is that God swears by Himself.
When the Lord reiterated the Covenant of Grace to Abraham he promised that He would both bless and multiply Father Abraham. To underline His commitment, the Lord swore by Himself. People often swear by something or someone greater than themselves and they give an oath as a confirmation (v16). In the same manner the Lord wished to show us convincingly that His promise and purposes would come to pass, therefore He guaranteed it with an oath (v17).
We see a little glimpse of this in Genesis 15. The Lord promised Abram that his descendants would inherit the land. Abram was to take various animals and cut them in half. The Lord then appeared as a fire pot and a flaming torch and passed between the pieces of the animals. Essentially the Lord was swearing by Himself and telling Abram "If I break my promise, let me be cut in half like these animals."
Needless to say, the Lord was never cut in half for He kept His word fully to Abram. If we are struggling to believe that the Lord will keep His promises then we need to remember two unchangeable things (v17). There is none greater than the Lord (v13) and His promise is certainly true. We sometimes tell children that God can do all things but there are things which he cannot do. One of them is that God cannot lie (v18).
Therefore we have a strong encouragement to cling tightly to the promises of God (v18). He will certainly fulfil His Word and not one of His promises will fail. But how can we cling tightly if this world causes us trouble? How can we stay the course in the midst of the storm?
As every Boys Brigade member will tell you, we have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure as the billows roll (v19). Like the high priests of old who went behind the temple curtain to the holy of holies, Christ is our anchor and He has gone on our behalf to the most holy place (v19-20). He is a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (v19). Who was Melchizedek? He was an Old Testament figure who was both the king and priest of Salem. He wasn't Jesus but he gave us a little glimpse of Christ long before the arrival of the Lord. Jesus is the true priest-king. His sacrifice was enough and today He is at the right hand of the Father where He rules and reigns. In Jesus we have an anchor who keeps our soul, not least when the storms of life threaten to blow us away.
My brothers and sisters the Gospel is no fraud and our God is no snake-oil salesman. What He has promised is true and what He has promised He will do. Every promise is yes and amen in Christ Jesus our Lord. How can we be sure? Because God has sworn by Himself and cannot lie. Trust Him!
Q10 How did God create man? God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.