“…take hold of the hope…” Hebrews 6:18
In our journey through Hebrews last week, we discovered Jesus’ heavenly identity as being “…in the order of Melchizedek” (5:6,10) - not selected among men, but sent from God, evidenced by His obedience to death on a cross. The writer, though, chastised his audience of Jewish converts (the first converts to Christianity were Jewish – occurring at Pentecost) for being unable to distinguish between good and evil (5:11-14), telling them they were “slow to learn” (v.11). In fact, he compared them to babies who are still nursing without advancing to solid food (v. 13). How did this occur? In Chapter 2:1-4, the writer described how the Hebrew Believers were drifting from the Word; which led to doubting the Word (3:7-4:13); which resulted in some becoming dull to the Word (5:11-6:8).
He then invites the reader to leave the elementary teachings about Christ and advance to maturity. God wants us to grow up in His Kingdom. The writer describes spiritual maturity being evidenced in a life that moves beyond the initial “repentance from acts that lead to death” (6:1), instructions on baptisms, laying on of hands, and the afterlife (v.2). So, just what is beyond these precepts? Bringing hope to the world and being Love personified to the loveless… to be the only Jesus some will ever see.
Then, the spirit of the letter changes. The writer was inspired to call out those who had tasted of God’s goodness, only to reject it and fall back into prior sinful patterns of living. He even asserts it to be impossible for one to be brought back to repentance after such spiritual treason (read v.’s 4-6). He likens such behavior as crucifying the Son of God all over again – subjecting Him to public disgrace. (v. 6) A verbal picture of unproductive land is presented as an object lesson on those who reject God’s mercies and who face a tragic end (read v.’s 7-8). Such a warning would certainly not be taken lightly. So, bringing a ray of light into the darkness of doom, the writer then quickly encourages his ‘dear friends’ (v.9) of better things to come in their faith journey. He again resurrects the memory of Abraham, who believed God’s promise an heir, which would result in the birth of a great nation.
Today’s five understandable words are hidden in the writer’s encouragement to the Hebrew Christians to embrace the Abrahamic practice of faith in God, Who fulfilled His promise of a Messiah – Jesus, the Christ. He describes the surety of God’s faithfulness as seen in how God not only fulfilled His promise to Abraham, but also accomplished the miracle at an old age, thereby fulfilling His oath to bring it to fruition… two unchangeable declarations which acted as proof to God’s inability to lie and His supernatural ability to do the impossible. That’s the unchanging nature of God’s purpose! He is able to accomplish far beyond what we ever thought or imagined (Ep.3:20). And it is to His unchanging nature that we “…take hold of the hope…” He offers in His faithfulness. The writer describes such hope as, “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (v.19)
The anchor was frequently used as a symbol in the infancy of the church. According to Warren Wiersbe, there are at least sixty-six pictures of anchors that have been found in Italy’s catacombs. Wiersbe describes the spiritual anchor of hope as being anchored upward to heaven, not downward. It’s purpose is to allow us to move ahead, not to tether us down. Jesus is that anchor! The author of Hebrews summarized the priestly role the Lord fulfilled when he writes:
“It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus – Who went before us – has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (v.’s 19-20)
It should cause us to well-up with joy to express to Him in our worship! Jesus, we thank you for enduring the cross for us, and for ever interceding on our behalf! Dr. Louis H. Evans, Jr., former pastor of National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC shared his perspective on hope for today:
“The winds of diabolical temptation are increasing in their force, tending to blow Christians off their course and against the rocky shores of apostasy, where they will be dashed to pieces and destroyed. What can hold them on course? Is it not an unwavering hope, a confidence in the Person of the Priest and His perfect sacrifice that opens to them a way into the presence of God at all times?” (The Communicator’s Commentary, Vol. 10, p.141)
“…take hold of the hope…”
I do hope you already have…