How can we be assured of our certainness in God’s promises?
13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”
The writer takes us back to Genesis. Abraham had been chosen by God to be the founder of God’s people and now was being tested to show his obedience by killing his son (the heir to the promise). In Genesis 22 Abraham has passed the test, trusting by faith that God would provide a sacrifice, or that God would bring Isaac back from the dead. “And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” – Gen. 22:15-18
Now the Angel of the LORD confirms the promise He made to Abraham by swearing an oath. God swore an oath in His own name. Leviticus 19:12 says, “You shall not swear by my name falsely and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.” We have already seen in the first part of chapter 6 that it is impossible for God to lie. Lying would go against what we know about God’s character. If God is a liar then there is no reason to believe that He will keep His promise to deliver us from the penalty of sin, and therefore we would have no hope. But because God is trustworthy and full of truth, we can be assured that when He says something, He will follow through. Abraham knew this and so he believed God – which was credited to him as righteousness, and he obtained the promise.
15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.
What kinds of things do we do every day that are like oaths?
When would be an appropriate time to swear an oath?
- Numbers 30:2 If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
- Deuteronomy 6:13 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.
- James 5:12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
Think about it this way: You tell your friend that you will help them with a project, but then you either forget or decide not to. Have you sinned? Whom have you sinned against? By saying you will do something, you have spoken an oath, thus creating one – even if you don’t call it an oath. Your words mean something because each thing you say reflects who you are (or aren’t). Your words are you. You are literally telling your friend you are trustworthy when you say you will help them. When you don’t follow through with what you said, you have lied about who you are. We understand that we have sinned against our friend, but ultimately we have sinned against God. God is the creator of all things, and He requires your obedience and respect for the things He has made, including yourself.
17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
In verse 17 we understand even greater how important an oath really is. It says that by 2 unchangeable things God made an oath. What are the 2 things? The first is God’s character – that He is truth. The second is an oath (a spoken promise), and that oath is set on the foundation of God’s name. Once it has been spoken, it cannot be taken back. How much more so a word given by God! This is why we can have confidence in God’s promises. He has spoken words of truth that are backed up by His character. It cannot be thwarted or changed.
19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Knowing that all of the promises of God up to this point in time have been fulfilled, we can go boldly forward with our trust and understanding that all the rest of the promises will be filled. This truth should cause us great joy and peace, a rest beyond comprehension, that Christ’s message is trustworthy and true – that God will someday fulfill His promise to us that we will dwell with Him forever, and that He will keep us for that great day of Salvation.