18 January 2011Hebrews 6:10-20
"We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." (vv. 19-20)
In the Temple of Jerusalem there were communal areas or
courtyards where everyone could be present. There were also other
areas that only men could enter, and some areas where only the
priests could be admitted. The 'holy of holies' was the inner
shrine or sanctuary of the Tabernacle and only one person, the high
priest, could enter. This happened once a year on Yom Kippur (the
day of Atonement, when Jews repent and atone for their
In the first temple the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the holy of holies and it contained the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The inner shrine or sanctuary was separated from the rest of the temple by a curtain.
The writer is convinced that in Jesus we meet someone whose relationship with God allows him to enter into the presence of God not once a year but constantly. This ease of entering and remaining in God's presence which that Jesus brings, creates hope for all humanity. The writer describes this hope as being like an anchor which keeps a boat or even a large ship safe and steady during storms. Just as an anchor can hold a boat safe and sure during a storm, preventing it from being damaged or lost at sea or driven off its course, so Jesus keeps us safe and sure from destruction. This is not a promise or hope of an easy life - free from storms. It is however a conviction that we will not be lost or destroyed.
The writer is convinced this hope comes from the intimate relationship Jesus has with God. The hope offered to us is that Jesus is leading the way - and we can follow.
What or who is it that keeps us safe from destruction?
What comforts us and what disturbs us about the idea of being able to enter the inner shrine of God's presence?
What is the difference between hope and wishful thinking?How do we know? Does it matter?