Wednesday 21 October 2015

Bible Book:

“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 for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (vv. 19-20)

Hebrews 6:10-20 Wednesday 21 October 2015

Psalm: Psalm 114


What happens if someone backslides and falls away from the faithto which they have committed themselves? The writer to the Hebrewsargues that there is no hope for them - they are like cultivatedground which only produces weeds. This difficult passage may bestbe understood as a hypothetical, 'what-if' exploration rather thana definitive statement of Church policy.

In any case, the writer quickly moves on. Those who receive thisletter are in a very different position, and the writer reassuresthem of God's faithfulness and justice. They have already been reminded (verse 1) (link) that theirfoundational teaching centred on faith, and thus their faithresponds to God's faithfulness and underpins their service(diakonia) to others. This diakonia is very different from the'dead works' (v. 1) which characterise faithlessness.

The writer encourages them in this service by reassuring themthat God's promise is unshakeable, and draws on the example ofAbraham, as Paul also did (Galatians 3:16). God's oath to Abraham (Genesis 22:16-18) follows on from Abraham'sutter obedience to God in preparing to sacrifice his only son Isaac(Genesis 22:1-15). This is the 'patientendurance' described in verse 15, and those who share Abraham'sendurance will also share in God's promised inheritance.

We can be sure that God is like this - infinitely faithful to us- because we have the evidence, revealed through that commitment toAbraham. Thus we can take the risk of putting our faith in God withconfidence, and the writer ends this passage of reassurance withthree beautiful images. First, God is our refuge, a strongholdwhere we can find comfort (verse 18) - the word translated'encouragement' here is that used by Jesus to describe the HolySpirit, the Comforter (John14:16 - King James Version, translated as "Advocate" in NRSV).Secondly, the picture of the anchor, part of the DNA of the Boys'Brigade, evokes the scene of a ship at journey's end, ridingserenely in the calm of a harbour. Finally, the writer returns tothe picture of the Temple, where Jesus has the right to enter theHoly of Holies as God's appointed high priest, wiping away sinthrough his atoning sacrifice.

One of our basic needs for fullness of life is a sense ofsecurity, and this passage reassures us that if we hold fast toGod, we are safe, because God is faithful and will never abandonus.

To Ponder

  • What do you think Christians can hope for?
  • What pictures come to your mind when you think about our safetywith God?
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