According to a 2020 Gallup Poll, “89% of Americans rated nurses’ honesty and ethical standards as ‘high’ or ‘very high’.” Other trustworthy professions include: doctors, teachers, pharmacists and police. The most untrustworthy professions were: journalists, lawyers, and car salesmen. What ended up being the most untrustworthy profession (8%) according to this study? You guessed it: Members of Congress!
In Hebrews, the writer has called us to examine ourselves. Specifically, we are called to examine our hearing. God is speaking to us through his Son. Are we listening? Can we hear Him? Have we become dull of hearing? Have the words of Christ become less impactful in our lives? Have we grown numb and inattentive to the teaching of Christ resulting in a lack of interest or excitement about these things? Can we read our Bibles and walk away unaffected? Can we sing songs of praise without actually praising? Can we attend to the proclamation of God’s Word and walk away unconcerned? If so, we are in spiritual danger. God is sounding the alarm that either: 1) you have grown lukewarm and need to repent or 2) you are not truly converted and need to repent.
Two Unchangeable Things: Promise and Oath
Christ followers need to trust God and mature in their faith. The writer of Hebrews gave this admonition: “we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb 6:12). As any good writer would do, the writer of Hebrews uses an example to illustrate his point. He reminds us of the faith and patience of Abraham and the promise God made to him: “Surely I will bless you and multiply you” (Heb 6:14). Remember that God promised Abraham: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great” (Gen 12:2). Later when Abraham complained that he had no heir, God promised Abraham that he would have a son (Gen 15:4) and the son would come from Sarah (Gen 17:16). What does the Scripture say about him? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Rom 4:3, Gen 15:6).
The Lord then confirmed his promise with an oath saying, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord…I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven as the sand that is on the seashore…and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen 22:15-18). The writer of Hebrews quotes Genesis 22 to make the point that people “swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.” So even though God did not need to confirm His promise with an oath, He did so in order to “show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable characters of His purpose.” Because there is no one greater than God, He swore by Himself. God made an oath concerning His promise, not because He needed to do it, but to help us in our weakness and to make His promise very easy to understand.
God Said What?
Let’s back up a moment. Abraham is used as an example of faith and patience and the specific situation used by the writer of Hebrews is from Genesis 22. Do you remember what happened in Genesis 22? Genesis 22 records for us God’s command for Abraham to offer up his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham obeyed the Lord and just as he was about to sacrifice Isaac, the angel of the Lord said “Abraham, Abraham!…Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Gen 22:11-12). Then the angel of the Lord said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring.” (Gen 22:15-17). What was all that about? Why would God tell Abraham to do this? God used this situation to test Abraham in order to grow Abraham’s faith and trust. Abraham was placed in a difficult situation, he did not understand God’s reason for the command, but obeyed nonetheless. Abraham might not have understood God’s command but He did understand God’s faithfulness.
Hold Fast to our Hope
This is the point of our section of Scripture: “When you don’t understand, when you cannot see, when you feel like there is no escape; trust God–who does understand, sees all things, and with whom all things are possible.” You might not understand what God has allowed to cross your path and you may not see how it is going to work out, but don’t doubt the goodness and faithfulness of the One who calls you His own. God made a promise to Abraham and confirmed it with an oath. Combined with the fact that “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb 6:18) we can “have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” (Heb 6:18). We have hope that is set before us to be grasped. This hope is promised and confirmed to “the heirs of the promise” (Heb 6:17) and is “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Heb 6:19). In other words, the hope that we have through Jesus Christ is the anchor that will keep us secure during the trials and difficulties we encounter. Just as an anchor will keep a ship from drifting away during a violent storm, Jesus keeps us from drifting away during trials. He holds onto us and therefore we are able to cling to Him in faith. We are to fight against becoming dull of hearing. We are to hold fast to the hope that is set before us.
Do you trust God? Christians know they should say “Yes” to this question, but do you have examples in your life where you have? Do you have any “Red Sea” moments? God is always calling His children to a next step of faith and obedience. God calls us to move forward in faith. Are you growing dull of hearing or are you taking steps of faith outside of your comfort zone? Take time this week to examine your life and ask God in prayer to reveal anything you are withholding from Him. Turn it over in faith and see His faithfulness at work!