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Hebrews 6:18–20

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (vv. 19–20).

Promises made by human beings often go unfulfilled. We have all been on the receiving end of broken promises, and even we ourselves have broken promises that we have made to others. No sinner has kept his word at all times, for “all men are liars” and transgressors “use their tongues to deceive” (Ps. 116:11; Rom. 3:13). The same is not true of God, for He “never lies” and there is “no variation or shadow due to change” in Him (Titus 1:2; James 1:17). His promises are sure, and He needs to make no oath in order to be sure to keep His word, though sinners make oaths and vows to hold ourselves accountable for fulfilling our commitments. Nevertheless, the Lord will swear oaths to confirm His promise. Specifically, He swore an oath by Himself to Abraham, for there is none greater than He by whom He can swear (Heb. 6:13–17).

Today’s passage makes it clear that God’s oath to Abraham was an act of condescension, an accommodation to our weaknesses. Knowing that we often doubt the trustworthiness of the Lord, God swore an oath so that we “might have strong encouragement” to persevere in faith (Heb. 6:18). His oath reassures us that He will keep His promise, for His oath and promise are unchangeable, grounded in His unchanging character (v. 18; see Mal. 3:6). Moreover, the promise to Abraham was given also to his heirs (Heb. 6:17). The heirs of Abraham will receive with Abraham what Abraham was promised—land, blessing, a family, and God’s presence (Gen. 12:1–3; 17:7). We are the heirs of Abraham if we trust in Christ (Gal. 3:29), and we will thus inherit the Abrahamic promise, which ultimately refers to our living in God’s presence with other heirs of Abraham, our brothers and sisters in Christ, in the new heaven and earth (Matt. 5:5; Rev. 21).

The fulfillment of these promises is the hope set before us in Hebrews 6:18. This hope is a secure hope because it is grounded in Christ and is promised by the ever-trustworthy God, but it is also in a secure place. As verses 19–20 explain, this hope is with Jesus in the “inner place behind the curtain.” It is located in the heavenly temple, in the heavenly Most Holy Place where God is. There is no safer place to be than in the abode of our Creator (Ps. 91), particularly when its location there is secured by Christ, who has gone there before us and on our behalf. He will bring that hope when He returns to consummate His plan and bring in the new creation (see 9:27–28).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Our hope is in heaven and will be consummated in the world to come. However, even now we enjoy a foretaste of it in the forgiveness of sins, the fellowship of the church, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, we are, in a real sense, in heaven already. John Chrysostom comments: “While we are still in the world and not yet departed from this life, we are already living amid God’s promises. For through hope we are already in heaven.”

For Further Study
  • Psalm 119:89
  • Isaiah 11:6–9
  • Hebrews 9:11–28
  • 2 Peter 3:13

God’s Oath to Abraham

Christ and Melchizedek

Keep Reading The Twentieth Century

From the May 2020 Issue
May 2020 Issue