Sunday, 4 November 2018
And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. Hebrews 6:15
The words here must be looked at in the greater picture of what the Bible is revealing. The reason why is because in Hebrews 11:13 we read –
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
The author had been speaking of Abraham receiving an inheritance, something that did not occur during his lifetime. Instead, he remained a pilgrim and a sojourner. The “promise” being referred to here in 6:15 is, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” Abraham and his wife Sarah went many long years without bearing children.
In Genesis 12, at the age of 75, God promised him that He would bless him and make his name great. At God’s word, Abraham set out for the land of Canaan in order to accept what God had promised. In Genesis 15, which was some time later, God appeared again to Abraham and reminded him of the promise. In fact, God cut a covenant with him in a manner which signified the absolute surety of the promise. This is recorded in Genesis 15:9-21. In Genesis 17, God instituted the covenant of circumcision with Abraham and his entire household. This occurred as he was closing in on the age of 100 and his wife was nearing 90. In Genesis 21, the son of promise – Isaac – was born to Abraham at 100. This child came at an age that childbirth was unthinkable; but God was ever-faithful to Abraham and, as this verse says, “after he had patiently endured,” the son came.
This son, Isaac, was to be the one through whom “many descendants” would come. However, in the next chapter – Chapter 22 – God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his own son as an offering of devotion to God. How could the promise of a multiplication of descendants come through Isaac if he was to be sacrificed? The author of Hebrews explains Abraham’s thought processes later, but one thing was sure – Abraham never failed to accept God at His word and he was ever-patient in waiting on the promise. Because of his faithfulness, Abraham is used to this very day as the model of faith.
For now, it is to be understood that Abraham did, in fact, obtain the promise through Isaac. The promise of a son, from his own body and through that of his wife Sarah, was realized in him. From this, Abraham knew that many descendants would follow because Isaac was the pledge guaranteeing it would be so. Further, the hope of Messiah was realized in Isaac as well. Jesus said as much in John 8:56 –
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
In the birth of Isaac, Abraham surely saw the coming of Messiah and he rejoiced. The promise made at the fall of man would come about. It would come through him, and it would be through the son of promise, Issac. It is in this that “he obtained the promise,” meaning the surety of a multiplication of descendants. The word translated as “obtained” simply means “obtain by ‘lighting upon’ (falling in line with), happening upon; attain to, because at the right point to ‘suitably obtain.’” In other words, the author is stating that Isaac’s birth was the lighting upon what would eventually be fully realized. Further, whether he understood it or not, this vast number would include both physical descendants and those who are adopted into the faith he possessed through their own act of faith (see Galatians 3:29).
Life application: The author is instructing his audience on what was said in verse 6:12 concerning “those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” He is showing that Abraham had to wait about 25 years for this aspect of his life (the birth of Isaac) to come about, but wait patiently he did. If your life seems to be at a standstill, remember Abraham who waited such a long time for the promise. God is not slow in keeping his promises. Nor is He inattentive in His care for His people. We simply need to accept His timing and His perfect wisdom in all things.
O God, be with us and remind us of Your faithfulness as we wait upon You. We’re bound by time and therefore it’s so hard for us to be patient, but this is what Father Abraham was commended for. Help us to receive that same commendation. We can do it with Your gentle reminders that You are there. Thank You, and to Your glory and in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.