Wednesday, 7 November 2018
…that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. Hebrews 6:18
The author now says, “that by two immutable things.” This refers to what he said in the previous verse with the thought that God confirmed his words by an oath. The two things then are 1) His spoken word, and 2) His oath. Both are immutable (unchanging). He then confirms this with, “in which it is impossible for God to lie.” As noted previously, He is before all things. Because this is so, He is not bound by the constraints of time. Everything about Him simply is. Therefore, when God speaks, it is always absolute truth because His nature is absolutely truthful.
Thus, when God speaks, it is impossible that what He says is incorrect, misleading, or simply a lie. Further, for God to give an oath in connection with His word, it is intended to “end all dispute” (6:16). As noted before, this oath was not given for His benefit, but for ours. To first encourage Abraham, and then in turn to encourage us, God not only spoke, but spoke on oath of that which He said would come to pass. It is we who cannot fully grasp God’s immutability, and so we doubt. In order to remove all doubt, God will, at times, make an oath. In this, His word is confirmed in us. As the author says, “we might have strong consolation.”
The word is paraklésis, and it signifies, “a call (urging), done by someone ‘close beside,’ i.e. a personal exhortation that delivers the ‘evidence that stands up in God’s court’” (HELPS Word Studies). Thus, it is an encouragement for us to receive not only His word, but His oath in confirmation of His word. Though this should be unnecessary, we are weak in our faith because of our limitations, such as time (patience), life (stresses and challenges), etc. And so God will meet us on our level in such instances, assuring us that we are properly taken care of in our moments of failing. This encouragement is, as the author next says, for those “who have fled for refuge.”
Here we have Old Testament symbolism. The one who had killed another person by accident could flee to a city of refuge and be kept safe from the avenger of blood. This would last as long as the high priest of Israel lived. Upon his death, the avenger of blood could no longer legally come against that person to avenge the death of their relative. This is found in Numbers 35. Trusting in the word of God is such a refuge where full assurance of protection is found. The absolute surety of that is found in the word and in the oath. We can rest in our place of refuge because God has spoken, and because He has confirmed His word through the oath. Such a place is given for those who seek this refuge in order “to lay hold of the hope set before us.”
These words take the reader first back to verse 6:9 which said, “we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation.” The saving message of Jesus is the place of refuge, and in reception of that word one can “lay hold of the hope set before us.” Remember again that the words of the epistle are directed to the Hebrew people. The author has been speaking of them collectively. Though as a people they crucified Christ and are thus deserving the punishment of the Avenger of blood, they also have in Christ the death of the High Priest, which is, in Him, safety from the Avenger of blood. This will be more fully revealed in the next verse. The words of this clause secondly refer back to verse 6:11 which then says, “we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end.” Each in the collective of Israel who has come to this place of refuge should persevere, and encourage others to do so, through the words of Scripture – God’s word and His oath.
Life application: When you are facing life’s battles, where do you go for refuge? A bottle, a sexual relationship, television…? None of these things will satisfy and all will fall short of the true encouragement we need. The encouragement which greatly encourages is that which is found in the pages of the Bible. This is because, as God’s word, it reflects His very nature, the nature which is eternal and unchanging. The promises He has made are recorded there. Many of them have been fulfilled, proving that those which are yet promised will turn out exactly as they say. In other words, we have absolute assurance of ultimate victory over sin, death, and Satan. When the Bible says Jesus will descend and call us to Himself in the twinkling of an eye, it will happen. If you are hesitant about your future, or if you are facing a future of pain or sadness, look beyond those things to the promises of the Bible – promises which will surely come to pass because of the absolute truthfulness of God.
Lord, despite the troubles of today, we can read the final pages of the book of Revelation and stand in joyous hope of a time when all wrongs will be righted, all pains will be gone, and all joy will fill our very souls. Thank you for these wonderful promises! Thank you and Amen.