Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hope, The Anchor of the Soul

“For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.’ And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.”
(Hebrews 6:13-15 NASU)

Evidently the promise referred to, in the oath made to Abraham, is that he would have numerous posterities. The apostle apparently is pointing out the fact that Abraham had waited for a long time and his faith did not waver, and in due season the object of his desires was granted. To realize the full force of this, we are to remember:

  1. That when the promise of numerous posterities was made to Abraham, he was seventy-five years old (Gen 12:1-5);
  2. Then twenty-four years elapsed after this, during which he was a sojourner in a strange land, before the manner in which this promise would be fulfilled was made known to him (Genesis 17:1-16);
  3. It was only when he was an hundred years old, and when he had persevered in the belief of the truth of the promise against all the natural improbabilities of its accomplishment, that he received the pledge of its fulfillment in the birth of his son Isaac (Gen 21:1-5);
  4. The birth of that son was a pledge that the other blessings implied in the promise would be granted, and in that pledge Abraham may be said to have “received the promise.”

    He did not actually see the numerous posterities, or the Messiah who was to descend from him, or the influences, which would result to mankind from the fulfillment of the promise. He did see the certainty that all this would occur; he saw by faith the Messiah in the distance (John 8:56), and the abundance of grace that would result from His coming.

    It was a remarkable instance of faith, and one well suited to the purpose of the apostle. It would furnish ample encouragement to the saints to whom he wrote, to persevere in their course, and to avoid the dangers of apostasy.
“For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.” (Hebrews 6:16-18 NASU)

For men swear by one greater than themselves, that is, they appeal to God. Men never swear by one who is inferior to them. The object of the apostle in this declaration is to show that as far as this could be done God had done it.

He could not swear by one greater than himself, but he could make His promise as certain as an oath taken by people was when they solemnly appealed to Him. He could appeal to His own existence and adherence to truth, which was at any time the most solemn form of an oath, and thus intended to put the mind to rest in regard to the hope of eternal life.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:13-20 NASU)

Before examining the meaning of hope let us first take a look at what an anchor is. According to Webster’s an anchor is “any thing that gives stability and security to that which it is firmly attached or well secured.”

For example a boat that lets down a good anchor will not drift or be tossed about.

A good anchor must be made of material worthy to be an anchor. Again, a boat anchor would need to be made of a heavy material that would resist rust and corrosion; and it would need to be firmly attached to the boat.

A likeness to the above would be a person who is knowledgeable and well trained in the gospel is anchored and will not drift or vary because that which he believes secures him. If his knowledge and training is in the word of God then he has faith and this faith is the substance of his anchor of hope; and the love of Jesus firmly secures the anchor.

Therefore, a Christian of faith is a person knowledgeable and well trained in the word of God and has a fixed, unchangeable and unshakeable hope; he has this hope as the anchor for his soul.

Webster defines hope as “a desire accompanied by expectation.” Nelsons Bible Dictionary defines hope as “confident expectancy.”

Nelson seems to have the better biblical definition in as much as confidence is built upon reassuring acts or promises by an authoritative dependable person; one who has demonstrated his authority and faithfulness.

Further, biblical hope is not passive but patience while aggressively pursuing the promises of God through love and obedience to the will of God (faith). Thus the essential quality of hope is that it is oriented to something in the future that one expects but does not yet possess (Romans 8:24-25). Therefore hope is something the believer is born into, a salvation not yet seen.

If Abraham persevered when “appearances” were so much against the fulfillment of what had been promised, then certainly modern day saints should persevere under the clearer light and with the more distinct promises of the gospel.

James C Sanford

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