- June 22, 2014
- By Carolyn Porterfield / Multicultural Consultant, Texas WMU, Dallas
• The Bible Studies for Life lesson for July 6 focuses on Hebrews 6:17-20; 10:19-23.
In a world of broken promises, it often is difficult to describe faithfulness. What does it look like? At noon on Oct. 5, 1951, my parents were married. For almost 63 years, they have lived together in a committed relationship.
They raised a family, built a business and cared for aging parents. They had years when finances were good, everyone was healthy and stress was at a minimum. There also were years when finances weren’t good. Health issues arose. They watched a child go through divorce. Their relationship was strained.
Through it all, they have continued to love one another and stay together when, at times, it would have been easier to give up and walk away. They are devoted totally to one another and would not think of betraying the other. They are an example of faithfulness.
My parents’ example pales in comparison to the faithfulness of our holy God. He is not like us. He is totally and completely faithful. The writer of Hebrews helps us understand the faithfulness of our unchanging God.
God’s unchanging nature
God is a promise maker. We can depend on his promises because he is a promise keeper. Hebrews 6:13-20 is a passage that addresses the certainty of God’s promises to his children.
Children on the playground often make promises that seem outlandish and hard to keep. So they make an oath to back them up. Did you ever say: “Cross my heart and hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye”? This oath was made to back up what you were saying as true. It was the assurance your promise would be kept.
Hebrews 6:16 says, “People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.” In Hebrews 6:13, we see that when God made a promise to Abraham, he swore by himself. Why? There is no one greater than God. He made a promise to bless Abraham, and he fulfilled that promise. Our confidence in him is based on his unchanging nature.
God cannot lie. It is impossible. It is not in his nature. When he makes a promise, we can have complete confidence in the promise because we have complete confidence in him. The writer of Hebrews uses the image of an anchor to help us understand how God’s faithfulness secures our soul. Sailors use anchors to keep a boat from moving. Builders use anchor screws to hold objects firmly on a wall. Faithful God is an anchor who keeps our souls from drifting in the stormy, dangerous and deadly waters of life. He holds us firmly and keeps us from falling.
Faithful high priest
In Jesus, we see more of the faithfulness of God. Jesus became a high priest in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20). The first mention of the priest-king Melchizedek is found in Genesis 14 and recapped again in Hebrews 7:1-10. His name means “king of righteousness.” He was king of Salem, which means “king of peace.” When Abram returned from defeating his enemies, he brought an offering to Melchizedek because there was no one greater to whom he could present the tenth of everything he had captured. Hebrews 7:3 says he was without parents or genealogy, without beginning or end, just like Christ.
Like Melchizedek, Jesus is king of righteousness and peace. We have in him a one-of-a-kind high priest whose sinless nature allowed him to go behind the curtain in the temple that separated sinful man from the presence of Holy God. He didn’t just present a sacrifice for our sins, he was the sacrifice. Hebrews 7:26 says Jesus meets our need because he is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners and exalted in heaven. His sacrifice was once for all. No other priest is needed because his is an indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16). He is the one to whom we bring our offerings.
Draw near to God with confidence
Now we can confidently enter into the Holy Place. Jesus’ shed blood tore the temple curtain in two. We come into the Father’s presence because of the work of Christ, our faithful high priest. Our sins are forgiven. Our guilt is removed. We are made pure and holy by his blood (Hebrews 10:22).
One thing I have come to appreciate about some faith traditions is the reverence with which they enter the presence of God Most High. It seems they take more time to consider the “who” of worship, not just the “what” and “how.”
The next time you enter into God’s presence, apply Hebrews 10:22. Take time to contemplate what Jesus has done for us. Come with a sincere heart. Approach him with full assurance; not doubting but completely confident in this faithful God who always does what he says he will do.
Verse 23 tells us to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” We are to be unshakeable, solid, reliable and unwavering in our faith. This kind of faith is not based on circumstances. It is anchored in the unchanging nature of our faithful God.
When life gets unpredictable, heavy, confusing and almost more than you can bear, hold fast to our faithful God. Charles Spurgeon said it well, “If you can’t see his way past the tears, trust his heart.”