Our reading for Thursday, April 11, 2019 is, Hebrews 6:13-20.
13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. 16 Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. – NIV
“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” I have not been in court in a long while and never for myself but have had to testify in a case in the past. I do not recall whether the oath I had to take was made naming God. This use to be the case that God’s name was evoked. Today we seem to be pushing God out of our culture and the public square. This may not be all so bad since many have taken that oath evoking God’s name in order to attest to the legitimacy of the testimony given but for which the person lied.
The evoking of the God was originally intended to invoke fear in a witness that should they get away with lying God who knows the truth will eventually hold the witness accountable. The tactic does not work as fewer people fear God’s wrath let alone believe in God existence. I should not say this as a majority of American citizens according to Pew Research, Barna Group and other sources that survey public opinion say that most Americans believe in God. The question is a matter of what then they believe about God.
In more antiquated times as modernists would conclude people possessed a more definitive belief about God who is just and holds humanity accountable for what we say and do. To swear in the name of God and lie would evoke fear that might lend legitimacy to a testimony. I fear today such an oath would be as effective as “I swear on my sacred mother’s grave.” What oath is administered is done to hold witnesses accountable legally should they be found to have perjured themselves.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews lived at a time when many if not most respected oaths and feared the judgment of God. He applies the respect for oaths in his argument that God’s promises can be taken at face value because God is the one who makes the oath in his own name. What God promises is our salvation. If God states in his Word recorded in the Bible that we are forgiven then we can be certain it is true. When Jesus who we testify is God in human flesh cries out from the cross, “Father, forgive them,” then we can be assured that we are forgiven.
The other promise the Hebrew’s author makes is that we will be blessed as the children of Abraham because God promised that the descendants of Abraham will be many. We are Abraham’s descendants because we believe in Christ. We who believe are then numbered among God’s covenant people. We are promise to be blessed with resurrection and eternal life.
We can count on this because of two facts Hebrew’s author declares. The first is that it is God who makes this promise and second, God cannot lie. God does not require other witnesses to verify his promise because God is perfectly just and cannot lie.
There may be times when we are overcome by doubt, possibly because we have not been able to correct a proclivity in us from repeating a particular sin. Possibly the critical voice of modernity assaults us with questions for which we have incomplete answers, or the thought of living by faith rather than by sight is just too much of a leap for us to take. Whatever the reason or how we might feel that fact remains we are saved by God’s good grace through faith. Our salvation lay in our trusting God’s promises and accepting by faith.
If you are struggling with yourself, with the claims of our culture, surrender to Jesus. Take the word of the psalmist to heart – “Be still and know that I am God.” God has not nor will God lie. He has promised salvation and blessing through Jesus Christ. Take God at his word!
Blessings! Pastor Brian Homan