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Hebrews 6:13-20


Concluding this section on staying strong and persevering in the faith (and simultaneously transitioning into a discussion of Jesus as High Priest), our author takes a pit stop in the Gen 22 story of Abe’s righteousness and God’s promise.

Specifically, he shows how this promise evolved over (to us) 11 chapters from the initial call of Abe out of Sumer through to the Abe’s demonstration of faith and God’s ensuing pledge (on His own name) to make Abe the father of many, including the eventual Messiah.  All of this is to demonstrate that the perseverance he encourages and praises is rooted in God’s faithfulness.

Part of this faithfulness is the oath He swears by His own name.  This at first seems odd, but ultimately makes sense since oaths are made on the credibility of someone higher than the oath-maker.  Since no one is higher than God, His name is the highest credibility imaginable on which to stake this oath. 

This then begs the question, based as it is on the assumption of God’s credibility, of whether He can lie.  The obvious is answer is no, but the reasoning behind that is not so obvious.  It might seem like a trick question (‘Can God make a rock that’s too big for Him to move?’), where if you answer that He cannot lie, you admit He has limits, which makes His claim to omnipotence itself a lie. 

But there’s two types of limits, conceptually.  There’s the kind where God is unable to do something that is logically consistent (like, say, flood the earth or part the sea), which would be damaging to His omnipotenct. 

There is also, though, the kind where God cannot do something that is logically untenable, something which by its very nature cannot be, like, say, make a triangle that is also a sphere.  If a triangle became a sphere, it would no longer retain any of the essential defining characteristics that made it a triangle to begin with.  The object must be one or the other; it cannot be both.

The idea of God creating a rock too big to move or making a promise He can’t (or doesn’t) keep falls into this latter category.  God, remember, is not merely some infinitely-abled cosmic human.  God is absolute Truth.  God is the ultimate cause of existence itself.  For God to lie would be for Him to not be Truth, which means He would not be God. 

Also, remember that God’s spoken Word has power.  It is by His Word that He created the universe, by His Word that He created us, and by His Word that He revealed Himself to us and ultimately saved us.  Unlike with a human, where we state our intention that really remains just an intention until we do a separate thing that we call ‘acting’ on that intention, God’s statement is the action.  When God says to Abe, ‘You will be the father of a great nation,’ this is not something that God will do later; it is, at that moment, true already.  The delay is in what we can see and know, within this time-bound world He created.  At the level of absolute Truth, it is already done.

This is why we are heirs of Abe and became so when God uttered the promise.  The promise is the bond that links us to Abe as his spiritual descendants.  And it is the ‘anchor for our soul’ that grounds us in a God-given identity and hope and future:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

— Edward Mote


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