STUDY Hebrews 6:13-20
(click here for notes)
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants." And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 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. 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. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (NIV)
Oaths in the Old Covenant and in the New
The author of Hebrews returns, after his warning not to fall away from the hope and the truth of the gospel, to developing his explanation of Jesus' priesthood in the order of Melchizedek. He refers to Abraham, the person to whom God first promised the Seed, land and a blessing.
"When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants."
1. Why did God swear by an oath to Abraham? (see Genesis 22:15-18; Luke 1:67-75)
2. What is the significance of God swearing "by himself"?
3. Why were the oaths in God's name so serious and binding? (see Deut. 10:17-21; Lev. 19:12; Lev. 20:7)
4. Why did Jesus prohibit oaths in the New Covenant whereas they had been commanded in the Old? (see Matthew 5:33-37; Mark 1:14-15; John 14:6; 1 John 5:20; James 5:12; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16)
"And so, after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised." (v. 15)
1. How long did Abraham wait? (Gen. 12:3-4; 21:5)
2. What did he receive? (Gen.17:2; 18:10; 21:5)
The Significance of God's Oath
The author of Hebrews continues to develop the idea of the oath-taking as binding and important.
1. What was the purpose of an oath? (see Exodus 22:10-11; Lev. 6:3)
2. Who are the "heirs of what was promised" (v.17) for whom God swore by an oath? (see Romans 4:16; 15:8, 11; Luke 3:8; Hebrews 11:9)
3. If God is the ultimate authority and there is no one greater than himself by whom he may swear, why did he bother to confirm his promise with an oath? (see Gal. 3:18)
Security of God's Promise
1. What are the "two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie"? (see Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:1-3)
2. What is "the hope offered to us"? (see Titus 1:2; Gal. 3:19-25; Hebrews 3:6; 7:18-19; 11:1; Romans 5:2; 8:3,4; 2 Cor. 5:1-10)
3. What does the metaphor of our hope being an anchor that enters "behind the curtain" mean? (see Lev. 16:2; Hebrews 9:2,3, 7-12)
4. What is the significance of Jesus having entered "the inner sanctuary" on our behalf? (see Hebrews 4:14; 9: 23-28; Romans 8:34)
5. What is significant about Jesus becoming "a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek"? (see Hebrews 5:6-10; 7:11-12; 18-22)
1. How should we view making sworn statements, as in a court of law, in view of the New Testament admonition not to swear by anything?
2. How have you been "burned" by false testimony or by unfulfilled promises?
3. What makes your word reliable?
4. How does God's fulfilled promise change your own testimony?
5. How has "this hope" (v.19) anchored and changed you?
1. In what areas of your life is God asking you to wait patiently, as Abraham did?
2. With what is God asking you to trust him, as he asked Abraham when he told him to sacrifice Isaac?
3. What fears and doubts haunt your soul and keep you from resting firmly and securely in Jesus?
4. What in your life is God asking you to face honestly, leaving behind denial and rationalization, and freely submitting to him so he can heal it and bring your soul rest?
5. Ask Jesus to show you what he wants you to recognize and to submit
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised January 4, 2001.