Daily Devotion for Wednesday 10th July 2024

Hebrews 6:9-20 (with OT quote in italics)
 
Even though we speak in this way, beloved, we are confident of better things in your case, things that belong to salvation. 10 For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. 11 And we want each one of you to show the same diligence, so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, 12 so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

13 When God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, ‘I will surely bless you and multiply you.’ 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. 16 Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute. 17 In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath, 18 so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. 19 We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.
 
Reflection

‘We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure …’ Hymn 598 in Rejoice and Sing, with its positive Christian affirmation amid the ‘storms of life’, is sung with heart at many a Boy’s Brigade service. The theme of ‘a sure anchor’ comes from Hebrews 6:19, and the hymn’s mood of confidence amid challenge echoes the tone of this part of the letter.
 
The writer is a wise pastor. After yesterday’s rather threatening words, comes a balancing assurance: ‘But this surely doesn’t apply to you’ (v.9). The readers have been practical and generous, which is a sign that their belief is genuine. The challenge now is for ‘each of you’ to be actively committed, and keep this going ‘to the very end’ (vv.10-11). God’s promises will be reached and realised ‘through faith and patience’ (v.12). Believers are called to hang on to God’s word through the thick and thin of the years.
 
Abraham is a case in point. His prospects had looked utterly improbable. But God gave him a solemn assurance that the promise would not fail (Genesis 22:15-18, quoted in v.14). And God is similarly committed to the promise given in Jesus. The best and fullest sign of this is that Jesus himself has gone ahead of us into heaven, and even now he represents us there (vv.19-20).
 
Hebrews calls Jesus ‘forerunner and high priest’ (v.20), viewing the church’s relationship with him from two perspectives. He is ahead of us – the pacesetter, pioneer and pathfinder, who beckons us to follow. And he is above us – the priest and pastor, who invites us to trust and sustains us when we fear. The anchor is in place. It will take the strain of your life and mine.
 
Prayer

May the God of Jesus the Servant
    keep us busy and generous in service,
the God of Abraham the journeyer
    quicken our feet on the road of faith,
the God of patience and promise
    bind us tightly to the anchor of hope,
in the name of Jesus,
    who went before us and waits to meet us.
 
Footnote

The Revised Common Lectionary features Hebrews through most of October and November this year. Preachers who want to read something fuller than these notes might be interested in Pioneer and Priest (2013) by one of our senior URC ministers, Jack McKelvey. It’s a book of substantial learning, written with a pastor’s heart.

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