“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” Hebrews 6:13-18
I am ever amazed at God’s willingness to accommodate our weaknesses in His condescension.
If we were to stand on an anthill, and try to communicate the intricacies of the electronics of a smart phone, we would not have to bridge a gap nearly as great as God needs to when dealing with us on His own glories. We simply lack the capacity to take them in, appreciate them and use them appropriately. This would be true even before The Fall. How much more now that we are so damaged by sin’s ravages in our souls, bodies and intellects.
And then we come to a passage like this in Hebrews. And while it should be an absolute no-brainer that if God has said something, it must be absolutely and incontrovertibly true, nevertheless, we are filled with suspicion in places. Even more, when God has promised something in His Word, and we can read it, meditate on it, examine His track record on bringing His promises to pass, and contemplate it in the light of His immutable holiness and incapacity to lie – it is only logical and right that we should believe it and bank on it. But again, we set His character aside and let doubt flood our souls.
So what does He do? Well, when God made His promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself that He do what He had promised. The same way people swear oaths to one another when confirming their promises. Now we do with that with each other, because we know people are both untrustworthy, and sometimes, because they promise things they simply can’t deliver, or are prevented by unforeseen circumstances from fulfilling. These are never the case with Him. And yet, here He is making an oath anyway.
So what does the text say about this? That God, wanting to demonstrate more clearly to us, that His promises and purpose is unchangeable – especially the promise of Salvation and the gift of the Spirit – confirmed it with an oath. He swore to it. So that we would find strong encouragement in the fact that a., It is impossible for Him to lie in the first place, and b., that He has gone ahead and sealed it with an oath. A public and binding promise.
And this then, is why we can have such absolute confidence in the person and work of Christ on our behalf.
God’s promissory covenants are for our sake, not His. It is to cement them in our minds. He does not “covenant” as a necessary part of His actions. His intention is sufficient. But because we are fallen, unbelieving and faithless, He confirms such promises with signs and seals, and makes covenants for us to bolster our faith. They are a concession, not a necessary mode of acting on His part.
Oh Christian, trust Him today to fulfill everything He has promised in His Word.
And unbeliever – you can come to Him for salvation and forgiveness no matter what your past holds. For He receives all who come to Him in faith, and turns away none who humble themselves before Him. Cleansing from all guilt and shame, through the blood of His cross.