Abraham’s Perseverance

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’” (Heb. 6:13–14).

- Hebrews 6:13–15

Today we resume our study of Hebrews 6. In 6:1–8 we looked at the fearful reality that there are some in the church who will eventually fall away because they do not possess true faith. This is not true of all covenant members since in 6:9–12, the author expresses confidence that many in his audience do have true faith and will inherit salvation. These verses concluded with an exhortation to persevere in love and good works so that by imitating the faith of the old covenant saints, we might prove the authenticity of our own faith in Christ.

Sometimes we doubt the promises of full salvation and universal renewal found in the new covenant because of God’s seeming delay in bringing them about. To address this issue, the author now affirms the certainty of God’s promises and the need to persevere even though the wait for their final fulfillment is often long and arduous.

To demonstrate the certainty of God’s promises, the author reminds his audience of the oath God swore to Abraham that confirmed the earlier promise to bless and multiply Abraham (6:13). Oaths were important in the ancient world as a means of confirming a party’s trustworthiness. This oath demonstrated to Abraham that God would certainly fulfill all His promises to him.

In order to emphasize our need to persevere, the author points to Abraham as someone who obtained the promise only after he “patiently waited” for it (6:15). The reference here is to the story of Abra- ham’s sacrifice of Isaac. Remember that prior to this event, Abraham sinfully tried to produce his promised heir with Hagar because he felt God was taking too long to fulfill the promise. God therefore tested his patience and obedience in order that Abraham would prove that his faith was no longer in himself but in God. Abraham proved faithful by being willing to sacrifice the son for whom he had waited so long, knowing that God would accomplish His promise to give him descendants, even if that meant resurrecting Isaac (11:19). Isaac was spared, and Abraham obtained the promise of faithful descendants since his descendants did indeed come through Isaac.

Just like Abraham, we sometimes feel that God is taking too long to fulfill His promises. And just like Abraham, we also must not grow impatient but rather, in faith, wait on the Lord to act.

Coram Deo

One of the hardest things we have to endure in life is waiting for God to fulfill His promises to us. Though He seems to tarry long at times, we should not let this make us think that He will not do what He has promised. Ask the Lord to forgive you for being impatient with Him and remember that He will certainly fulfill all His promises.

Passages for Further Study

Gen. 22
Isa. 40:30–31
Gal. 4:21–31
2 Peter 3:9

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