This passage (Hebrews 6:13-17) is about the promises that God made to Abraham in Genesis 22:15-18. It is interesting to see when Abraham received those particular promises.
This is because God made similar promises to Abraham on several occasions. But God did not usually use an oath (a serious declaration that he would carry out his promise). And in Hebrews 6:13-17, the author of Hebrews emphasises the oath. When God made the promises in Genesis 22:15-18, he used an oath.
God had promised that he would make Abrahamís family into a great nation. As Hebrews 6:15 says, Abraham had to wait patiently. But Abraham did not just do nothing. Instead, he had faith (active belief and trust in God). So he obeyed God, even when it seemed impossible for such things to happen.
When God originally made these promises, Abraham had no family (Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:14-17). God made these promises again when Abraham and his wife seemed too old to have children (Genesis 17:17-21).
The author of Hebrews has explained that Christians need to become mature in their relationship with God (Hebrews 5:11 to 6:3). And during all these years, Abraham was becoming more mature in his own relationship with God. Abraham obeyed God, even when he had only received the first promise (Genesis 12:4). But he did not yet trust God completely (Genesis 12:10-20). Afterwards, we read that Abraham believed God (Genesis 15:6). But Abraham still tried to achieve Godís purposes by human methods (Genesis 16:1-4).
Abrahamís son Isaac was born. And several years after that, God tested Abraham. He told Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
Sacrifices were usually animals that people offered to God. They killed those animals and then they burned them completely. Abraham believed that God wanted him to do that to Isaac. It was a hard test. But Abraham still believed God. He realised that God could even make a dead person alive again. (Hebrews 11:17-19).
At last, Abraham was trusting God completely. When God saw this, he made his promises to Abraham again. And, this time, he used an oath (Genesis 22:16).
So Abraham obtained the promises. He did not see them happen completely during his life (Hebrews 11:13). But he saw the beginning of them. And he realised that it is impossible for God to lie. Godís oath gave Abraham confidence that his (Abrahamís) hope was not in vain.
So, at last, Abraham was sure that God would carry out his promises. And Abraham understood that he (Abraham) did not have to do those things by his own efforts.
Next part: The importance of oaths (Hebrews 6:16-17)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.