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. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:13-20)
Hebrews was written to encourage the readers not to lose hope and to rest assured that God is faithful. Some of the recipients were in danger of apostasy, or turning away from the New Covenant to return to Judaism. The author encourages them by spurring them further on. His message is not so much, “don’t go back” as it is, “keep moving forward.” Hebrews 6:13-20 helps them understand that God’s promises are far greater than anything else. It is precisely in this promise that they should have their hope and assurance.
The central message here is God is faithful. It is proven in the practice of giving an oath, which the locals knew very well. God’s oath and promise are both wrapped up in God Himself. There is no other being or thing greater than God, therefore He couldn’t swear by something or someone higher. The greatest and most secure promise ever given is one that is given by God and sworn by Himself.
Just like the Hebrews, believers today walk the precipice that separates the Old and New Covenants. Daily, we struggle between antinomianism and legalism, trying to avoid both extremes! The writer’s message is just as relevant today as it was at the time of the writing. God’s promises are true and faithful, and it is in these promises that we are able to moor our souls that are so often tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. When it seems like we’re getting the short end of the stick, we must remember that we have a future hope that promises more than we can imagine.