“For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you’. And thus, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise”
In these verses, Abraham is an example of persistence in the execution of God’s plan for him, which resulted in greater blessings. Persistence in learning doctrine is the key to reaching our objective of spiritual maturity as royal priests. First, God made Abraham a promise and then Abraham obtained the promise by his increased capacity to receive it (not by his human works). God’s policy of blessing has never changed; it is always based on grace. Abraham possessed the same righteousness of God that we possess. (Genesis 15:6)
This unconditional covenant was given to Abraham in seven parts. Nothing was required on the part of Abraham in order to enjoy the promises of this covenant other than the capacity to receive them.
It was for Abraham’s benefit that God gave him all of these promises of blessing related to his spiritual capacity. The same thing is true with us. Our priesthood is a higher priesthood than Abraham’s priesthood. Abraham’s priesthood was a family priesthood, the lowest of all. Remember that when Melchizedek, a real person, a royal priest, came into contact with Abraham, it was Melchizedek who ministered to Abraham, not vice versa. This indicates once again that the priesthood of which we are a part, the royal priesthood, is a superior priesthood in every way to Abraham’s. Yet God blessed Abraham to the maximum. So what will He do for those who belong to an even greater priesthood?
The blessings that are stored up and reserved for us are infinitely superior to the blessings given to Abraham. This does not mean that they exclude Abraham’s blessing, they include it. But we have something that is greater than any priesthood that has ever existed. When Abraham reached spiritual maturity God poured out blessing, but the road to maturity was filled with setbacks and failures as it will be for us. Nevertheless, Abraham did one thing well. He persisted. He is, therefore, the illustration of persistence. In spite of many setbacks, in spite of side-trips into carnality, he always returned to God and His Word and persisted until he made it to spiritual maturity.
There is no one in the universe greater than God. Therefore, He could not make this promise to Abraham in the name of another. God swearing by Himself means He took a solemn oath and He confirmed a promise by that oath. God could find no one greater than Himself because there is no one greater. So He took an oath on the basis of Who He is, emphasizing the fact that in His divine essence He was qualified to make the promise and to keep the promise, no matter how great. It was this one thing that Abraham remembered above everything else. God took an oath in His own name that He would fulfill, and for that reason Abraham at age 99 believed God when he was promised a son. He would later demonstrate his faith in the promise of God by taking his only son Isaac to be sacrificed.
Verse 14 gives us the promise itself. God the Father made the promise, as quoted in Genesis 22:16-17. When God gave a promise He said, “Just as assuredly as I am God, I promise that you will be blessed and you will be multiplied.” The English translation is “surely,” but it should be translated “definitely” or “assuredly.” When God takes an oath and then makes a promise, the promise is equivalent to a decree. What God promised Abraham in time, He had decreed in eternity past. A promise is merely the repetition of a decree made in eternity past. So the two immutable things can be described this way: 1) the first of the immutable things was the oath God took in the name of Himself that emphasized the very essence of God (He cannot lie) 2) the second of the immutable things was the decree that God made in eternity past which became a promise. The promise was secure to Abraham because it is based on two immutable things: the character of God [the oath] and the decree of God [the promise]. Abraham was given this promise repeatedly before it actually occurred. Though it didn’t take place the moment it was given, it did represent what God intended for Abraham – the head of a new race and the father of many nations. God kept Abraham alive past his time of procreating, so he could, through a miracle of grace, be the father of many nations (I will multiply you).
Verse 15 gives us the principle of fulfillment. And thus is used to refer to that which has immediately preceded, namely the promise of God. The adverb in Greek says we are not referring to something further up the context; we are referring to that which had just been promised. The promise involved two immutable things: the person or essence of God who made the promise, and the decree of God in eternity past. Our life and our future are based upon the same two immutable things.
Patiently is the Greek word “makrothumeo” referring back to verse 12 where we had the same Greek word. In verse 12 it did not mean patience as we normally think of it, it meant persistence. Here it means having persisted in being consistent in the study and application of Bible doctrine. Abraham, by persisting in his intake of doctrine and the use of the faith-rest technique, reached spiritual maturity. When he reached it he obtained the promise that he would be blessed and multiplied, and both became a reality.
“For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in the laying hold of the hope set before us.”
In verse 16 we have an illustration of how a promise is guaranteed. Men customarily take an oath by something greater, i.e. “he takes an oath by God.” And to those in opposition such an oath (making a promise in the name of God) is to guarantee the fulfilment of the promise. So this was simply an historical illustration to the fact that when people take a solemn oath in the name of God it is to give security to the opposition and peace is to be made between the two antagonistic parties.
God made a decree in eternity past which became a promise to Abraham. In the same manner, He made a decree in eternity past for each of us which becomes a promise. The promise to us (heirs) is a promise of greater blessings in time and eternity based our execution of the Christian Way of Life. Spiritual assets are available to all believers in Jesus Christ, but it is up to us to access those blessings by developing our capacity through Bible doctrine to receive them. And, just like an oath made by any human being, God guaranteed His promise to Abraham with an oath sworn on the greatest One in the universe, God Himself. This same promise of spiritual prosperity is passed to us in the Church Age being the spiritual heirs of Abraham.
The spiritual blessings promised to Abraham are fulfilled in the life of every believer by reaching spiritual maturity. For Abraham promises were given to him verbally; we go to the Bible to find God’s promises. And, when we utilize God’s system of spiritual growth and develop capacity by following the pattern of Abraham, God is able to pour out blessing into our lives, which glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the strong encouragement in verse 17 – God cannot lie and He will pour out greater blessing to you if you will follow His plan.
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast, and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Remember that hope in the Bible means confident or absolute expectation. Sea anchors do two things. They give direction and they give stability. They secure the ship from crashing in the shallow water and they give stability in the storm. Sure means stability and steadfast means dependable. This anchor of the soul is said to be stabilized and dependable. The anchor of the soul means Bible doctrine in the soul (God’s promises are Bible doctrine). So the Bible is an oath from God, His solemn promise to mankind. For an unbeliever, it is a promise of eternal life when he places his faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. For a believer it is a promise of spiritual prosperity and blessing based on his attitude toward Bible doctrine. And, Bible doctrine in the soul provides stability as well as security.
There is a second anchor here. The Jews could not enter into the Holy of Holies (the veil). The high priest could go in once a year and if he went in and came out, the nation had another year of survival and blessing from God. This was a part of the function of the Day of Atonement. The Holy of Holies was a picture of Heaven. Jesus Christ our High Priest enters into Heaven by His resurrection and ascension. He is seated at the right hand of the Father having won the strategic victory over Satan. Jesus Christ is an anchor of the soul. At the moment of salvation God the Holy Spirit entered us into union with Christ and we not only have an anchor which is Bible doctrine in the soul but we have the Anchor in Heaven, Jesus Christ our High Priest. The written Word is the first anchor of the soul and the living Word Jesus Christ is the second anchor of the soul.
With those two anchors we have the potential of perfect security in this life, as well as perfect happiness. The fact that you and I were placed into union with Christ guarantees that we have the potential of greater blessings. It doesn’t guarantee that we will get them, however. Our attitude toward Christ and our attitude toward Bible doctrine determine whether we ever reach spiritual maturity or not. And it takes the consistency and stability of accurate Bible doctrine applied properly to get there.