Hope Ahead

God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (Heb 6:18-20)

We're all in search of hope. We want to believe things will work out in the end, that our dreams will come true. In the middle of disaster, we long for reassurance that the world will be set right. We want to know that our life has a purpose and that we will experience true love before our time runs out. Like an approaching storm, the future can hold problems we can't yet imagine. We brace ourselves and try to believe everything will be okay.

Part of the reason our hope runs out is that we've tied it to our own abilities and resources. Sometimes we feel strong and in control, and we set a course for our lives with self-confidence. We're the captain of our own fate, we think, and things can temporarily go well under our own determination. But when circumstances arise too big for us to control, we end up in a panic. Ultimately, we're not in control of life, and when hardship comes crashing in, we find ourselves in deep despair.

Those with faith in Jesus Christ have another option. We can embrace the uncertainty of life and face the future without fear. We can find peace in any circumstance because our hope is tied to something greater than ourselves. The author of Hebrews talks about it in Hebrews 6:19 when he writes, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” He's talking about a hope that is fixed on Jesus Christ. Jesus has secured a destiny for us that draws us into the very presence of God. With the assurance that we can stand before God, washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, we don't have to fear anything life throws at us.

Our hope isn't a vague expectation or whimsical gamble; it's an absolute certainty rooted in God's integrity. The “two unchangeable things” the author writes of in v. 18 are God's promise and his oath to keep his promise. Just in case Abraham missed it the first time, God backed his own word up by swearing he would come through. That promise was for the salvation of Abraham's offspring according to faith (see Romans 4:1-12). That means you and me, and all who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord. It draws us into the “inner sanctuary behind the curtain,” which is where the presence of God once dwelt in the Jewish Temple. Through Christ, we have access to that same presence.

The author refers to Jesus as a high priest in the “order of Melchizedek,” a vague and elusive figure in the Old Testament (v. 20). Melchizedek was high priest in the time of Abraham, before the Jewish people came into existence. The author's point is that Jesus functions as an intermediary for everyone who has faith, Jewish or not. He enters into the most holy place, the very presence of God, and because our hope is anchored to him, he draws us in also. We can count on it because God has sworn an oath, telling us it is so. His promise is certain.

When the author says, “We who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged,” he means we don't have to be afraid. But we have to turn away from what we've depended on in the past (that's what he means by, “we who have fled”) and we have to firmly grasp what God has in store for us (that's what he means by, “take hold of the hope set before us”). The peace and encouragement we experience as believers, no matter what happens in life, come precisely because we've let go of the things we used to depend on and instead put our trust entirely in Jesus Christ. If you do that, you don't need to be afraid. Your future is in his hands, and he won't ever let you go.

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