And Now a Word to Bolster that Word of Encouragement
The Preacher has just said that though there are those who, like that generation in the wilderness, fail to enter into His rest, he is certain that these Hebrews are not like those ancient Hebrews—they shall enter His rest. And not by their faithfulness alone—no one enters for that reason, feeble as our fidelity is. No. We ultimately enter that rest and inherit the promises because of God’s faithfulness.
At this point, the Preacher turns to the example of Abraham to illustrate God’s faithfulness. God had promised Abraham a son when Abraham was seventy-five years old and his wife sixty-five—and the Scriptures tell us that Abraham believed God and so God counted that faith to him as righteousness (Genesis 12:4; 15:6). Yet, it was twenty-five more years before God fulfilled that promise to Abraham (Genesis 17:17; 21:5). But God’s oath to Abraham was not based upon Abraham’s faith but on: 1) God’s word; and 2) God’s purpose which is based upon His unchanging character—both of which make it impossible that God should or would lie. So it matters not how old Abraham and Sarah are; God has said that they shall have a baby—and they did.
And so the Preacher returns to his listeners. They have every reason to “hold fast to the hope set before [them].” Abraham was promised a child, but the child was not the object of hope but a means to it. Abraham and all the Old Testament saints were longing for “a better country, a heavenly one” (11:16). The Old Testament is the story of promises made; the New Testament is the story of promises kept. And that promise kept is the coming of God’s Son Jesus Christ, whom Isaac prefigured (11:17-19). But while Isaac was saved from death (Genesis 22:1-19), Jesus died on our behalf, rose, and ascended, entering the true “inner place behind the curtain,” of which the holy of holies in the temple was but a poor earthly representation, indeed, was destroyed by Roman armies in A.D. 70.
But the inner sanctum in heaven will never be destroyed. To that place our High Priest has gone before us, in that place he intercedes for us, and from that place he waits for us. And that is indeed a steadfast anchor for the soul. We shall fail, but thanks be to God, He shall never fail. And we can endure, and with God’s help we will endure. Our High Priest has gone behind the true curtain at the Right Hand of Power. So let us gather to him there in prayer knowing that He is the One who ever keeps His promises.