GOD: NO CHANGE, KNOW HOPE
Hebrews 6:13 – 6:20
INTRO: Marriage counselors teach us that there are two words that couples should never use. These two words have such absolute meaning no one could ever possibly be one or the other.
- A husband could say that his wife is Always nagging him!
- …to fix things around the house. While his feelings are valid it is hardly the reality. He says, “Good morning, honey,” as he rolls over to greet his wife, and she responds, “Did you fix the toilet yet?” Is that true? Probably not. But all he hears are the commands. She always nags him.
- A wife might say that her husband Never says ‘thank you’! …for all the meals she has prepared, all the laundry she has folded, and keeping the house clean to boot, how hard she works, he never says “thank you.” He probably thinks that if he doesn’t complain about the fact that she doesn’t cook like his mother that is thanks enough.
Is she always nagging? Is he never thankful? Knowing human nature we can certainly say that no one is that consistent. We cannot apply “always” and “never” to human beings. It isn’t fair and it isn’t possible.
What is possible is that a person can change. A seminary professor once said about a theological stand, “Ask me my opinion today and I will tell you. Ask again in ten years and it will probably change.” We are not that static in our convictions.
1. Our behavior can be modified. Our beliefs may morph over time. Our personalities will develop. Human life is about change. That is why “always” and “never” don’t fit us.
2. “Always” and “never” do fit God however. God never changes. God is always the same. You can count on this to be true: God is Immutable. That means that God cannot and does not change in his basic character. God is always wise, always loving, always faithful, always just, and always holy. Whatever God is, He always is. He always is what he is. And in this we find incredible hope.
In learning to know God this is a characteristic we need to become more familiar with. To do that we will study our main passage this morning, Hebrews 6:13-20, and share in the knowledge of our unchanging God.
I. God’s Promises Never Change
For an example of the unchanging nature of God, the writer of Hebrews points us to the story of Abraham.
13 For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying: 14 “I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.” 15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised. Hebrews 6:13-15
A. What was the promise and what was it based upon?
1. The promise that God made to Abraham was to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore (Gen. 22).
2. Abraham is the epitome of a faithful person in both the OT and the NT. It says of him in Romans that
“Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping” (Rom 4:18).
There was just one problem: he had no son. His original name “Abram” meant “exalted father.” So when he introduced himself he would say, “Hi, I’m Abram (exalted father)” to which the other person would reply, “Oh, how many children do you have?” “None,” was the answer. And Abram was 75 at the time, so consider the odds.
When Abram was 99 God changed his name to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude.” Now this is 24 years later and Abraham still had no son. Eventually Isaac, one son, would be born to Abraham through whom this promise would be fulfilled. And though Abraham did not see this promise in its entire fulfillment, God proved faithful. Physically there are countless Jews and Muslims who call Abraham father. Spiritually, those who believe in God like Abraham, there are many more who call him father.
B. What do we learn from God’s promise to Abraham?
1. We learn that no one who trusts in God’s promise will ever be disappointed. Our frustration is based on our impatience. We pray and expect immediate answers. We hope and expect that the next day all will be made right. What we don’t see is that God delays the visible answers and responds in his own timing. We may not see the answer to our prayers in our lifetime, but if God has promised something he will do it.
2. This is based on the unchanging nature of his Person . To trust in God’s unchanging promises is to trust in the God who does not change himself. The Psalmist said,
25 Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. 26 They will perish, but you remain forever; they will wear out like old clothing. You will change them like a garment and discard them. 27 But you are always the same; you will live forever.” Psalm 102:25-27
I often hear people speaking about God as if he were like any of us: human. People will refer to God in human terms and apply human frailties to his character. We grow tired of irritating people; we break our promises; we are unreliable; we forget to do what we said we would…therefore God must be like us. That is one thing we must never do. God is not like us in any of these ways. He is faithful to his promises and to his own self.
II. God’s Purposes Never Change
God’s promises never change because his purposes never change. We see this in these words,
17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. (6:17).
A. God tested Abraham
in a manner that would make any parent question their faith in God.
1. The Lord told Abraham to sacrifice the one and only son. …he had to, through which this promise was supposed to come, on a fiery altar. Abraham proves obedient and so the Lord takes an oath,
16 This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. Genesis 22:16-17
B. Jesus Questioned Oaths
Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that we need not take oaths. Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no””no” just what it is. God doesn’t want us to swear by anything. So why does he swear an oath to Abraham? People in Jesus’ day would not dare swear by God they will do something. If they didn’t do it they would be guilty of blasphemy. So they swore by the temple or by the gold in the temple to assure others that what they were saying was true. People are such liars we need oaths to guarantee the truth. Jesus said: be people of truth. Let your words mean what they mean without having to swear.
C. Why then does God swear an Oath?
1. Because of the Weakness of our Flesh.. God condescends to add the oath to His Word to give us a double assurance.
2. His word alone is enough. But now there is added emphasis on the integrity of God’s word. God can swear by himself because he is absolutely reliable and true. That is how we know that God’s purposes will never change.
Samuel said this of God, 29 And he who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will he change his mind, for he is not human that he should change his mind! 1 Sam 15:29
You and I can plan our day early in the morning. Then interruptions, emergencies or simple mood changes can alter our plans and the day will turn out completely different than we thought. God plans his day, he has planned the whole course of human history, and he will not change his oaths.
III. God’s Truth Never Changes
If all of this is true then we know that whatever God says is true, and that truth never changes. In fact, the writer of Hebrews says it this way,
18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. (6:18)
A. God cannot lie.
1. If he lied, he would deny his very nature as the God of truth, whose very word is truth. Jesus called the devil the father of lies. God is the father of truth.
2. What would happen if God were able to change? If God’s personality changed as easily as our own we would see drastic results. If God were moody we would wonder if today were a good day to pray. We might wonder when a good day was to bother him if ever at all. We would cease to pray. And if that were the case then we would never venture out in faith.
a. We would never take a risk believing that God led us to take such steps.
b. We would never again ask for his help. if his truth or his personality changed. God is truth and he is true to his nature. God’s personality is the same today as it was during the time of Abraham. That is why the Bible calls him “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Though thousands of years separate us from the story of Abraham, it is given to us as a reminder that God is the same God for us that he was for Abraham. This is not a Bible story, it is a Bible fact.
No matter how ancient the words of the Bible are they are as true for us now as they were back then. Isaiah declared,
“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but theword of our God stands forever” (Is 40:6-8).
Because of this we know that the hope of our future salvation is certain. God’s truth confirms his plan for us.
IV. God’s Son Never Changes
We know God’s promises never change and his purposes never change because his truth never changes. Jesus fulfills all three of these unchangeable qualities. Like Father like Son. So we know that Jesus never changes either.
The writer of Hebrews concludes,
19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. 20 Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20
Hebrews can be a difficult book for many because of the OT and temple imagery. This is one of those scenes.
A. Jesus is Our High Priest who Ministers for Us!!
The imagery here pictures Jesus as the high priest who ministers on our behalf in the Holy of Holies, the place of God’s presence.
1. Melchizedek was an ancient priest in Abraham’s time who served as prophet, priest and king.
2. Jesus is in the Same Order : Jesus is our Prophet, Priest and King. He serves us as prophet, priest and king also. His priesthood is greater than the old priesthood, which means that by his own blood and sacrifice, his work of salvation for us is absolutely effective.
I don’t know if that helps, to tell the truth. Jesus does not change and that is one truth we can hang on to.
We can take great comfort in this:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8).
So we know this as well,
Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. (Heb 7:25).
And that sums up very well what we read earlier in verses 19-20.
B. This hope is an anchor for Our Souls.
1. An anchor steadies the ship and prevents drifting. It keeps the ship from smashing into other ships in the harbor. In the imagery of our passage the anchor is actually cast forward, which may sound a little strange. With this comes the idea of grasping the hope set before us.
The picture of throwing our anchor ahead comes from the ancient sailing practice called “kedging.” When storms threatened a ship docked in the harbor, a crew of sailors would jump into a smaller boat and haul the ship’s anchor out into the sea as far it could go. The anchor would be let down and the ship pulled itself forward into the deeper water.
2. That is who Jesus is for us. He is the anchor of our soul, firm and secure. Our anchor is in heaven, but our ship is on earth. Jesus provides the stability and direction we need to go forward in hope. God: No change, Therefore we know hope!”
I read of a Christian man who made a trip to Russia in 1993. He felt conspicuous walking down the streets of Moscow and could not figure out why. He wanted to blend in, but it was obvious that people knew he was not Russian. He asked the group of Russian educators with whom he was working whether it was his American clothes: jeans and a Chicago Bulls shirt. “No, it’s not your clothes,” they replied.
“What is it, then?” he asked. They huddled together and talked for several minutes. Then one, speaking for the group, answered politely, “It is your face.” “My face!” he laughed. “How does my face look different?” They talked again and then one of the teachers quietly said, “You have hope.” (World Magazine [3/6/99], p. 37.)
In a world where everything changes and nothing stays the same, God does not change and that gives us hope. While we may feel convicted to change who we are and conform more to the likeness of Jesus Christ, which would be difficult if Christ was constantly changing. But with God there is no change and therefore we know hope.