Author: Ron Graham

Anchor of Hope

The Anchor of Hope
—In a storm of pessimism

The third of five lessons on the theme “Anchors in the Storm” In this lesson, we consider hope as an anchor when we are buffeted by storms of pessimism.

It makes sense to begin this lesson with a Bible verse that actually speaks of hope as an anchor: "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..." (Hebrews 6:19-20a, NASB).

1 Hope Assured

Notice also, that the Christian’s hope is said to be "a hope both sure and steadfast" (Hebrews 6:19).

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul; a hope both sure and steadfast; a hope which enters within the veil where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us..." (Hebrews 6:19-20a, NASB).

There are two kinds of hope. On one hand, there's the lottery kind of hope where one hopes for something but has only a chance in a million of the hope becoming reality. On the other hand there's the inheritance kind of hope where one is heir to a fortune and is guaranteed, by a will, of receiving it in the future.

Heirs and citizens

The Christian hope is the inheritance kind. Just before speaking of hope as a sure anchor, the Hebrew writer calls Christians "heirs of the promise" (Hebrews 6:17).

"God, desiring all the more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his purpose, guaranteed it with an oath" (Hebrews 6:17). We'll come back to the latter part of that verse later. For now, note that we are heirs; "Heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17).

We believe the promise of eternal life, because we are fully assured of it by Christ’s will or testament. We don't wonder whether we'll receive it; rather, we know that we shall. "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for" (Hebrews 11:1).

Paul uses another analogy: "Our citizenship is in heaven, whence we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20). We don't reside there yet, but we already have citizenship. We are children of the kingdom.

2 A Way Opened

Now let's move on to something else, said about hope, in the same verse that we began with. Note the statement that hope "enters within the veil" (Hebrews 6:19b).

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul; a hope both sure and steadfast; a hope which enters within the veil where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us..." (Hebrews 6:19-20a, NASB).

The Hebrew writer is speaking symbolically of the veil or curtain that closed off the inner tabernacle or “Most Holy Place” back in Moses’s time. The Hebrew writer describes this briefly for us (Hebrews 9:1-15).

The perfect tabernacle

That earthly tabernacle represented the "greater and more perfect" holy place in heaven, into which Christ entered after his sacrifice and resurrection (Hebrews 9:11).

"Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things [foreshadowed] to come. Then he entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands, which is to say, not of this creation" (Hebrews 9:11).

Christ our Forerunner

The Hebrew writer explains that the sacrifice of Christ’s blood and body, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven, made him "a forerunner for us" (Hebrews 6:20).

"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..." (Hebrews 6:19-20a, NASB).

Christ our Intercessor

Because our High priest is already there; we have access to the holy place through his representation, because "he ever lives to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25).

"Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25, NASB).

Christ the Opener of our way

The Hebrew writer defines our hope as "confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way which he opened for us through the veil, that is, his flesh" (Hebrews 10:19-20).

It's wonderful that Christ has already gone before us into the holy place, and there intercedes for us, so that we have (notice again) "a hope that enters within the veil" (Hebrews 6:19).

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul; a hope both sure and steadfast; a hope which enters within the veil where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us..." (Hebrews 6:19-20a).

note Even more wonderful is the fact that one day, we ourselves will follow our hope to where it has already followed Jesus. We will enter through the veil into that holy place, and dwell there forever with Jesus.

3. Pessimism Overcome

Now we notice something found in the verse just before the one we started with: "We have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6:18). Note the phrase "strong encouragement".

I think it's fair to say that in this world pessimism runs deep and optimism is shallow. People don't want to be disappointed in this life, yet their optimism is like the proverbial calm before the storm. It's short lived, soon shattered by the raging storm.

Where our hope is fixed

It's different for those of us who have hope in Jesus as an anchor for our souls. When the storms of pessimism rage, we have “strong encouragement”. The anchor holds and we don't drift —because our anchor is not worldly optimism but the sure hope given us by our Lord Jesus.

Many Christians are anchored to earthly things, which they call Christian. They have a “Christian family”, get a “Christian education”, have a “Christian work ethic”, and enjoy “Christian fellowship”. Such things are noble, but they are not the rock.

We shouldn't fix our hope on things that can fail and cast us adrift. We should rather "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2).

4 Eternity Guaranteed

Now finally we notice something in the verse following the one we started with. Jesus "has become a high priest forever" (Hebrews 6:20). Note the word "forever".

"Jesus has entered through the veil as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:20).

Our hope is fixed on Christ’s high-priesthood which lasts “forever” —in other words it is eternal. Jesus "holds his priesthood permanently... ever lives to make intercession for us... a Son made perfect forever" (Hebrews 7:24,25,28).

The guarantee

The guarantee of our hope of eternal life is as good as the guarantee of the everlasting priesthood of Christ, who has already entered through the veil. What is that guarantee?

The guarantee is in the prophecy, "The Lord has sworn, and will not change his mind, 'You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek'" (Psalms 110:4). Note the phrase, "The Lord has sworn".

The Hebrew writer comments, "God, desiring even more to show the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his purpose, guaranteed it with an oath" (Hebrews 6:17).

So we have "two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18). We have not only the promise, but also the oath sworn by God.

The other guarantee

There is a second guarantee: the seal of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. This is very important, although in this lesson we can merely mention it.

"Having listened to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed in Christ, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a guarantee of our inheritance..." (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The order of Melchizedek

You may have noticed that the oath, which says that Christ is a priest “forever”, also says that he is a priest "according to the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 5:6, Hebrews 6:20).

"The Lord has sworn, and will not change his mind, 'You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek'" (Psalms 110:4).

The Hebrew writer explains who this Melchizedek was and how he was a symbol of Christ: Melchizedek was both king and priest; greater than Abraham; without a genealogy (Hebrews 7:1-25).

A symbol of endless priesthood

The genealogy of Jesus entitled him to be king, but he had no genealogy that entitled him to be priest. He became priest on the basis of God’s oath that his priesthood would be "according to the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 5:6, Hebrews 6:20).

Melchizedek was a priest without genealogy. He was not part of a succession of priests. His priesthood stood alone. He was not begotten of a priest nor did he beget a priest to succeed him. Symbolically his priesthood was endless (Hebrews 7:3).

The endless priesthood of Jesus, guaranteed by God’s oath, is the basis of our hope of eternal life; and that hope is the anchor of our souls.

Hope assured
Opened way
Pessimism overcome
Eternity guaranteed

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