An Anchor for the Soul — Hebrews 6:16-20

The weather was so hot and humid, it felt as if we had been swimming, but we hadn’t even been in the water.  My two friends and I were not in the water.  We were floating on it in a boat.  Sweat wet our hair, ran down our backs, soaked our t-shirts and made our skin slimy.  We fished almost every day when my best friends and I were at their cottage on Croton Pond.  We were in front of the dam this early warm morning because of a logical argument we discussed the night before.  If we caught the most fish and the largest fish in the drop off fifteen feet off the end of the dock, surely, if we got into the deep water by the dam, we would catch more and bigger fish there.

So, there we were, my two friends and I, in our little boat in front of the dam.  I was charged with dropping the cement block tied with a long rope which served as our anchor.  When I dropped it, the rope played out to the very end which was securely tied to our boat, but it didn’t strike bottom.  Although our anchor was in the water, in fact we had no anchor at all.  It is amazing how afraid you can become in a small boat in deep water without an anchor.  We soon abandoned our adventure and rowed back to waters in which our anchor reached bottom.

The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote about an anchor in Hebrews 6:18-19.  “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

In the context leading up to this statement the writer wrote about God’s promises to Abraham.  “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.’  And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:13–15).  Here God promises Abraham and He affirmed the promise with an oath on Himself.  God swore by who He was that this would happen.  Abraham believed the promise, waited for the promise, and he received the promise.

Our immediate thought is, “Great, that is Old Testament how does that apply to me?”  The writer has anticipated our thought and lays out the application for us.  “For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all disputes.  Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:16–18).

This is a New Testament application to an Old Testament promise.  Those who are sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ are also heirs to the promises of God for us.  We could make a list of the promises that God the Father made to us in Christ but we are woefully short on the space required to do so.  Suffice it to say that each and every one of these promises are assured by two infallible (unable to fall) and immutable (unable to change) things – God Himself and the fact that He cannot lie.  The hope that we have in Christ Jesus in this life and the one that is to come is assured by the unchangeable promise of God.  To this we can run for refuge. In these promises we find something to which we can anchor our lives.  Our job is to be like Abraham and believe God’s promises, wait for God’s promises, and receive God’s promises.  The only thing that can destroy this hope is our own unbelief.

To help us the writer paints us a wonderful image in the final verses of this chapter.  “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”  I quote these verses again because the image is so important to our understanding pf the point being made.

Why does the writer suddenly liken our hope to an anchor?  Perhaps his mind is reaching back to the statement that he made in his first warning in Hebrews 2:1.  “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”  Take hold on the truth so you do not drift away from the only One who can save you.

We may not drift away from the truth of the Gospel, but we sometimes can drift away from the promises that can bring us strong comfort in the storms of life.  We have all been there.  Trials and difficulties blow into our lives and what do we do?  We forget the promises and even the presence of our Lord and we wonder, “What are we going to do?”  God is there and His promises are sure.  As the writer will remind us later in this book, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?’”  The anchor is our hope.  It is ours because our hope is sunk deep in God’s promise and in His person.

The reason that the anchor secures our souls is because it is “anchored within the veil.”  Our hope is permanently rooted in the very presence of God Himself.  Our faith is in a promise.  Faith in a promise is ultimately founded upon the person who made the promise.

The Psalmist in Psalm 146:5-9 shows us how this all works, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God, Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever, Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners. The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.  the LORD watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow;    But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.”

Because our anchor is rooted in God Himself, we find two qualities that it has.  It is steadfast and sure.  It is unmovable because it is anchored in the unchanging nature of God.  What do we do with this anchor for our lives?  There is more to my fishing story.  The reason the anchor in our boat did not keep falling when it came to the end of its rope was because it was tied to the boat.  At one time we did have a real anchor for our fishing boat.  It was one of those folding metal jobs with the big protruding blades that dug deep into the bottom so the boat could not float free on the waves.  I lost that anchor.  As far as I know it is anchored deep and sure in the bottom of Croton Pond as I write.  The problem is that it does no one any good because I neglected to tie the rope to the boat.  If we let go of the rope of faith that is tied to the anchor of God’s promises, no matter how infallible and unmovable the anchor is, it will make no difference in our lives and will not steady the boat of our lives in the storm.

All of us will at some time be exposed to the storms of life.  These storms would destroy our souls if it weren’t for the anchor of our souls the Lord Jesus Christ.  While we may be buffeted and tossed about, we cannot drift and we will be saved because our lives are tied by faith to anchor in the One who does not change.  And He will bring us safely home.  Just hold on to the rope and don’t let go.  “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise”  (Hebrews 10:35–36).

 

About Don Gommesen, Ph.D.

Dr. Don has thirty five years of Pastoral experience. He planted churches with Galilean Baptist Mission for twelve years (3 churches) and served as Senior Pastor in three other churches. He is currently the Senior Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church of Lansing, Michigan. He studied at Michigan State University, Moody Bible Institute, Cornerstone University, Luther Rice Seminary and Greenwich University. He holds a BA, an MA, and a Ph.D. His Ph.D. is in history and historical theology. He loves his wife. He likes dancing to the muzak while pushing a shopping cart in empty stores, and baking his internationally acclaimed (he and Kathy said good things about them while traveling across Canada) muffins.
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