v. 13. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by Himself,
v. 14. saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
v. 15. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
v. 16. For men verily swear by the greater; and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife
v. 17. Where in God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath,
v. 18. that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us;
v. 19. which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
v. 20. whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
In reminding his readers of the sureness of God's promises, the inspired author never loses sight of the fact that he wants to stimulate interest and further encouragement, in order that the believers might obtain the end of faith by patient perseverance in their trust in God. Since the writer has Jewish Christians to deal with, he reminds them of the example of Abraham, as one of those who did inherit the promise: For God, in making promise to Abraham, since He could swear by none greater, swore by Himself, saying, Blessing I will bless thee and multiplying I will multiply thee. The Lord had repeatedly given Abraham the promise that he should have offspring of his own body, a prophecy which included the Messianic promise, Gen_12:1-3; Gen_15:5; Gen_17:5-6; Gen_18:18. But this promise, sure as it was in itself, the Lord in addition supplemented with an oath by Himself, there being no greater to swear by, Gen_22:16-18. In the case of Abraham, therefore, it is seen that the promise is secure, God having pledged Himself with an oath to perform it. But its benefits can be obtained only by patient waiting, as in the case of the patriarch, whose faith was finally rewarded. He was so sure of the fulfillment that he was convinced God could just as soon cease to be as neglect the keeping of His promise. His reward came in due time: And so, having shown patience, he obtained the promise. Though delay followed delay and one year after the other rolled by; though he became a sojourner in a strange land and the barrenness of his wife seemed to mock all hope, yet he continued in his confident expectation, until the fulfillment of the first part of God's promise came as a reward of his faith. A son, Isaac, was born to him by Sarah, and he saw his grandchildren as the bearers of the promise, before the Lord gathered him to his fathers. The birth of Isaac was a guarantee to Abraham that the Messianic part of the prophecy would also come true, that God would redeem and bless all nations in one of his descendants, and so he, in the spirit, saw the Lord's day, and rejoiced, Joh_8:56. Note: Since Christ is the Savior, not only of Abraham, but of the whole world, the promises of God, with the confirmatory oath, are meant not only for Abraham, but for the believers of all times.
The sacred writer wants to bring home the full significance of God's promise and oath to his readers, and therefore introduces an analogy: For men swear by a greater (than themselves), and to them the oath is the end of all controversy unto confirmation. That has ever been the rule among men. Whenever an oath is really required and may be honestly given, as when the government commands it or the welfare of one's neighbor or the honor of God demands it, then men swear by the greater being, by God Himself. The oath is made for the confirmation of a statement, it settles the matter in dispute, it brings all controversy to a speedy end, Exo_22:10-11.
Now the great God, in order to remove all doubts from the hearts of men, in this case conformed to the custom justified by human usage: Wherefore God, intending more abundantly to demonstrate to the heirs of the promise the immutability of His will, intervened with an oath. The Lord accommodated Himself to the weakness of the human beings who were included in His gracious will. In a more emphatic way than by a mere promise He wanted to demonstrate to us the unchangeableness, the immutability of His gracious and good will. His solemn oath came between Him and us, as an added guarantee for the fact that His promises were intended for us all, lest any single one be tortured by doubt. In doing so, God actually disregarded the implied insult to His truthfulness, to the certainty of His Word, in placing Himself on a level with men. "God descended, as it were, from His own absolute exaltation, in order, so to speak, to look up to Himself after the manner of men and take Himself to witness; and so by a gracious condescension confirm the promise for the sake of its inheritors" (Delitzsch). "He brought in Himself as surety, He mediated or came in between men and Himself, through the oath by Himself" (Davidson).
God's purpose in condescending in this manner is expressly stated: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong inducement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope held out to us. God's promise and God's oath are the two immutable things. By means of these, His promise which it is impossible for God to break, and His oath, which it is impossible for Him to falsify, we have a sound and firm encouragement, inducement, and consolation. Having fled for refuge, we found it and have it in Him. We may hold fast unswervingly to the hope held out to us, for a surer guarantee we cannot get, no matter where we apply. Fugitives from our own doubts and weaknesses, we have a safe refuge in the promise of the Lord. We map cling without wavering to the hope of eternal salvation as it is assured to us in the words of God's grace.
How utterly and absolutely safe this hope is, appears from the final statement: Which we have as an anchor of the soul, safe and sure, and entering into that part behind the veil, where the Forerunner is entered for us, Jesus, becoming a High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Just as the anchor of a ship, if solidly placed, holds the vessel safe and secure, even against a strong wind and dangerous waves, thus the hope of our faith, being anchored in the promises of the Lord, gives us a firm and safe hold on salvation in the midst of the storms of these latter days. This anchor of our soul, by the grace of God, is firmly imbedded in the very presence of Almighty God, in the most holy place of the heavens. The Holy of Holies was the innermost shrine of the Jewish Temple, into which the high priest entered but once a year, in the name of the entire nation. Thus Jesus, our Forerunner, as well as our High Priest, has been exalted into the very presence, to the right hand, of His heavenly Father, in our behalf He has entered there, to become our Advocate with the Father, to intercede for us, with a continual reference to His perfect work of atonement. Jesus it is in whom we believe, in whom we trust. By His death and resurrection He secured for us the power to enter into the mansions of heaven, to follow where He has shown the way, when He became a priest throughout eternity after the order of Melchizedek. Note: If we Christians place the hope of our salvation on the promises and the oath of God, then our hope is anchored in the almighty God Himself. All languidness and sluggishness must therefore be cast aside as we apply God's promises to ourselves and thus daily become surer of our redemption.
The writer continues his exhortation to progress and steadfastness in the faith by showing how necessary progress in knowledge is, by warning against denial of the faith, by urging progress in sanctification, and by demonstrating the certainty of God's promises.