13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
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:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
By two immutable things, God’s counsel and God’s oath, we have been given such hope that is “an anchor of our soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.”
From Adam Clarkes Commentary:
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:
[That by two immutable things] The promise and oath of God: the promise pledged his faithfulness and justice; the oath, all the infinite perfections of his Godhead, for he sware by himself. There is a good saying in Beracoth on <Exo. 32:13>, fol. 32: Remember Abraham, Isaac, and
, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, "What is the meaning of by thine own self? Rab. Eleazar answered, Thus said Moses to the holy blessed God, Lord of all the world, If thou hadst sworn to them by the heavens and the earth, then I should have said, As the heavens and the earth shall pass away, so may thy oath pass away. But now thou hast sworn unto them by thy great name, which liveth, and which endureth forever, and forever and ever; therefore thy oath shall endure forever, and forever and ever."
This is a good thought; if God had sworn by anything finite, that thing might fail, and then the obligation would be at an end, but he has sworn by what is infinite, and cannot fail; therefore his oath is of eternal obligation.
[We might have a strong consolation] There appears to be an allusion here to the cities of refuge, and to the persons who fled to them for safety. As the person who killed his neighbour unawares was sure if he gained the city of refuge he should be safe, and had strong consolation in the hope that he should reach it, this hope animated him in his race to the city; he ran, he fled, knowing that, though in danger the most imminent of losing his life, yet, as he was now acting according to an ordinance of God, he was certain of safety provided he got to the place.
It is easy to apply this to the case of a truly penitent sinner. Thou hast sinned against God and against thy own life! The avenger of blood is at thy heels! Jesus hath shed his blood for thee, he is thy intercessor before the throne; flee to him! Lay hold on the hope of eternal life which is offered unto thee in the Gospel! Delay not one moment! Thou art never safe until thou hast redemption in his blood! God invites thee! Jesus spreads his hands to receive thee! God hath sworn that he willeth not the death of a sinner; then he cannot will thy death: take God's oath, take his promise, credit what he hath spoken and sworn! Take encouragement! Believe on the Son of God, and thou shalt not perish, but have everlasting life!
Notice that the counsel of God came first and then the oath. It takes both to assure the fearful and distrustful nature of man to trust in the immutable word of the Lord. The word, “immutable”, in the Greek means to be “unchangeable, unalterable”, and it cannot be perverted from it’s original intent and purpose. Such is the nature of the counsel of God, which is etched in the granite of His own substance and character, a God which CANNOT lie! Then comes the compassion and desire of God into play. He who knows the heart of man better than man himself, in a divine act of quelling the distress and agony of man’s own mind concerning what His counsel provides, lowers Himself to an act of making an oath, a solemn covenantal promise, which necessitates a “swearing unto”, or a binding statement of such contract. By this, God determines to give a second “immutable” thing, an oath validated by a swearing by His own self, placing His own reputation upon this immutable contract. Since He could swear by nothing less than Himself, for everything else besides Himself is subject to change and alteration, but He is unchangeable and unalterable, and by that single act of swearing, we have been given an unfailing promise, that He which has begun this good work will indeed finish it. The immutability of His counsel and oath, “in blessing I will bless thee and in multiplying I will multiply thee”, is such that heaven and earth could pass away, but this solemn word of affirmation and confirmation will never pass from existence.
It is striking to me that we have been given a “refuge” for our soul in this particular portion of scripture. Christ is that refuge, His name being a strong tower into which the righteous may run and find safety. As Adam Clarke so aptly enlightens us, throughout the history of the world, there have been cities that have given refuge to those that have been persecuted in their own land. In today’s generation,
itself has been a “city of refuge” for the world’s persecuted masses. We are a nation that opens it’s gates to “refugees”, immigrants from other lands. Thank God for His place of refuge, where we can immigrate from a land of sorrow and death, corruption and sickness, and take refuge in His “city of light and glory”. Out from the darkness of our own earthly limitations we have been given a new “citizenship”, a heavenly dwelling place, above the cares of the world. We have been given this citizenship by reason of the immutable counsel of Almighty God and His Son, Jesus Christ. His promises are not yea and nay, but yea and amen concerning our entrance into His riches in glory. Here, in this new beginning, we lay down all strife and conflict, for all of our arguments over His promises end when we cross over into the reality of those heavenly things themselves. Our mouths are shut before His counsel, and we can only agree with Him concerning His design for us, for His counsel leaves us without excuse and we must enter into that promise by the faith of the Son of God.
Time will not stop this counsel and oath from having it’s fulfillment in the hearts of mankind. Throughout the eons God will hold true to this counsel and will keep His oath to us. Time may march on throughout the ages to come, but at the end of all time, in the final hour of God’s astounding play of life and death, He will be found filling the all with His own ALL. By “filling” the all with His ALL, we are not speaking on such terms as a glass being filled with water, but it goes beyond mere containment of God in a vessel, or residing in said vessel. This “filling” means to be infused with God, enmeshed, enfolded into Him and He into us. It is union by fusion, an incorporation of man and God. By the very word that the scriptures use to describe such an event, a word that has come to be very prominent in the kingdom message, we see a hidden truth that holds a great truth yet to be fully realized by God’s people. That word is TABERNACLES, the third and final great Feast or Festival of the Lord. Tabernacles means more than God just living in man. It means God “ENTWINING” Himself with man, as the physical booths that were made by the instruction of the Lord, bringing together both supple and bendable branches and also the sturdy and reliable branches to form a BOOTH, which gave rise to the more descriptive term, The Feast Of Booths. Even so, God is ENTWINING Himself in and amongst us, TABERNACLING in and amongst us, swallowing us up into Himself, but allowing us to be a “new thing” in Him, a man that is joined and made one with God.
Is it any wonder then that we would be given “a more sure word of prophecy”, seeing as to how we are to come to terms with such an unbelievably full measure of God’s provision? Only by giving to us two immutable things, God’s counsel and His own oath, could we ever possibly wait for such a development to take place, and now we run the race with patience, enduring all things, believing all things, loving all things, for we have been given an unchangeable priesthood to minister out from, the Order of Melchizedek, an unalterable order of priest and king. By this, we know that we have been given the esteemed honor of ministering in the same “course” as our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. We are following after His example and are being molded into His pattern of Melchizedek, ministering those things that have been held back behind the veil of fleshly man, which speak greater things than Passover or Pentecost have been able to minister, but we have been given a commission of the highest regard, to minister HIM, not a doctrine ABOUT Him, not a teaching of the types and shadows that ILLUSTRATE Him, but to be a living epistle read of all men, showing HIM to the world at large and being His “parousia” in the earth, the coming of the Lord. Oh Happy Day!
Now, to Him that is able to both do and will of His good pleasure, to Him that has given to us a confirmation of the highest order, by two unchangeable agreements, let us now prepare ourselves for the purchased possession of God’s promise. Enter into the blessings of the Lord, both body, soul and spirit, and be infused with His divine nature and character, as He performs His word in our lives. Let us lay hold upon such promise, and bring it into the fabric of our existence. Let us walk into our inheritance which is laid up for us, in a spiritual “trust fund”, seeing as to how we are approaching the prescribed age of maturity for access to such a fund, which is not to meted out to the children of childish thinking and behavior, but has been held back, or reserved, in Christ for a mature company of sons to lay hold upon the abundance of such a gift of life. In so doing, we will become able dispensers of the treasure of God, measuring out creation’s portion without prejudice or bias, but giving to each one their due reward. To this end, we now walk in the life of God, surrendering to His will, giving ourselves to His plan and walking through this age with great consequence in our midst.