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Throw the anchor (June 23, 2024)

Amanda Shanks writes about Hebrews 6:9-20.

Hebrews 6:9-20

In June of 1998, Charlie Blanchett and Des McGrath set sail from New Zealand, intent on visiting the Polynesian island of Tonga. Midway through their journey, a series of storm systems collided, creating severe and dangerous weather conditions in what would later be called the “ultimate storm.” The sailboat was pummeled by sustained winds up to 150 mph while waves up to 80 feet high threatened to overtake the vessel. Charlie and Des grew concerned the boat would overturn, and in a moment of desperation, Charlie took hold of the anchor and threw it overboard. The anchor oriented the bow to face the battering winds and waves, providing security and stability while preventing the boat from drifting. The men endured the violent storm; at time, they surely thought they would perish. For four days, the boat held fast to the anchor, and eventually, Charlie and Des were rescued.

In Hebrews 6:9-20, the author uses the language of divine oaths to illustrate the unshakeable assurance of God’s promises. While humans, who often break promises, swear oaths to a higher power, God cannot swear by any greater power (vv. 16-17). Through the promise itself, along with the swearing of an oath on God’s own name, the passage tells us God “desired to show even more clearly…the unchangeable character of his purpose” (v. 17).

In response, the people of God practice patient endurance (v. 15) and flee to God in refuge (v. 18). Abraham is used as an example of someone who maintained faith in God’s promises and endured patiently (vv. 13-14). Unfortunately, trusting and having confidence in the promises of God does not ensure that life will always be easy. Even with deep faith and abiding trust, the storms of life, and inescapable suffering, still come. However, when those in distress turn to God for refuge, they may find themselves renewed and strengthened in hope.

This hope, anchored in the promises of God through Jesus Christ, is “sure and steadfast,” powerful enough to stretch into the “inner shrine behind the curtain” (v. 19). These verses invoke imagery of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:31-35) in which the inner veil symbolizes the holiness of God, the divine, and the heavenly. In the earthly tabernacle, only the high priest was permitted to enter the inner curtain on Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, but through Christ, believers also had access to the heavenly temple. The anchor of hope extends between us in the earthly realm, and the safety and security of the heavenly realm, granting access to the very presence of God.

As the inevitable storms of our lives collide, and the wind and waves beat upon us, we can find comfort and strength by turning to a steadfast God in our time of need. The guarantee of God’s promises not only helps us to experience hope, but it also gives us the strength to “seize” hope (v. 18). When the storms of life are too rough, and we fear we may go under, I wonder what it might be like to seize hope? To “seize” something can also mean to take hold of forcibly, to grasp, to take possession of, to capture, to bind, or to clutch. What might it look like to grab onto the anchor of hope as though one’s life depended on it and refuse to let go?

When times get rough, and you fear this world might overtake you, throw the anchor. Grab onto hope, found in the assuredness of Jesus Christ, and be bolstered and encouraged by God’s steadfast and trustworthy presence in your life. When the outcome looks bleak, throw the anchor, and be encouraged and strengthened to bear trials patiently. When you find yourself adrift, throw the anchor, and discover how God begins to orient and guide your life. In the face of doubt and uncertainty, throw the anchor, and find comfort and solace in a God who loves you. Throw the anchor…experience and seize the transformative power of hope.

Questions for discussion

  1. Hebrews 6:9-20 assures us that God’s promises are guaranteed. How have you experienced God’s promises in your own life? Have you ever experienced doubt concerning the promises of God? If so, how did you experience God in the midst of that doubt?
  2. The anchor is a symbol of hope, stability, safety and security. What anchors you spiritually in the face of distressing or painful situations?
  3. What does it mean to “seize the hope that is set before us” (v. 18)? How do you hold onto hope during times of trouble?

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