Hebrews 6:13-20              “God’s Promise”


            Before we dive head first into this refreshingly cool scripture, I think it would be helpful for us to just look at two of the terms that are being used here. Unless we have a grasp on these tow terms, the scripture becomes a little confusing.

            The two terms are “make a promise” and “swear an oath.” Both are being discussed here and have many other references throughout the Holy Bible. We all probably have a good enough understanding of what it means to make a promise. In the simplest terms it means “You will do what you say you will do.”

            That being said, the “promise” that we read here in our Bibles is not simply from a person, but it is from God. So, rightly if you ask me, a different term is used in the original Greek to show that this is a word that is coming from God. “God will do what God says God will do.” This word for “promise” then is not the typical word in the Greek that one would expect for a normal person making a promise. This word literally means that the God has sent it down to earth as a promise borne on angels’ wings. The word “angel” is actually in this Greek word. An angel is sent by God. This is a heavenly promise that will be kept by God.

            There was a promise made to Abraham of old, and his descendants, that was in fact delivered by three angels sent by God. So, the Jews in Rome who are hearing this message originally would have understood this word of promise was something that was angelic in nature. This story of God promising Abraham and Sarah a son is found in Genesis 18. That can be your homework today to ready that story. Verse 18:18 “. . .Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.”

            This is the promise that God makes to Abraham, and His descendants. This promise covers the Jews of Rome in the day of this writing, and all it covers all of us still today. All who are children of Abraham are part of the promise, part of the blessing.


            As I already mentioned, there is another term that is being used here in conjunction with “promise.” This term is to “swear an oath.” This is what happens after you speak a promise, right? The oath is really a consequence being lifted up to bind the promise. If I say to my wife Helen, for instance, “I promise to do the dishes after dinner tonight” but she knows that I have said that many times before but have gone off and taken a nap leaving the dishes, then she may not believe me unless I add my personal oath to the promise. For example, “I promise that I will wash the dishes after dinner, and I promise this on the life of my mother-in-law!” then for sure I will be washing the dishes because I would not want anything at all to happen to my dear mother-in-law.

            In the movie “The Princess Bride,” Wesley and Buttercup make it through the Fire Swamp only to be encircled by Prince Humperdink and his men. Buttercup, in an attempt to save Wesley’s life asks Humperdink to let Wesley go back to his ship if she promises to go with Humperdink. At that point Prince Humperdink promises and swears his oath, saying “May I live a thousand years and never hunt again!”

            That kind of an oath is useless right?!  Should we as good Christians ever sully our promise with a silly oath like that? I think not. And Jesus has something to say about this as well. Check out Matthew 5:33 and on. This is a segment of the Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard it said to those of ancient times that you shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord. But I say to you, do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black; Let your Yes be Yes, and your No be No.”

            It is very common today to say, “I swear to God.” WE, as Christians following the precepts of Jesus himself, should not be saying that. This echoes the idea we find in Exodus 20, the Third of the Ten Commandments, “Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.”

            Jesus us tells us to take that one step further. We should not even swear by the hair on our head. Do you remember the “Three Little Pigs”? The wolf says to the pigs if you do not come out then I will “huff and puff and blow your house down.” The pigs respond, “Not by the hair of our chinny chin chins.” We should not even swear by a pig’s facial hair!


            Should not a Christian always keep his or her promise? I would like to think so. I would like to think that a Christian’s word of promise would be like that word that is carried on angels’ wings. I like to think that when a Christian speaks, that he or she understands that it is with the Word of God—or at least God is listening to what is being spoken. Because of this, we should never have to add an oath to anything we say. Shakespeare used to swear by his beard, and that reference can be found in his plays as well (Check “As You Like It”) Shakespeare had a mighty fine beard, but he should not have been swearing by it. If we should not make an oath even by our facial hair, then why would we do it by God?

            We need to know that we as Christians can indeed trust one another to do what we say. This is especially important during this time of the Covid pandemic. Our word about our current medical status might cost someone else his or her life. I think about what I had to do in order to travel back to Kauai from Germany. First, I had to be vaccinated so that I could travel safely there. Then, I had to wear not just the cloth mask, but the medical grade N95 mask as required by the German government on flights and public transportation. Before I could enter Germany, I had to fill out a medical questionnaire, known as the Einreiseanmeldung. Then, when it was time to leave again to come home, I had to get the Covid PCR exam within 48 hours of departure. All of this had be cleared at the Frankfurt airport departure area before I could even get a boarding pass. At this time, I also had to submit a Center for Disease Control attestation that to the best of my knowledge I had not come into contact with the virus. Then, once back in the US proper, I had to go through all of this again with the Hawaii Safe Travels website. And, lastly I did try to self-quarantine and had a follow-up Covid test back here in Lihue.

             After all that, I went out on Tuesday to the Regency Puakea senior care home, and had to have my temperature taken, fill out another attestation, and then also be questioned by the assistant director who had gotten wind that I had been out of the country. My response to her was: “Do you honestly believe that I would do anything or neglect to take maximum precautions before coming back in to see our beloved kapuna?”

            She realized that I was sincere. The word of a Christian should be better than any PCR test for Covid. And, in the end we really do just need to trust one another. Our word is our bond. We stand before our Lord for judgment otherwise.


            Let us look now at verse 19. We have a hope that is like an anchor of the soul. This is of course the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Christ is our anchor. This is also so important for us to grasp during this time of Covid. We do not build ships to leave them anchored in port at all times. However, when rough times come, when storms blow, when waves come crashing in, we should put down anchor. WE carry the anchor along with us, and use it when we need to be safe again. Right?

            I want you to picture for a moment that anchor of your soul. What does it look like? In the first century after the Resurrection, the church was pictured as a ship. To this day, the center part of the ship is called a nave, like in the word “navy.” The crossing part of the basilica is still called the “cross ship.” This ship is supposed to get us safely into harbor with God in heaven!

            Now look at the Cross. If the whole church is upside down as a ship sailing towards heaven, then the cross looks very much like an anchor. In turbulent times, we drop anchor for safety. We return to the Cross of Jesus Christ. In know it seems as if this Covid time is just going on and on, but it WILL end one day. Until that time, we drop anchor with Christ. That is hope for our current salvation from crisis, and our everlasting hope for salvation with God.

            Jesus is that stabile weight that we need in all of our difficult times. Because of His promise to us that he would be with us always, we know he is the anchor of hope. Let me just close with Matthew 28:20, Jesus says, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” These are His last words to us in that Gospel.