By Joe Slater
The God we serve keeps His promises! Due to His holy nature, it is impossible for Him to lie. Yet, to help us in our weakness, He not only promised to bless the world through the seed of Abraham, but swore with an oath that He would keep His promise. Therefore, “We may have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18).
These words call to mind at least two Old Testament practices with which the original readers of Hebrews would have been familiar. First, fleeing for refuge takes us to Numbers 35 where six cities were appointed as safe zones where a person who had killed another should flee. There he would receive a fair trial. If guilty of murder, he would be executed; but if the killing was justified or accidental, the avenger of blood couldn’t harm him. Nevertheless, the manslayer would have to remain inside the city of refuge until the death of the High Priest.
Sinners flee to God for refuge through Christ, and the Lord adds the saved to the church (Acts 2:47). Jesus is our High Priest forever (Hebrews 6:20). He will never die! Therefore, we must remain faithful within the body of Christ (the church) as long as we live.
“Laying hold” of the hope set before us reminds us of another practice: laying hold of the horns of the altar. Solomon’s brother, Adonijah, and later the army captain, Joab, did so as a place of presumed safety. Unfortunately for them, both were guilty and therefore were executed.
Rather than running to an altar, we lay hold of the hope we have in Christ. Hebrews 6:19-20 compares this hope to an anchor firmly secured in the presence of Christ in Heaven itself. Hope keeps us from being blown off course, as it were, by the trials and temptations we face.Stay in the city of refuge! Rejoice in your certain hope!
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com