Once the New Year’s Eve service had ended I began tidying, locking doors, and turning off lights as quickly as I could. Michelle (pre-wife Michelle… actually, pre-fiancee Michelle) chose to spend the night with a group of her friends while I helped to lead the church service. I don’t remember that service, but I do remember how focused I was on seeing her later (another attempt to get her to notice that I existed). I didn’t have a car, so I walked for about 2 hours (note: it was all uphill, against the wind, in snow higher than my head, in complete darkness, while fighting off polar bears… you get the point) fighting the storm, and yet barely flinching because my heart was set on the prize before me.
The prize makes the sacrifice worth it. Every time.
I don’t remember walking through a Toronto blizzard more horrible than what I experienced on New Year’s Eve about 20 or so years ago. But, this memory isn’t locked into my mind because of the storm. It’s locked in my memory because Michelle noticed me.
In Hebrews 6:13-20 the author gives us some much needed encouragement for our most challenging moments. He shows us How To Pursue Hope And Overcome Challenge.
i. Hebrews was written to a worse-case scenario church
Throughout Hebrews up to chapter 6 the author challenges the church’s apathy and near apostasy. The church is no longer treating Jesus as though He’s their first and best. Instead, they’re giving Jesus up to pursue other interests. Additionally, it looks like a number of Jewish Believers were about to choose to return to Judaism to ride out a wave of persecution.
It’s plain to see how alarmed the author is as we read the warnings and feel the heavy tones through the letter.
ii. After some stern warnings are given, attention is directed toward stronger encouragement
The church is faced with a challenge, but stern warnings alone are not what this church needs. To overcome the challenge the church is facing, the author draws attention to the prize of every faithful Believer. He calls it “hope.” Our hope is in the resurrection. Our hope is the closest possible relationship with God forever in glory – unimaginable benefit.
Here are three points the author makes about the hope that we have as Believers:
1. Jesus is pulling you…
Something that’s probably easy to miss in this text is the boating illustration being used. Back in the author’s time, ships would sometimes lower the anchor into a smaller rowboat. The forerunner in that boat would row the anchor to the shore. While he was on the shore the anchor would not only be secured, but the sailor would then use the anchor to pull the boat closer to the shore where it was safer.
The author is using a boating illustration to explain that Jesus is like the sailor in the boat. He has taken the anchor of our soul and has rowed it forward into glory to secure it there. Not only is it secured there, but Jesus is also pulling us closer to Him.
2. … Into a glorious mystery…
The author tells us that Jesus has brought the anchor behind the curtain, into the holy of holies. We know what that means, but we’ve never actually seen this. We know that this is a reference to the very presence of God – the place where God looks exactly what God looks like, and everyone can see Him as He is. However, what that actually means and looks like is still a mystery to us which is why this is called our hope. This isn’t called hope because there’s a chance it won’t happen, though. It’s called hope simply because we haven’t seen it yet. But, we know it’s going to be awesome, and completely worth the challenges we need to walk through.
3. … That will be eternal
I don’t know too much about how boating worked back in the author’s day. I don’t really know much about how boating works today, either. But there is a clear sense in the text about a transition of importance. It sounds to me like there were other important people on the ship doing important things. However, once the forerunner made it to the shore with the anchor and started pulling in the ship, there was a shift in importance.
Now that Jesus has died, rose again, and is anchoring us to glory, there are no other options for us. Where there were priests in the Old Testament who could work as mediators, there are no more. Jesus is the only mediator between God and people. As the forerunner, the author tells us that He is most important to us.
Although the author won’t continue this thought until the next chapter, by referring to Melchizedek he’s letting us know that Jesus eternally anchors us to God. Our hope, our prize, our final destination (as long as we stay faithful through our challenges) is eternity.
How To Pursue Hope And Overcome Challenge
The resurrection will make faithfulness worth it. If we choose to look at the resurrection instead of at the sacrifice and the challenge, we will overcome. Challenges without reward aren’t worth much. But, challenges that end with great reward are worthy challenges.
Pursue the prize. The prize makes the sacrifice worth it. Every time.
This is the text I’m working on for this coming Sunday. If you see something else in the text, or if you want me to speak to something specific, please leave a comment.
Did you see something different in the text? Let us know by commenting.
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