Hope Anchors the Soul


Each year, a church near our home features a professional sand sculpture by Dan Belcher. This past Sunday we saw this inspiring work titled “Hope Anchors the Soul.” Susan took this picture with her iPhone 8+. Notice the detail in the engraved letters, the ship at the top, and even the sculpted clouds.

Hebrews 6:18b-19a is the Scripture upon which this work is based. Here are the comments on this text from my book Hebrews: Better Things (Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1997):

Hebrews 6:18–19 (NKJV) — 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,

The two immutable, or unchangeable, things are (1) the promise God made to Abraham and (2) the oath by which God confirmed His promise.  It is impossible for God to lie (see Romans 3:4).  The intent of the author in bringing to the readers’ attention the promise made to Abraham was to remind them that they shared mutually in “strong consolation.”  They had “fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before” them (NKJV).  That from which they had fled is not identified, but it may have to do with the persecutions experienced by these first century believers, especially in view of the martyrdom of Stephen.  Although they had fled from Jerusalem to other parts of the Roman Empire (Acts 8:1), flight to another geographical location could not offer stability of hope.  But a flight from fear to hope gave them “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (NKJV).  This hope “enters the Presence behind the veil” (NKJV) because it is anchored in Jesus, who prepared the way for our entry into the very presence of God by virtue of becoming “High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (NKJV).  The flight of hope takes us into the presence of God symbolized by the Holy of Holies in the Jewish tabernacle and temple.  Jesus entered the true most holy place with His own blood as opposed to the blood of goats and calves of the Old Covenant.  (See 9:12.)  Since, as High Priest, He represented us upon His entry, we can boldly “enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus” (10:19, NKJV).

The tearing of the veil which separated the holy place from the most holy place in the temple at the moment of Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:51) demonstrated the termination of the Old Covenant and the establishment of the reality of which it was merely a shadow.  (See 9:1-8; 10:19-22.)

How unwise it would have been for the original readers of this letter to turn from the “strong consolation” of hope they had in Jesus Christ and to abandon the “refuge” they found in Him, the very presence of God, to return to the shadowy images of the Law.  It is always too soon to give up on the promise of God; since He cannot lie, and since He is immutable, we can have absolute confidence that He will, in His time, fulfill His word.

     The fact that Jesus is High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, not of Aaron (7:11-22), is a jarring reminder that the Law of Moses has come to an end.  The ripping of the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the holy place in the temple and the invasion of the most holy by a priest not arising from Levi signifies in the most dramatic way the conclusion of an era.  The Law of Moses and the Aaronic priesthood with which it was intimately connected were wondrous for their time, but they have been superseded by One better than Moses (3:1-6), who brought a covenant better than the Law (8:6-13), and whose priesthood is superior to that springing from Abraham (7:7-10).

My commentary on Hebrews is available in hard copy and as an e-book from pentecostalpublishing.com and as a Kindle download from amazon.com and as an Apple Book.