THE IMMUTABLE COUNSEL OF GOD
Hebrews 6:16-18 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.
To better understand the lesson text, it is important to refer back to the promise God made to Abraham immediately after he demonstrated his faith in God, by his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac. This was God's way of testing Abraham's faith to serve and obey His will in all things He would ask him to do. After this test of faith, God made this promise to Abraham: By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice (Gen. 22:16-18). The meaning of this promise is repeated in verses 13 and 14 preceding the lesson text. And in verse 15, the writer of Hebrews assures us that after he (Abraham) had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
God established, and confirmed, this promise to Abraham by swearing in Himself. Why in Himself? Because there was at that time, is today, and shall be forever more, no higher authority by which He could confirm, by oath, His promise to Abraham. Courts of law usually require witnesses to swear in the name of God - the highest of all powers, that their testimony given, to establish a fact or a covenant, will be true and without controversy. To swear by someone inferior or even equal to oneself will not result in a reliable confirmation. But to swear by the greater, that is by God, truthful testimony is confirmed, disputes and strife are settled, and differences between parties, are laid to rest.
God confirmed His promise to Abraham by an oath. God condescended to a human act of an oath; an act that all mankind understands, in order to confirm His promise to all people of the world, through His servant Abraham. The promise to Abraham was that in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. One has only to read Matthew 1, verses 1 through 16 to know that the "Seed" referred to, in this promise, was Jesus Christ. Through the seed of Abraham, and through the branch of David, Jesus brought, to men and women of the world, the act of reconciliation to God through baptism for the remission of sins, and with it came the wonderful blessing of the hope of eternal salvation. This promise was made for all nations of the world - both Jew and Gentile. Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, all mankind can become the heirs of promise through faithful obedience.
This is God's promise, and He confirmed it by an oath! These are the two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie. God's promise was made forever sure and steadfast, and it was made immutable by His oath. God's promise cannot be broken, because it is impossible for God to lie. The apostle Paul uses similar language as he opened his letter to Titus, a faithful servant of Christ. He wrote that the hope of eternal life, ...was promised before the world began, by God, that cannot lie (Titus 1:2). God is eternal; He has no beginning or ending; He is infinite. All things known to mankind were created by Him; they are finite, and someday will come to an end. With this is mind, consider this thought from Adam Clarke's Commentary on the immutability of God's promise that he confirmed with an oath: "This is a good thought; if God had sworn by anything finite, that thing might fail, and then the obligation would be at an end, but He has sworn by what is infinite, and cannot fail; therefore His oath is of eternal obligation."
What a wonderful consolation it is to know that the hope of eternal salvation has been promised by God, and is assured to all of His faithful children that have accepted His Son, Jesus Christ as their Savior. Jesus is the refuge of safety to which we can flee from the wrathful and eternal punishment of sin. The hope of eternal salvation has been set before us by God. He invites all mankind to lay hold of it. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:18). This is our Lord's promise; this is the immutable counsel of God!