02 Mar

A sure and steadfast hope

Taken from the intimation sheet: 2 March 2014

We find ourselves in a season of sorrow.

Funerals are sorrowful services yet they are also contexts in which we remember the strength of the hope we have in Christ, and how thankful we ought to be that we know Him as Lord and Saviour.

Whilst singing the old hymn ‘Will your Anchor Hold’ earlier today my mind went to the passage which inspired it (Hebrews 6:18-20):

18 These two things cannot change: God cannot lie when he makes a promise, and he cannot lie when he makes an oath. These things encourage us who came to God for safety. They give us strength to hold on to the hope we have been given. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and strong. It enters behind the curtain in the Most Holy Place in heaven, 20 where Jesus has gone ahead of us and for us. He has become the high priest forever, a priest like Melchizedek.

In the ancient world there would be a big heavy immovable stone found in every harbour called an ‘anchoria’.

Large ships had their own anchors. Small boats had no anchor, they tied themselves to the anchoria instead.

Sailing was a dangerous way to earn a living in those days and even sailing close to the shore was hazardous. Often a ship wouldn’t be able to get safely into harbour by itself. In this instance, they would send a ‘forerunner’ out. A sailor in a small boat would row to shore with a rope from the ship. He would tie the rope to the anchoria and it would lead them safely home.

Imagine after a long, draining and dangerous voyage, you saw your forerunner successfully venture through the stormy water to the harbour, and tie the rope to the anchoria. What a relief, what joy! You’re nearly home, safely secured to the anchoria, and the harbour.

This is the imagery used at the end of Hebrews 6. The author says:

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, (more literally ‘where Jesus, our forerunner’) has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

The hope we have in Christ, is an anchor for the soul – Christ has already gone home to the great harbour of heaven, through the curtain, into the most Holy place.

The anchor is sure and certain.

We who are believers in Jesus, are on our way home to be with Him.

His promise is sure, we’re nearly there, though the last leg of the journey may be rough, our destination is certain and will be well worth the wait.

Death is never a friend, yet it has lost its sting, and its power to drown out our victory song. We grieve our loss but we rejoice in our brother and sister’s gain.

They have been led home to that heavenly harbour, and in that, we rejoice.

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
when the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
fastened to the rock which cannot move,
grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!

Will your anchor hold in the straits of fear,
when the breakers roar and the reef is near?
While the surges rage, and the wild winds blow,
shall the angry waves then your bark o’erflow?

..

Will your anchor hold in the floods of death,
when the waters cold chill your latest breath?
On the rising tide you can never fail,
while your anchor holds within the veil.

Will your eyes behold through the morning light,
the city of gold and the harbour bright?
Will you anchor safe by the heavenly shore,
when life’s storms are past for evermore?

Yours in His Service
Ross