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Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Hebrews 6:19-20

Forty days after His resurrection Jesus was taken by God from the earth into heaven, where He resides in glory until He will come again at the end of the world.

Many churches of the Reformed tradition will soon gather in public worship to commemorate this glorious event.

The ascension of Jesus is described in the passage for this meditation. Jesus, who has been made a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec, has “entered into that within the veil” as our Forerunner. This refers to His ascension.

And how important this is for us! Jesus is described as our hope. All our hopes for the future are inseparably connected to Him. And so when through His ascension Jesus entered into “that within the veil,” He did so as our hope. And that hope serves as an anchor of our soul, keeping us from drifting out into the sea of sin and destruction.

Priest Forever after the Order of Melchisedec

In chapter 7, the book of Hebrews compares the priesthood of the house of Aaron to that of Melchisedec.

In Old Testament Israel God appointed the sons of the house of Aaron to serve as priests in the tabernacle and later the temple. With the help of the Levites they led Israel in the worship that Jehovah God had ordained for His house with the multitude of sacrifices, feast days and ceremonies.

In contrast to the priests of Aaron’s house, there was Melchisedec.

We read of Melchisedec in Genesis 14, where we learn that Melchisedec was priest of God and king of Salem, which later was named Jerusalem. Melchisedec met Abram returning home from the slaughter of the kings and the rescue of Lot. Abram gave to Melchisedec a tenth of the spoils of war.

The emphasis of the book of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ is Priest of God after the order of Melchisedec rather than that of Aaron. The meaning is that Jesus’ priesthood more closely resembles the priesthood of Melchisedec. The point of emphasis is that, like the priesthood of Melchisedec, Jesus is Priest of God forever. Hebrews 7 emphasizes that there is no record of any ancestors or descendants of Melchisedec. This points ahead to the priesthood of Jesus, which is everlasting. The priesthood of the members of the house of Aaron ceased when they died. But Jesus’ priesthood continues forever. For after His death, He arose and lives to serve as our High Priest forever.

Entering into That within the Veil

As Priest of God forever, Jesus has entered into “that within the veil.”

That which is within the veil refers to the holy of holies, into which the high priest of the house of Aaron entered annually on the great Day of Atonement to sprinkle the blood of atonement on the mercy seat.

Into this sanctuary Jesus has also entered as High Priest. However, Jesus did not enter into the earthly sanctuary. The earthly sanctuary served as a picture of heaven itself as the dwelling place of God. Into this heavenly sanctuary Jesus entered at His ascension.

And there He abides until He comes again.

Entered in As the Forerunner

A forerunner was a scout or spy that went on ahead to provide much needed information and even preparation for the army to enter into an area.

In much the same way, Jesus has ascended into the heavenly dwelling place of God as our Forerunner.

He has entered into heaven as our Forerunner not to serve as a spy or a scout but to assist us that we may enter in as He has. Jesus does this in His capacity as our High Priest in heaven,

First, He prepares a place for us, as He promised in John 14:2-3: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” As the ascended Lord, Jesus prepares a place for each one that the Father has given to Him. This place He has earned for them by giving Himself as a sacrifice for their sins on the cross. And when that place is ready, He returns to bring each one to His mansion in His Father’s house.

Secondly, as our eternal High Priest, Jesus is making intercession for us. When the high priest of the house of Aaron would enter annually into the holy of holies, he would take the blood of atonement that had been shed on the great altar and sprinkle it on the mercy seat. This was accompanied by prayers for the people.

This served as a picture of what Jesus does continually in the heavenly sanctuary as our eternal High Priest. Jesus prays for us, bringing our needs to the throne of God’s grace. He bases His prayers on the perfect sacrifice of the cross where He shed His blood to pay for our sins. Through this intercession, we receive all the blessings of God’s salvation, so that we are brought one day into the sanctuary of heaven to join Jesus by occupying the place He has prepared for us.

Entered in As Our Hope

In this connection, our passage speaks of our hope.

In the Bible the idea of hope is used in two different ways. Most often it is used to describe the anticipation, longing, and certainty that the believer has for eternal life in heaven. But sometimes it is used to describe the glory that the saints will receive and for which they hope.

The latter is the emphasis here.

Verse 18 of this chapter speaks of the hope that is set before us. This hope is the eternal glory that is ours in Jesus Christ, which we will receive one day as an inheritance. As our High Priest, Christ earned this heavenly glory for us by His perfect sacrifice for sin. As our High Priest, He is preparing our places in this heavenly glory. As our High Priest, Jesus even gives us a foretaste of this glory by showering us with heavenly blessings through His intercession for us.

Our eternal hope is inseparably connected to Jesus Christ, our eternal High Priest.

And so our passage speaks of our hope having entered into heaven. When Jesus ascended into heaven as our eternal High Priest, so did our hope. The thing for which we hope is now in heaven, in Jesus, awaiting us.

This distinguishes us from those who do not know Jesus Christ. The unbeliever also has hope. But his hope is only an earthly hope, a better tomorrow on the earth.

Our hope in Christ is an eternal hope of glory.

An Anchor of the Soul, Both Sure and Steadfast

And this hope serves as an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast.

An anchor is what keeps a ship from drifting out to sea and becoming lost.

In like manner, the hope we have in heaven in Jesus Christ serves as a spiritual anchor for our souls.

We are as a ship that is set on the sea of temptation, false doctrines, persecution, and hardship. All these things are like so many waves that would set us adrift into sin and certain destruction. And so we need an anchor to keep us from drifting. The anchor that keeps us from drifting away into ruin is the hope we have in heaven in Jesus Christ.

Our heavenly hope serves as such an anchor because it is so precious.

Something precious to someone will keep him from wandering off and losing it. The court often allows those who are charged with a crime to be set free on bail because failure to appear in court results in the forfeiture of the bail money. The fear of losing their children will often deter those in a broken marriage from leaving and seeking a divorce.

In like manner does our heavenly hope keep us from drifting away into sin and ruin. How precious is our heavenly hope! There is nothing greater than this hope that we have in heaven in Jesus Christ. It is worth enduring all the temptations, persecution, and hardship that this life affords. Neither do the “benefits” of embracing the false doctrines of this world compensate for the loss of this hope.

And so it is that our heavenly hope serves as an anchor of the soul, to keep us from drifting away into sin and destruction. More accurately our hope is what Christ uses to keep us faithful to Him as we face the storms of life.

And this is a sure and steadfast anchor. An anchor that is not sure and steadfast may break, allowing a ship to drift off into disaster. But the hope that we have in heaven in Jesus Christ is sure and steadfast. Were our hope only the hope of this world, it could not hold us in the storms of life. But such a hope as we have in heaven is sure and steadfast.

This passage states a fact but implies a calling. The calling is to cling to the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ. And in the power of that hope remain faithful to the Lord, that you may one day claim that hope in Jesus Christ.