Today’s readings.. (Esther 9,10), (Jonah 1), (Hebrews 6,7)
Chapter 6 in Hebrews today highlights the example of Abraham and his faith in God. The events of his life illustrate the need for patience in waiting for God to fulfil his promises – and so we read, “Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise” [Ch. 6 v.15]. The account in Genesis shows how he and his wife Sarah’s faith was tested to the limit before God’s promise was fulfilled and Sarah herself gave birth to a son. This illustrates the ways of God in dealing with those he has called to serve him. His purpose will be fulfilled in His time.
This world is now so evil it offers us no future, not that it ever did. Today’s world has virtually nothing of any spiritual value; we see an ever more chaotic state of affairs in so many countries, political conflict is increasing in democratic countries.
Against this background, how true are the words we read in Hebrews about the certainty of the promise of God that “we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor” [Ch. 6 v.18,19]. Maybe we have not sensed (as yet) that we “have fled for refuge”? Will we feel motivated for such action when the situation reaches that stage?
We thought of this in contrast to the mariners in the ship with Jonah as we read today of their desperation when “there was a mighty tempest of the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up” [Ch.1 v.4], just as this world threatens to break up with the nations becoming more disunited than ever – within themselves and between one another.
In the New Testament Jesus makes a strange statement in response to “the scribes and Pharisees … he answered them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” [Matt.12 v.38,39] ; he states that just as Jonah was in the “belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” [v.40].
How few still believe that sign – and that Jesus died and rose again? Yet the history of the rest of the First Century and thereafter defies explanation if that did not really happen. This fact is “a sure and steadfast anchor” as to the reality of the foundation of our faith as the tempests of this world grow ever greater.