Hebrews chapter 6 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. “Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:15). The account in Genesis shows how he and Sarah’s faith was tested to the limit before God’s promise was fulfilled and Sarah herself gave birth to a son. This illustrates one of the ways God deals with those He has called to serve Him. His purpose will be fulfilled in His time.

This world is has plenty of evil and is unable to offer any future. Today’s world places little emphasis on the divine and in many countries – even long-established democracies – we see conflict and dispute, not agreement and cooperation. Against this background, how reassuring it is to read about the certainty of God’s promise 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” (6:18,19). Maybe we have not yet sensed that we “have fled for refuge”, but perhaps we will as problems mount.

We thought of this in contrast to the mariners in the ship with Jonah. We read today of their desperation when “there was a mighty tempest of the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up” (Jonah 1:4), just as countries and nations threaten to break up rather than pursue peace. 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” (Matthew 12:38,39); 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” (verse 40).

How few still believe the sign that Jesus died and rose again? Yet the history of the first century and later defies explanation if the resurrection of Jesus 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 grow.