The book of Proverbs has several verses about surety, and they all have one thing in common. They warn against suretyship. Never, they say, never become surety for anyone else. Never.
What is surety? It’s one of those old King James Version words which means making yourself responsible for someone else’s debt or venture.
Here is one passage from Proverbs:
My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,
Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.
Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure (or, prevail with) thy friend.
Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.
Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler (Pr. 6:1-5).
A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend (Pr. 17:18).
Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee? (Pr. 22:26,27).
Striking hands with the other person would be in modern finance the same as co-signing his loan. Other translations of the passage in Ch. 6 have, “if you have made a pledge for your neighbour, and have become a guarantor for a stranger…” (NET); “if you have put up security for a neighbour, given your pledge for a stranger…” (ESV). Once you do this you are on the hook for what that person owes someone else. You have committed yourself to your neighbour’s project, and if suddenly your neighbour is unable to follow through, or pay what he owes, it is you who are bound to complete the venture, or are in debt to some stranger. In Bible days, even if you had to sell everything you own, or even yourself into slavery to keep the commitment, you were bound to do so.
And that is why the wise man said we should never get into any such commitment. It could mean great loss to yourself, and there is no way out. Once you have committed yourself to be surety for another, you are legally and morally bound to do so whatever the cost to yourself.
The thing is, after all of Solomon’s counsel advising us to never become surety for another… lo and behold, God Himself did this.
And that, I believe, is the very reason why we find all those passages in Proverbs warning us against suretyship. It is so that we, who all too often are very unsure of God, will “get it.” Suretyship is an unbreakable commitment? Once you have made the commitment there is no way to back down, no way out of it? God wants us to know that He was prepared to make this very commitment. And did.
He entered into suretyship with us—that is, with those who look to Him for the fulfillment of the New Covenant in their lives. God has made Jesus “the surety of a better covenant” (Heb. 7:22). He did this by the oath wherewith He swore that Jesus was a priest after the order of Melchizedek.
The LORD sware, and will not repent: thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek: By so much [that is, God’s oath] was Jesus made the surety of a better covenant (Heb. 7:22, see Ps. 110:4).
Jesus enthroned as a king at the right hand of God, and made a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, is God’s guarantee, God’s pledge, His oath—His surety—that He will make good the terms of His better covenant with you and me. The only way He might fail in this is if something happens to our Surety, and Jesus is somehow deposed, or dies, and is no longer high priest. Which cannot happen. Christ our high priest is before God on our behalf “in the power of an indissoluble life” (Heb. 7:16). So He cannot fail to fully mediate the New Covenant in the lives of those who believe Him for this.
And what are the terms of this covenant? Simply put, when they are fully wrought in our lives, we in this world are just like our Surety who is before the throne in Heaven. Yes, just like Him. Having the same heart and mind. The same righteousness. The same love. The same relationship with the Father that He has. A very tall order, no doubt. But this is what we are sure of because He who was slain to redeem us is God’s surety before the very Throne of Heaven on our behalf.
For thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood… and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth (Rev. 5:10).
Meaning that, just as our great high priest reigns in the Heavens, we are a kingdom of priests who reign in the earth. We manifest His kingdom in the earth—a kingdom that is over all. We are priests here in the earth ministering this heavenly kingdom to those around us in the grip of the kingdom of sin and death. For, since our Surety is dead to sin, and alive to God, we too are dead to sin and alive to God– with the same eternal life our Surety reigns in the power of. It is life that reigns in all situations (Rom. 5:17). You say you’ve been trying to do that but find the battle overwhelming? I know all about it. Let us not be discouraged; let us continue to fight the good fight of faith; victory is as certain as the Surety of the Covenant before the Throne. He ever lives above to make intercession for us, and we who are in the earth, we too make intercession for the saints who are in this hard-fought battle. It is the authoritative intercession of priests who are kings; it is effectual intercession because of the power of His indissoluble life.
Beloved, with all the uncertainty of our day, with evil unleashed (or so it seems) and even talk of being on the brink of World War III, one thing is certain. God has given us a Surety. That Surety is before His Throne. His purposes in your life and mine, and in this troubled world of ours, are as certain as that Surety. Just as certain.
And that is the only answer for this troubled world of ours.