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Hagar or Sarah?
Galatians 4 (Pastor Brian)
Sons not Slaves (theme)
Today is Father’s Day in many parts of the world.
The question in Galatians has to do with this theme.
1 What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “”Abba”, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Paul’s Concern for the Galatians
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. 12 I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14 Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you [from us], so that you may be zealous for them. 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. 19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
Hagar and Sarah
21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. 24 These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written: “Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.” 28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” 31 Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
Lost my train of thought due to Bob Dylan (when he was a Christian) – Slow Train coming or Saved “Sister let me tell you about a vision that I saw, you were drawing water for your husband, enslaved under the law. You were telling him about Muhammad and Buddha? in one breath, but you didn’t tell him about the One who came and died a criminal’s death.”
At this time in history, some of the Judaizers were coming into the synagogues and telling the Jews “OK guys, whatever, believe in Jesus, but you won’t REALLY be saved without keeping the Law as well.”
Paul is writing to both Jews and Gentiles here – he attests that FAITH is more important than keeping the Law (i.e. circumcision).
The question is: “How can Gentiles inherit the promises given to Abraham?” Some said they needed to be circumcised and keep the other commandments. Paul says, “NO – don’t go back under the Law from which you were saved.” Galatians 3:29 “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs of the promise.” This promise is by faith and all those that believe like Abraham are also heirs of God through faith in Christ.
Paul uses two analogies (”a similarity between like features of two things on which a comparison may be based” – comparing two things for similar things): Paul: “What I’m saying = as long as a child is under the Law, whether an heir or not, is like a slave. He can’t run the estate for himself – he must defer to a steward, manager, etc.”
Jews have the promise of salvation – but not salvation. They are like underage children in this respect. They were also under authority. Children even in wealthy families, were under the authority of slaves. Children had to obey the slaves in the same way that slaves had to obey their masters. A slave in a wealthy household would be a “child leader” – he’d teach culture and manners, be sure they went to school, etc. They were strict, severe, disciplined – to keep this child under authority until the child came of age to inherit the promise of the estate.
Paul says, the Law was like this – but now Christians are no longer children, no longer under this Law. To go back under the Law, would be to go back into slavery. “When we were under the Law, we were in slavery to the elemental principles of the world” (like the ABCs). Before Christ, the Jews were under the detailed Law of Moses (God was treating them like children – which was appropriate at that time). But now, the time has come for a change – they should be coming of age. “But when the set time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, under the Law.”
For this transformation, God didn’t send a Prophet or Law-Giver, but sent his Son. He didn’t come down from heaven, but was born of a woman. Why say this though? It’s to show his humanity – that the Son of God, though Divine, became Human. So why did the Lord of Creation become a child under the Law? To redeem (pay the price for freedom) those under the Law and adopt them as sons.
Jesus paid the price for our failure to keep the Law and gave us forgiveness. He had to become one of us to rescue us. Salvation depends on the fact that he was born of a human – FULLY human and FULLY God. His birth is now one of the most celebrated events the world over.
What are the benefits?
- Freedom from the Law and its consequences. (The Law did provide blessings for those who kept the Law, but also cursings for those who didn’t – Deuteronomy).
- By faith we’ve begun to experience the inheritance that God offers. Paul was a Jew and a Pharisee, but he still needed faith in Christ in order to get that.
“Because you are sons, he sends his spirit into our hearts, by which you call ‘Dad, Daddy.’” We are adult children who can call God our Dad. Since the Spirit who lives in Jesus now also lives in us, we can call God as Jesus called him. Since we are sons, we are also heirs.
- God is treating us as adults
- God is trusting us to be led by his Spirit
“Formerly, when you didn’t know God, you were slaves of this world. But now that you know God (or are known by God), how is it that you are turning back? Do you want to become slaves again?”
Basically, now that God is treating you like adult children, why would you want to go back to kindergarten?
If they went back under the Law of Moses, they’d be enslaved to keep certain months, days, sacrifices, etc, that even Peter admitted “even we nor or fathers could keep these.”
So, they came out of slavery in the world, but trying to go back into slavery of religion. Why become enslaved again?
There may have been many different seasons and celebrations, but the focus on times, and DOING it right was wrong. God is in our spirits, he is Spirit, and focusing on him in the calendar is wrong.
Paul felt that the amount of time and energy he’d put into winning them to Christ was in danger of being wasted if they turned back to what they walked out of.
“I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I have become like you.” How did he live? Probably like a Gentile. Even Peter lived like that eventually. He would go into a Gentile’s house and fellowship with them and preached to them. Paul also would enjoy meals with the Gentiles. “Salvation is found in faith, not in meals or exercises.”
“You did me no wrong.” Paul rehearses how their friendship began (because of an illness). Although Luke in Acts doesn’t go into detail, it was obvious that Paul was sick. During that time, he preached the gospel to them and they accepted it. “If you could have, you would have given your eyes…” This is likely an expression to show how deeply affectionate they were for him.
Now he says, “Am I your enemy now because I’ve told you the truth? Yes, these are zealous preachers, but they are zealous for the wrong reasons and the wrong things. They are sheep thieves, trying to turn you away from true faith in Christ.”
Paul had even spoken to them and said, “Was it by the law, or by faith that you received the Spirit?” He’s trying everything he can to bring them back to full, true faith in Christ.
Genesis 16-21 (Sarah and Hagar)
Here is an ironic analogy?
- One woman is a slave (Hagar): son born by the flesh.
- One woman is free (Sarah): son born by a divine promise.
(God had said, “You’ll have a boy.” Abraham, “Don’t tease me.” But this was the promise. Time went on (about 25 years) and Sarah said, “Yo, this isn’t gonna happen. Why don’t you just take matters into your own hands and make a baby with my slave?” So Abraham did so – though it wasn’t God’s intent. Eventually, God kept his promise – Isaac. Ishmael was the first boy.)
- Ishmael = a product of the flesh
- Isaac = the fulfillment of a Promise
“These things are being taken figuratively. The women are two covenants. Hagar’s is from Mt. Sinai, a covenant of slavery (Moses Law).” (Actually, the Jews never thought of themselves as Hagar’s kids, those were Gentiles – but here Paul is showing them figuratively that Judaism and its followers are in slavery (her covenant). But Sarah’s children are children of Promise – those who believe in faith (the Christians) belong here.
We, like Isaac, are children of Promise. So we are not concerned with the rules and regulations of the Jewish Law. Paul seems one more thing to deal with here.
“At that time, the son of flesh persecuted the son of the Spirit, and it’s the same now.”
At a birthday party, Ishmael mocked Isaac, and Isaac’s mommy was offended and told Abraham “Get him and his mommy out of here! He’ll never inherit our estate!” Abraham was dismayed – because this was also his son, but God said, “Listen to her, Isaac is your promise.” So, he reluctantly got rid of them, but God mercifully took care of them in the desert. The prophecy was that he would be the Lord of 12 nations as well, but be a wild man and everyone would be against him, and he against everyone else.
Like the Promise then, so it is now. Paul preached Jesus, and those who didn’t believe, persecuted him greatly. But he knew that the end result was worth all the suffering.
Genesis 21:10 “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”
He is speaking of the Mosaic Law AS A MEANS of Salvation. Paul is showing the Law as a “child leader” – to tutor them until Christ. Why didn’t the Jews logically follow on from the Law to Christ? Many of them were too rule-bound to make sense of it.
No one will be saved by keeping the Law, nor by looking to the calendar, but we look to the child of Promise, we look to Jesus.
“He gives and takes away.” He gives Jesus, Promise, forgiveness, salvation. He takes away sin, condemnation of the Law, insufficiency of the Law. He gives us Life under Jesus, in Jesus. We’re not under Law, but sons of the Promise by faith through Christ.