Galatians 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
As we noted yesterday, Paul reminded the saints of that which was written. This was not something that was secretive. God gave these facts so that man could understand the importance of true salvation.
The account here is of Abraham. Abraham was highly revered by the Jews. He is the father of the nation of Israel. Abraham had two sons. God had promised Abraham one son. Abraham and Sarah grew impatient with God’s “delaying” of His promise. God is never late. We might think He is late. We might think we would do things differently, but if we look at our track record, and compare it to God’s, we would see that we fail miserably, but God is always right.
Genesis 16 gives us the background to what Paul is writing here. Abraham listened to the bad counsel of his wife Sarah, and took her handmaid and “went in unto her” and she conceived and had a son. This action was not God’s design, but He knew all about it. God is never caught off guard by anything that man does. We need to understand that before this event was recorded, God gave us Genesis 2. In Genesis 2 God laid out His design for marriage. Jesus repeated that design in Matthew 19. God shows us man’s many attempts to change God’s design, but God never accepts those corruptions. The bigger picture is that of salvation. There are many corrupted teachings of salvation. Only God’s way of salvation works.
In our text, we read that one of Abraham’s sons was by a bondmaid and the other by a freewoman. Abraham took Hagar and the son she bore was Ishmael. He is the root of the Arabs. Most of the Arabs are Muslims. Hagar was a servant of Sarah’s. Abraham was in the flesh when he chose to go in to Hagar. That child was not what God wanted. God did not accept Ishmael as the fulfilment of His promise to Abraham. God does not need our help in fulfilling His promises. He requires our obedience. His will is always going to be accomplished His way. Man is blessed when he chooses to submit to God’s will. Fighting against God is never a winning way.
In verse 24 we read that the events in Genesis 16 and following that are related to Hagar and Ishmael are an allegory. An allegory is a “figure”. It is something that has a deeper meaning to it. In this case, it has a spiritual meaning and application to it.
We need to guard against making something an allegory when it is not. God tells us here that there is a deeper meaning to the Old Testament account of Abraham and Hagar. Thus we need to let Him show us what that deeper meaning is. He does that through His Word, not through our imaginations.
In Paul’s writing, Hagar is referred to as “Agar”. Agar is just another spelling for the name “Hagar”. The Hebrew name for Hagar means “flight”. Paul tells us that Agar reminds us of bondage. In verse 25 he stated that Agar is a picture of mount Sinai in Arabia. Mount Sinai is the mount that God called Moses to go up to receive the ten commandments. Agar was a real woman and mount Sinai is a real mountain. However, God used them for a bigger picture. We see that mount Sinai is a picture of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was chosen by God to be His city. It is also called Zion, in the Bible. We see here that Jerusalem is in bondage with her children. Her children are the nation of Israel. Israel as a nation was not a godly nation in the time of Jesus, nor in the time of the apostle Paul, nor is it today.
In verse 26 Paul reminded the Galatians and us today, that Jerusalem which is above is free, and is the mother of us all. The book of the Revelation speaks of the heavenly Jerusalem. Jesus Christ is the head of this heavenly Jerusalem. He is the Saviour of mankind. Thus the heavenly Jerusalem is the “mother of us all”. The “us” here is in reference to all the saints. Not all of humanity will go to heaven. Not all of humanity will go to the new Jerusalem. That place is reserved for those who are born again. The context shows us this.
In verse 27 Paul referenced an Old Testament prophecy from Isaiah 54:1. The interpretation of that verse is found in verse 28. Isaac was the son of the promise. The children of Isaac are the ones who inherited the promise. The land of Canaan was promised to Isaac through Abraham. The spiritual blessings promised to Abraham would be fulfilled through the spiritual descendants of Abraham.
In our text Ishmael was the son of the persecuted. Agar was persecuted by Sarah. She was chased out of Abraham’s care. God looked after her, but she was not blessed like Sarah was. Ishmael and his descendants chose to walk in rebellion against God. God prophesied of their nature. He did not force Ishmael and his descendants to be wild men. He simply knew the nature of Ishmael and his descendants. There are a few Arabs that will be saved, but not that many. There are also presently a few Jews that have been saved, but eventually the nation of Israel will turn to God in repentance and be saved. That does not mean that God will grant salvation to the dead Jews that rejected Him. It means that the Jews that will be alive and saved at the end of the Tribulation will turn to God as a nation and acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Saviour. He will be their king.
In verse 29 Paul referred to those born after the flesh and those born after the Spirit. Abraham was in the flesh when he chose to listen to Sarah’s counsel regarding Hagar. He was in the Spirit when he chose to listen to God with regard to Sarah and the promised seed.
Abraham was not a lost man. He was a child of God. We are reminded often in the Bible that a true child of God will still sin against Him at times on this earth. This is never acceptable to God. I John 1:9 is written for the benefit of the saved. The saved person must confess their sin to God in order to be forgiven.
God warns us through Paul, that there will be those who are saved “though as by fire” (I Corinthians 3:15). There will be others that will lose rewards as well. This is not talking that some Christians need to spend time in hell prior to entering heaven. It is talking of those Christians who chose not to be obedient to their calling as Christians and thus have nothing to show for the blessings of God’s salvation. God saves people to serve Him. He does not save people to remain in their sin.
Back in our text, in verse 30 Paul again referred back to the Scripture previously written. The bondwoman must be cast out along with her son. Hagar and Ishmael are a type of the life of sin. The sinner cannot remain in the presence of the saved person. Lost people cannot enter heaven. The majority of humanity remains lost. All are born in sin and commit sin because of that. A few in each generation will be saved. They are the heirs of the freewoman. Sarah was not Abraham’s servant. She was his wife. The wife has a special relationship with her husband. Sarah is a picture of those who are in Christ. There is a special relationship for those who are in Christ.
In verse 31 Paul concluded that those who are “brethren” are the children of the free woman. Thus, they are not under the law and they cannot gain anything by using the law as a means of salvation or to enhance their salvation.
The bottom line that God was giving Paul to write here is that the saved Galatians had nothing in common with the Judaizers. The Judaizers were lost and were cast out. The saints in Galatia had been saved out of the life of bondage. They were set free in Christ. Why would they go back to bondage and miss out on God’s blessings? They could not lose their salvation, but they certainly could miss out on blessings that are reserved for God’s people.
Today as well, the blessings of salvation are for those who trust in God alone for their salvation. You cannot add anything to God’s salvation, and be saved. Jesus Christ is the only Saviour. You must be born again.
Today is “the Lord’s Day”. It is the day that God has blessed New Testament saints with as the day we stop our busy lives and go to the “house of God” which is a true local church. We do not assume there is a universal church out there and we can drift around and be blessed of God.
We need to remember that Hagar’s son Ishmael had many descendants. They are used as a picture of bondage and sin. It is those who are of the spiritual seed of Abraham and Sarah that are blessed with salvation and eternal life.
The local church is the place where God’s people come to be instructed in the Word of God. It is the place that God has designed as the place of fellowship with God and Jesus Christ and other saints. Lost people are welcomed there as well. As they attend a true local church, they should witness the blessings of God’s salvation through hearing from the Word of God and also by observing the conduct of those who are truly saved.
Saved people are saved to serve God. That is not bondage. We will see that further in the book of Galatians.