A TALE OF TWO SONS
Teach me to trust You more, my Lord.
Read Galatians 4:21–31
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 according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.
24 These things are being taken figuratively: 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, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
shout for joy and cry aloud,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband.”[a]
28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does 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.”[b] 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
a Galatians 4:27 Isaiah 54:1
b Galatians 4:30 Gen. 21:10
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectAre you familiar with the story of Isaac and Ishmael? If not, check it out: Genesis 15:1–6; 16:1–4a; 21:1–10.
The false teachers were proud of keeping the Law of Moses, so Paul went to Abraham (3:16,17). They were proud of having Abraham as their father, so Paul said what matters is not having Abraham as your physical father, but as your spiritual father (3:9,29). Now he says, what matters is not who’s your father, but who’s your mother!
Abraham had two sons through two wives. Isaac was born as the result of a promise (23). It was to be a supernatural conception by the Spirit’s extraordinary power (29). But Abraham and Sarah were old. It looked impossible. It would take faith.
Ishmael was born as the result of human effort. Abraham took matters into his own hands with his younger slave girl, Hagar. It was a natural conception and a son was born in the ordinary way (23,29). It had looked possible. It just took effort.
That’s the history: two spiritual families descend from these two boys. To earn your salvation is to be descended from Ishmael, born into slavery (24,25). To trust God’s salvation is to be descended from Isaac, born free (26) and made fruitful (27). Crucially, only one son received the inheritance (30). By definition, you can’t earn an inheritance—you have to be born into the right family, and then it’s given to you.
Do you trust God to do what he promised? What are some promises God has made to you both personally and in Scripture? Write down some of these promises and say: “God, I trust You.”
Father, thank You that through the cross, You adopted me in Christ, and all that is Yours is mine.
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