May 20, 2020 – Wednesday
Galatians 4:28-31 NIV
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.”
31Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
To make any sense of this we have to go back to Genesis where Abram and Sara could not wait on God’s promise that they would bear a child so Sara had Abram sleep with her slave Hagar. As a result, she bore him a son, Ishmael, the son born according to the flesh, when Abram (now Abraham) was 86 years old. Fourteen years later when Abraham was 100 years old, Sara (now Sarah) bore Abraham a son Isaac, the son born by the power of the Spirit or the child of a promise.
Later in Genesis 21 8The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” So now we have context for the quote from Scripture in verse 30 above. We should also know the expression that Ishmael was mocking Isaac could really be disturbing to Sarah if Jewish tradition is also true as according to Ellicott’s Commentary The expression translated [as] “mocking” it seems doubtful whether it can really mean more than “playing.” However Jewish traditions added that Ishmael took out the child Isaac and “shot at him with arrows under pretence of sport.” Correct or not, Sarah demanded Abraham put Hagar and Ishmael out.
So what is the purpose Paul has in bringing up this well known story of Ishmael and Isaac? It is to make clear we, people who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. Further, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. Matthew Henry sees it as a comparison between two very different covenants The first covenant spirit is of bondage unto sin and death. The second covenant spirit is of liberty and freedom; not liberty to sin, but in and unto duty. The first is a spirit of persecution; the second is a spirit of love.
We would do well to remember Ishmael’s descendants were always a thorn in the side of Israel as their neighbors. This is also true for us when we try to earn our way into Grace. It just does not work and becomes a thorn in our own sides. Works do not provide Grace. Grace is unmerited favor given by God’s love through His Son on the cross to pay the price for our sins. Works follow salvation and are evidence of our repentance.
We need to put away any idea we have of being worthy of salvation. We are not. None of us are. We all need the wonderful free gift of Grace. We cannot let our flesh deceive us and persecute us into believing we have to earn our salvation. It is simply not true. We have to remember what Paul said to the Galatians and to us in verses 31 and 28: Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman and like Isaac, are children of promise
Our Father in Heaven will not have us put out as Ishmael was.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton