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. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. Galatians 4:24-26 (NIV).
Ok, is Paul going cuckoo bananas? The women who bore Abraham’s children, Hagar and Sarah, are cities? What does this mean?
Think of it as “have” and “have not.” Hagar, who became pregnant after Abraham listened to Sarah’s unsound advice, represents the have not. Her offspring represent not having God’s promise to deliver humanity through them. Hagar was a slave, not Abraham’s wife. Her pregnancy with Ishmael represents humanity short-circuiting God’s earlier promise to make Abraham into many nations. Paul’s comment that ‘she stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem’ compares Hagar, mother of the illegitimate son, to the old laws, given by God at Sinai and under which the Jewish people were (and are) still bound. Hagar is the old way of doing things: old meaning “before Jesus.”
Sarah, on the other hand, represents “having” God’s promise. She is the world after Christ, after His life, death, and resurrection. Even though Sarah laughed at the idea, God caused her to conceive Abraham’s legitimate heir, Isaac. God kept His promise to make Isaac’s family into His chosen people. God not only created the Semitic, Jewish nation through Isaac, but He delivered it, and the rest of us, by aligning Isaac’s descendants along a path from which would born Jesus the Christ.
Yet notice something else. Most of us here on the Third Rock: we’re have-not’s. There is nobody alive today who could honestly, legitimately trace their family tree all the way back to Abraham through Isaac (or Ishmael, for what it’s worth). Not even in modern Israel. The Jews of today claim Isaac as their forebearer just as Muslims and other people claim to descend from Ishmael. Yet it is still a claim based on faith instead of DNA or provable genealogy.
We’re all have-not’s. On our own, even by living “good” lives, we don’t carry God’s promise. But He freely offers it to us – any of us – if we simply accept Jesus as our Savior. He did all the work to purchase us and redeem us from our sins. By believing in Jesus, we HAVE the promise of being adopted into His family, being part of His people forever. Our race, our heritage, our background: none of that matters. What matters is faith in Jesus. That trumps genealogy. Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar might even agree.
For further reading: Hebrews 12:22, Revelation 3:12, Revelation 21:2-10+, Galatians 4:27
I believe in You, Lord, and am thankful to be in Your family!
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