May 3, 2021 – Galatians 4: 21-5:1 – Two Covenants

Click here to watch my video reflection on our text for today, or keep reading for my written reflections: 

Today’s reading is from Galatians 4: 21-5:1:

21 Tell me, you who desire to be subject to the law, will you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. 23 One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. 24 Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, you childless one, you who bear no children,
    burst into song and shout, you who endure no birth pangs;
for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous
    than the children of the one who is married.”

28 Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac. 29 But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. 30 But what does the scripture say? “Drive out the slave and her child; for the child of the slave will not share the inheritance with the child of the free woman.” 31 So then, friends, we are children, not of the slave but of the free woman. 5 1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Today we see Paul’s powerful analogy regarding law and grace.  Part of what the religious leaders would always say was this – we are the children of Abraham.  Paul today talks about something he has visited repeatedly in this letter, along with his other letters, where righteousness comes from.  

Abraham is righteous not because he kept the law (which didn’t exist then) but through promise.  Ishmael (Hagar’s child) was a child born of human effort because they did not trust the promise of God.  Issac (Sarah’s child) was a child of promise. One child was born through human efforts, one child was born by faith.  

There are two covenants, the covenant of works and human efforts, the covenant of grace, and of the promise. One covenant offers life and salvation one offers only disappointment and an inability to find that faithfulness and joy that only comes through faith. 

So, Hagar stands for “earthly Jerusalem” where righteousness comes through human efforms and Sarah stands for heavenly Jerusalem, where righteousness comes through faith in the promise.  

Paul tells us that the true children of Abraham are the children of the promise, the children of faith.  The promise is passed through faith.  To those whole believe in the promise of God that comes not through works but that comes through faith, those are the ones who live out the new covenant.  

Our life is lived not by works, seeking to ear God’s love, but our lives are lived by faithfulness, as a response to God’s love.  

Today, which covenant will we choose?

Monday we’ll look at Galatians 5: 2-15.  

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