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Thursday, December 5, 2019

2019.12.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 4:21-31

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Paul call those whom he is correcting in Galatians 4:21? What does Galatians 4:22 call the mothers of Abraham’s two sons? According to what was one of them born (Galatians 4:23)? Through what was the other one born? With what does the apostle draw an analogy to these two sons (Galatians 4:24)? Which way of salvation does he compare to the son of the bondwoman? What two mountains are emblematic of trying to be right with God through this covenant (Galatians 4:26)? What mountain is emblematic of being right with God only through the promise (verse 26)? What promise is quoted in Galatians 4:27 (cf. Isaiah 54:1; Genesis 17:15-17)? Whom does the apostle say are children of promise like Isaac (Galatians 4:28)? What does he say they can expect from those who choose the way of fleshly effort instead of gracious promise (Galatians 4:29)? But what happens to those who choose the way of fleshly effort (Galatians 4:30)? In which group does the apostle place himself and his readers (Galatians 4:31)?
Many have misunderstood this passage, but Galatians 4:24-26 is the key. This passage isn’t about two sons (Ishmael and Isaac). Rather, it’s about two covenants—or, better put, about two Jerusalems.
How are the Jerusalems like the sons?

Well, one son was born as the result of human initiative—“according to the flesh” (Galatians 4:23). We recall how Sarai convinced Abram to take the initiative for producing a seed and try by way of Hagar.

The other son was born as the result of the divine initiative—“through the promise” (verse 23). We remember also how God announced the Isaac plan to Abraham in Genesis 17.

At the time that the apostle writes Galatians, there is a city called Jerusalem halfway between the north end of the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. There, there were people zealously trying to be the children of Abraham by the outward actions of the Mosaic administration. But this was like Hagar plan (Galatians 4:25)—based upon the initiative of the flesh.

However, the apostle is writing to the Galatians after Christ has taken His seat in glory. There was another barren woman who had been promised a Son—in the servant songs at the end of Isaiah, God had promised that the forever-King, the Redeemer, would come from Israel, atone for sin by His blood, and gather in a chosen people unto God from all the nations!

This is exactly what Christ has done, and there He is—seated in glory! There are not two ways to God, just as there could not be two ways to be Abraham’s heir (Galatians 4:30). The only way to be a child of God is to be born according to the Spirit, at God’s initiative, through the promised Christ, who sits enthroned among redeemed people from every nation.

Do you wish to be a child of Abraham? Believe in Christ like Abraham did! Do you wish to respond rightly to the law given at Sinai? Hope in the Christ whom that law demanded that God’s people look forward to! Do you wish to be a citizen of God’s chosen city? It cannot come by keeping the ceremonial code on earth, but only by the new administration of the enthroned King in heaven.
In whose performance do you hope? Where is He? What does He use to work in us?
Suggested songs: ARP87 “The Lord’s Foundation” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

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