Galatians Chapter 4, verse 21 through Chapter 5, verse really should be taken as a unit, and we'll endeavor to do that at least in part tonight if we don't finish it all. These verses, 21 to Chapter 5, verse 1 form the final section of Paul's argument on justification by faith. He has been trying to prove and with great success that a man is saved by grace, not law, by faith, not law, by promise, not good works, and he's gone about every way you can go since the beginning of Chapter 3 to show that.
We said that Galatians is divided into three sections, Chapters 1 and 2 are personal. That is he defends his personal right to minister as an apostle. Chapters 3 and 4 and are doctrinal. He defends the doctrine of justification by faith. And Chapters 5 and 6 are practical. He talks about the very practical Christian life that issues from right doctrine.
Now here we come to the closing of this doctrinal area and our very next study will begin the practical implications of sound doctrine. We'll get into the practical areas in Chapter 5 and 6 and I'm telling you it's so rich and exciting that there's great anticipation already in my heart. But here we're coming to the closing of the doctrinal area where Paul is attempting to show clearly that salvation is a matter of faith, not works, grace not law. And he's doing this in defense against the Judaisers who came in and upset the Galatian churches by teaching them that salvation depended upon circumcision and law.
Good works save nobody Paul says. And the Judaisers and all legalists of every kind are wrong. They are dead wrong. You cannot be saved by your good deeds. Now I'm not saying that God's moral law is bad. God's moral law is good. And even Christians are commanded in the New Testament to maintain God's moral law. But you can't be saved by maintaining his moral law. You have not the capacity for that. You'd have to be perfect. So the moral law is a goal to which every believer shoots. To do that which pleases God out of love for Him, but it is not a possibility for salvation.
And I might add too that in the Christian we say we're not living by law, but when we say that it doesn't mean we don't want to keep God's moral law. It means in terms of the Christian life that we do not live by the ceremonial ritual law. One of the things I think you learn in studying the New Testament is that the same word may have various meanings in different contexts. Paul says you can't be saved by the moral or ceremonial law. And the difference in that is, there's a moral law that says you should love God and you shouldn't kill and you shouldn't lie, but there's a ceremonial law that says do this with an animal and make sure you dress like this and make sure you eat like that, so forth. God's moral law still works. It's still operative.
God's ceremonial law passed away didn't it with a new covenant. And so we are Christians still obliged to maintain the moral ethics of God in the power of the Spirit out of love for God, but not circumscribed to a ceremonial routine. A ceremonial law as he said earlier, "you observe days and months and times and years," and he says you're still hung up on the old ceremonies.
And so there is in this a very careful distinction. We're not saying that you throw out all of God's Old Testament moral law. We're saying that God, Himself, dispensed with the ceremonial part of it. The moral law is still good. And men today, Christians are still to seek to serve God obediently by keeping that which is his moral law, but never to be in bondage to the ceremonial.
Now in this particular section of Galatians, we have seen that the Holy Spirit who is the real author of Galatians behind Paul, the Holy Spirit gives us a contrast between faith and works. And the demarcation line is very explicit. It's a very obvious opposite. The only confusion that ever arises in faith and works arises in the minds of men. God is never confused about it. And I dare say if you've been with us all through our study of Galatians you shouldn't be confused about it either because it's so clear. There was an old covenant, a covenant of works, there's a new covenant, a covenant of faith and it's not really totally new because it was initially promised to Abraham.
The distinction between the two covenants is clear. Law is absolutely opposite from grace. If you mess grace up with law, you've ruined grace. The co-existence of those two is impossible. One cancels out the other. You can't have law and grace going together. There is only one way to be saved, that's by grace, and law cannot enter into it. But I think it's interesting and I think we know this that there's a satanic tendency and Satan propagates his truth avidly, but there's a satanic tendency among people to seek to serve their own salvation to themselves on the basis of their good deeds.
And I think it's true too that Christians often get in the same trap. We become saved by grace and then we revert back to thinking that we can gain merit with God by certain traditional dictated items that somebody laid down that make us spiritual or non-spiritual. It is characteristic of the human mind that it gravitates in its self diluted pride towards a system of salvation by good works or at least spirituality by good works and we sometimes hope that we can show our spirituality publicly by little things that we do. They'll think I'm spiritual if I'm doing this.
And it's like when you're sitting there watching television and you're watching something you shouldn't be watching and if the doorbell rings and you turn it off and grab your Bible and go to the door. Yes, yes, yes, how can I help you see? You know? And we're feigning a kind of spirituality at that point. It is characteristic then of the human mind to want to appear more holy or to gain more of God's favor by acts of the flesh.
And legalism, as I've said time and again, is not a question of what you do, it's a question of why you do it. You are a legalist if you did it to gain favor with God. You are not a legalist if you did it out of love for Him. That's the difference. If you're saying to yourself, well, I'll do this and God will rack up some more points for me and he'll like me better, then you're a legalist. It's a question of motive. If you're doing this to be spiritual, if you're doing it because you love God, you're not a legalist.
So Paul then brings these two into a final comparison and contrast in verses 21 through 5:1. Grace versus law, they cannot exist together. One cancels out the other. Now he uses a different type of argument here. He uses an allegory. And it's not so much an argument as it is an illustration of the argument that he's already made. It's as if he...and I want you...you're really going to have to think with me tonight. I'm going to try to go over this quickly so you don't get bogged down, but this is a very, very difficult passage. Some say it's the most difficult passage in the New Testament. There are things here that are very, very hard to understand, but not only this, the verses themselves it's hard to understand why Paul even takes this approach, very difficult.
So we're going to do the best we can with it and you're going to have to think along with me or you're going to come up with nothing. But Paul uses an allegory, but it isn't just so much...it isn't so much an argument as it is an illustration. You know how you make your point and then illustrate it to try to tie it down to make it clear? It seems as though that's what he's doing. He's already made his point again and again and again about grace over law. And now he illustrates it with the use of an Old Testament historical event interpreted allegorically. You say well that's fine, but what's an allegory?
An allegory comes from a Greek word believe it or not. Incidentally, verse 24 actually uses the word allegory. It says, "which things are an allegory." It comes from two Greek words, allos, which means another and allegoreo which means to speak. Allosallegoero, allegory, to speak another. It means to have an underlying meaning. It means to be saying one thing that is true, but under it implying something else that is true. It is as if the story which Paul uses here, which is fact incidentally, has in it inner principles and inner meanings inside the historic fact that is important. Now again here Paul shows that the very nature of law is inferior to the promise received in Christ. He is going to show us that mosaic law led to bondage, because it depended on the flesh. You try to earn your salvation through keeping God's law. You're doing it in the flesh and it leads you to slavery.
On the other hand, the promise given to Abraham leads to freedom, because it doesn't depend upon the flesh. It depends upon the spirit. Rigid adherence to the law, and that's any law. Anybody who tries rigidly to adhere to a code of ethics and earn his salvation leads himself into bondage and spiritual slavery. On the other hand, faith in God, faith in God purely on the basis of grace frees a man, that's the comparison.
And Paul has argued this from every angle. He presented a logical argument just reasoning it out. He presented the argument from experience when he said to the Galatians you know how it happened to you, look at your own experience. He presented the strong argument from exposition of Old Testament passages. Then he just gave a strong personal appeal which we saw last time. And now he sets forth an Old Testament story with an allegorical meaning as his final capping of this argument for grace over law.
And incidentally, it may seem an old story, but it's a relevant truth, because there are still people today trying to earn their way to God. Notice verse 21, let's begin there. "Tell me ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?" Now what is he saying? Well, he is really exposing the ridiculous inconsistency of their desire. This little section is preached to anybody who desires to live under the law. Anybody. Tell me you that desire to live under the law. You people want to be under the law. Are you really listening to what the law says? This is what's called argumentum adhonimum. What that means is, it's an argument on your own grounds.
All right, you want to live by law, let me lay a little of the law on you and see how you like it. And it's a play on words too in a sense, because he's saying you want to live by mosaic law and that would include mostly the commands, let me lay on you the whole Pentateuch and select something out of it for you know the Jew was really, really prescribed to the first five books of the Old Testament. You who want to live by the law. Let me show you something else in the law. The first five books that's called the law, let me show you something.
And so what he does is, he argues on their grounds. You who desire to be under mosaic law, are you really aware of what's written in that law, the law that Moses wrote? The whole Pentateuch? Do you really know what it says there? Jesus used this very same argument in Matthew 21:15-16 in reference, I think it was to the Pharisees. It says there, "And when the chief priest and scribe saw the wonderful things that he did," that was the chief priest of the scribes, that would include Sadducees, "saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple and saying Hosanna to the son of David, they were very displeased and said unto him, hearest thou what thee say."
These children are crying out this to you as if you were somebody. And Jesus said, "Yes, have you never read out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise." You say hey you people who are experts in the law, you know what it says? You professional Old Testament scholars, have you bothered to read the Psalms? That's arguing on their own ground, adhominum.
Now it may be, this is interesting that Paul uses an allegorical approach here. And you say why does he do that? I haven't the faintest idea. Because it's the only place in the Bible where you have this. But it may be this, Paul wants such an air tight argument for salvation by faith, watch, that he even argues on the kind of arguing that they did. Now what kind did they do? Well, the rabbis always argued on the basis of allegory. So what he does here the Holy Spirit just says I've got an allegory for you and he approaches them again, adhominum on their own grounds.
The Judaisers were laying all the stress on the ritualistic laws and Paul says all right, let me talk to you about your law. And he uses that in a broad sense, much broader than they were, but they believed it all supposedly and so he was on safe ground by telling them here's what the law really says. Now let me add a footnote, because it's important. Allegory is not a legitimate approach to the Scripture unless the Holy Spirit has so classified it. I personally believe that the only time you can justify allegorizing is when the Holy Spirit has done it in Scripture. When the Spirit says it. It's a very clear thing. Verse 24 says "which things are an allegory."
Now you don't find that elsewhere in Scripture. I believe that we are limited then to allegorizing the Old Testament insofar as the Holy Spirit, Himself, has done that. And I think the very explicit statement of Scripture there indicates it. The reason I say that is you can allegorize the Old Testament away. You know, the old Hebrew rabbis, they gave meaning to everything. All the Hebrew characters, you see, have number equivalents. Instead of having a letter system and a number system like we do, ABC and so forth and 123, the letters and numbers in Hebrews mean either. So whatever your name was they would scramble all the numbers in it and come up with all kinds of crazy things.
And any time there was a repetition of a name, they would allegorize that. They would say that when God said Abraham, Abraham, what that really means is Abraham would have an afterlife. They allegorized everything. In other words, they said that the meaning that is there historically is very shallow, very superficial, we've got to get into the deeper meaning. Well, listen boy when you open Pandora's box and let everybody allegorize everything you really come up with a lot of stuff. And if you want to read some interesting things, get a hold of some old Jewish writings and read the way the taught the Old Testament. You won't even believe it.
And I'm not belabor the point by giving you all kinds of illustrations. Let me just give you a couple of them. Well, incidentally the Alexandrian Jews, 200 years before Christ really went bananas on this thing and they left a legacy to the world that we never got over until the reformation. You know that all through the years up until the 1500's the church was trapped in allegory? For example, the journey of Abraham from Ur was the imaginary trip of a stoic philosopher who leaves his sensual understanding and arrives at his senses.
The two pence given by the good Samaritan to the innkeeper signified baptism and the Lord's Supper. Now that was not a secondary thought. That they said was the basic teaching of the two pence. The Euphrates River was not an actual river, but means the outflow of good manners. Pope Gregory the Great had an interesting interpretation of Job. It's almost unbelievable. Pope Gregory said Job's three friends denote the heretics, his seven sons are the twelve apostles, his seven thousand sheep are God's faithful people. His three thousand hump-back camels are the depraved Gentiles.
And that went on until Ernesty wrote a book on historical, grammatical approach to Scripture around the time of the reformation, we finally got off that kick. But the church was embroiled in a horrible allegorical mess that came from the Jewish school at Alexandria and prior to that, from the rabbis. And so we do not accept allegory as an approach to the Old Testament. Where you take the Old Testament and you just make it mean anything you want it to mean and teach all kinds of stuff out of it.
We accept allegory only when the Holy Spirit states that it is an allegory. That the Spirit of God has built into it underlying significance. Otherwise, we are tossed to and fro and a hopeless arbitrariness that can lead us no where but to doom in interpretation. Now Paul's enemies and their Jewish friends, the enemies in Galatia that had come in and moved against him, prided themselves in the fact that they were the descendents of Abraham. And you know, this was their big deal, biological descent. Since we're the descendants of Abraham, why that saves us. In fact, it's so important to be plugged into the Jewish line that even you Gentiles are going to have to get circumcised and obey all the law and sort of be, you know, you could be Jews by proxy.
So Paul attacks at the point of Abraham and he takes this particular story of Abraham and he says the Spirit gives this as an allegory and then he teaches the allegory to make his point. There are three points to it, the historical, the allegorical, and the personal. This little passage has a historical section in which he recites the story, an allegorical section in which he explains it allegorically, and a personal section in which he applies it. Now stay with it and we'll go quickly.
Verse 22, "It is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman." You didn't know there were free women back in Genesis did you? Women's lib came along ago. All right, so there was a man named Abraham, he had two sons, and of course, as I said later on many more, but two in particular for this record. "The one by a bondmaid and the other by a free woman."
Paul's enemies were counting on their heritage from Abraham. And one of the Jews' greatest and everlasting boasts was we are of our father Abraham. We're secure because we're Jewish. God would never, ever do anything negative to us. We're Jewish. We're in the covenant. We're of the seed of Abraham. They thought they were eternally secure, so he starts at Abraham and then says let me tell you something. Abraham had two sons. It isn't so important who your father was, it's more important allegorically who your mother was. Now Paul had already hit the issue of Abraham hard in Chapter 3, verse 6 where he says, "Abraham believed God and it was counted to Him for righteousness." And then in verse 16, "To Abraham and his seed were the promises made, but it was not to seeds, but to one Christ." And it's only as you're in Christ that you know the blessing to Abraham. So he's already attacked that.
John the Baptist, you remember in Matthew 3 said to his Jewish contemporaries, "Do not presume to say to yourselves we have Abraham as our father for I tell you God is able to raise up from these stones children to Abraham." That's no big deal. Jesus confronted them and said, you know, "If you come to me and believe in me and obey my word, you'll be free." And they all said, we've never been in bondage to any man. Why we are the children of Abraham. And Jesus said to them later on, "You're of your Father the devil."
And so Paul here elaborates on what John implied and what Jesus taught. And to those people who are always boasting about being the children of Abraham being saved just because of where they were born and having the law and all that, he really lays it down. Now notice what he says. He says there's a great difference between the two sons of Abraham. One, they born of different mothers. One was born of a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. A bondmaid, paidiske, a slave, a female slave. Her name, Hagar. Her son, Ishmael. The other born by a free woman. Her name Sarah, her son Isaac. So he says it isn't so important who your father is, it's pretty important who your mother is allegorically speaking.
Verse 23, they not only were born of different mothers, they were born in different ways, watch. The story goes on. "But he who was of the bond woman was born after the flesh. But he of the free woman was by promise." Now notice this, this is really interesting, first of all, they were not only different mothers, but the whole thing came about biologically different. You say what do you mean?
The first one, it says, was born after the flesh. In other words, the first son was born in the normal way, just according to natural birth. The promise was clear. Go back for just a minute to Genesis 15. Genesis 15, "And Abraham said, 15:2, "Lord God, what will thou give me seeing I go childless?" I don't have any heir in my whole house except Eleazar of Damascus. And Abraham said, "Behold to me thou hast given no seed, and lo one born in my house is my heir. And behold the word of the Lord came unto him saying this shall not be thine heir, but he that shall come forth out of thine own loins shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad and said look now toward heaven, count the stars if thou be able to number them, and he said unto him, so shall thy seed be and he believed in the Lord and he counted it to Him for righteousness." Now the promise came. Abraham, you are going to have a son. That would have been all right, except Abraham was 86 and Sarah was 76, and Sarah had been barren all her life.
No promise child was ever born, ever conceived to this point. Verse 1 of Chapter 16, "Now Sarah, Abram's wife bore him no children." Time marches on nothing happens. The promise just kind of there. And she had a handmaid, and Egyptian whose name was Hagar. And Sarah said to Abram, "Behold now, the Lord hath restrained from bearing. I pray thee, go in unto my maid, it may be that I may obtain children by her." She actually told her own husband to go in and raise up a child to her slave. That was bad advice. That was sinful, but it was bad action on Abram's part. That was sinful. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarah, which could be the life verse of many men.
Verse 3, "And Sarah, Abram's wife, took Hagar her slave, the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived her mistress was despised in her eyes." It didn't do anything for the relationship between Sarah and Hagar, believe me. Well, the child was born. Now notice going back to Galatians. It says "He who was of the bond woman, Hagar, was born after the flesh." What does it mean? That Ishmael was born in just the normal way, the principle there, what is the underlying principle? It's the principle of flesh. Hagar and Ishmael illustrate the flesh principle.
You reject God's promise, you reject the way of faith, and you try to fulfill the will of God on your own, right? That's operating in the flesh, and that's the underlying meaning. That's the allegory that we're going to see in a minute. This is the principle of flesh, working to obtain what God gives for nothing. Do you see? If you just wait. This child was born naturally, represents the flesh, self effort, legalism. But the other child was born supernaturally. You say was Isaac virgin born? No, no, but he was born supernaturally. In what way? Sarah was barren. It was a divine miracle that she ever conceived him. By the time she did, she was 90. And Abram was 100. And that's...in Hebrews 11:11, it makes a big issue out of that and rightly it ought to.
"Through faith," and I'm going to re-orient the verse a little bit here, it says, "Through faith, he together with Sarah received strength to conceive seed when he was passed age because he judged him faithful who had promised." God gave Abraham and Sarah the power physically to have a baby. It was a supernatural miracle. So what's He saying? He was saying one was born just in the normal way, the other way was born by a supernatural miracle. Now watch, one was the child of the flesh and self effort, the other was the child of the promise and faith.
So Ishmael illustrates self effort and legalism. Isaac illustrates faith. Now there you have the two parts of the allegory. Ishmael was born according to nature. Isaac was born against nature. And even Isaac's name is significant. Do you know what Isaac means? Laughter, gladness, rejoicing. God kept His promise. Now these two sons then become the patterns for the spiritual truth here and the two mothers as well.
Hagar and Ishmael illustrate the flesh. Ishmael was a son born in the natural way and he's representative of everybody who experience only natural birth. He represents anybody and everybody who experienced just natural birth, not the birth from above. And he was born into slavery, and he symbolizes everybody in bondage to the law. But Sarah and Isaac on the other side, why Isaac was born as a promise from God as a result of Abraham's what? Faith. It says it in Hebrews 11, "God did it because Abraham believed it." And therefore, Isaac represents all those who have come to God by faith. We then say Ishmael was flesh born, Isaac was Spirit born.
Not in the sense of Christ being conceived of the Spirit, but in the sense that the Holy Spirit carried out a divine miracle on their physical bodies to make it possible. And so you have a very simple historic event, but underneath is a tremendous spiritual application. That brings us to the second part, the allegorical. We've seen the historical, here's the allegorical.
And this is easily interpreted once you know the history. Verse 24. "Which things are an allegory." Now beloved there you have the clear statement of the Holy Spirit that this is an allegory. It's true historically, it's true factually, but it has underlying meaning. The Holy Spirit has the right to make this an allegory. I don't think we have the right to do that to Scripture. "For these are two covenants." Oh, then we see two sons and two mothers who represent two different covenants. That's clear isn't it? Ishmael would represent the covenant of what? Law. Isaac would represent the covenant of what? Grace through faith.
And you can't understand Scripture my friend unless you know these two covenants. The whole Bible's divided into the old covenant and the new covenant. That's just another word for testament. A covenant is an agreement between God and men in which God promises to be their God and they be His people on certain terms. The Old Testament covenant was basically law. The New Testament and the new covenant originally given to Abraham, foretold through Jeremiah, was based on promise and resolved in Christ.
And the law, for example, God laid the responsibility on men didn't He? In the law, God laid the responsibility on a man. He said, thou shalt, thou shalt, thou shalt, thou shalt. In the new covenant, He keeps the responsibility and says I will, I will, I will, I will. That's the difference. So two women, two sons equal two covenants. The allegory goes further. Now watch, here's where it gets confusing. "The one from Mount Sinai," now which covenant would that illustrate? Law. "Bearing children for bondage who is Hagar." Now Hagar comes first in the comparison. Hagar's the mother who bore children into slavery. She was a slave so all of her kids were slaves. Ishmael was a slave all his life. She represents then a slavery covenant.
Which covenant was the covenant of slavery? The one given at Mount Sinai where God thundered out and said do this or you'll die. Bondage. So she illustrates that. Now notice it says, and interestingly, that she, the one from Mount Sinai bearing children for bondage who is Hagar and then it goes further. "This Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia." It adds that little touch to show that anybody, watch, anybody in this covenant is in Arabia, which is outside the promised land, do you see?
So the allegory carries it a step further even. If you follow this covenant, and you're a child of Hagar, a brother of Ishmael from Mount Sinai, you're in Arabia friend and that's out of the promised land. So the allegory gets very complex and that's why I say it's very difficult to understand the particular approach to reasoning that Paul takes without knowing the kind of reasoning that was common to the Jewish people in those days. And you know, it's interesting too, I think, that Hagar fled to Arabia twice. Did you know that? So Hagar was associated with Arabia. And do you know that finally when she began to produce her descendents and all the descendents started coming out of the line of Hagar, do you know where they settled and where they grew up and where they populated? Arabia.
Do you know where the Israeli-Arab controversy started? In Hagar's bedroom. That's where it started. That was where it began. All of her descendants that poured out of her populated the Arabian region including the Sinai peninsula and then the trouble began. And believe me the Israel and Arab controversy goes on today because you see both of them claim Abraham as their father, so both of them claim the right to the land. That's the problem. And as I said this morning, Kissinger or no Kissinger, you're not about to settle something that's been going on since Hagar and Sarah.
I mean, you may get a temporary little respite, but you're never going to heal those wounds that have been festering for thousands of years. So she is symbolic of Mount Sinai, her children, children of bondage, they are slaves. You say boy that's really a complicated one. Well, it isn't done yet. So we've got Hagar equals Ishmael equals Sinai equals slavery equals Arabia, verse 25, and answers to Jerusalem, which now is and is in bondage with her children. This is...he goes and says this, now he says, "Hagar is also symbolic of Jerusalem today answereth to," is a most interesting word. See where it says "answereth to Jerusalem. Sustoicheo, it means belonging to the same column. It's means a rank or a lineup of soldiers.
You know what he's doing, he's lining up a whole bunch of things in his allegory. The word means to just lineup things in a column. If I had an overhead, I'd show it to you. But watch, Hagar, in the allegory, Hagar equals Ishmael, equals Sinai, equals Jerusalem, equals flesh, equals law, equals bondage. All of these things he pulls together to show that if you are in the line of Hagar, not physically, but allegorically, if you're a Hagar type, an Ishmael type, a Mount Sinai type, if you're like Jerusalem that now is, notice he says that, "Jerusalem which now is and is in bondage with the children." And that was Paul's comment on present day Jerusalem in his day. He was saying Jerusalem is in bondage to law. Weren't they?
Sure they were. So he says it's the same old story, whether it's allegorically Hagar, Ishmael, Mount Sinai, in fact, Jerusalem today it equals flesh, it equals bondage, it equals slavery. So Hagar and Sinai produced nothing but slaves. A child of Hagar is a slave. Ishmael is a slave. Mount Sinai brought down slavery. Jerusalem of today he says hold men in slavery. They're trying to do God's will in the flesh. That's the illustration he wants to get across.
They have enslaved themselves to Sinai's law. They're working for salvation. They're wrong, because Sinai's in Arabia. It isn't even in the promised land allegorically, so you're cut off from the land of promise. So Hagar, Ishmael, Sinai, Jerusalem of today, the Jerusalem that Paul knew which was infested and infected and dominated by legalism and salvation by works, they all spell slavery and bondage that comes from trusting the flesh.
And they represent all those people in every time who seek to be saved by ritual right and self righteousness. You know what happens? They work all their lives and they're slaves when they start and they're slaves when they're done. It never changes. The sinner who seeks to be saved by the laws on a treadmill. He's a Hagar, Ishmael, Sinai, Jerusalem slave that never changes.
Ishmael the child of the flesh. And anybody who attempts to get to God is an Ishmael when he tries to get there through the flesh. And you remember friends that Ishmael was cut off from the promised land. God gave him that inheritance, yes. But his inheritance was outside the land of promise. And allegorically that means he was cut off from blessing. And Jesus said this to the legalistic. "Verily he has his," what, "reward, but it's outside the frame of salvation."
Now in contrast to the child of slavery, the child of Hagar, Sinai and all that, was Sarah. Allegorically, Sarah represents who Isaac who represents Jerusalem, which is above, which represents promise, which represents faith, which represents freedom. That's the contrast. And he skips a lot of that stuff, but he just comes to verse 26 on the other side of the contrast.
"But Jerusalem, which is above is free which is the mother of us." All is not in the best manuscripts. Now he said it was Jerusalem which now is, and that was the terrible legalistic Jerusalem of Paul's day, but he says, "The Jerusalem which is above is free and it is the mother of us all." You say what Jerusalem is he talking about? The Jerusalem which is above.
Well, he's talking about spiritual city, a spiritual Jerusalem. Do you know...you say well who are the citizens of that? Me? Are you a Christian? You're one. You say oh what do you mean? You're a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem already, you're just not quite there yet. You already live in the heavenlys according to Ephesians 1:3. "You've been blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlys." You're not a citizen of this world, our citizenship is not here is it? No. We're already citizens of that glorious new Jerusalem. That descends ultimately on the earth, but it's now the abode of the beloved blessed in the church.
Turn with me for a minute to Hebrews 12:18, and I'll just show you this quickly. All right, He says here, comparing Christians with legalistic Jews, Hebrews 12:18, "You are not come unto the mount that might be touched and that burned with fire nor in the blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words which voice they that heard and treated that the word should not be spoken unto them anymore." What mount was that? Sinai, and the law just thundered out and crushed them. No, you don't come to that mountain. "For they could not endure that which was commanded. And if so much as a beast touch the mountain it shall be stoned or thrust through with a spear." Which that phrase is not in some of the best manuscripts.
Verse 21, "So terrible was the site that Moses said I exceedingly fear and quake, but you are come unto Mount Zion unto the city of the living God the heavenly Jerusalem to an enumerable company of angels," now watch and you'll see whose in that city, "to the general assembly and church of the first born who are written in heaven to God, the judge of all, and the spirits of just men made perfect." That city involves angels, God, the living church, and the glorified church.
And I'm a citizen friend and Jesus is there. Verse 24, and that kind of caps it off. "Jerusalem then is the abode of believers." Now going back to Galatians, let's look at the verse and see if it comes into focus. Galatians 4:26, "But Jerusalem, which is above is free and that Jerusalem is the mother of us." We're not the children of Hagar, we're the children of Sarah who equals the Jerusalem above. We're the children of faith. We came to God through faith and His promise that He would save us on the basis of Grace. The people attached to the earthly Jerusalem were in bondage to Mount Sinai. The people attached to the heavenly Jerusalem were free.
And Jesus said to the Jews one day, so attached to the earthly Jerusalem, He said, "look if the Son make you free," what, "ye shall be free for real." Indeed. Incidentally later on this Jerusalem is going to descend on the earth. You can read that in Revelation 21:22, "The new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven." It's already in existence. It's just going to descend in the kingdom. Now meanwhile, this spiritual city exists in its invisible heavenly form as a fellowship of believers. Free from law. I'll tell you, that's exciting isn't it? You know, I don't have to do any kind of ritual to maintain my salvation. I'm free. You say does that mean you're free to do what's wrong? No, I'm free for the first time in my life to do what's right. Before I came to Jesus Christ I could do anything wrong I wanted. I just couldn't do anything right. Christian liberty is the freedom to do what's wrong. You could always do that. Christian liberty is the freedom to do what's right for the first time.
And so the spiritual city exists as this fellowship. I'm free from the law in the sense. No longer do I do the will of God from an external pressure, but as a Christian I have found that I'm free to do the will of God from the heart. That's the difference. I don't do it because I have to on the outside. I do it because I want to on the inside. It's the difference between a have to and a want to.
So Sarah equals Isaac, equals promise, equals Jerusalem which is above, equals freedom. She was a free woman, always free, never a slave, her child was free, and she speaks then of free men, made free by the promise and as Isaac was supernaturally born, so when we are supernaturally born, we are free. The miracle of the new birth sets us free and it's an act of God simply activated by our faith. Heaven is our mother, not Mount Sinai. I was not born off of Sinai. I was born from above and that's what John 3 is talking about. "Except you be born from above."
Heaven gave birth to me. My life is governed there. My name is written there. My seat is already reserved there. Did you know that? Ephesians 2. My prayers ascend there, my high priest is there. Verse 27, "For it is written rejoice thou barren that bearest not, break forth and cry thou that travailest not for the desolate hath many more children than she who hath a husband." That's Isaiah 54:1. And that was originally written to the exiles in Babylon, but here it's applied to Sarah. And the words are used to illustrate that there was an unfruitful childless person and all of a sudden, the one that was barren rejoices, breaks forth for the desolate has more children than the one who was never desolate. Beautiful concept.
Do you know that that heavenly Jerusalem that we just talked about was empty for a long time? But the city of the church, the assembly of the first born was vacant for a long, long time. Barren. Do you know when it's barrenness ended? It ended when Jesus died on the cross, scooped up the Old Testament saints, led captivity captive and the barrenness of the Jerusalem that is above was ended. And the beautiful statement that it makes here is that the ultimate fulfillment of that above Jerusalem is going to be greater than the Jerusalem below.
Fantastic thing. The childless Sarah is a picture of the heavenly Jerusalem. A time when heaven was vacant. And then Jesus died and began to populate it. And heaven is going to be populated and populated and populated with the saints till Jesus comes and the full population takes its place. This is an allegory. Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Born of two mothers, Hagar and Sarah, who represent two covenants. And who are very much like two Jerusalems. Hagar, the slave, symbolizes the old covenant, the earthly Jerusalem. The Ishmael mentality law bondage. Sarah, the free woman, symbolizes the new covenant, the heavenly Jerusalem. The Isaac mentality, grace and freedom. It isn't whether you're a son of Abraham, it's who's your mother spiritually that matters.
Lastly, after the historical and the allegorical comes the personal and just some final notes. His tone here is very mild, very persuasive. Verse 28, "Now we brethren as Isaac was are the children of promise." He says to these Galatians who have started to defect back to law. You know what they're going to do? They're going to trade in their Isaac heritage for an Ishmael heritage. Can you imagine that? They're going to trade the promise land for Arabia. They're going to turn into Jerusalem that is above for the earthly. And He says hey folks, "we," some manuscripts say ye, "we or ye brethren as Isaac was are the children of promise."
You don't want to go back and mess with that Ishmael stuff. We're the children of promise. All the children of Sarah are one family. Children of promise are like Isaac. We accepted salvation by grace. We were supernaturally conceived. We're divine miracles. We didn't do it in the flesh. It was spiritually done. Don't go backwards. And he goes on to say that, and I think it's important that he says this, there are three results of being an Isaac child, a Sarah offspring like the Jerusalem is above. The first one is persecution. Because you see they would have said well you know this is very strange.
If all this is so clear in Scripture why does it...why do the Jews keep persecuting us? Why do they keep telling us you have to do this law. You have to keep this ritual. Why are they persecuting us if this is all in the law. They know the law, what's going on? And so he simply says, well the persecution as even prophesied, verse 29. "But as then," don't be surprised of persecution, "now it is just like then, he that was born after the flesh," who was that, Ishmael, "persecuted him that was born after the spirit." And it's that way now.
Do you know that the legalists have always been the greatest persecutors of Christianity. True Christians have suffered more at the hands of religionists than they ever have at the hands of atheists, believe me. Study it historically. Believe me, those people who have all established the way to God through their own works have always been the greatest persecutors of Christians who accept things by faith. That fits Satan's pattern.
And so he says look it's always...don't be shocked. You read Genesis 21:8-9 and it's all right there. Let me just read two verses. This is really interesting. Ishmael was 17 years old, you know. Isaac was three and the Jews would wean their children when they were three. And so it was the time of Isaac's weaning and they had a party. They had a party. And the party's expressed here in the 21stChapter.
"And the child grew," verse 8, "and was weaned and Abraham made a great feast." The same day that Isaac was weaned. He'd be three years old, so it'd make Ishmael 17, big brother. Well, you know what was tough on Ishmael, he'd been the heir all along right, till just three years ago. And this little crummy kid moved in. So it's a big party for Isaac and Ishmael's grinding see. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar, the Egyptian whom she had born unto Abraham mocking. This 17 year old Ishmael was over in a corner mocking Isaac. And she said Abraham, get him out and get his mother out too. Get both of them out. And they did, threw both of them out. Sent them away.
And so what Paul says here in verse 29, is don't be surprised if they persecuted you. You go clear back to Ishmael and Ishmael persecuted Isaac when he was only three. That's built into the thing. You should expect pressure from the legalists. You should expect persecution. Don't worry about whether or not they're supposed to know the Old Testament. Build into this thing. In the allegory itself is the prophetic implication that this is going to go on.
And incidentally, this was Hagar's attitude too. She hated Sarah. But this is a picture of how it's going to be through the years. The wicked world, the legalists, the religionists for the most part have been the persecutors of the righteous. And even today...well, in Paul's day take there who were the persecutors of the Christians? Who were they? Jews. Jews. So Paul says I expect the children of Hagar, the Judaisers to persecute the children of Sarah, me and you Christian Galatians. That's the way it was with Isaac and Ishmael, don't expect any different.
So one of the results of being a child of Isaac is persecution. He says expect it, but there's another result, that's inheritance. It's not all negative, verse 30. "Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture," I just read it to you, "cast out the bond woman and her son for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman." But don't worry about it because it's all going to be equalized. The persecutors are going to get thrown out and you're going to get the inheritance. Inheritance.
Well, Sarah saw Ishmael as a constant threat to Isaac. She probably thought he...Ishmael might kill him, so she threw him out. Ishmael will never inherit along with Isaac. Listen, nobody outside the covenant of grace will inherit anything from God. He's an Ishmael. Throw him out. Unbelieving Israel is Ishmael. You want to tell something to a Jew that will absolutely stand his hair on end? Tell them that. That he's not really even Isaac's seed. He's a spiritual Ishmael. That's what Paul says, and you can imagine how that set with the Judaisers.
But he didn't mince words did he? Didn't pull punches. A terrible thing for a Jew to hear, but that's what God said. The only way that a Jew can ever be a real child of Isaac is to be in Christ, right? And you see the Jews always interpreted Genesis in terms of God rejecting Ishmael as God rejecting the Gentiles. Paul says no, that's an allegory of God rejecting the Jews with the Ishmael mentality legalism. Trying to accomplish in the flesh what God gives by promise.
Lastly, being a child of Isaac, a son of Isaac, not only involves persecution and inheritance, they don't get the inheritance, we do. Verse 30. But it also involves obligation, verse 31 and 1 of Chapter 5. "So then brethren, we're not children of the bond woman, but of the free." Watch, "Standfast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. You know what the third result is? Obligation.
You know what he says? If you're an Isaac, do what? Act like it. You're free, be free. Don't turn in your freedom for slavery. Christ set us free to be free. Let's be free and enjoy it. This is the good news of salvation and we'll talk more about verse 1 next time, but this is the good news. Salvation is not by works, it's by grace. This is Paul's concluding argument in defense of it.
Let's pray. Father, we're thankful that we've been able again to see with the mind of Paul the meaning of the Holy Spirit through the word of God and how our hearts have been warned as it were and instructed that salvation is by grace alone. And that we cannot add any to it that it is perfect and can be accepted by faith and faith alone.
Father, we thank You that thou hast made us Isaacs. Thou has made us offspring of Sarah. Thou hast mothered us from the Jerusalem that is above. God help us never to go back and be entangled again in ritual and legalism. Never to have the thought in our minds that we can do things to earn your love or to make us more spiritual or more holy, but rather to know that it is not a set of externals that make the difference but doing the will of God from the heart. And Father, if there are some in our midst who are in the Ishmael camp who are in Arabia outside the promised land, we ask Father, that You would cause them to throw all their works aside as the filthy rags they are and in faith cast themselves on Jesus Christ in whom alone is the promise of blessing. And in His name we pray. Amen.