October 28, 2016
As I finish chapter 4 in Galatians, I’m struck with the detail about Hagar and Sarah. You can read more about them in the book of Genesis (see chapters 15-21). Hagar was Abraham’s slave woman and Sarah was his wife. He had a son, Ishmael, by Hagar, and a son, Isaac, through Sarah. God blessed both lines of offspring. As you see in Genesis 16, for example, the line of Hagar was going to be powerful yet always live in hostility toward others. The Muslims trace the heritage back to Abraham, just as the Jews and Christians do, but the Muslims view Ishmael as the chosen son while the Christians and Jews see Isaac as the one through whom the Messiah would come. The Muslims are ancestors of Ishmael, whether by birth or by their faith. The hostility continues in many of them as we see today.
Paul wants the Galatians to understand that by faith, they are descendants of the promise of freedom (Isaac) not of law (Ishmael). By God’s grace through faith, they are sons of the ‘free woman’ (v. 31). This may be a confusing section of Scripture, and I’d say, just reading this section, I’d agree. Here is a great example of why we need the greater context of Galatians, as well as the whole Scripture, to help bring clarity.
I wish there was peace between the descendants of the brothers of Abraham in today’s world. Yet I’m reminded, there is only one place where true reconciliation and hope and peace can be found. Only at the cross of Jesus, where the ultimate Son of Abraham was found giving of His perfect life for the ransom of many. In Christ there is freedom. Not in our works, not in our ability to live virtually perfect lives, not in our human ancestry, but in Christ. Living by God’s grace in faith in Jesus, I can live in freedom knowing that my sins won’t be counted against me and I have eternal life. Now, with the Spirit living in me, I can live for Him. Alleluia!
PRAYER: Gracious God who gives blessings to all people, whether they call on You in faith or not, continue to work in the hearts of Your people so we testify to Your goodness and love and forgiveness and power. I know that apart from You there is no peace. Grant peace as Your kingdom nears. Amen.