Galatians 4:21–31 (NKJV)

21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written:

“Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.”

Galatians 4:21-27

Paul demonstrates the greatness of grace afforded to mankind by the work of Christ by comparing the two sons of Abraham: Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was the son of the bondwoman, Hagar, and Isaac was the son of the freewoman, Sarah. Sarah was the mother of the nation of Israel (Jacob), while Hagar birthed the progenitor of another nation, the Ishmaelites, presumed to be the nation that produced Mohammed and the Muslim faith. There has been enmity and strife between Israel and the Muslim world for millennia. Paul is contrasting these two brothers, or sons of Abraham, as legitimate in the case of Isaac and forced or even enslaved in the case of Ishmael. They have lived a heritage of bondage, founded on Mount Sinai in Jerusalem. The descendants of Abraham through Isaac have a covenant formed in heaven, the Jerusalem above. Paul is trying to demonstrate that those who wait on the Lord will enjoy a covenant that is the perfect will of God, rather than a cheap substitute that cannot truly provide eternal salvation. The covenant of grace is superior to the covenant of the law. If you are waiting for a solution to the issues you face, wait on the great solution of the most high God. Don’t be impatient and look for a manmade solution. Instead, continue to wait for the right solution. That only comes from the Lord himself, not from a scheme thought up by ungodly men. He will create supply in the midst of barrenness. He will make you fruitful in the midst of lack.

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

Galatians 4:28-31

Paul follows up the discussion of Abraham’s sons by declaring the place of those in Christ: we are the children of promise, of the free! The child of the flesh will oppose and attack the child of promise. Whether out of jealousy, insecurity, pride, or simply resentment, there will be opposition to those who follow God fully and live out his will for their lives. However, the battle is worth it. The level of effort it may take, the friends you may lose, the criticism and even prejudice you may experience, are all worth it to serve the Lord. Those who refuse to follow the one true God will find themselves outside the kingdom when the hearts of men and women are judged before God. Be on the right side, be a child of promise!

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