An effective teacher is one who can tell wonderful stories. Jesus was the master story teller. Stories add the color to black and white ink. They add substance to the abstract. Spurgeon said "Illustrations are the window to the soul." Our text is a story or a narrative of God commanding Abraham to cast out Hagar (v.10). This story of Abraham casting out the bondwoman is remarkable because Paul uses it as the story that brings home to the heart the last and most important doctrinal teaching he gave to the Galatian Christians.
Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh (Ishmael); but he of the free woman by promise (Isaac). These things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants (Galatians 4:21-24).
However in Genesis 22:2, God said to Abraham, "Take thy son, thine only son Isaac..."
- God blesses and recognizes only that which His Spirit produces in and through us.
Hagar represents Old Covenant living... I will do what I can to make my life better.
Sarah represents New Covenant living... I will trust that God's way is always best.
Hagar represents Old Covenant thinking... I can do what is needed in my own strength.
Sarah represents New Covenant thinking... I must have the Spirit of God empower me.
Hagar represents Old Covenant failure... I am burned out, tired, and bitter with life.
Sarah represents New Covenant success... I joyfully anticipate what the Spirit is doing.
We, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But just as then when he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now" (Galatians 4:28-29).
- When we live by the power of the Spirit and walk by faith, a battle rages.
This persecution to which Paul refers obviously involves the legalists who will persecute others for not doing and believing the way they (the legalists) do and believe. But I think this persecution is also an internal one within all of us. It is very easy to get into a pattern of living according to a code, or a ritual, or a pattern (the natural or fleshly way) and lose sight of the fact that God will often do something in the supernatural or spiritual way.
"Painted fire needs no fuel; a dead, formal profession is easily kept up" (Thomas Manton)
"Cast out the bondwoman... we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 4:3-31; 5:1).
- The liberty which Christ has given you is something worth fighting to keep. Have you ever noticed how a new Christian is so excited about his walk with Christ?
"Maintain, firm and unshaken, the ground which Christ hath given you. Be ever vigilant and prepared against the open or insidious attacks of your adversary." (Jacob Duche)