Tuesday, 3 May 2016
For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. Galatians 4:22
“For it is written.” Paul goes directly to Scripture to make his case concerning justification by faith instead of justification by works of the law. The word “For” shows that Scripture actually has an example that speaks out concerning this issue which has brought such contention to the church at Galatia. Therefore, the word “For” is in response to the question of verse 21, “Do you not hear the law?”
In going to Scripture, he cites an example from a time long before the giving of the law; to the time of the great father of the Hebrew faith, Abraham. In Genesis it is recorded “that Abraham had two sons.” These two sons were Ishmael first and then Isaac. The fact that Abraham had other sons later is completely ignored because it is irrelevant to what he is going to say. The Bible focuses specifically on these two sons, both in Genesis and now, in order to demonstrate spiritual truths for us to consider and learn from.
Of these two sons, one was by “a bondwoman.” This was Ishmael. He was born to Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. She was not free, but rather a slave. In contrast to this was Isaac who was born to “a freewoman.” Isaac was born to Sarah, the wife of Abraham. She was not a slave, but the wife of the owner of the estate.
Life application: The Old Testament stories are often curious. We can ask ourselves, “Why does the Bible focus on this odd story? Is this all that God wants us to hear… stories about love affairs, intrigue, life and death, and the like?” The answer is that these stories are always intended to point to other spiritual truths. This doesn’t mean that we can just make up an allegorical meaning to them that suit our desires. Instead, we are to evaluate them through the lens of Jesus and His work. In so doing, the reason for their inclusion will become clear.
How wonderful it is, O God, to see Your marvelous story of redemptive history first given to us in types and shadows of what is to come. Each of them points to what You will do through Jesus. And then, the New Testament shows us the work of Jesus for the people of the world. Only in Him are those ancient stories made clear, but in Him they are marvelously opened up to show us Your immense love for us. Thank You for the lessons of the Old which point us to the truths of the New! Thank You for the revelation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.