Summary: Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel: Hagar and Sarah - Slavery and Freedom
Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel:
Hagar and Sarah - Slavery and Freedom
Spiritual deception is very powerful so Paul used a number of angles to show the Galatians church that if they embrace this path of ‘works of the law’ they will become enslaved once again to that which they have been freed from (4:8-9). Any attempt to earn God’s approval, to impress him leads us to slavery. Paul takes an unusual approach this time to convince them to embrace only way to the freedom Christ promises. So let’s look at 4:21-5:1. To understand this passage we need a history lesson so let’s go back to the first book of the bible, Genesis, to get some background.
1. The Historical Background (21-23)
To see how Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar fit in this picture we need to start with Gen 12:1-3 where God makes the original promise to Abraham:
“Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
Here the original promise is made to Abraham when he was 75 years old. It has three parts– ‘God will make him into a great nation, God bless Abraham so that he will be a blessing to others, and through Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed. Well, some time later Abraham began to doubt this promise because God had not given him any children and humanly speaking it did not look like he would have any (Gen 15:1-5):
“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir." And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
Then some time later, Sarah, frustrated at the lack of a child and in a moment of doubt takes matters into her own hands and tells Abraham to sleep with Hagar, her maidservant, to help God along. The child was born of a slave woman and so was a slave himself. God rejected the boy because he was not the child of promise.
Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, "Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!" But Abram said to Sarai, "Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please." Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. 7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She said, "I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai." The angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress and submit to her." The angel of the LORD also said to her, "I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude." And the angel of the LORD said to her, "Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen." So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God of seeing," for she said, "Truly here I have seen him who looks after me." Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered. And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram. (Gen 16:1-16)