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Summary: Paul contrasts two sons, two mothers, two covenants and two Jerusalem’s between Legalism and faith.

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As Israeli tanks are advancing on Gaza and Hamas militants continue to fire rockets at Israel, both sides continue to ignore international calls to stop the conflict. Israel has even warned it would escalate its assault.

Since the present Israeli military advance on Gaza, the Palestinian death toll is at least 821, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. Thirteen Israelis have been killed: 10 soldiers and three civilians hit in rocket fire.

Hamas wants any ceasefire deal to include the ending of Israel’s crippling economic blockade of the Gaza Strip and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the territory, from which Israel withdrew in 2005 after a 38-year occupation. Israel’s key demands are for a complete halt to Hamas rocket fire and for international guarantees to stop the group rearming via smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt. (http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=1163793)

This conflict is the longest between two groups of People. It origin points to fundamental spiritual truths.

In Galatians 4:21–5:1 Paul points to the origin to this conflict to contrast grace and law, faith and works. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit he employs an Old Testament story as an analogy, which serves not so much as an argument as an illustration.

Paul contrasts two sons, two mothers, two covenants and two Jerusalem’s. I will stick with his illustrations of this situation so we can not only better understand the present conflict in the Middle East, how it can be solved, but understand how people have standing before God, period.

As Paul develops the analogy, he first gives its 1) Historical background, then its 2) Divine interpretation, and finally its 3) Personal application.

1) THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Galatians 4:21-23

Galatians 4:21-23 [21]Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? [22]For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. [23]But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. (ESV)

Law in this verse is used in two different senses. The first refers to law as a means of attaining holiness, and the second to the OT books of the law (Genesis through Deuteronomy), particularly Genesis. Paul is saying, “Tell me, you who desire to obtain favor with God by law-keeping, do you not listen to the message of the book of the law?” (MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Ga 4:21). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)

• As an introduction to the analogy, Paul suggests that the Judaizers, and the Jewish Christians who had been misled by them, look carefully at the very law they so highly touted.

• The point Paul makes by drawing an analogy from Moses’ writing is that the law cannot be a means of salvation but is instead the way of spiritual and moral bondage.

“Since you insist on living under law,” he was saying, “are you willing to listen to what the law really says?”

Please turn to John 8

Paul reminds his readers in Galatians 4:22 of their forefather Abraham, progenitor of the Hebrew race. It was in their racial descent from him that most Jews of Paul’s day placed their trust for salvation. But as John the Baptist had declared to the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 3:9), for Jews to say, “we have Abraham for our father,” did not make them right with God, who “is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham”.

Unbelieving Jews responded to Jesus:

John 8:33-44 [33]They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ’You will become free’?" [34]Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. [35]The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. [36]So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. [37]I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. [38]I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father." [39]They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, [40]but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. [41]You are doing the works your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father--even God." [42]Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. [43]Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. [44]You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (ESV)

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