Paul Taught an Appreciation of History
As the saying goes, those who will not learn from history will repeat it! Paul made interesting use of this adage in this study. He wrote to Christ-followers in the cities of Galatia a) that only Jesus could save them from the present evil age (Galatians 1.4), b) that the Law could not give life (Galatians 3.21-22; Galatians 4.28), and c) that they would give up their eternity with Jesus by being circumcised to follow the Law (Galatians 5.2-3; all found in recent studies). This final study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians centers on his use of Jewish history to explain their present dilemma. Read Galatians 4.21-31.
The Problem in the Middle East is Only Resolved by Jesus.
- This is another example of the devolution of man discussed in Jeremiah 13.10. Corrupted imaginations cause problems!
- Ishmael and Isaac characterize the two covenants in Galatians 4.24.
- God had promised to make their father Abraham the progenitor of a multitude (Genesis 12. 2 & 15.4-6). But, he had no son at that time.
- Ten years later and realizing she was past conceiving a child, Sarah schemed to solve the problem by giving her maid as Abraham’s wife (Genesis 16.3). God’s promise was awaiting the fullness of time; however, she could not wait…neither could he.
- Genesis 16.4-16 tells about Hagar’s distain for Sarah and her jealousy of Hagar and about the character and temperament of her son Ishmael who was born to Abram at age 86. Because God had promised a son and multitude to Abraham ten years earlier, He promised a multitude to Ishmael, too, in verse 10 and Genesis 17.20. Impatience comes with a high price!
- Thirteen years later, God’s time was right for Isaac’s birth (Genesis 17.21, 24-25). [Note that Genesis 17.10 was the beginning of circumcision.]
- So, the fulfillment of God’s promise 25 years earlier, at Abraham’s age 100 years and Sarah’s 90 years, came into this world with a rival already a teenager (Genesis 16.12). The rivalry became evident and resulted in Hagar and Ishmael being banished from Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac (Genesis 21.8-21). However, God did not forget His covenant with Ishmael…though unintended and caused by Sarah’s impatience and Abraham’s thoughtlessness.
Paul Made His Point About the Covenants.
- Now, with this information, it is easy to understand Paul’s contrast of the covenants in Galatians 4.22-23. Ishmael was born to a slave; therefore, he was a slave…and his descendants. Isaac was born to a free woman; therefore, he was free…and his descendants. Ishmael represented a decision of man…flesh. Isaac represented a decision of God…His promise. [Note how Paul used this in his introduction in Galatians 1.1.]
- Paul extended this allegory in Galatians 4.25: Judaism is bondage to circumcision and Law, keeping people from faith in Christ/Messiah Jesus, instead of leading them to faith in Him…God’s promised Savior (Matthew 1.22-21; John 3.16).
- Paul concluded his application of this contrast of the covenants with a strong declaration in Galatians 4.31…that is, we who follow Christ (John 14.6).
- Do you?
In summary, Paul’s four arguments against circumcision and following the Law were:
- only Jesus could save them from the present evil age (Galatians 1.4);
- the Law could not give life (Galatians 3.21-22; Galatians 4.28);
- circumcision would evidence bondage to the past, not the freedom of their future (Galatians 4.30); and
- they would give up their eternity with Jesus by being circumcised to follow the Law (Galatians 5.2-3).
All of this is true today, too!
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2013. www.sozoclass.com