Galatians--Part 21--Casting out the Bondwoman
Aug 31, 2010
When the Judaizers came to Galatia to "correct" the teachings of Paul, they claimed Jerusalem as the Mother Church. The implication was that the Galatians were to "honor their mother" by submitting to her authority. But Paul shows that the Church has a different mother, the New Jerusalem, if indeed we are the children of promise.
When the Holy Spirit came upon the Church in Acts 2, this was supposed to be the start of Sarah bringing forth many nations (goy, "gentiles"). The Holy Spirit was the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49), sent to the Church in Acts 2. This promise was not given to Hagar but to Sarah, who was to become the mother of "many nations" (Gen. 17:16). The day of Pentecost in Acts 2 was supposed to be the beginning of the fulfillment of this promise to Sarah.
(26) But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. . . (28) And you, brethren, like Isaac, are the children of promise.
The Judaizers, however, not understanding their connection to Hagar, still considered Jerusalem to be their mother. Led by "false brethren" who had been SENT (by the temple) to spy out their liberty (Gal. 2:4), the Judaizers terrorized the Jerusalem Church into continuing in all of the sacrifices and old manner of keeping the feast days and sabbaths.
Paul understood the conflict from an insider's viewpoint, for he had been one of the first ones that the temple had authorized officially to persecute the Church. This was while he was known by his fleshly name, Saul, the name given to him at his fleshly birth. Paul's background qualified him to speak of these things with firsthand knowledge.
(29) But as at that time, he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.
When we look at the story of Ishmael and Isaac in the book of Genesis, we note a near absence of any such persecution. Gen. 21:9 and 10 says,
(9) Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham,mocking. (10) Therefore she said to Abraham, "Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac."
Something is obviously missing here. Mocking is hardly a reason for Abraham to divorce Hagar and send her and Isaac out of the house. I have no doubt that Ishmael was mocking Isaac, but there must have been more to the story that Scripture leaves to the imagination. And Paul must have known as well, because he says specifically that Ishmael persecuted Isaac.
The old book of Jasher relates a more detailed story in Jasher 21:13-15,
(13) And when Isaac was five years old, he was sitting with Ishmael at the door of the tent. (14) And Ishmael came to Isaac and seated himself opposite to him, and he took the bow and drew it and put the arrow in it, and intended to slay Isaac.
This, we are told, is what Sarah witnessed, and as a mother she was quite upset and demanded that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael out of the house. Abraham understood the problem and complied with this, knowing that attempted murder was sufficient ground for such drastic action. So Gal. 4:30 says,
(30) But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman." (31) So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.
Sarah spoke prophetically when she said, "Cast out the bondwoman and her son." How is the bondwoman cast out? In the context of Paul's letter, the bondwoman is cast out by casting out the Judaizers, ridding themselves of their dependence upon Hagar. Jerusalem was NOT their mother. Their mother was Sarah, the free woman. The Church was established by God, and the promise of the Father was given to them in the Upper Room, not in the temple. Their "Mother Church" was the New Jerusalem.
A few years later, in 70 A.D. God would find it necessary to cast out the bondwoman on a greater scale. Jesus said in Matt. 23:38, "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" A few verses later, in Matt. 24:1 and 2, Jesus prophesied,
(1) And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. (2) And He answered and said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down."
Jesus had already prophesied the destruction of the city in the parable in Matt. 22:1-7, where the ones invited to the wedding of the Son refused to come. Verses 5-7 say,
(5) But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, (6) and the rest seized his slaves (God's prophets) and mistreated them and killed them. (7) But the king (God) was enraged and sent his armies (Rome) and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire.
Years later, at the start of the war with Rome, there was a lull when Nero died in June of 68. The Jerusalem Church then escaped from the city, for they remembered Jesus' prophecy. We read this in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, III, 5,
"Further, the members of the Jerusalem church, by means of an oracle given by revelation to acceptable persons there, were ordered to leave the City before the war began and settle in a town in Perea called Pella. To Pella, those who believed in Christ migrated from Jerusalem; and as if holy men had utterly abandoned the royal metropolis of the Jews and the entire Jewish land, the judgment of God at last overtook them for their abominable crimes against Christ and His apostles, completely blotting out that wicked generation from among men."
The destruction of Jerusalem came after 40 years had passed, for Ezekiel had interceded for Jerusalem for 40 days (Ez. 4:6). This was their allotted time to repent for their hostility against Jesus Christ, but the time was spent only in persecuting the Church. And so the city was destroyed, and the people either killed or enslaved in foreign lands.
This was God's way of casting out the bondwoman and her son. However, Jesus also prophesied that the "fig tree" of Judah would again "become tender and put forth its leaves." In other words, at the end of the age, this tree would come back to life. Not a word is said about bearing FRUIT, because Jesus had already condemned it, saying, "No longer shall there ever be any FRUIT from you" (Matt. 21:19).
In essence, Jesus prophesied of another fruitless "fig tree" with many leaves that give the impression that it is a productive tree. This is the Israeli state in our time. While many in the Church think that the Israeli Jews will begin bearing fruit unto God soon--and they base their entire hope for Jerusalem upon this belief--Jesus' words cannot fail. Neither can Hagar bring forth the promises of God.
The bondwoman and her modern son will again be cast out in the same manner as in 70 A.D. But this time the prophecy of Jeremiah will be fulfilled. In Jeremiah 19, Jerusalem and Judah are pictured as an old earthen jar or bottle, which, when cast into gehenna, will never be repaired again. Jerusalem was subsequently destroyed many times, but always rebuilt later. The day is soon coming when the destruction will be complete. Jer. 19:11 says, "Just so shall I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot again be repaired."
This is the twenty-first part of a series titled "Galatians." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones