Galatians or The Epistle to the Galatians was written by Paul the Apostle and his message was pretty clear about the new Covenant of being saved by faith in Jesus Christ, and not by just following Jewish custom and law. The Epistle to the Galatians is dated to around 50 AD, 1 or about 17 years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ 2 which has more than one witness testimony to the events (see the Gospels in the New Testament for further info).
It’s a real shift from the Mosaic laws logged down in the Old Testament and reinforces Jesus’ message about faith. This should serve as a reminder to Christians how fortunate you are to be living under the Covenant of Grace.
The Old Testament contained over 600 laws that the Israelites had to adhere to. 3 I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine being able to live up to all that. Even Moses himself, stumbled and angered God so he wouldn’t live to enter the Promised Land of the Israelites. For the most part, Moses was a pretty faithful follower of God and had some of the most dramatic encounters with Him. That goes to show that nobody is perfect and God does have extremely high standards. We all fall short of the Glory of God.
Keeping that in mind, it’s probably not any wonder that many would have had serious doubts that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied about in earlier scriptures. But He was, and is.
And that brings me to the next part.
As I was reading Galatians 4:25-31 (as part of my entire Bible refresher this year), I realized something. This wasn’t just a message for the church then. But it was a message for us all now. Allow me to give you the background first.
The scripture as follows from the Amplified translation:
“Cast out the bondwoman [Hagar] and her son [Ishmael],
For never shall the son of the bondwoman be heir and share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.”
31 So then, believers, we [who are born again—reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] are not children of a slave woman [the natural], but of the free woman [the supernatural].
Galatians is not the first book to mention Hagar. Genesis 21:10-11 says “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. 11. The situation distressed Abraham greatly because of his son [Ishmael].
The scripture later goes on to say he would make the descendants of Ishmael a great nation. And it appears true. They did become a large and powerful nation. Great can mean many things. Large, powerful. It doesn’t always mean righteous. The words in bold above already allude to something that Ishmael would not have.
For point of reference, Ishmael or Ismail was regarded as a prophet, son of Abraham. https://islam4u.pro/blog/ismail-in-the-quran/ Clearly there are some things in the Qu’ran that aren’t in the Bible and so some of the information given in the previous link may seem odd to a Christian, but the underlying theme is the same. Hagar / Agar had a son, Ishmael / Ismail with Abraham. From there, his descendants would start the ‘rival’ religion Islam. It is also noted that it appears to be a theme that the Jews weren’t happy that a prophet would come from Ismail. I cannot speak to that one way or another, but the way it is written on the site is not intended to be disrespectful to the reader, but for the author to put their point across and I encourage you to appreciate that.
Anyway, I wanted to give you a link to some Islamic text, not because I want to convert you to Islam, but to show you that the Holy Word of God (the Bible) does not support the descendants of Hagar as being the path to God, and clearly there is a distinction between God Almighty (Elohim) and Allah.
God identifies himself in Genesis as “Us” and “Our” (and this can be seen as a subtle indication of the Trinity of the Godhead) in Chapter 1: 26
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, and over the entire earth, and over everything that creeps and crawls on the earth.”
This is intentional. Previously on previous days of creation, the terms “us” and “our” were not mentioned. Why would He refer to himself as us and our? The first time this multifaceted God is mentioned – in reference to humanity’s creation. We have a spirit/mind, body and soul, so we are made in God’s image. Three parts to us. Three parts to God.
The Qu’ran, was ‘revealed and recorded’ some time about 600 AD. 4 Note that’s over 500 years from the time the Epistle was written to the Galatians and at least 1600 years after Genesis was recorded. 5 The Qu’ran does say Jesus would be near to God, but does not acknowledge him as the Son and part of the Divine Godhead:
60. The Truth (comes) from Allah alone; so be not of those who doubt. 6
The first thoughts that came to mind when I read Galations 4:30 was that Islam is doomed. This is not me trying to speak ill of another monotheistic belief that clearly shares some Old Testament similarities. It is because they do not regard Jesus as the Saviour (of all humanity who follows Him) as the only way to God.
They do regard Jesus as a prophet (they do not deny He existed), but there is nothing to indicate a belief in anything but potentially a divine conception, which seems to be overlooked in the passage “he created him from dust…” However, that’s not enough to make the devout think that maybe Jesus was the son of God after all, especially because after line 60, there is a curse for anyone who believes there is anyone beside Allah.
Christians believe in the Father God, The son who is God and the Holy Spirit God – all as parts of the whole. Like water has three states of being, so does God. Perhaps that is another reason Jesus is sometimes referred to as the Living Waters.
When Christ died for our sins, he cleansed all believers in Him of ALL sin so that we may enter Heaven. I already noted the 600 plus Mosaic Laws handed down to Moses and the Israelites. Clearly those laws were hard to maintain and even Moses stumbled. Add to the mix all the false gods being worshipped in the areas at the time, it may have been tempting for some to abandon all hope because it was hard.
So what we are left with as Christians, is that our path to eternal life (rather than eternal damnation) is through faith in Jesus Christ and repentance of our sins and the casting aside our former selves to follow Jesus in His examples.
In Islam and Judaism it is by acts (laws and acts of morality according to the law). Jesus was clear.
John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a person is born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of God.”
John 3:5-6 Jesus answered, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh [the physical is merely physical], and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be surprised that I have told you, ‘You must be born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified].”
Jesus never diminished the 10 commandments, but the requirement for animal sacrifice was no longer needed since Jesus was the final sacrifice to wash away all our sins and make us clean again. But it only counts if you make him Lord of your life and turn from sin (repent) with intention and action toward doing away with your sinful ways.
May God bless all who read this, and learn to appreciate the additional gifts that came with Jesus’ sacrifice. He never said the path would be easy, but He made it more straightforward. It is humanity who confuses the issue.
6 http://www.wright-house.com/religions/islam/Quran/3-family-of-imran.php – English translation of Qu’ran online.