Slaves No More
“Now this is allegorically two covenants, one is from Mount Sinai bearing children to slavery. She is Hagar.” (Galatians 4:24)
The whole thing seemed like an April Fool’s joke. God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. But Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children. How was that going to happen? They decided to help the Lord God with His plan. Sarah gave her slave, Hagar, to her husband. The slave woman gave birth to Abraham’s son.
Later, Sarah miraculously became pregnant and gave birth to Isaac. Isaac was the son of the promise. He was the child promised by God. From Isaac came Jacob and the children of Israel.
St. Paul says that the two sons of Abraham provide an allegory of the two covenants. The child born to the slave, Hagar, whose name isn’t mentioned here, is Mount Sinai. Hagar is of the flesh, of works, and of commandments. She is like the Judaism of today: under the slavery of the Law.
The child born of the free woman, Sarah, is the covenant of promise. Sarah is free, forgiven, saved–not by what she has done but by the grace of God in Isaac’s descendant, Jesus, who gave His life for the sins of the world. She is the Jerusalem coming down from above, our mother, the Church.
You are Sarah’s children. You are not under Law or works, but under the covenant of promise. You are born in the waters of Holy Baptism.
Hagar’s son can never be the promise–ever. He’s a son of Abraham, but not the promised son. The promise came first. Hagar’s son, given after the promise, can’t ever become the promise.
“Toss Hagar out,” says the Apostle. Cast off your sin and the works of the flesh. Throw out of your life your attempts to save yourself–the way of Hagar. Take hold of the forgiveness of sins and life in Christ.
This is no joke: You have been freed from slavery to Law and works! You are a child of promise. You are saved and you are forgiven, by the promise God made to Abraham.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t have works. You have tons of them in Christ. When you are free from slavery, you can do all sorts of good, loving, things for those around you. Those works can’t save. The promise that came first saves. You are, in Christ, a son of the promise!
Yours in Christ,