To those of you who are leaning to the side of the Jews who want you to continue to imprison yourselves in the Law, I must ask you, do you know the Law? As a Pharisee, I know the Law very well. As an apostle, I know the grace of God very well, too. So let me lay out both sides for you from the beginning of the Jewish people. Scripture tells us that our forefather Abraham had a son by his slave Hagar prior to the son given him by his wife Sarah. Ishmael, Hagar’s son, was born in slavery. Isaac, Sarah’s son, was born free. These are symbols of the two covenants that God made with His people, the difference between life under the Law and life under the grace of God. Hagar and Ishmael were sent away when Hagar began to make trouble for Sarah, because she began to feel superior to Sarah after bearing Abraham’s first born son. Mt. Sinai, the mountain on which God gave Moses the Law, was part of Hagar’s and Ishmael’s territory after they left Abraham and Sarah. And Hagar and Sinai both have the same meaning – rock. So Hagar represents the covenant of the Law. All of Hagar’s descendants were born as slaves, since Hagar and Ishmael were not set free but exiled. In the same way, all of the people born during the time when the covenant of the Law was in place have been born into slavery to it. Jerusalem is the capital of the covenant of the Law. But Sarah and Isaac were free. Isaac was the child born by the promise of God – for Sarah was unable to bear children, until God intervened and placed Isaac in her womb when she was well beyond child-bearing age. She and Isaac represent the new covenant, ushered in by the miraculous birth of Jesus and sealed by His death and resurrection on our behalf. The Jerusalem that awaits us in Heaven, the New Jerusalem, is the capital city of the covenant of grace, and all who put their trust in Jesus to save them from their sins are children of that new covenant and citizens of the New Jerusalem. The Scripture says, ‘Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.’ We are children of the promise, just as Isaac was. And just as Hagar and Ishmael made trouble for Sarah and Isaac, the Jews who are still enslaved by the Law are making trouble for us now. So what does the Scripture tell us? ‘Send the slave woman and her son into exile, because the son of the slave woman will not be an heir with the son of the free woman.’ We are not children of the slave woman. We are children of the free woman.
Galatians 4:21-31, Isaiah 54:1, Genesis 21:10