“Nevertheless, what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman”. (Gal. 4:30)
For years Abraham had lived together with two women, Sarah and Hagar, and he had fathered a child with both of them. But when time came for Isaac, Abraham’s son with Sarah, to be weaned, Abraham’s polygamous lifestyle had come to an abrupt end. Hagar’s son Ishmael had mocked little Isaac, and because of that Sarah had gone to Abraham and demanded that both Hagar and Ismael should be expelled from the household.
Abraham was deeply troubled about the whole thing, but God told Him to do as Sarah said, since the promises that God had given him were to be fulfilled in the offspring of Isaac; not Ismael. God telling Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael may sound cruel, but the book of Galatians shows us that this dramatic event has a very significant symbolic meaning for us today. The context shows us that Hagar and Sarah represent two different covenants.
“which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar”… (Gal. 4:24)
Hagar is a picture of the old covenant, based on the law of Moses, that puts people in bondage. Sarah, on the other hand, is a picture of the new covenant, based and God’s grace, that sets people free.
Ishmael was born “according to the flesh” and represents our own efforts and performance. Isaac, on the other hand, was born “according to the Spirit”, and represents what God through Christ has done for us.
The symbolic message for us today is loud and clear: “Cast out Hagar”; i. e. cast out the old covenant, cast out legalism, cast out all works-based religion. Instead we are to hold on to Sarah, the new covenant of God’s grace, only. Only by grace (Sarah) through faith (Abraham), can we receive our inheritance in Christ. Not by anything we can do or perform (Hagar), but only by trusting in Jesus and what He has done for us.
Polygamy is (thank God) neither socially nor legally accepted in most countries in the Western world today. But unfortunately, we have been programmed to accept “spiritual polygamy”. We have been fostered in a school where we have been taught to stay married to both Sarah and Hagar. We have mixed a little bit of God’s grace with a little bit of the law, a little bit of what Jesus has done with a little bit of our own performance. What is the result? A so called “Christianity” that has removed both the power and the attractiveness from the gospel.
Note this: it was first when Isaac was going to start eating solid food, instead of drinking mother’s milk, that Hagar and Ishmael had to leave. As long as Isaac was just an infant, it was okay for Hagar and Ishmael to remain in the household. But when Isaac had matured to the point when he was ready be weaned from drinking his mother’s milk, they all came to a breaking point, with no turning back.
It is the same in our spiritual lives. For us to grow up and mature, we need to get rid of the old covenant; it’s teaching, its mentality, and its culture from our lives. The author of Hebrews says:
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.” (Heb. 5:13)
In other words, not until we have understood the new covenant’s teaching on righteousness, that righteousness is a free gift, given to us by grace through faith, have we reached a place of spiritual maturity where we no longer drink spiritual milk, but eat solid, spiritual, food.
The time has come to cast out Hagar from the worldwide body of Christ. Does this mean that we should stop reading the old testament in the Bible? Absolutely not! The old testament is inspired by God, but we need to read it through the lens of the new covenant. The old testament bears witness of Jesus. We need to start discovering Jesus and God’s grace in the old testament.
Around the world today, a revolution is taking place when it comes to rediscovering the new covenant of God’s grace, setting people from religious bondage. It is not a new revelation or a new teaching. It has been in the Bible all the time. But religious systems have for centuries robbed us of these precious truths, and therefore the true gospel must be rediscovered.
Spiritual polygamy must cease. Hagar must be cast out. Instead it is Jesus and His finished work we need to hold on to.