Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 34
GRACE THROUGH FAITH PLUS NOTHING – PART 2
Now let’s pick up where we left off in the last lesson, and although we started in Galatians Chapter 4, we ended up in the Book of Genesis Chapter 21. Now Paul is going to use the two sons of Abraham as an allegory, and maybe we should go back and look at Galatians Chapter 4 for just a second as a kick-off point.
“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; (remember God had nothing to do with that birth) but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24. Which things are an allegory; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.”
Paul is going to use this allegory now in this age of Grace so keep all this in mind as we go back now to Genesis and pick up the account in Chapter 21. First we have the conception of the boy Ishmael by the slave girl Hagar and his birth. And we find that Hagar taunts Sarai because she was with child and Sarai wasn’t, and we find that Sarai just literally kicks her out, whereupon the Lord sent her back. Why does God send her back? Because we know 18 years later she’s going to go back to that same desert. But you see God’s always got the big picture in mind. God doesn’t look at the here and now necessarily, but He can leap thousands of years in Scripture as though it were a day, and that’s exactly what He did here.
I think this whole scenario in the episode of these two sons, one by the slave girl and the son of promise was programmed by God so that Paul could use it as a tremendous lesson for you and I today. Now that’s the way I look at Scripture. None of this comes by accident. All right, as we carry on, we find Isaac is 5 years old and is weaned, and Ishmael is about 18 and again that same attitude of rebellion and taunt come in and now we find in verse 9 of Chapter 21-
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.”
In other words Ishmael was simply teasing that little 5 year old Isaac. And you know what teenagers can do with little `tail-enders,’ that’s what we call them. Ishmael was just making life miserable for little Isaac, and of course Sarah, who by then was 95, just couldn’t take it, and says –
“Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.”
Have you got the picture? Get him out of here. Now I always make the point – does she say move them next door? Does she say “send them down the trail a half mile?” No sir, but rather, “out of sight, out of mind.” Now we know in reality that Isaac and Ishmael did come back together for the funeral of Abraham. But spiritually speaking we know that there was no union between Ishmael. Isaac of course continues on in the spiritual line, and gets a wife from the relatives up in Syria. Ishmael on the other hand marries an Egyptian, just a total diversion of the genealogy of these two young men. But the part that I really want you to see back here in Chapter 21 is what the Scripture says –
“…Cast out this bondwoman and her son for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son even with Isaac.”
Now remember this is more than just the thought of a mother or a woman, this is now the Word of God. “Cast out this bondwoman.” Now I think we’re ready to go back to Galatians Chapter 4, and put the whole allegory into common sense interpretation. Why did all this happen? Well of course there is more than one reason. But one of which was so that Paul could use this very typical setting in that Middle Eastern desert economy of these families, and now he can bring it to such a lesson for us today. Now let’s come back again to verse 24 of Galatians Chapter 4. These two boys, one born after the flesh, the other born as a result of promise –
“Which things are an allegory: for these (2 young men) are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.”
So in reality what is spoken here as bondage. The Law! In fact come on over to Chapter 5 for a moment. We’ll be there later this afternoon in another lesson.
“…and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Now let’s see what the apostle Peter said about the Law. Come back to Acts Chapter 15, and pick up the text at that great Jerusalem counsel. This is when the Judaisers and the Jewish leaders, and that included Peter and the eleven, were coming down hard on the apostle Paul. Remember his message for teaching the Gentile believers was faith in the finished work of the Cross + nothing. But these at Jerusalem were trying to convince him that these Gentiles also had to practice circumcision and keeping the Law for them to be saved. (Acts 15:1-5) And we know that Paul adamantly refused to accept that.
And finally Peter wakes up, and I think the Holy Spirit gave him a big push, and he realizes that – “Hey, years ago up there in Caesarea, God used me to take the Word to a Gentile by the name of Cornelius.” We know that Peter witnessed the salvation of that Gentile, and again God had the long term in view, not the near, so God had Peter all primed and ready to come to Paul’s defense by using something that took place 12 years earlier. It doesn’t say 12 years here but chronologically that’s what it was.
“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them. Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.” Now look how Peter describes the Law in verse 10.
“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples (the believers up there at Antioch who had become believers of Paul’s Gospel) which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”
Now goodness sake what was the yoke? The Law! The Law was a yoke of bondage. I’ve always made the point that living under the Law was severe. For example if the poor old High Priest goofed in one little detail, what happened? He was dead! I don’t know how much truth there is to it, but you’ve all heard the account that the High Priest actually had a rope around his ankle when he went in behind the veil. Now if that be true I can see why, because if he would have goofed with any part of that ritual on the Day of Atonement, he was a dead man. And of course the Jew realized that was always a possibility so they had a rope on his feet to drag him out. They certainly couldn’t go back behind the veil and carry him out. But the point I’m making here is that the Law was SEVERE! It was like a yoke on the neck of an oxen, and a yoke is never an easy burden to bear, and that’s what the Law was. All right now coming back to Galatians Chapter 4 once again. Paul is using that same analogy, that the Law was the flesh, it was like a yoke, it only brought in bondage. Now verse 25 of Galatians 4.
“For this Agar is (typically now in the allegory) Mount Sinai in Arabia,…”
Now I guess you’ve heard me teach that I felt the apostle Paul spent three years at Sinai. What one great event do you always associate with Sinai in Arabia? The Ten Commandments. Now, that’s what Paul says. Hagar is a picture of the giving of the Ten Commandments on Sinai. Now let’s go on.
“…and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.”
Now here is where you have to know chronology. You’ve got to know history. What is the date, approximately, of the writing of Galatians? About 60 AD. When was the Temple destroyed? 70 AD. So ten years before the Temple is destroyed, what is going on in Jerusalem? Temple worship! Sacrifices every day. Hundreds and hundreds of them. The Temple was the very center of all Jewish activity at the time that Paul is writing Galatians. Am I making myself clear? So that is why Paul can say that Hagar speaks of the Law as it was given at Sinai, which was still indicative of Temple worship at the time that Paul was writing this letter to the Galatians. It all makes sense if you understand the timing.
“…and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.”
Now what is that referring to? The heavy hand of the Law! They were still under the demand of bringing sacrifices, of circumcising their children and all these things. The Law was full speed ahead in Jerusalem. Now verse 26, and what’s the first word?
One lady wrote and said, “That’s your favorite word.” Well, I guess maybe it is because it constantly shows that flip side. Whereas on the one hand Jerusalem was under the heavy hand of the Law and sacrificial worship and the Temple and all that and the flip side is what has now begun since Acts Chapter 9? The GRACE of God, without the Law. Now, you see they’re running in consort. That’s why I tell people constantly when they call me, “Look, for goodness sake don’t use the Book of Acts as a doctrinal base. The book of Acts is not a doctrinal book, it’s transitional from an historical point of God dealing with Israel to His turning to the Gentiles. That’s the Book of Acts. And just as soon as you try to go in there and dig out doctrine, you’re going to have problems. You take your doctrines for us to believe, Romans through Hebrews or Philemon, which are Paul’s letters and that’s where we get our basic doctrines. Acts is merely a book of transition. If I could just get people to see that! That answers so much confusion. The two economies are going to be running side by side for a period of time until the one drops away and the other takes over.
You’ve heard me say it on the program, I don’t know how many times, it’s just almost compared to a transition from one presidential administration to another. And I always like to use, because of their differences of ideology, Jimmy Carter’s administration and then Ronald Reagan’s. These two had totally different ideas and yet worked under the same Constitution. And so as soon as Ronald Reagan had won the election in November, up until the inauguration day in January, what’s going on in Washington? Are they passing a bunch of laws? Is there a lot being accomplished? No! Nothing! Everything just sort of comes to a standstill until we can make the transition from one administration to another.
Now, that’s the same thing that’s happening in the Book of Acts. You’re moving from that Jewish program, Temple worship, the Law, that Jesus was the Christ, the King, the Redeemer of Israel, and we’re moving over to Paul’s gospel of Grace through faith plus nothing. What a difference! Contradiction? No! Just a change of program. Now the same way, coming back to my two political administrations. Did they have to change the Constitution? No! Carter operated under the same Constitution that Reagan did. And so always take this into account that you don’t use the Book of Acts for a doctrinal book because you’re going to get thrown a curve almost every time. But you come into Paul’s letters and now that’s what follows the word “BUT” in verse 26.
“But Jerusalem which is above (not the earthly Jerusalem where the Temple is still cranking out her sacrifices, but now we have a spiritual setting in the heavenlies) is free, which is the mother of us all.” Now, come with me back to Colossians, Chapter 1 and then we’ll go to Philippians Chapter 3.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which has made us meet (or has prepared us) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; 13. Who (speaking of the Father) hath (past tense) delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”
Now where is the kingdom of His Son? Well, it’s in heaven. So we have now a heavenly base of operations. The Head of the Body is in heaven, and we are citizens of heaven. Now let’s go to Philippians Chapter 3. I hope you can tie all this together. The Temple at the time that Galatians is written is full speed ahead, I put it. The sacrifices are being offered, the Temple ritual is being followed, the priests are fulfilling all of the rituals every day. But at the same time since Paul has had his revelations, we have this total freedom of grace. Now let’s look at what Philippians says.
“For our conversation (citizenship. And where is it?) is in heaven;…”
How did it get there? When we’re translated into that kingdom of His dear Son, we became a what? A citizen of it. So where is our citizenship? Heaven! See the difference. It’s the Jerusalem which is above. Now let’s go back to Galatians Chapter 4.
“But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”
For us Grace Age believers, we’re not tied to the Temple worship in earthly Jerusalem, we’re tied to the heavenly Jerusalem which is above and it’s free. FREE!! With total liberty. Now verse 27 and this where we come back to Ishmael and Isaac. After all, that’s where the allegory rested.
“For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.”
Now my idea here is that this is speaking of Sarai, because she was the one who had never had childbirth. She was the one who was barren. Now the last half of the verse I have to feel, is speaking of Ishmael as being spiritually desolate. That has to be a reference to Hagar. And then again, look at the real world. Who ended up with far more progeny. The offspring of Ishmael or the offspring of Isaac? Ishmael did! The Arab world outnumbers the Jews today 50 to 1. And so it’s perfect. She that had a husband, which would have to refer to Sarai and Isaac, had far fewer in number than she who didn’t.
“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”
What kind of a promise? I’ll tell you what the promise was. That when Christ finished the work of redemption, what did God promise Him? That everyone who put their trust in what He had just accomplished would be His for all eternity. And God made the promise, that every believer would be His for all eternity. He didn’t die in vain. He’s not going to get near as many as we think He should, but the multitude that have become believers are His and no one can ever take them from Him.
“But as then he that was born after the flesh (Ishmael) persecuted him that was born after the Spirit (Isaac.) even so it is now.”
Has anything changed? No. It’s still the same. The unbelieving world outnumbers us, and I’m not going to put a percentage on it, but it’s by a tremendous amount. And what do they do? They are constantly trying to put us down. We’ve seen that in just the last few months. How that when a group will adhere to the Scripture, what does the world do? They just scream and holler. It’s always been that way. And it’s not going to change.
“Nevertheless (in spite of everything) what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son; (why?) for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”
The part that I want you to remember as you go to bed tonight, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son because” what are they a picture of ? Legalism!! If I’m not known for anything else by now, it’s that I hate, I detest legalism, because God does. And so the whole admonition of Scripture now is, that once you understand this Gospel of Grace, what do you do with legalism? You cast it out, just exactly like Abraham and Sarah sent Hagar and Ishmael into the desert. It was a beautiful picture. He didn’t build them a tent next door. He didn’t say, “Well let’s have consort even though we may not be in the same building.” No Sir! There had to be a total break between grace and legalism. And if you don’t remember anything else today, remember that. Cast out the bondwoman and her son for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. Then Paul puts the cap on it in verse 31.
“So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.” Paul just kept right on writing and so after he makes his point with the allegory, what does he say next?
“Stand fast therefore (because of what he has just shown us) in the (what’s the next word?) liberty…”
We Americans understand that more than any other people on earth, don’t we? Now, liberty isn’t license. It’s turning into that, sad to say, but it was never intended for liberty to be license. But nevertheless we stand now as free men and women under Grace and never, never give in to the horrors of legalism.