Sabbath School Lesson Review 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 10
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 10 Friday
So Paul goes on, referring to the Judaizers now; “They make much of you, these people who insist on making you go back under all these old rules, but for no good purpose.” Does that mean they were flattering them, and buttering them up so as to win them over?
“They want to shut you out, that you in turn might make much of them,” and accept their leadership, I assume. “For a good purpose it is always good to be made much of, and not only when I am present with you. My little children with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you, I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.”
That seems clear enough, doesn’t it? “Tell me, you who desire to be under law, do you not hear the law?” Now those two words are the same in the original, but they mean something different here, don’t they? “Do you not hear the law,” is going to be listening to the story about Abraham and his two sons.
So there ‘the law’ would mean the first five books, the Pentateuch. “Do you not hear the story in the Old Testament?” Whereas the first part is the familiar ‘being under law’ that we’ve often discussed; being under a legal system. “For it is written in the law”, in Genesis, that “Abraham had two sons; one by a slave, and one by a freewoman, but the son of the slave was born according to the flesh; the son of the freewoman through promise.”
Now this is an allegory, he says. “These women are two covenants. One is from Mt. Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mt Sinai in Arabia. She corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written ‘Rejoice oh barren one that does not bare. Break forth and shout thou who art not in travail, for the desolate hath more children than she who have a husband.’ Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he that was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the spirit, so it is now. But what does the scripture say? Cast out the slave and her son. For the son of the slave shall not inherit, but the son of the freewoman.
So brethren,” is his conclusion, “we are not children of the slave, but of the freewoman.” Once again, don’t you think his contrast is clear? But one could stop and wonder how much can be read into each one of these phrases. These were familiar pictures to them. Isn’t it a contrast between trying to do things in your own way by human devising?
See, Abraham knew a lot about God’s intentions and plans, even His promise, and then sought to fulfill them in his own way. And with his wife’s advice, he took Hagar, and they had a son, and they said, “God, I hope this is what you had in mind.” And God said, “No it isn’t. I wish you’d waited and let me work this out.”
So wouldn’t the contrast be very clear? Again, between trusting God enough to let Him do it in His way, and between stepping in and doing it our own way, which is what the legalist is inclined to do.
Now he contrasts the two covenants. Wouldn’t that bring things to their mind that would help them understand this section? One covenant is described as Sinai, compared with the present Jerusalem and its children. And he said, “They’re not free; they’re in bondage, they’re under law, when they ought to be under grace, if only they could accept the truth about our gracious God.”
So isn’t this again faith versus works; the promise of God, against man’s efforts? Having the law in one’s heart, where one does his thinking; and that’s intelligent obedience—and having the law on tables of stone, and not really in the heart. If they’d read Jeremiah, they’d know about this, wouldn’t they, and many other places in the Old Testament?
I keep thinking, especially as I read through for this time; in fact more with Galatians almost than with Romans, try to think of the audience listening, and wondering what they could read into this. Now if they were just steeped in the Old Testament, this wouldn’t be so difficult, would it?
It’s like reading the book of Revelation. If one has read the preceding 65, the 66th is not so complicated. Imagine reading #66 without the others, heads and horns and horses and trumpets, and all sorts of strange symbols. But if you’ve read all the other books, you’re familiar with these symbols; there’s hardly a new one there, in the last book.
So I think we would do right here to assume that some members of this audience, especially those with a Jewish background—they knew their Old Testament. And Paul was building on this, like in the choice of this allegory here. And I would assume that for many of them, the message came through clearly. In fact, if you stop between 21 and 31, it’s difficult. If you read it all the way through, the contrast is repeated, isn’t it?
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