Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 4 Study # 4
Thesis: Hagar, as the covenant from Sinai, is the classic illustration of a mother whose children are born into a negative form of bondage.
Introduction: In our last study we considered the issue of what Paul means by "the standard of flesh" as his description of the birth of the son of the bondmaid. We saw that its bottom line is "man's attempt to fulfill his desire to be God". By definition, "God" is the Executor of Power Whose use of power is always in view of His Grand Plan. That there is a "grand plan" means that creation is moving toward an ultimate achievement. That there was a child born to a bondmaid under this "standard" directly means that Abraham had taken the bit in his teeth in terms of this "grand plan" at least in terms of the "how" (How will God's Grand Plan be achieved?) if not the "what" (What is God trying to accomplish?). The standard of flesh invariably posits multiple false issues. The first, and most corrupting, is the misidentification of the "ultimate achievement" -- what creation exists to bring to pass. The second, following hard on the heels of the first, is the misimplementation of a workable means to the given "end". And the third false issue is the invariably deceitful follow up of the false means with "rational explanation". Abraham failed in the realm of "faith" by switching over to "the standard according to flesh" by 1) identifying the possession of a "son" as a greater objective than God's "ultimate achievement"; 2) implementing a process to obtain that son that was in direct contradiction of divine revelation; and 3) allowing his behavior to be described as legitimate both before and after the fact. Thus, the standard of the flesh will always be man attempting to take over God's place by means of a false goal, a false method, and a false explanation both before and after the fact.
Because Paul's use of the allegory is a confrontation of "the false explanation after the fact", we need to be clear on his meaning. He is attempting to correct the Galatians descent into falsehood at the level of explanation so that we are going to be exposed to the details of both a birth that is "according to the standard of flesh" and a birth that is "through promise". This evening we are going to look into Hagar as the classic illustration of a mother whose children are born into slavery.
November 25, 2012
- I. Hagar as a Representative of the Covenant From Sinai That Produces Slaves.
- A. Hagar as a "covenant".
- 1. The forceful characterization of a "covenant" as a way to ensure a minimum of conflict after confirmation (3:15) means that "Hagar" represents a "confirmed agreement" that will ensure its intended purpose.
- 2. That the forceful characterization applies to all covenants means that "Hagar" has a downline place in God's Grand Plan that does not, in any way, subvert any/all previous covenant(s).
- 3. That "Hagar" existed as a representative of a later covenant that does not subvert the former one(s) means that God has a particular objective for the covenant that is Hagar.
- 4. Thus, "Hagar" illustrates a reality that is sufficiently important as to require a formal covenant.
- B. Hagar as that covenant that was confirmed at Sinai.
- 1. "Sinai" is identified by its use in the New Testament as significant for two reasons.
- a. Acts 7:30 tells us that it was in the wilderness of Sinai that Yahweh appeared to Moses at the burning bush at the point when Yahweh set His plan of the deliverance of the nation from slavery into motion.
- b. Acts 7:38 tells us that it was at Sinai that the angelically-rooted covenant was established that produced the living oracles that Israel refused in their hearts so that they could, at least in the heart, return to the slavery of Egypt.
- c. Taken together, "Sinai" emphatically refers to the issue of "slavery" as an issue of "agency" that Israel both hated and loved: a classic illustration of a divided heart and the absence of the joy of life.
- 2. As a representative of "Sinai", "Hagar" fit the bill for Paul's allegory of the antagonism of men toward God, which is the essence of "the standard of flesh".
- a. Yahweh sought to deliver His people.
- b. His people sought to be delivered from Yahweh.
- c. Hagar stands as the classic example of man's deeply rooted antagonism toward Yahweh.
- C. Hagar as a producer of bondage.
- 1. The verb describing Hagar's activity focuses upon "conception/birth" issues as determinative of the future state of the children.
- 2. The fundamental issue is "bondage" (the condition of being a "doulos"; abject slave) as a negative reality.
- a. The root issue of "bondage" is the experience of enduring, incremental loss without any kind of resolution toward joy.
- 1) Both "freedom" and "bondage" have far more to do with the internal state of a person's heart, mind, spirit, and soul than with the external circumstances and the issues of what the body actually "does": where there is joy there is freedom and where there is grief there is bondage.
- 2) Being in "bondage" is, by linkage to the issue of "covenant", being outside of the activity of the God of Promise so that one cannot, by any personal means, get "into" the issues of "Promise": in other words, "bondage" is being held under something that keeps the one "bound" from being able to participate in the blessing of Abraham.
- b. The "bondage" is theological and extremely real. It is the way men think that makes them "bound" or "free" and "theology" is the root of all thought.
- 3. Hagar represents the descent into grief without remedy.
- D. Hagar as "Hagar".
- 1. The name means "flight" or "one put to flight" as in "cast out the bondwoman and her son" (Galatians 4:30).
- 2. The name has a definitive historical/theological setting.
- a. History.
- 1) In Genesis 16:1 we are told that Hagar was an Egyptian who was Sarah's handmaid.
- 2) In Genesis 12:16 we are told that Pharaoh gave Abram, among other things, "handmaids" because of Sarai (NASB).
- 3) The implication is very strong that it was Abram's decision to go to Egypt and lie about Sarai that created the present reality of an Egyptian handmaid in his household who came to be the mother of Ishmael because of yet another failure of faith on Abram's part.
- b. Theology.
- 1) Hagar was Satan's secret "plant" in the household so that he could corrupt the world through unbelief.
- 2) The larger picture is that of the adversary's skill in making use of the failures of faith to corrupt the divine plans inasmuch as it is possible to so do (Hagar became the inserted "thorn" whose presence created a festering sore that has erupted into the present day Israeli/Islamic conflict as the sons of Isaac are surrounded by, and persecuted by, the sons of Ishmael).