An Allegory

“Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants, One is From Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.” (Gal. 4:24)

Paul intends to use the information in verses 22 and 23 to teach a lesson relative to the law and the promise of Jesus. He will do that by making their respective stories allegories. Each of the women and their offspring will be compared to one of the two objects he is discussing, i.e., law and promise. Verses 24 and 25 will deal with Hagar and the rest of the chapter will deal with Sarah although she will not be named.

To begin with, Paul states that the mothers are representative of two covenants. In the allegory, they are two covenants not in real life. He begins with Hagar and her son Ismael. Immediately Paul uses distinct words which both link and describe Hagar in the allegory. First, he identifies her as a covenant and then explains which covenant she represents. She is the covenant made on Mount Sinai when God gave the law through angels to Moses. Second, he identifies her with slavery. This is an easy make because he has already established that she was a slave woman. Automatically, any children born to her were slaves as well.

If she is Mount Sinai then she is the law. If she represents the law covenant then the law produces slaves rather than free men. This is an important point and not particularly welcomed by a Jewish audience who are convinced that the law created them as the free people of God under a covenant that would endure forever. Paul is stating the opposite in this letter to the churches of Galatia. The law does not bring freedom and it was temporary. This temporary aspect of the law was hidden from the Jews and Paul talks about how that was done by Moses. Here is 2 Cor. 3:12, 13, “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end.”

This is an amazing verse because it states that the law was headed for an end as soon as it was given. This was somehow disguised in that the people could not see the truth of it on Moses’ face. God never intends for His people to stay in slavery as He proved by rescuing them from Egypt by Moses and again rescuing them from Moses by the Christ. The law produced slaves, not free men. To go back to the law is to return to slavery. Hagar was not allowed to stay in the camp with the free people, her son with the true heir.

We now know there were two covenants, one made before the other. The second covenant was a temporary one and could not replace the eternal nature of the first. Jews who wanted to live under that covenant would have no part of the second. They would ultimately have to choose between a covenant of slavery or a covenant of freedom. Law goes with slavery and grace goes with freedom. They are polarized by Paul and thus by God. God or idols, God or mammon, freedom or slavery, grace or law.

Task for Today: You have to choose between God or idols. You have to choose between God or mammon. God will not make the choice for you. Where is your heart calling you today? Is it lost in the world of man or the heaven of God? Every day we choose the Hagar’s of the world or the Sarah’s. You do not need an allegory to know that you have a choice between temporary and eternal. Make a careful choice.

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