Abraham Had Two Sons

Posted by on Nov 12, 2006

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

November 12, 2006

Sunday Morning

“Abraham Had Two Sons”

Scripture Text: Galatians 4:21-31



A.   Every now and then I will come across someone who is of the opinion that, as far as believers today are concerned, the Old Testament is irrelevant.

1. Some even go so far as to say that the New Testament is all that we need today, and there is absolutely no reason to read or study the Old Testament.

2. This, of course, is absurd.

3. While certain parts of the Old Testament, such as the law that God gave to Moses, do not apply directly to believers today, the Old Testament is certainly not irrelevant!

4. In fact, there are certain parts of the New Testament that are impossible to understand without a knowledge of the Old Testament.


B.   Let me give you an example.

1. In 1 Pet. 1:19 we are told that, as believers, we are redeemed “…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

2. Did you notice how Peter described Jesus?

3. He described Him as “…a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

4. Now if you have absolutely no knowledge of the Old Testament, you are going to be clueless as to what that means.

5. Why? Because Peter here is comparing Jesus to the Old Testament Passover lamb.

6. The point is, in order to understand 1 Pet. 1:19, which is a New Testament verse, you absolutely must be familiar with Exo. 12:1-13, which is an Old Testament passage.

7. And so, certain parts of the New Testament are impossible to understand without at least a partial knowledge of the Old Testament.


C.   This is most certainly true of our text, this morning. As we begin to examine our text more closely, the first thing that I want us to notice is…


I.       The Story Behind Our Text.


A.   Our story begins with a promise that God made to Abraham all the way back in Gen. 12:2, where God said, “…I will make of thee a great nation.”

1. In other words, “Abraham, I’m going bless you and Sarah with many descendants, so that your grandchildren will become a mighty nation.”

2. This was not the only time that God made this promise to Abraham.

3. This same promise was reaffirmed in Gen. 15:5, where God said, “…Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”

4. In other words, “Abraham, just look up at the stars. Can you count the stars, Abraham? That’s how many grandchildren I am going to give you, so many that you won’t be able to count them.”

5. And, so our story begins with a promise that God made to Abraham, a promise to give him many descendants.


B.   However, there came a time when Abraham and Sarah began to have some doubts about God’s ability to keep His promise.

1. You see, Sarah was getting quite old, and she still had not given Abraham any children.

2. That was when Sarah came up with this “brilliant” idea to give her handmaid, a slave girl named Hagar, to Abraham as a second wife, so that Abraham could have a child by her.

3. You can read all about this in Gen. 16.

4. Well, Abraham “hearkened unto the voice” of Sarah, took Hagar to be a second wife, and soon bare a son by her. (Gen. 16:2)

5. You might remember that they named the boy, Ishmael.


C.   Was Ishmael the son whom God had promised to Abraham?

1. Absolutely not!

2. We know that Ishmael was not the promised son, because in Gen. 21:1, we are told that “the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.”

3. In other words, God finally kept His promise and Sarah conceived a son of her own.

4. You might remember that they named this boy, Isaac.

5. Now Isaac was the promised son, not Ishmael.

6. In fact, not long after Isaac was weaned, God spoke to Abraham and told him to “cast out this bondwoman and her son.” (Gen. 21:10-12)


D.   Now there are at least two very important lessons that we should learn from this story.

1. First of all, we should learn that is God does not need our help to keep His promises. (Amen?)

2. If you stop and think about it for a moment, that’s exactly what Abraham and Sarah tried to do, they tried to help God keep his promise. But God doesn’t need our help.

3. After Ishmael was born, God appeared to Abraham again in Gen. 17:1, and the first thing he told him was, “I am the Almighty God.”

4. In other words, Abraham, I don’t need your help.

5. A second lesson we should learn is that while God keeps every promise He makes, He does so according to His timetable and not ours.

6. This is why we must learn to wait upon Him.


E.   And so, this is the story behind our text. Now I want us to consider…


II       The Symbolism Behind The Story.


A.   Notice again Vrs. 21-24 of our text, “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?…For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman….But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise….Which things are an allegory:”

1. Did you notice the word “allegory.”

2. The word “allegory” means a “symbol” or a “symbolic representation.”

3. He said, “Abraham had two sons.”

4. One of his sons was by a “bondwoman” (Hagar).

5. The other son was by a “freewoman” (Sarah).

6. The son of the bondwoman, of course, was Ishmael.

7. The son of the freewoman, was Isaac.

8. Then Paul said this, “Which things are an allegory.”

9. In other words, Ishmael and Isaac are symbolic representations of something.


B.   “Representations of what?” someone asks.

1. Well, let’s read on, beginning with Vrs. 24, “Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar….For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children….But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”

2. In other words, Hagar and her son, Ishmael, represent the law.


3. Just like Ishmael was the son of a slave (Hagar), those who place themselves under the law of Moses place themselves under slavery.

4. Sarah, on the other hand, and her son, Isaac, represent God’s covenant of grace.

5. Just like Isaac was the son of a free woman (Sarah), those who place their faith in Christ are made spiritually free.

6. Notice again Vrs. 28 of our text, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”


C.   I think what Paul is getting at here is very clear.

1. He’s asking these Galatians a question, “Why would those who are children of the freewoman want to be identified with those who are children of the bondwoman? Why would those who have been freed from the bondage of sin want to identify themselves with those who are still living under spiritual bondage? It just doesn’t make any sense!”

2. Again, this is why Paul wrote, “I marvel!” (Gal. 1:6)

3. Paul was absolutely flabbergasted that these Galatian believers had allowed false teachers to bring them back under bondage.


D.   Did you notice, that in addition to the symbolism that we see in Ishmael and Isaac, there is another allegory here.

1. We saw it in Vrs. 25-26.

2. Look at those verses again, “For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children….But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”

3. Paul mentions two Jerusalem’s here, the “Jerusalem which now is,” and the “Jerusalem which is above.”

4. In these verses, Paul compares the present Jerusalem to the Old Covenant (law), and the new Jerusalem to the New Covenant (grace).

5. By the way, this is why I am far more interested in seeing the New Jerusalem than I am in visiting the Old Jerusalem.

6. If you visit the Old Jerusalem today, you won’t find Jesus there, but listen to what John had to say about the New Jerusalem in Rev. 21:2-3, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband….And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he (Jesus) will dwell with them.”


E.   And so, that is the symbolism behind the story. Now, finally, this morning, I want us to consider…


III.    The Summons Given To The Galatian Believers.


A.   Notice again Vrs. 30 of our text, “Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”

1. You might remember that soon after Isaac was weaned, Ishmael began “mocking” him. (Gen. 21:9)

2. When Sarah saw this, she told Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son.” (Gen. 21:10)

3. While Abraham hesitated initially, God spoke to him and told him to do as Sarah had said.

4. And so, Abraham obeyed God and sent Ishmael and his mother away.


B.   Why would Paul bring this up in his letter to the Galatians?

1. It was a summons to action.

2. It was like Paul was saying, “Just like Abraham cast out the bondwoman and her son, even so should you cast out the false teachers who have caused you so much grief.”

3. Notice again Vrs. 31 of our text, Paul said, “So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”


4. “We are not slaves to the law of Moses, but rather because of our faith in Christ, we are children of the God who has set us free!’

5. “Therefore, cast out those false teachers who have led you to believe otherwise!”


C.   You know, under normal circumstances a New Testament church is encouraged to take people in, not cast them out.

1. However, there are times when we are commanded to do just the opposite.

2. When we have those within our church who pose a threat to the spiritual well being of the church, for the good of the church as a whole, we should cast them out.

3. Do you remember what Paul told the believers in Corinth concerning the unrepentant brother who was engaged in an incestuous relationship?

4. In 1 Cor. 5:6-7 we read, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?…Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump.”


D.   That’s exactly what those Galatian believers needed to do with the false teachers who had infiltrated their churches, they needed to cast them out!



A.   As I close, this morning, sometimes we have things in our lives that need to be cast out.

1. For example, we read in Eph. 4:31, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:”

2. Is there something in your life, this morning, something that poses a threat to your spiritual well being, that needs to be cast out?

3. If so, will you act this morning?


B.   Do you know Christ as your Savior?