Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jerusalem, Mother of Us All

I need help understanding Galatians 4:26, 28.

Galatians 4:26, 28
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all…Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

From my understanding, Jerusalem pertains to Israel coming back in the New Jerusalem.  Here Paul says that it is the mother of us all.  Then in verse 28 Paul says we are as Isaac – the children of promise.  These two verses make it sound like we are heirs of it (Jerusalem) like Israel. 

Always remember that when you read a verse you must keep it in context; especially Galatians 4:26.  Notice that it begins with ‘but.’  When a verse starts with the word ‘but,’ it is obviously in contrast to what the writer just said.  So before we look at Galatians 4:26, let’s look at the context.

Galatians 4:21-28
21Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

The book of Galatians has to do with legalism—mixing Law and grace.  Paul gave these saints the grace message, but they allowed the Law to come in to be their governing body of doctrine.  Paul is getting on them because as he said in chapter 1, they were so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel which is not another (Gal. 1:6-7).  So Paul is getting on them because they’re mixing Law and grace.  That is a problem because we’re not under the law; we’re under grace (Rom. 6:14).  This is the dispensation of grace (Eph. 3:2).
So in that context, Paul is going to use an allegory.

22 For it is written [he tells them to look at what the Law is saying since they want to be under the Law], that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

God, through Paul, goes back to Genesis 16 and the story of Abraham (Abram) who has his wife Sarai and her handmaid Hagar.  The one, Hagar, is a bondmaid; the other, Sarai, is a freewoman.  One is in bondage; one is free.  That is the key: the Law represents bondage; grace represents freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

One is liberty; one is bondage.  Abraham had two sons.  One son (Isaac) comes out of freedom (Sarai).  He comes out of liberty.   One of Abraham’s sons (Ishmael) comes out of bondage.

23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh;... 

When Abraham and Hagar had Ishmael, it was not the will of Almighty God; that was of Abraham’s flesh; that was of sinful flesh.  The fruit of that union was of the flesh.

...but he of the freewoman was by promise.

Isaac came directly from a promise given by Almighty God.  He was ‘born of the Spirit.’  God gave Abram and Sarai the ability to conceive Isaac (Rom. 4:19; Heb. 11:11, 12).  Isaac was by promise—free. 

24 Which things are an allegory [they paint a picture]: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

The temporary Mosaic Covenant is represented by Hagar and Ishmael – Mount Sinai.

25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia...

Hagar represents Mount Sinai where the Law and bondage was given.

 ...and answereth to Jerusalem which now is,

It pertains to Jerusalem in Paul’s day.  Jerusalem was then under the Romans and was in bondage physically, but more importantly it was in bondage spiritually.  They were under the curse of the Law; they were in bondage.  All these represent bondage and the Law:  Hagar, Ishmael, Mount Sinai, Jerusalem which was under Roman bondage and the bondage of the Law.

 and is in bondage with her children.

The Jews were in bondage under the Romans and to the Law.

26 But Jerusalem [In contrast to the Jerusalem that was on the earth and in bondage under the Law] which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

The New Jerusalem which is above is free; there is no bondage in New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:2
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Remember when Paul said that God separated him from his mother’s womb and called him by his grace in Galatians 1:15?  Paul wasn’t talking about his biological mother; he was talking about his mother Israel, particularly Jerusalem—the center for the Law.  God separated Paul out of that.

A mother represents the place from which life springs forth.

Genesis 3:20
And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

The life of freedom springs forth from where God is; he is in New Jerusalem.  That is why he says she is the mother of us all.  The ‘us all’ has to do with both Jews and Gentiles in the body of Christ.  He is talking about the grace believer today.

By the way, Paul quotes a lot of Old Testament passages because there are Jews in the Galatian assembly who were easily being drawn back into the Law.

27 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.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

God promised Abraham that he would multiply his seed as the stars of heaven and as the sand upon the sea shore:

Genesis 22:17
That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

What we now know looking back is that ‘as the stars of the heaven’ refers to the church the body of Christ.  Abraham’s seed would be in two spheres.  The ‘sand upon the sea shore’ is the earthly seed of Israel.  Remember that Romans 4 makes it clear that Abraham has a dual fathership.  He is the father of the Jewish people – the circumcision.  He is also the father of those who are uncircumcised.  God made a promise to Abraham before he was ever circumcised.

Romans 4:8-12
8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin [whose iniquities are forgiven]9Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also…

Paul is asking the Jews in particular whether the Jews (the circumcision) were the only ones who would receive this blessedness, or would the uncircumcised gentiles receive it too?  Watch how he builds his case.

…for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

We do say that.  Abraham’s faith was accounted to him for righteousness (Gal. 3:6).  But watch what Paul does; he throws a monkey wrench into the Jews’ thinking by asking when God did that.  When did Almighty God reckon our father Abraham’s faith to him as righteousness?  Did it come before he was circumcised or after?  Paul is going to remind the Jewish reader that when God counted Abraham as righteous, it wasn’t after he was circumcised.  The Jews rested in their circumcision.  He says no it wasn’t after he was circumcised; it was before.

10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision?

When did God reckon his faith as righteousness?  Before he was circumcised?  Paul says before.

...Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

When God reckoned Abraham righteous he was an uncircumcised gentile.  He says that the whole reason God gave circumcision in the first place was for a token or sign of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was yet uncircumcised.  The point of giving Abraham circumcision in the flesh made by hands (Eph. 2:11) was to show that even before he was circumcised, he had faith.  So Paul is taking us back to the original faith of Abraham in uncircumcision.  That is what we are as gentiles (the uncircumcision).

11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: [here is the purpose] that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised [gentiles]; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

Even the Jews (the circumcision) had to follow in the faith footsteps of father Abraham’s faith – not his faith after circumcision, but his faith before.  Interesting!  That is how Paul presents it.  James presents it a little bit differently (James 2:21-23); but you have to rightly divide the two operating principals.  One is the focus of Paul’s epistles in the dispensation of grace and the other is from James who was under the Law.

+ + + +

So Abraham has a dual fatherhood, but ‘mother of us all’ has to do with the New Jerusalem.

Galatians 4:26
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

You stated that Jerusalem pertains to Israel; that is true for the earthly Jerusalem.  And it is true that the New Jerusalem will also be made available to the nation of Israel.

Revelation 21:9-10
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.  And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

When we rightly divide God’s word we know from the mystery that the New Jerusalem is not only reserved for the people of Israel.  If we focus only on Prophecy outside of Paul’s epistles, we see that it is associated with the Jew.  But now we have further truth from Paul about New Jerusalem.

We know from John that it extends 1,500 miles into the heavenly places (Rev. 21:16).  It is probably shaped like a pyramid similar to a mountain.  It is called Mt. Zion (Ps. 48:2).  What I see from scripture is that we will live in the New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 2:19
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

God the Father lives at the very top of the New Jerusalem.  Zion literally means the highest point.  The body of Christ will live with him near his throne in his temple.  We know through the revelation of the mystery that New Jerusalem is not just associated with Israel, but also with the body of Christ; we will share it.  We will live in the penthouse section at the top.  Israel will occupy the lower part of New Jerusalem on the earth.

Galatians 4:28
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

Just like God promised Abraham and Sarah a child and he made it happen; we too are the children of promise—the multiplied seed as the stars of the heavenBoth Israel and the body of Christ are a part of the household of God.  We will both live with our Lord in New Jerusalem.  Our Father lives in the city called New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 11:10
For he [Abraham] looked for a city [New Jerusalem] which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

And we will too.  I want you to understand that in prophecy, Israel is the focus in regard to Jerusalem (the city of Jehovah’s peace).  In the mystery, we too will be a part of it because we will live with our Father.  New Jerusalem will not be exclusive to Israel because we are part of the household of God with them.  One part is for the heavens, the body of Christ; and the other part, Israel, is for the earth.

Hopefully this helps!

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