HAGAR

God promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a son through whom God would build a nation that would be his people. When Sarah was unable to bear children for Abraham, she suggested he try to produce a son through their Egyptian slave-girl, Hagar. Any child so born would legally belong to Abraham and Sarah (Gen 16:1-3). Abraham followed Sarah’s suggestion, with the result that Hagar bore him a son, Ishmael. God made it clear, however, that this was not the child he had promised (Gen 17:15-19). Ishmael would have a notable line of descendants, but God’s covenant people would come through the child of Sarah yet to be born, Isaac (Gen 17:20-21). Years later, after the birth of Isaac, trouble arose between Sarah and Hagar. This resulted in the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael from Abraham’s household (Gen 21:8-14). In the New Testament Paul uses the story of Sarah and Hagar to illustrate the conflict that exists between those who are God’s children through faith in his promises and those who are slaves to the law of Moses. The two cannot live together. Just as Abraham’s household had no place for the slave Hagar, so God’s family has no place for those who are slaves to the law (Gal 4:21-31).

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