Galatians 4.21-26 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: 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.
Hebrews 11.13-16 (speaking of Abraham, Sara, Isaac, and Jacob) These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Starting in the Garden, God made promises to man. His first promise was that we would surely die if we disobeyed.
After Adam and Eve disobeyed, God blessed them with many promises. He has continued to give and repeat promises throughout His Word.
Chief among His promises are blessings for obedience.
When God called Abram out to a strange land, Abram fully obeyed in faith. God counted Abram’s faith as righteousness (Romans 4.9).
God calls all of us out of our land. He does not want us to live in man-made environments. He has bigger and better plans for us. Like Abraham, if we obey, we will live in the freedom of His promises.
Abraham had opportunity to look back, to pine for what he was missing (Hebrews 11.15). But his desire for God was greater than his desire for whatever he was leaving behind.
When God promised Abraham a son, he must have been overjoyed. His faith was greater than Sara’s, but he allowed Sara to convince him to follow a human way instead of waiting on God. That’s like building your house on sand. It can’t stand up to the storms of life.
When Ishmael was born, Abraham loved him. Ishmael was, in Abraham’s eyes, his first-born. Abraham delighted in Ishmael.
But Ishmael was not the son of the Promise, he was the son of the flesh (Galatians 4.23). When it’s not God’s Way, it’s not going to work out God’s way. It can’t, when we’ve built it ourselves.
And therein lies the bondage. Abraham allowed his heart to become bonded to the son of his flesh. It was hard to let go when God told him to; but he did. Abraham remained faithful to God, and did not follow after his flesh or his disobedience. He didn’t look back.
He (and we) still suffered the consequences of his sin; that was passed down through the generations, in wars and disputes. But God led Abraham, in obedience, to the promise of the blessing in Isaac. That was built upon the Rock.
Do you have cherished possessions or people that are created from the flesh? Are you tightly holding onto something that is not related to God’s promise? Have you been working for God, and finding out that it was all your idea, and it’s not what He wanted at all?
It’s hard to let these things go. When it’s our “baby,” something we’ve worked so hard for, it’s hard to let all that energy and pride and time and money just – GO!
Paul said, in Philippians 3.7, 8 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.
Can you change your lenses, your perspective, to see how God sees things? He loves you, and wants all His promises for you to come true. Don’t stand in His way. Don’t keep up a wall of your own building just because you built it and think it’s beautiful. Let God tear down that wall so that you may see beyond it to the beautiful freedom God has for you.
Just as Abraham obeyed God and let Hagar and Ishmael go, you can, in faith, let go of your fleshly works. God will give you the strength and desire if you humble yourself under His mighty hand. He will lift you up (James 4.10).
There may come surprises, pleasant and unpleasant once you give up your works and start building according to God’s plan. But God is the refiner’s fire. He will make a way.