• James McMaster

Children of Slavery or Children of Promise?


In Galatians 4 the Apostle Paul makes reference to two women who produced children for Abraham. One was his legitimate wife, Sarah, the other a slave girl named Hagar. As strange as it may seem to us today, having a second wife at the time of Abraham was an accepted practice, especially if your first wife wasn’t producing a much needed heir. This was Sarah’s situation, so it was actually her who suggested that Abraham take an additional wife who, hopefully, could deliver the goods.


Hagar did indeed supply the cargo and little Ishmael was born. However, God made it clear that His promise was that Abraham and Sarah would produce a child together- despite Sarah’s advanced age. To the naked eye this really did seem impossible but ‘with God all things are possible!’ Hence, in due course little Isaac was born.

Being the great teacher that he was, Paul takes up this story and symbolically uses it to teach a lesson; all people are either little Isaacs or little Ishmaels. They are either ‘Sons of the God’s promise’ or ‘sons of slavery’.


A son of slavery lives a life dependent upon all that he can see, touch or feel in this world. This is a life totally this-world focused; chasing after pleasure, money, food, sex and anything that promises pleasure (but never truly satisfies).


A Son of Promise is anyone who is determined not to live by what they can see, but by what God has promised in His Word. This is to live by a faith which rises above and beyond this world, with its very momentary pleasures, and looks to Jesus Christ. Because Jesus has gone on record to promise that all who look to him in faith will receive eternal life.


One of the above mentioned sons, despite reaching for the stars, ends up nothing but a slave. The other has a destiny which goes far beyond the stars.

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