[Nederlandse versie]

Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 4, verses 21 – 27

21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. 24 These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written:

“Be glad, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
shout for joy and cry aloud,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband.”

Abraham had two wifes. Sara: his old, infertile, lawful wife. And Hagar: the young Egyptian slave, against God’s intent taken to be the arch father’s wife, suggested by her madam. She gave birth to unlawful brood.

“Of a husband’s will”, not “of God” (John 1:13). Paul reasons: a ‘Hagar’s child’ must be someone who, out of disbelief, positions himself outside of God’s family. To Muslims, Ishmael’s mother is a role model. The matriarch learns to faithfully deal with adversity. Islam scholars see a connection between Hagar and ‘hijra’ (migration). Muhammad’s exodus to Medina on the 16th of July 622 –their year 0- anticipates Hagar’s migration to Mecca. The story of her son who nearly emaciates, takes place at and is re-enacted yearly at the well of Zamzam.

Christians do not pray towards the subsequently conquered Mecca. Neither do they kneel down in front of open windows towards the long ago destroyed Jerusalem (Dan. 6:11). They direct themselves towards the Father in heaven. On his right hand is seated as King “the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb. 12:24). This one child of Sara leads to the mother of many children: Jerusalem there above. The status of being offspring of Isaac or Ishmael no longer matters. The church shelters Jew, Greek and many an Arabian.

Paul recalls the prophecy of Isaiah. He envisaged it already: Israel will recur from its sinful footsteps and will settle all over the place (Is. 54:1-3). The  books of Moses and the prophets already witness of acquittal for whoever believes in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21). Jerusalem rejected Him as unlawful rabbi. It is up to the church to cherish her Christian freedom.

Could a Christian behave him/herself as “child of Hagar”? How do people become sons and daughters of the heavenly Jerusalem?
Psalm to read/sing 113: 7-9

He raises outcasts from the dust
And from the ash-heap lifts the poor,
Exalting them to dignity,
With noblemen to sit secure.
The childless woman he’ll reward
With home and children. Praise the LORD!