Month 4:25, Week 4:3 (Shleshi/Bikkurim), Year 5935:110 AM|
Omer Count Day 47/50
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 26 July 2011
Between Hagar and Sarah
The Old and New Covenants Explained
Trying to make sense of everything going on around you and in your life may very likely give you a headache. Though we cannot appreciate it, there is a reason for everything, even failures. If you had been Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, would you have dreamed remotely that your marriage would be ordained by Yahweh to become an objective teaching lesson to all humanity to show the difference between doing things in our own strength and in Yahweh's? The story of Hagar the bondwoman might appear to be an 'accident' or a 'misjudgment' on the part of Abraham but who would today doubt the importance of it in showing us, thousands of years later, what is accomplished using man's own limited capabilities in contrast with that of the freewoman that shows us what can be done through the miracle-working power of Yahweh. More, the story teaches us the real difference between two covenants - the Old and the New - and clearly puts to rest one of the messianic movement's myths that the 'New' is merely a 'Renewed' Old one. Can Sarah be viewed as a 'renewed' Hagar or was she a completely different person? The Old and New Covenants are as different as these two women, which is why they are so graphically contrasted.
"Tell me, you who desire to be under the Torah (Law), do you not hear the Torah (Law)? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one (Ishmael) by a bondwoman (shifchah, Hagar), the other (Isaac) by a freewoman (gevirah, Sarah). But he (Ishmael) who was of the bondwoman (shifchah, Hagar) was born according to the flesh, and he (Isaac) of the freewoman (gevirah, Sarah) through promise (havtachah), which things are symbolic (derech mashal). For these are the two covenants (beritot): the one from Mount Sinai (Old Covenant) which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar -- for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children -- but the Jerusalem above (New Jerusalem, Heaven) is free (Bat Chorin, Daughter of Freedom), which is the mother of us all (Imma lechulanu). For it is written:
"Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise (Bnei haHavtacha, Sons of Promise). But, as he who was born according to the flesh (basar) then persecuted him who was born according to the Ruach [haQodesh] ([Holy] Spirit), even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? 'Cast out the bondwoman and her son (Gen.21:10), for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.' So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman (Bnei Haamah, Sons of the Slave Woman) but of the free (Bnei haKhofshi'Yah, Sons of Lady Freedom)" (Gal.4:21-31, NKJV).
'Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labour!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.' (Is.54:1)
There are still Christians and Messianics living the Old Covenant who think they are living the New or 'Renewed' one. They may not be following all the Old Covenant ordinances (such as Levitical Priesthood-administered animal sacrifices) but they are still living it in spirit because they are living after the flesh. Hagar and Sarah represent lesser and greater paths, respectively, and we choose the one or the other based on our emunah (faith, trusting) or lack of it. Paul, in looking at the lives of Hagar and Sarah, made a midrash for us to evaluate the difference between the Old and New Covenants; but Yahweh made Hagar and Sarah to be teaching aids for us today and forever. Their lives became a living drama to enable us, through interacting with them, to learn emet (truth). For we learn principally by contrasts in this mortal sphere.
Every mistake you make is a lesson for someone who knows you not to emulate, and every correct choice something to copy. That's the way it works, with the lessons of both the living and the dead. So what is the instruction in today's passage of Scripture? What are we supposed to learn in contrasting these two wives of Abraham? It's simple:
I repeat, those who wish to 'renew' the Old Covenant are claiming they can transform Hagar into Sarah. But Paul says this is impossible. Twice Scripture says, "Get rid of Hagar and her son Ishmael" - out of the set-apart camp, the holy place reserved for Messiah: that Covenant has to go - lock, stock, and barrel.
"Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for by no means will the son of the slave woman inherit along with the son of the free woman" (Gal.4:30, JNT; cp. Gen.21:10).
Why, then, are so many desperate to cling on to the older, former or earlier covenant initiated at Sinai? Why do they insist upon rejecting Sarah in a futile bid to transform Hagar? Because they are carnal and will not accept Yahweh's ways. They want to hang onto their culture and traditions which they perceive as part of their identity, failing to understand that being in Messiah is to change your identity, and obeying His Torah is change your culture and lifestyle. They want to turn the earthly Jerusalem - the one in the Middle east - into the Heavenly Jerusalem with their own hands, like the builders of the Tower of Babel of old, so that they can make a name for themselves, glorying in their own labours instead of Yahweh's supernatural, spiritual ones (see Jacob's Trouble). We have to totally let go of that mindset for it exalts man and not Elohim (God).
Now I am not, of course, saying that Elohim (God) is telling us to cast out the commandments and Torah, Yah forbid! The Torah and the former Covenant are not the same thing. Yah'shua (Jesus) did not come to destroy the Torah but to bring it to completion. But the Agreement or Covenant made at Sinai is over, along with its administering Levitical (Aaronic) Priesthood. The New Covenant is under the administration of the Melchizedek Priesthood, as explained in the Book of Hebrews.
Or as another translation puts it, "Messiah has freed us for freedom" (JNT). What has He freed us from? The Old Covenant as represented by its sign or token:
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Messiah has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage" (Gal.5:1, NKJV).
In other words, if you insist that circumcision is still the sign of the Covenant and of being an Israelite (when the New Covenant sign of both is now baptism and New Covenant Torah obedience), then you must observe every single statute of the Old Covenant, including the animal sacrifices which Yah'shua (Jesus) fulfilled! And if you observe those, then you are denying the work of Messiah in your life. This means that the Old Covenant is unobservable if you accept Messiah!
"Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Messiah will profit you nothing" (Gal.5:2, NKJV).
We cannot be declared righteous by seeking the blood covering of set-apart animals but only by trusting in that Great Sacrifice done once and for all for us. If we try to do it Hagar's way, we "sever [ourselves] from the Messiah" (Gal.5:4a, JNT) and we are back in bondage like Hagar. Then we have "fallen away from Elohim's (God's) grace" (Gal.4:4b, JNT) for "it is by the power of the Ruach (Spirit), who works in us because we trust and are faithful, that we confidently expect our hope of attaining righteousness to be fulfilled" (Gal.5:5, JNT). For what matters is "emunah (trusting faithfulness) expressing itself through ahavah (love)" (Gal.5:6, JNT).
We are now under a completely New Covenant. The Old is over, gone. The Torah has been brought to completion, the fulfilled parts removed (animal sacrifices, priesthood, etc.), and new mitzvot (commandments) added by Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself, mitzvot we are commanded to obey if we truly love Him (Jn.14:15). However, this fuller Torah is lived in a completely new way in Yah'shua (Jesus) for even though both covenants were, and are, by emunah (faith) from beginning to end, the New begins with the Living Torah Himself, Yah'shua (Jesus)! You can not just 'add' Yah'shua (Jesus) to the Old Covenant, a common mistake made by many Messianics - you have to start with Him alone as Evangelicals have known all along. But there we must not stop, for we are to live the lifestyle defined by Yah'shua's (Jesus') completed Torah, something Evangelicals still refuse to do properly, a lifestyle of observing the festivals, dietary code, 7th Day Creation Calendar Sabbath (not Saturday), new moons, laws on alcohol, marriage laws, and Torah ethics in general. Our eyes are to be on the heavenly (New) Jerusalem (Rev.3:12; 21:2) and not on Hagar's City, that pile of stones in the Middle Eastern state of the Israeli Republic because that is not biblical Israel. We do not need to concern ourselves with that piece of real estate, over which the nations are fighting, until Yah'shua (Jesus) returns, for ours is not a war in the visible but in the invisible (Eph.6:12).
We belong to the Kingdom of Sarah's child, not Hagar's. Before the New can come in, the Old must be firmly and finally dismissed. The old Protestant and Jewish mindsets have to go as part of the believer's rebirth from Hagar to Sarah. Hagar must die and Sarah come forth out of the mayim (waters) of baptism. There is much confusion on this subject in Christendom and Messiandom today. One of our callings is to point the derech (way) out as we navigate between and beyond the old Evangelical and Messianic houses which are passing away in these end times to the new paradigm that is arising.
If you'd like to know more, please see, Our Vision and Mission and may Yahweh bless you as take your journey home!