Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God
(Philippians 3.13-14 NASB )
D ECEMBER 26, 2008
During 2007, an eight part series was written on the matter of being born from above based on Jesus’
discourse with Nicodemus in John 3. According to Jesus, one must be born from above to enter the
kingdom of God.
Now, in relation to being born from above, there is another vital aspect and that is the Jerusalem that
is above.
Paul does not use the phrase born from above in his epistles; however, he does declare that those
called by the grace of God, born of the spirit, are children of the Jerusalem above, the mother of us
all. He allegorized two women as two covenants, one of the flesh and one of the spirit, and these
covenants are tied to two cites, the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem. Only those born of
the heavenly woman are free.
For it hath been written, that Abraham had two sons, one by the maid-servant, and one
by the free-woman, but he who is of the maid-servant, according to flesh hath been, and
he who is of the free-woman, through the promise; which things are allegorized, for these
are the two covenants: one, indeed, from mount Sinai, to servitude bringing forth, which
is Hagar; for this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and doth correspond to the Jerusalem
that now is, and is in servitude with her children, and the Jerusalem above [ano] is the
free-woman, which is mother of us all, for it hath been written, ‘Rejoice, O barren, who art
not bearing; break forth and cry, thou who art not travailing, because many are the
children of the desolate―more than of her having the husband.’ And we, brethren, as
Isaac, are children of promise, but as then he who was born according to the flesh did
persecute him according to the spirit, so also now; but what saith the Writing? ‘Cast
forth the maid-servant and her son, for the son of the maid-servant may not be heir with
the son of the free-woman;’ then, brethren, we are not a maid-servant’s children, but the
free-woman’s. (Galatians 4.22-31 YLT)
An allegory is defined as “a representation in which the meaning is conveyed symbolically.” Therefore,
to understand what Paul wrote, one needs to understand the symbols as represented by the two
According to the record, Abraham was promised a son who would be his heir. Since no son quickly
came forth through Sarah, Abraham’s wife, they decided it best that Abraham have a child through his
Egyptian bondwoman, Hagar; so she had a son named Ishmael. However, when Ishmael was 13
years of age, God informed Abraham that this was not the son of promise and that he would have an
heir through Sarah; so at the ripe old age of 100, Abraham was given a son, Isaac.
This situation created tension between Sarah and Hagar, especially over who would inherit the
birthright. After all, Ishmael was the firstborn. But God had the final word in the matter as He chose
Isaac, the son of promise, to be Abraham’s heir. An important principle of God is that He takes away
the first in order to establish the second (Hebrews 10.9 NASB).
Symbolically, Hagar and Sarah represent two covenants that are also represented by two cities and
two types of people. Hagar represents the old covenant that was given to the sons of Israel through
Moses when he was on Mount Sinai receiving the law. In Paul’s day, as well as in our day, Hagar
corresponds to the earthly Jerusalem and those who continue to hold to the old covenant and reject
the new covenant. For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and doth correspond to the
Jerusalem that now is, and is in servitude with her children. According to Paul, the old
Jerusalem, even the one we see in Israel today, is Hagar and her children are Ishmael. This
Jerusalem and her people are born after the flesh.
If you recall from the series on born from above , that which is born of the flesh is flesh; it is not born
of the spirit. Consequently, all who choose to remain under the old covenant given at Mount Sinai are
considered Ishmaelites that are under bondage. This applies to all in Paul’s day, as well as all in our
We see a clear picture of this rejection in the account of Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy
Spirit, who performed great wonders and signs among the people, as he stood before the Jewish
Council. He recounted the entire history of Israel starting when the God of glory appeared to Abraham
the Hebrew. Stephen had their full attention, without argument, until he pronounced judgment on his
Jewish audience: “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are
always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the
prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the
coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you
who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it” (Acts 7.51-53 NASB). Their
response to this indictment was violent anger as they rushed at him and drove him out of the city to
stone him to death. But before they rushed him, this dear saint, being full of the Holy Spirit gazed
intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;
and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right
hand of God” (Acts 7.55-56 NASB). Jesus was standing to see if the church (ecclesia) in the
wilderness would receive the new covenant and the Jerusalem above. To their detriment, they
rejected Jesus’ offer, and they became sons of Hagar, Ishmaelites; to this day, all who reject the new
covenant and continue in the old covenant are Ishmaelites as well.
Sarah represents the new covenant of Jesus Christ. She represents the Jerusalem above, for she
brought forth the promise of the child according to the spirit. Isaac was the son of promise, being
conceived when Sarah was well past child-bearing age. It took a miraculous act of the Holy Spirit to
open her womb to conceive at such an old age. Later, Abraham offered him up as a sacrifice, but the
Lord provided the sacrifice at the last minute. Also, Isaac represents all who are born of the spirit and
are under the new covenant of Christ. Isaac was a type of Christ, who was conceived of a virgin
through an act of the Holy Spirit and who was the Lamb provided by God to be sacrificed for the sin of
the world.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians, some of the early Christians were continuing to offer up
sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem and follow the traditions of Judaism. It took the Roman army to
destroy the temple in 70 AD so that the Pentecostal church would be set free from the bondage of
Hagar. Unfortunately, there are Christians today who are acting and thinking more like these early
Christians as they join themselves with Judaism, as if the reign of the heavens is going to come to this
earth through Hagar and the old Jerusalem on earth. How can this be? Paul declares that we must
cast forth the maid-servant and her son . Abraham loved Ishmael, but he had to let him go so that
Isaac could be the rightful heir. Let us let go of all our Ishmaels as well!
Dear brethren in Christ, our Jerusalem is not on earth, she is above; she is heavenly or celestial, and
she is spiritual. To me, the word above is not so much spatial as it is dimensional, for it refers to the
spirit realm, which envelopes our physical realm. She is free from the bondage and sin of this earth.
She is the mother of us all! Let us not revert to Judaism, but let us seek for that which is above where
Christ is.
The Upward Call #02-08151 by — Stuart H. Pouliot