THE UPWARD CALL
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
IN CHRIST JESUS.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NASB)
#04-1087
Cast Out Judaism & the Present Jerusalem August 9, 2010
(18) And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” (19) But God
said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I
will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after
him. (20) “As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him
fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes,
and I will make him a great nation. (21) But My covenant I will establish with Isaac,
whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.” (Genesis 17:18-21 NASB)
Ishmael was the firstborn of Abram through Hagar, his bond wife (slave woman) who was a daughter of
Pharaoh, given to him by his free wife (free woman) Sarai. Since they had no children but had the
promise of one, Abram and Sarai figured that Hagar had to be the one to bring forth Abram’s heir. So,
Ishmael was born when Abram was 86 years of age; however, when he was 99, God corrected his error
and told him that Sarai would bring forth the child of promise and changed their names to Abraham
and Sarah. The next year Sarah gave birth to Isaac.
The name Abraham differs from the name Abram in that it contains the additional Hebrew letter hey
(“H”), which signifies the breath (spirit) of God. This distinction is easy to gloss over, but it is
prophetically quite significant. Abram is associated with flesh , and Abraham is associated with Spirit .
Abram was the father of Ishmael , born according to flesh ; Abraham was the father of Isaac , born
according to Spirit . Abram was given the promise of physical land (Genesis 15:18); Abraham was given
the promise of a son. Abram signifies the Old Covenant , according to flesh; Abraham signifies the
New Covenant , according to Spirit. Abram signifies the uncircumcised heart; Abraham signifies the
circumcised heart. Abram went out looking for the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-4); Abraham went out
looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews
11:10). Abram is associated with the earthly Jerusalem built by Shem; Abraham is associated with the
heavenly Jerusalem built by the Lord. Abraham and all those who died in faith were looking for a better
land (country, city), that is, a heavenly one, which is New Jerusalem, the celestial city of God, a holy
temple in the Lord, a dwelling of God in spirit (Ephesians 2:21-22; Hebrews 12:22).
Now, regarding the legal heir of a son, Ishmael was second in line after Isaac, which led to conflict
between Hagar and Sarah and later between Ishmael and Isaac, which has not ceased. When it reached
a crisis point, God told Abraham to cast out Hagar and her son (Genesis 21:10). In his love for Ishmael,
Abraham cried out to God, who heard and blessed his son. Hagar and Ishmael settled in Arabia, and
Ishmael had 12 sons who became 12 princes or leaders of nations (Genesis 25:12-16). Today, the Arab
nations trace their roots to Abram’s son Ishmael. Some of these nations have been blessed with great
wealth due to vast oil reserves. So, God did not forget the Ishmaelites according to flesh.
Now, in Galatians, Paul allegorized (symbolized) the casting out of Hagar and Ishmael.
(22) For it has been written, Abraham had two sons, one [Ishmael] out of the slave woman
and one [Isaac] out of the free woman. (23) But, indeed, he [Ishmael] of the slave woman
has been born according to flesh, and he [Isaac] out of the free woman through the
promise, (24) which things are being allegorized, for these are two covenants, one,
indeed, from Mount Sinai bringing forth to slavery (which is Hagar, (25) for Hagar is
Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, and she slaves with her
children), (26) but the Jerusalem from above is free, who is the mother of us all; … (28)
But, brothers, we are children of promise according to Isaac. (29) But then, even as he
[Ishmael] born according to flesh persecuted the one [Isaac] according to Spirit, so it is also
now. (30) But what says the Scripture? “Cast out the slave woman and her son [Ishmael] ,
for in no way shall the son [Ishmael] of the slave woman inherit with the son [Isaac] of the
free woman.” Gen. 21:10 (31) Then, brothers, we are not children of a slave woman [Old
Jerusalem] but of the free woman [New Jerusalem] . (Galatians 4:22-26, 28-31 LITV)
Paul’s allegory is a contrast of the Old Covenant with the New Covenant. Hagar, Ishmael, Mount Sinai,
and the present Jerusalem are associated with the Old Covenant, flesh, and slavery (bondage). Sarah,
Isaac, and Jerusalem from above [i.e., New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2, 10)] are associated with the
New Covenant, Spirit, and freedom (liberty). The old represents Judaism, and the new represents
Christianity. The two are like oil and water or dark and light; they cannot be mixed.
Paul was dealing with a very serious problem among the ecclesias of Galatia. There were Judaizers
trying to bring Christians into Judaism, especially through physical circumcision. Paul, having
advanced in Judaism beyond his contemporaries, even to the point of zealotry (Galatians 1:13-14), knew
all the warning signs of Judaism. He knew how to discern the false brethren who sought to be justified
according to the Old Covenant. These Judaizers were apparent Jews , for they were rejecting Christ
and the New Covenant and trying to bring the brethren into their bondage (Galatians 2:4). The early
ecclesia was in danger of reverting back to Judaism and desiring the earthly Jerusalem instead of
pressing on toward New Jerusalem. The Lord made the first obsolete and caused it to disappear in 70
AD when He destroyed Jerusalem with His Roman army.
But, why did Paul allegorize Hagar the slave woman as Mount Sinai? God gave Arabia to Ishmael and
his descendants (Ishmaelites), and Mount Sinai is in Arabia, which is where God also gave Moses and
the sons of Israel the commandments. As a nation, they entered into a covenant with the Lord (Exodus
19:5) that dated back to Abram and the promise of the land (Exodus 2:24; 6:4-5). This covenant was
according to flesh; however, it could have become more than this if the Israelites had been willing to
listen to the Lord speak from the mount. The Spirit of the living God would have written the Law on
tablets of circumcised hearts, and not on tablets of stone. Instead, they received the letter that kills, not
the Spirit that gives life (Deuteronomy 30:6; 2 Corinthians 3:3, 6). They remained slaves to flesh.
In Paul’s day, the present Jerusalem was the symbol and bastion of Judaism and the Old Covenant. By
linking the city to Hagar and Mount Sinai, Paul placed the earthly Jerusalem in bondage, according to
flesh, just as Hagar and Ishmael had been in bondage, according to flesh.
Undoubtedly, Ishmael thought he had a legal right to the land of promise. Due to their rejection of
Christ, the apparent Jews became and still are legal Ishmaelites , for they too desire the same land,
along with the present Jerusalem, which today is a modern city. They joined hearts with Ishmael and
aligned themselves with the promises given to Abram and not the better promises given to Abraham. In
other words, they became sons of Hagar, the slave woman, not sons of Sarah, the free woman. They are
the bad figs of the cursed fig tree of Judah . Further, they remained with the externality of
Judaism and the external influence of the Spirit of God, just as the ancient sons of Israel followed the
pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire rather than coming into the spirituality of Christianity and the
internal influence of an earnest of the Spirit of God. The two conditions are worlds apart.
Further, just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac, so did the apparent Jews or the bad figs of Judah persecute
the early ecclesia (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). Paul knew what he was talking about, for when he was
known as Saul, he too persecuted the ecclesia (Acts 8:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:13). When his eyes were opened
to the truth and the promises in Christ and the New Covenant, his name changed from Saul to Paul.
What are we to do? Cast out the slave woman and her son! Don’t be enslaved to flesh. Cast out the
old. Cast out Judaism and the present Jerusalem. They must be cast out fully; have no part in
either of them. Embrace the free woman and her Son. Be free in Spirit. Embrace the new.
Embrace Christianity and New Jerusalem. The Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
Paul never encouraged the saints to look to the earthly, old Jerusalem, then or future. At the end of our
present wicked eon, God will bring His judgment upon the city where the Lord was crucified
(Revelation 11:8) and the apparent Jews bound to the city, the ones who are antichrist. Let us desire the
better promise of New Jerusalem, which speaks of a dwelling out of heaven, that is, immortal, spiritual,
glorified bodies joined together in the image of the Son of God. It is coming!
The Upward Call: #04-1087
by: Stuart H. Pouliot