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Aert_de_Gelder_-_Het_loflied_van_SimeonA recent election saw one politician insist that the supporters of the other politician were a “a basketful of deplorables.” Well, of course, the other side jumped all over that and insisted that they weren’t all deplorables! Ah, politics, what a sport!

But what’s the dividing line between the acceptables and the deplorables? Is there a way to determine who’s who? Alexandre Solzenitzen said the the dividing line between good and evil runs through the hearts of each person!

Look at our lesson today in Galatians 4:22-27:

BRETHREN, Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married.”

St. Paul uses two historical figures in the life of the nation of Israel to illustrate what he’s talking about when he claims that the Christian Faith is actually the true follower of the ancient religion of the Jewish people. He insists to these Galatians that Palestinian Judaism (Christianity) is superior to the rabbinic Judaism that will dominate the Jews after the fall of Herod’s Temple in 70 AD.

And the way Paul does this is by using the stories of Hagar and Sarah. Both were wives of Abraham, the “father of the faithful.” Both had sons. Both sons were promised the blessing of God. But only the child of the free woman was the true child of the promise. What promise, you may ask? That’s a good question. You see, God had promised Abraham three specific blessings: First, God promised to make Abraham’s name great (check), God promised to make the children of Abraham as numerous as the sands of the seas (check), and God promised that the whole world would be blessed through Abraham’s people (check). But all these promises came through the child of the free woman, not the child that was born of the slave girl, Hagar.

To be sure, God did make some specific promises to Hagar and her son, Ishmael. God promised to make him a great nation. God promised that Ishmael would never be a slave, and God promised that Ishmael and his brothers would be constantly fighting. Yep, those were the promises and they have been fulfilled as well.

But then Paul makes a final comment that had me wondering. He says the children of the “desolate one” are many more that the children of her that is married.

If you know the story of Sarah and Abraham, then you know that Sarah was barren until the miracle of God granted her the son promised to Abraham by God when they were both very old. And being a barren woman in that society was not just unfortunate, but considered a “curse.” Sarah was considered “desolate” or a desperate emptiness and that shame haunted her. Paul is trying to show that Sarah, the barren woman, the desolate woman, has miraculously given birth to the son of the promise and now more and more children will come from this miracle as God’s family grows bigger and bigger. All of this is to teach us that the grace of God, initiated by God’s goodness and man’s obedience, produces far more spiritual children than are ever produced by merely following the rules from a motivation of wanting to get God off your back!

Today, are you a child of the desolate woman whose fortunes were reversed by God’s grace? Are you experiencing the rescue from despair, rescue from the deplorable situation of being spiritually barren? Know that God intends to take you in whatever situation you are in and adopt you into the fertile family graced by God in His Church! Being Orthodox on Purpose changes our sad situation into blessings and joy!

P.S. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Especially since my very first book is now available! “A Faith Encouraged,” published by  Ancient Faith Publishing is meant to help you and me stay focused on our Faith between Sundays! Order your copy at the Ancient Faith Store and then get another copy as a gift for a friend! Oh and please don’t forget our giving campaign here at the end of the year. We need your friendship to grow! Here’s where to Give! Click here!

Give the Gift of Eternity this Christmas!
Give the Gift of Eternity this Christmas!

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