Galatians 4:21-31 presents a metaphor in which Hagar, Abraham’s maidservant, and Sarah, Abraham’s wife, correspond to the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem. Let’s look at characteristics of the heavenly Jerusalem, New Jerusalem, in this metaphor.
Free: Sarah is the free woman and “the Jerusalem above is free.” Here is real freedom:
• John 8:36 “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.”
• 2 Corinthians 3:17 “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
• Galatians 5:1 “for freedom Christ has set us free.”
• Romans 8:21 “the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
We experience real freedom when we are one with the Triune God. This freedom is “the freedom of the glory” ultimately seen in New Jerusalem.
Promise: God promised Isaac (Genesis 17:16-19, 18:10, 14) and Isaac was born as a result of God’s promise. Isaac’s birth was not a result of Abraham and Sarah’s human capabilities for both had become “dead” with respect to having a child (Romans 4:19). New Jerusalem is produced the same way—not by human effort but by God’s operation in humans who are willing to open to Him.
Above: New Jerusalem is not earthly but heavenly. This wonderful city has a heavenly nature because its source and constitution are God.
Mother: The Jerusalem above is allegorically linked to Sarah and to the new covenant. “The Jerusalem above is our mother” indicates that the new covenant is our mother. Our new birth came from and rests upon and in the new covenant established by Jesus Christ.
Spirit: As the human components of New Jerusalem, we are born of the Spirit in our spirit (John 3:6), transformed by the Spirit in our soul (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18), and will be transfigured by the Spirit saturating our body (Romans 8:11, Philippians 3:21).
All of these five characteristics are of the Triune God. None have their source in us. Praise Him that we have such a marvelous gift both now and in New Jerusalem.
Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.