Joseph Prince - Make Grace The Principal Thing
Praise God. You ready for the Word? Today, I wanna share you something that I'm really excited about and I thank God that we can just take off from this portion of Scripture because many of you are already familiar with the story. I wanna take this deeper, all right? And it's the story of the dismissal of Hagar when Hagar left home. Once she left herself, all right? There are two dismissals of Hagar, I should say. Once she left by herself, the other was she was driven away, never to return. So in both of them, we have lessons, okay? I wanna take this whole thing deeper than just Abraham and Sarah and what they represent. But for the sake of those who have joined us we must establish this point from Galatians. Are you ready?
All right, it's gonna bless you. Galatians chapter 4, verse 21: "Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law"? So much for "I wanna be under law," you know, "teaching the law. I think we must preach the law. I think we should teach people the law". Well, those of you who desire to be under the law, Paul says, "Don't you listen to the law"? The law here is the first five books of Moses, the Torah. He says, "For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman". What's the name of the son? Email, right? Okay, Ishmael. Help you remember. "The other by a freewoman".
Now, what's the name of this son? Isaac. So the bondwoman, all right, that means she is one of those James Bond's... no, no, that means what? A slave, slave girl, all right? Abraham had this slave girl from Egypt. When he went into Egypt, he sojourned in Egypt. When he came out, the pharaoh of Egypt blessed him with all this riches and all that and one of them, quote, unquote, "blessing," one of them was Hagar, the Egyptian servant girl, the Egyptian maid. So she was in the house. And because Sarah could not bear, all right, Sarah went to Abraham and Sarah says, "Since the Lord has restrained me," now that is erroneous thinking on her part. God doesn't want any barren woman to think that God has restrained you, all right?
"He maketh the barren woman to keep house," the Bible says, all right? If you are barren or you've been certified medically that you are infertile or whatever, I want you to know that there is a place in God if you choose to believe and to follow God's ways, take all the Scriptures on the promises that a barren woman will be a joyful mother of children. There shall not be male or female barren among you, amen? And read those Scriptures again and again every single day. God's Word will bear fruit. So she says, "Since God has done this to me," which is an error on her part, she says, "Why not you take my servant girl", it's the culture of the day, "Perhaps I may have children by her".
So Abraham didn't complain. Abraham slept with the servant girl, Hagar, and brought forth Ishmael, Is-my-ail, and the Bible says when she found that she has conceived, Hagar, the servant girl, she despised Sarah. Okay, keep that in mind. And the Bible says about Ishmael "born of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise". Whenever you see "the flesh," in the Bible it always speaks of self-effort. So Ishmael was born out of Abraham's self-effort. Abraham was still fruitful. Say, "Wow".
Now, here he is saying, "These two women are two covenants. Sarah represents grace". Sarah, the lawful wife of Abraham, is grace. Hagar, whose name means flight, because she was always going put to flight. Her name means flight and she is not the lawful wife but she's a servant girl, right? She represents... I'm getting ahead of myself, but here it says: "Which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, as in bondage with children". Remember this word "bondage" is appearing again and again. Whenever you hold onto the law, you will be in bondage. You will be in bondage. And because you are in bondage, bondage includes the curse of poverty, sickness, depression. All this comes because of bondage.
There's my passion. I wanna preach people into freedom, true freedom in Christ. Can I have a good "amen"? You are never free to succeed until you are free to even fail. But freedom must come. It is for this freedom Christ set us free, all right? So if that is Hagar, Mount Sinai is Hagar, "but Jerusalem above". You see, today in Jerusalem which now is, is in bondage. If you insist to be under law even though you're a Jew, you're like an Ishmaelite. God is saying, "But the Jerusalem above is free," amen. Grace is free. You know what it means, free? As contrast with bondage. There is no bondage for us. You live, breathe, walk in, and stand in the atmosphere of grace. And never let anyone rob you of this atmosphere. Can I have a good "amen"?
All right, let's move on. Okay, that's the story of Hagar and I wanna show you the story itself, what happened, okay? Let's go right into Genesis 16. The first dismissal of Hagar. Now we establish Hagar is the law, Mount Sinai, okay? We understand that. "When she saw that she had conceived, when Hagar saw she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes". I want to tell you something here, church. If Hagar represents the law, grace is represented by Sarah, there was a time that the law seems to act, all right, in practice, in precept, as if grace is the servant.
This first dismissal speaks of speaks of the time of the law from Moses all the way down to Jesus before he was crucified... you know when Jesus walked on earth, he was actually under the law. He operated still under the dispensation of the law. Yeah, he is full of grace, I know that. But the Bible says he was made under the law to redeem those who were under the law. So for 1,500 years the Jew was under the law from the time of Moses and Mount Sinai all the way to the time of Jesus and when did it end? When did it terminate? At the cross. Aren't you glad it terminated? It has been terminated. Praise God.
So, this is what happened. She despised her mistress. "Then Sarai said to Abram, 'My wrong be upon you!'" At first, she's the one that says, "Go to my servant girl". Now says, "My wrong be upon you". "I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me". Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, okay? So, Bible says: "Abram said to Sarai, 'Your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.' And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence". So the first dismissal of Hagar, she fled. But watch what happened when she fled, okay? When she fled, and the Angel of the Lord met her.
Now the word "angel" is messenger and I know that from this phrase it is the Lord Jesus Christ in his pre-incarnate appearance. Next verse. "Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. And He said, 'Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?' 'I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.' The Angel of the Lord said to her". Now listen to what Jesus says: "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand". Notice that. "Submit yourself under her hand".
So in the first dismissal, she was sent back. Now, later on, there's another dismissal after Isaac was on the scene. And there's another truth right there. Where she was dismissed never to return. But the first dismissal speaks of the time period of Moses, all right, and the children of Israel being under law when it was first given all the way to the time of Jesus. People ask the question, "Pastor Prince, you see David kept the law. Look, look, look, Elijah kept the law. Look, look, Hezekiah kept the law. Look, look, look, all the people of faith in the Old Testament, they kept the law".
But have you noticed that in Hebrews 11 none of them was said they kept the law perfectly. By keeping the law, all right, God caused the Angel of Death to pass over. By keeping the law, Goliath fell. By keeping the law, none of this is all by faith, by faith, by faith, by faith, by faith, and the law is not of faith, the Bible says. So, in other words, there were two elements during the time of law. Even during the age of law, there were two elements all the time: law and grace. I should put grace on top. Grace and law. And God always wants grace principal, law in a subordinate position. Grace is the principal element and the law, even under law, the age of law, law was subordinate.
Jesus is always telling the law. Whenever the law tries to take the upper hand, to become the principal rule, Jesus says, "Get back. Get back to your place". I'll give you an example right now from when Jesus was here. In Matthew 12: "At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat". Now, it was what day? Sabbath. On Sabbath day, they don't work. So what happened is that they don't even pluck fruits. So the disciples began to pluck heads of grain and eat. "When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, 'Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!'"
Now, they are right. Technically, they are right. The Pharisees are famous for bringing the law from a subordinate place to the principal place. So that's why they did it. But they forgot, this one who stand before them, the Son of God, fully God, fully human, was actually the Angel of the Lord that spoke to Hagar. "Return and submit yourself under the hand of your mistress".
Now, see what Jesus said, verse 3: "But he said to them, 'Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?'" Verse 6: "Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath".
Now, he was quoting Hosea 6:6 that says: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice". If you go to Hosea, it actually says: "I desire grace," chesed. The word "mercy" there is chesed. Where you find, David says, "Praise the Lord for his chesed endures forever. Praise the Lord for he is good, for his chesed endures forever. His chesed are new every morning". His mercies are new. "His chesed". You go to Israel today, you ask a Jewish believer for his Bible. Even his new covenant, his New Testament portion of the Bible is in Hebrew and you ask them, "How do you read all those verses that says 'grace'? For example, the law was given by Moses. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ". They will tell you "chesed".
Everywhere it says grace, it says chesed. Chesed is the word you use for praise the Lord for his chesed endures forever. God is saying, "I enjoy chesed. I desire chesed, and not sacrifice". Jesus told the Pharisees, "You as leaders, if you understood that God's heart is into chesed, into grace, you would not have condemned the guiltless". And they are guiltless. They're not sinless; they are guiltless. All of us are guiltless. We're not sinless. We are guiltless. You understand?
Why are you so concerned about the sin in your heart? God did not promise to remove the sin in your heart. That will happen in the Rapture. Aren't you glad God has removed sin before his eyes at the cross? You are looking inside you when you should be looking outside you to the cross. That's why you're confused. You're waiting for a peace that comes from within when God has given you peace that comes through the cross. You are confounding the work of the Spirit in you for the work of Christ for you. Unless you understand the work of Christ for you, you won't have the peace of the Spirit in you because he has come to testify of Jesus.
Stop looking within and start looking without. "The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath". Don't forget, my people are hungry. David was hungry. David went to the Lord. David says, "I know we've been running for days from King Saul. He's been hunting us down like a partridge, like a bird in the wilderness, and I'm hungry, God. God, I'm hungry, and my people are hungry. And the only bread that's here, all right, in the tabernacle, is actually the showbread that's meant for the priest. God, I know that one day we'll all be priests. Can you just put in an advance or not? What shall I do"? God said, "Eat". Because he is the Lord, not the law. Jesus is the Lord.
Okay, last dismissal. After as many years, she went back to Sarah. Now, now, grace. Sarah is a mother. She has given birth to Isaac. The promised seed has come, hallelujah. Look at this, Genesis 21: "Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. Sarah says, 'God has made me laugh'", look at that modesty of grace, a lot of laughter. "'And all who hear will laugh with me.' She also said, 'Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.' So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned", according to the culture of that day, a child graduates from milk to solid food in that day and age, probably the second or third year, and then they have a great feast, a big feast, all right?
Verse 9: "Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing," making fun, deriding, okay? We'll stop here. We jump straight into Galatians. Galatians: "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he," Ishmael, "who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so is now". So there's no mystery. People who are under law will always persecute those who are under grace. Are you with me, church? So what happened is that... we go back again to the story. When she saw Ishmael, about 15 years old at this time, Ishmael, he was mocking the young boy, about 2 years old, all right?
"Therefore she said to Abraham, 'Cast out this bondwoman,'" okay, sack. Sack, same idea. "'Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.' And the matter was very displeasing Abraham’s sight because of his son". Not his servant girl, you see that? Next verse: "But God said to Abraham, 'Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because the lad or because of bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.'" That's very important. Because some people say that, you know, "Who's to say that Ishmael's seed is not part of the blessing or whatever"? It is, you know, but it's a different kind of blessing. In Isaac shall the seed be called.
Let's go back to Galatians, what Paul said about Sarah's voice, okay, in Galatians? "Nevertheless what does the Scripture say"? Wow, what Sarah said, "Sack this servant girl. Cast out this bondwoman". What she said, the Bible says, is Scripture. And the Bible says she wasn't speaking on her own authority. She was speaking in the authority of the Holy Spirit. "Cast out the bondwoman and her son". Who is the bondwoman? Hagar. What is Hagar? Mount Sinai. God is saying, "Throw it out," okay? Are you with me?
So then, look at this. Not only cast out the bondwoman, cast out her son, "for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman". "Shall not be heir". It's a serious matter, you know. You cannot inherit children, cannot inherit health, cannot inherit prosperity, cannot inherit God's promises. You cannot be heir when you have the law with you. "The son of the bondwoman," Ishmael, "shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman". You cannot have mixture and inherit. You understand? Okay?
"So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the," I wanna say this very practical. "Pastor, what does it mean, practically, law and grace"? I'll tell you something. You must be finished with guilt, condemnation, feeling guilty. Even when you fail, you shall not be feeling these anymore. "Pastor Prince, people ought to feel bad". Let me just tell you this, all right? It's one thing to feel a certain kind of, like, remorse. It's different, all right? But most of the time, we feel guilty, all right? We feel bad. And then, you know what? We repeat that sin. Have you noticed that in your life? When you feel bad, you repeat that sin. Why? Because you've just come under law. So what's happening around the world? When was the persecution?
Go back to Genesis 21. We'll close with this, Genesis 21. Look at this. When did Ishmael persecute Isaac? When? When he was weaned. Say "weaned". Show them the previous verse: "When he was", verse 8, "Isaac was weaned". That means what? Leave solid food. Hebrews, we'll close with this. Hebrews says, 5:13: "Everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe". He's a baby. You know, the baby Christian, they don't understand righteousness. They don't understand the teaching they're "unskilled in the word of righteousness". That's why they only take milk. They're not weaned. So once you understand righteousness, you know what happens? Like New Christian Church. People find you irritating, always "greatly blessed, highly favored, deeply loved.
Number five, number five, number five, hey, number five, hey, praise God. I was born on 15 faith May, hallelujah, fifth month, hallelujah. Praise God. Yo, grace, man, grace". You know, other church people find you irritating. Always blessing, always blessing. "Isn't there a place for suffering? Isn't there a place"? You know, you always praise God: "I'm highly favored. Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet. Joy of the Lord is your strength". So they get irritated but they don't understand you are being weaned. Your name is Isaac which means laughter. Your church is full of it. So the people don't understand. So they find you irritating. You are being weaned. And you say, "I am under grace, I'm under grace". So they don't understand, they persecute you. They're actually expressing their nature as Ishmaelites
So now turn to your neighbor, smile, and say this: "Are you my brother? Or are you a brother from another mother"? Amen? Amen. Are you my brother or are you a brother from another mother? Ishmael, Isaac share the same father. So people who come against us, they have the same heavenly Father as us but their mother is law. Our mother is grace. And they always wanna throw stones at us but you know what? We inherit. We inherit. It's never we persecute them. It's always the other way around. And we thank God for that. We thank God we're in a place to bless people and hopefully people will find grace and realize that the mother they thought is their mother is not their mother, all right? So Isaac and Ishmael, two of them at least, will come to a place where they are one new creation in Christ and all the people said amen. Give Jesus a praise, hallelujah.