The Mother of Us All by Greg Albrecht

Back in 1990, after the Iraqi army was evicted from Kuwait, Saddam Hussein, then the President of Iraq, told his people to prepare for what he called the “mother of all battles” against the American-led coalition forces.

Though Hussein did not invent the phrase, since that time the phrase “the mother of all…” has spread through the English language and is often used to define not only the origin or source of something, but also the significance or the greatest example of something.

Two Mothers

In Galatians 4:21-31, we read the story of two mothers. The historical background to Paul’s lesson is recorded in Genesis 16 and 21. Paul presents an allegory of these facts. An allegory is a symbolic interpretation of a historical facts or events. More specifically, in the biblical sense, it is a spiritual meaning that transcends literal facts or actual historical events.

To set the stage, let’s briefly summarize the historical facts upon which Paul draws his Christ-centered conclusions via an allegory. In Genesis 16 we read that Abram, as he was then called, and his wife Sarai, to whom God had promised a son, became impatient with God.

Back in Genesis 12 and again in Genesis 15, God had promised to make a great nation of their descendants. It was a wonderful promise, but as the clock kept ticking and the pages of the calendar kept turning, the promise became more and more unbelievable.

At the time of the promise, Abram was 75 and Sarai was 65. They had no children and it didn’t look like their bodies would produce one. They had given up hope—they knew their biological clocks had either stopped ticking or at the very least, needed new batteries. Ten more years passed after the initial promise of a child. Now Abram was 85 and Sarai was 75. And still no child.

So Sarai came up with what seemed like a good idea at the time — a good human resolution to the problem. She was too old to get pregnant, too old to give birth, but Abram was a young buck filled with testosterone at the age of 85.

At 85 Abram was apparently still capable of impregnating a woman, so Sarai decided to send him to the tent of Hagar, her servant. Sarai and Abram could have a son, she reasoned, by a surrogate. Abram agreed and Hagar became pregnant.

Double Trouble

Two women sharing one husband. One of them pregnant, the other one desperately wanting to be pregnant but feeling she probably never would be. It was a recipe for disaster. Storm clouds were looming.

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