" Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.
Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian." (Galatians 2:23-25)
Most everyone has seen one of those movies where the star is the US President's kid and all they want to do is go somewhere-anywhere- without a million armed guards. The guards are always big and burly guys with big shadows, big guns, and big (often dumb) personalities. And so we spend a good portion of the movie watching this kid perform Houdini-like acts to escape the guards that are with him (or her in some of the movies) to be with the movie's token love interest who is just an average kid. You know, like the rest of the world, and therefore obviously the envy of the President's kid.
Well, in Old Testament times, the Mosaic Law was like those guards that are always with the President's kid in the movies. It's there, all the time, to protect God's chosen people. And if they're being honest, sometimes that law meant to protect was overwhelming and maybe even a little bit overbearing. I mean, there were hundreds of laws that the Jewish people had to follow all of the time by the time Jesus appeared on the scene. It was "Us VS Them" for hundreds of years. And then this happened:
"For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you." (Galatians 3:26-29)
Like a breath of fresh air, Jesus came and knocked out all of the guards. They were no longer allowed to lean in too close and breath down the necks of their charge. They were no longer casting long shadows over the people they protected and giving off an air of danger. There wasn't the worry of when "the other shoe would drop." There was only freedom. Freedom to just be people. Jew and Gentile was no longer important because now we are ALL simply and beautifully children of God.
At this point in Galatians, Paul moves on to a new example. This point is obviously an important one and he doesn't want anyone to miss it. Let's read:
"Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world.
"But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, 'Abba, Father.' Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir." (Galatians 4: 1-7)
Paul's second example reminds me of Cinderella. Go with me on this one. It's not exactly right, but I think we can make it close. So when Cinderella was little, she and her dad were happy. They experienced a sad loss when Cinderella's mother died, but they still had each other. They were still happy. But then her dad dies and the property- though one she has grown up on and owned by default because of her father all of her life- goes to her stepmother. Because, you know, her dad didn't want to be alone forever. So now his child is under the guardianship of the stepmother who treats her like a slave. Are you seeing the parallel yet or is it just me?
In the time that Cinderella is set, she would have had few choices in her life. She couldn't just go out on her own and expect to live a good life. Leaving would have likely lead to her eventual death for one reason or another. So she had no choice but to live as a slave in her own house.
But that brings us to verse 4 "when the right time came." In our example, it's the ball at the palace. The time had finally arrived for Cinderella to be free rather than a slave. Her Prince- in this example, quite literally a prince who was subject to the law since he needed a wife to be king- came and set her free when he slipped that shoe on her foot (remember the part of verse 3:27 where we are called to put on Christ like putting on new clothes? See, this example is gold, haha).
When Cinderella becomes Mrs. Prince Charming (because apparently I either don't know the name of the prince or my brain will only bring to mind the Disney version of this fairy tale), she joins him as heir to the throne just as we do with God when we accept Jesus's perfect gift. He walks us right up to God's throne. He covers our sin and makes us good enough in a way that we could never, in a million years, do by ourselves. Now that's what I call a happily ever after!