Monday Reverb – 01January2024





    • In the psalm, praise is virtually commanded for the God who rescued Israel and brought them close to him.
    • Isaiah rejoiced over the Lord, who tenderly and personally clothed him (Isaiah) with salvation.
    • In the Galatians passage, Paul informs us that Christ enabled us to be adopted by a loving Father.
    • In Luke, Simeon and Anna bear witness that Jesus is salvation for all people.



Abba, Father

Galatians 4:4-7 NIV

Seven days ago, most believers celebrated Jesus’ birth.  Traditionally, people around the world exchange gifts on Christmas, which is a beautiful custom.  Our God is a giver, and it is a blessing to be like him and lovingly give to others.  However, if we are honest, gift-giving can sometimes be stressful.  We all have people in our lives for whom it is difficult to shop.  Maybe it is a co-worker you do not know very well, but she gave you a gift last Christmas.  Or an uncle who does not seem to like anything because everything was better “back in his day.”  Whoever it is, we are all likely to have someone for whom we have a hard time shopping.

On the other hand, children are usually some of the easiest people for whom to shop.  Without being prompted, many children make out Christmas wish lists because they do not want to leave anything to chance.  The beloved Christmas movie, A Christmas Story, is all about a child doing all he can to get a BB-gun for Christmas, despite the fact that the adults in his life are afraid he would “shoot his eye out.”  That movie is a hilarious example of how wily children can be in pursuit of their desires.  They will beg.  They will scheme.  They will promise to do chores.  They will sit on the lap of a stranger in a red suit and long white beard and negotiate.  Because, for a child, there is nothing more disappointing than excitedly opening a beautifully wrapped gift, only to find underwear or socks!  Some of you may be uncomfortable because that is precisely what your child experienced six days ago.  But let’s just be honest.  While underwear and socks are important, children will choose fun over what is practical every time.  So, children are smart.  They let adults know the desires of their heart.

Something happens to many of us on the way to adulthood.  It seems that as the complexity and volume of our desires increases, our willingness to ask for what we need decreases.  Some of us are able to remain child-like and hold onto the ability to ask for what we need without shame or guilt.  However, many of us struggle to let our needs and desires be known, even by those who love us most.  Perhaps we don’t want to be any trouble, or we do not want to seem somehow weak or greedy.  Perhaps we do not have a lot of resources so we have learned not to think about the things we might want.  Maybe it has been so long since we had a moment of self-reflection that we do not even know what we want in life.

Not knowing or being able to articulate our wants and desires is an obstacle for those who follow Jesus.  Yes, the Bible warns against having selfish or misplaced desires.  However, we cannot forget that God created us with the capacity to want things.  Not only do our desires often reveal what is in our hearts, but God uses our desires to guide us on the path to our destiny in Christ.  For example, in the person who is called to be a children’s minister, God places a copy of his own desire to see young people experiencing the love of Christ.  Our reflection of God’s desire is usually the first step towards our destiny in Christ.  So, what happens when we lose our child-like ability to acknowledge the things we want?  Thankfully, we can find our answer in Jesus.   Let’s look at Galatians 4:4-7:

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7 NIV)

During the Christmas season, it is especially appropriate for us to celebrate the many things Jesus accomplished in his Incarnation (his coming to the earth as one of us).  Jesus came to save us.  Jesus came to redeem us.  Jesus came to restore our relationship with his Father and each other.  We talk about these things often, as well we should.  Jesus also came to teach us how to be children of God.  It was not enough for Jesus to make us children of God.  Christ had to show us how to be children of God.

By Christ, those who follow him have been adopted by the Father and have received the Spirit of the Son, or the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit who lived in Christ lives in believers, bringing everything that Jesus is into us, which includes Christ’s desires.  It is important to notice that, in the passage, the first thing the Holy Spirit does when he comes into our hearts is to call out.  The Spirit places a desire in our hearts and gives voice to that desire.  The Spirit bypasses our emotional walls and makes us like little children who unashamedly ask for what they want.

What is this desire that is a reflection of Christ’s desire?  What is this desire that is felt so deeply that the Spirit cries it out?  What is this desire that is so important that we cannot be children of God without it?  The desire is for an “Abba, Father.”  Abba is an Aramaic word that is a familiar term for a father (like “daddy” or “papa”).  The Holy Spirit places in us the desire for the close, intimate relationship with the Father that Christ enjoys.  Whether we know it or not, human beings were created to desire an Abba.  We yearn to be unconditionally loved, completely protected, and provided for in abundance.  At one time or another, we have all sought to fulfill our desire for Abba with other things.  We have sought to be loved perfectly by imperfect people.  We have sought to protect ourselves and have built up defense mechanisms that no longer serve us.  We have trusted in a job as our provider, putting work before more important things.  In our brokenness, we do not know to whom we should cry out.  This is why the Holy Spirit cries Abba  on our behalf, reorienting us to the source of our deepest desire.  

Perhaps it is hard for you to see God as Abba.  Perhaps your human daddy let you down.  Maybe you did not have a daddy in your life.  In God’s grace and mercy, we were given Christ’s example of how to love the Father like a little child.  He showed us how to live in a trusting relationship with our Abba.  Numerous times Jesus prayed to the Father out loud so his disciples could catch a glimpse of the intimate relationship made available to us.  Jesus not only makes our relationship to the Father possible, but he showed us how to live into it.  What an awesome God!

Our challenge, therefore, is to let God be our Abba.  We need to learn humility and have a healthy dependence on him.  We need to train ourselves to turn to him in good times and in bad.  We need to learn to trust in him more than we trust in money or our employer.  We need to believe that even when things do not go our way, we are still loved by God.  We need to learn from Jesus how to be children again.

In this Christmas season, as we celebrate the little baby born in Bethlehem, let us be reminded of our invitation to become children of the Most High.  Let us lift up our hands, like a child wanting to be picked up, and cry out “Abba, Father.”  Let us give voice to our deep desire knowing that our Abba Father desires us even more.



Small Group Discussion Questions

  • Can you think of any amusing ways a child you know made his/her desires known?
  • What would happen if an adult acted in this way?
  • Do you find it challenging to think of the Father as Abba?  Why or why not?
  • What is something you could do to be more child-like in your relationship with God?


But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born[a] of a woman, born under the law,

5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, [b]“Abba, Father!” 

Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir [c]of God [d]through Christ. 

But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.   

But now, after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?  10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 

11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.  

12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all.   

  1. Galatians 4:4 Or made  
  2. Galatians 4:6 Lit., in Aram., Father  
  3. Galatians 4:7 NU through God  
  4. Galatians 4:7 NU omits through Christ  





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.[b]

And because we[c] are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”[d] Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.[e] And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? 10 You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. 11 I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing. 12 Dear brothers and sisters,[f] I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles — free from those laws.  

You did not mistreat me when I first preached to you. 

  1. Gal.4:3 Or powers; also in Gal.4:9.  
  2. Gal.4:5 Greek sons; also in Gal.4:6.  
  3. Gal.4:6a Greek you.  
  4. Gal.4:6b Abba is an Aramaic term for “father.”  
  5. Gal.4:7 Greek son; also in Gal.4:7b.  
  6. Gal.4:12 Greek brothers; also in Gal.4:28, 31.  

From Barclay’s Commentary on Galatians 4 …



Galatians 4:1-7   This is what I mean — so long as the heir is an infant there is no difference between him and a slave, although he is owner of everything, but he is under the control of stewards and overseers until the day which his father has fixed arrives. It is just the same with us. When we were infants we were in subjection to the elementary knowledge which this world can supply. But when the fulness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order that he might redeem those who were subject to the law. so that we might be adopted as sons. Because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” The consequence is that you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son. an heir because God made you so.

In the ancient world the process of growing up was much more definite than it is with us.

(i) In the Jewish world, on the first Sabbath after a boy had passed his twelfth birthday, his father took him to the Synagogue, where he became A Son of the Law.  The father thereupon uttered a benediction, “Blessed be thou, O God, who has taken from me the responsibility for this boy.”  The boy prayed a prayer in which he said, “O my God and God of my fathers!  On this solemn and sacred day, which marks my passage from boyhood to manhood, I humbly raise my eyes unto thee, and declare with sincerity and truth, that henceforth I will keep thy commandments, and undertake and bear the responsibility of mine actions towards thee.”  There was a clear dividing line in the boy’s life; almost overnight he became a man.

(ii) In Greece, a boy was under his father’s care from seven until he was eighteen.  He then became what was called an ephebos, which may be translated “cadet,” and for two years he was under the direction of the state.  The Athenians were divided into ten phratriai, or clans.  Before a lad became an ephebos, at a festival called the Apatouria, he was received into the clan; and at a ceremonial act his long hair was cut off and offered to the gods.  Once again, growing up was quite a definite process.

(iii) Under Roman law the year at which a boy grew up was not definitely fixed, but it was always between the ages of fourteen and seventeen.  At a sacred festival in the family called the Liberalia he took off the toga praetexta, which was a toga with a narrow purple band at the foot of it and put on the toga virilis, which was a plain toga which adults wore.  He was then conducted by his friends and relations down to the forum and formally introduced to public life.  It was essentially a religious ceremony.  And once again there was a quite definite day on which the lad attained manhood.  There was a Roman custom that on the day a boy or girl grew up, the boy offered his ball, and the girl her doll, to Apollo to show that they had put away childish things.

When a boy was an infant in the eyes of the law, he might be the owner of a vast property but he could take no legal decision; he was not in control of his own life; everything was done and directed for him; and, therefore, for all practical purposes he had no more freedom than if he were a slave; but when he became a man he entered into his full inheritance.

So — Paul argues — in the childhood of the world, the law held sway.  But the law was only elementary knowledge.  To describe it Paul uses the word stoicheia (GSN4747).  A stoicheion was originally a line of things; for instance, it can mean a file of soldiers.  But it came to mean the ABC, and then any elementary knowledge.

It has another meaning which some would see here the elements of which the world is composed, and in particular, the stars.  The ancient world was haunted by a belief in astrology.  If a man was born under a certain star his fate, they believed, was settled.  Men lived under the tyranny of the stars and longed for release.  Some scholars think that Paul is saying that at one time the Galatians had been tyrannised by their belief in the baleful influence of the stars.  But the whole passage seems to make it necessary to take stoicheia (GSN4747) in the sense of rudimentary knowledge.

Paul says that when the Galatiansand indeed all men — were mere children, they were under the tyranny of the law; then, when everything was ready, Christ came and released men from that tyranny.  So now men are no longer slaves of the law; they have become sons and have entered into their inheritance.  The childhood which belonged to the law should be past; the freedom of manhood has come.

The proof that we are sons comes from the instinctive cry of the heart.  In man’s deepest need he cries, “Father!” to God.  Paul uses the double phrase, “Abba! Father!”  Abba (GSN0005) is the Aramaic word for Father.  It must have been often on Jesus’ lips, and its sound was so sacred that men kept it in the original tongue.  This instinctive cry of man’s heart Paul believes to be the work of the Holy Spirit.  If our hearts so cry, we know that we are sons, and all the inheritance of grace is ours.

For Paul, he who governed his life by slavery to the law was still a child; he who had learned the way of grace had become a mature man in the Christian faith.



Galatians 4:8-11   There was a time when you did not know God, and when you were slaves to gods who are no gods at all; but now that you know God or rather now that god knows you — how can you turn back again to the weak and poverty-stricken elementary things, for it is to them that you wish to be enslaved all over again?  You meticulously observe days and months and seasons and years.  I am afraid for you, lest all the labour I spent on you is to go for nothing.

Paul is still basing on the conception that the law is an elementary stage in religion, and that the mature man is he who takes his stand on grace.  The law was all right in the old days when they did not know any better.  But now they have come to know God and his grace.  Then Paul corrects himself — man cannot by his own efforts know God; God of his grace reveals himself to man.  We can never seek God unless he has already found us. (This caused me to reconsider what the bridegroom said to the five “foolish” virgins in Matthew 25:11-12So Paul demands, “Are you now going back to a stage that you should have left behind long ago?”

He calls the elementary things, the religion based on law, weak antipoverty-stricken.

  • (i) It is weak because it is helpless.  It can define sin; it can convict a man of sin; but it can neither find for him forgiveness for past sin nor strength to conquer future sin.
  • (ii) It is poverty-stricken in comparison with the splendour of grace.  By its very nature the law can deal with only one situation.  For every fresh situation man needs a fresh law; but the wonder of grace is that it is poikilos (GSN4164), which means variegated, many-coloured.  That is to say, there is no possible situation in life which grace cannot match; it is sufficient for all things.

One of the features of Jewish law was its observance of special times.  In this passage the days are the Sabbaths of each week; the months are the new moons; the seasons are the great annual feasts like the Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles; the years are the Sabbatic years, that is, every seventh.  The failure of a religion which is dependent on special occasions is that almost inevitably it divides days into sacred and secular; and the further almost inevitable step is that when a man has meticulously observed the sacred days he is liable to think that he has discharged his duty to God.

Although that was the religion of legalism, it was very far from being the prophetic religion.  It has been said that, “The ancient Hebrew people had no word in their language to correspond to the word `religion’ as it is commonly used today.  The whole of life as they saw it came from God, and was subject to his law and governance.  There could be no separate part of it in their thought labelled `religion.’

“Jesus Christ did not say, `I am come that they may have religion,’ but, `I am come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.'”  To make religion a thing of special times is to make it an external thingFor the real Christian every day is God’s day.

It was Paul’s fear  that men who had once known the splendour of grace would slip back to legalism, and that men who had once lived in the presence of God would shut him up to special days.



Galatians 4:12   Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, because I became as you are.

Paul makes not a theological but a personal appeal. He reminds them that for their sake he had become a Gentile; he had cut adrift from the traditions in which he had been brought up and become what they are; and his appeal is that they should not seek to become Jews but might become like himself.

Notice how the New Living Translation renders Galatians 4:12 …

12 Dear brothers and sisters,[f] I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles — free from those laws.  






1 thought on “Monday Reverb – 01January2024”

  1. good morning, powerful message. I am forever grateful to you for helping me to understand the scriptures much clearer. May God’s blessings be on all who are involved in making this possible

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