"Nevertheless then, when ye knew not Elohiym, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after ye have known God, or rather are known by God, how turn ye to the weak and beggarly elements, unto which ye desire again to be in bondage. Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years."
Let's talk about some of the terms and phrases that Sha'ul uses here. It is generally understood by most Christians scholars that it is the 'Jews' who did not 'receive' the Messiah, and it was the world (gentiles, nations) that did not 'know' him. This is drawn from several places, not the least of which is Yochanan 1:9-11
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world KNEW HIM NOT. He came unto HIS OWN, and His own RECEIVED HIM NOT."
This identification of Gentiles as being those who in the past worshipped other gods and 'knew not Elohiym', continues to fit the context of the letter which is generally to Gentiles. They are the ones, according to Yochanan the apostle, who did not KNOW the Messiah.
Weak and beggarly are 'asthenes and ptochos respectively in the Greek. These are words that are dominantly translated as 'sick' and 'poor' in the Brit Chadashah (Mattityahu 19:21, 25:39; Luke 14:21; Acts 5:16; Hitgalut 3:17). The word 'elements' here is the Greek word stoicheion. This word in it's root means 'a way to walk'. It is best used in Colossians 2.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the RUDIMENTS of the world, and not after the Messiah."
Here we see again the direct relationship between worldy philosophies, vain deceit, traditions of men, and the rudiments or elements of the world. Here, and in our Galatians text, we have no references to the ways of our Creator as established and taught in the Tenakh. Although the Torah of YHVH is not designed to atone for your sin, it is dramatically different from the 'law' of the Gentiles in that it contains the issues of life. The 'works of the law' or our own works do not bless us, only the Torah of YHVH can do that (D'varim 11:27, 28:1-13). In our Galatians text, Sha'ul is saying, "I have delivered you from the sick and beggarly ways you used to walk, do not go back to your old ways." Once a person is free from bondage and can get up and stand, Torah then teaches us how to walk.
Sha'ul warns us in verse 9 not to desire to place yourself back in bondage again. The word bondage is the same word as a servant. Sha'ul spent a good deal of time explaining the two kinds of servants in the 6th chapter of the book of Romans.
"But 'Elohiym be thanked, that whereas ye were the SERVANTS of SIN, ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being, then, made free from SIN, ye became the SERVANTS of RIGHTEOUSNESS."
Yahshua said it best in Yochanan 8:31-34:
"Then said Yahshua to those Yehudim who believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We are Avraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man. How sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Yahshua answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin."
Yahshua, in Yochanan 8:28-29, had just finished saying that everything He says and does comes from the Father. The conclusion is that if one continues in the word, he shall be free, or one can remain a servant of sin. Trusting in the Messiah and continuing in the word of His father sets you free from sin.
"Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years."
The Tenakh is full of warnings by YHVH to stay away from the astrologers, observers of times, and stargazers of the nations (D'varim 4:19, 18:10-11; Yesha'yahu 47:3; Daniel 2:2). These ungodly cultures sought the movement of celestial bodies to advise their lives and their futures. They depended upon heavenly formations as indicators of the coming wrath of the gods or the pouring out of their grace. Certain days and months were bad luck because of the positions of various constellations. These observances kept their followers in bondage to them. This verse has nothing to do with the ordained beginning of months, times, and years as given to us by our Creator from the very beginning. I would like to know what it is that lives within us that drives us to accept the teaching that Yahshua made obsolete the observances that His Father gave, but has no problem with the pagan observances of days, months, times, and years. I would take that a step further. Why does the Christian religion teach that man's laws are for today but God's laws are not? It has always been true that man, in general, cannot tolerate the 613 commandments of the God of Israel, and only rarely complains about the tens of thousands of laws propagated by his own country.
If Galatians 4 is taken in the context of ALL of scripture, then the reference here is to Gentiles who have been delivered from their 'own works' and are exhorted not to go back to them or their 'gods' for deliverance. Bondage is always in reference to sin. Torah is never called 'weak and beggarly', and ALL cultures observe their own days, and months, and times, and years. I believe that if you study scripture very carefully, you will see that the problem from the beginning has always been the pitiful behavior of man and not the validity of Torah.