Abortion is not new. I don’t just mean because it’s been legal for close to double my lifetime of 22 years. No, the murdering of children has been around for centuries. It may not look the same through the ages, but for centuries and millennia, people have been putting their children to death.
We know from various passages in the Old Testament, (Lev. 18:21; 2 Kings 16:3; 21:6; Jer. 32:35) that many cultures surrounding the Promised Land worshiped Molech – a false god who was worshiped by the burning of children. In the Law, the Lord harshly condemns this child-sacrificing worship of false gods, along with the worship of all idols. Leviticus 20:1-6 is a vivid warning against such murderous idolatry. The Lord commands that all who offer their children as a sacrifice to Molech ought to be stoned. This is a serious sin against the Lord, because child sacrifice destroys the image of God as an act of worship to an idol; idols that are “silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths” (Psalm 135:15-17). For millennia, humans have been destroying their fellow image-bearers of God’s glory, for the sake of idols that are crafted by human hands.
Also in Psalm 135, the Psalmist said in verse 18 that all who make these idols will become like them, as do all who trust in them. We see this truth in the fact that many evil, idolatrous people have also required the death of children. The Christmas season reminds us of a well-known mass-murder of children. Every year, we read the Christmas story and glorify God for the dreams by which he led the Magi to return to their homes by another route so as not to tell Herod where Jesus was, and the dream by which he led Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath. And then we grieve to know that many Hebrew boys under the age of two were slaughtered by Herod’s decree in his vain attempt to kill the one who was born King of the Jews. (Matthew 2:1-18)
This, however, was not the first time that Israel suffered the mass murder of their children. When a new Pharaoh who did not know Joesph rose to power in Egypt, he felt threatened by the Hebrews because the Lord blessed them and caused them to multiply. So, he ordered that every male child was to be put to death. When Shiphrah and Puah obeyed God rather than men, thus refusing to obey Pharaoh in his sin, he ordered that these baby boys be thrown into the Nile. (Exodus 1:8-22)
The common thread in all of these accounts, from the worship of Molech to Pharaoh and Herod, is Satan’s subtle hatred toward those who bear the image of God. Satan hates children because of God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 that the seed of the woman would one day crush the head of the serpent. Yet in both of these accounts, God rescued and raised up a deliverer for his people. From the Nile he rescued Moses, and from Bethlehem he rescued his Son.
The enemy’s attack on children is indeed subtle. These child sacrifices were never offered as a direct declaration of allegiance to the devil – they were offered as worship to appease a false god and gain his protection, to remove the threat of a mighty nation, and to remove the threat that Israel’s true and rightful King posed to the wicked Herod. The devil works in a similar subtle manner today through the slaughter of the unborn. Abortion is not seen as devil-worship. It is a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. It is because now isn’t the right time. No one would understand. I do not say this to belittle the circumstances in which women find themselves; many mothers are in devastating circumstances and they truly don’t see a way out. However, we must see that murdering children is not the answer. The history of child-sacrifice and the mass-murder of children in Israel’s history teaches us that truth. No, the answer is something glorious. The answer is the child who was rescued from the slaughter in Bethlehem all those years ago. The answer is Jesus, the holy Lamb of God who was led to the slaughter for us.
This is the amazing truth. While false gods and evil kings demand the death of children to appease their wrath, the one true God, the LORD alone, sent HIS Son into the world bear the weight of his wrath against sin for those who believe. This truth is shocking. We as people deserve God’s wrath for our sin. We deserve to die. We deserve to be enslaved to false gods, evil kings, our own convenience, fear, and the opinions of others – leading to our death, and the death of our unborn children. The writer of Hebrews shows us what happens when this slavery to fear meets the Son of God, made flesh for us:
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:14-17).
We deserve this life of slavery, but God sent his Son to deliver us. This is unfathomable. We, who sacrifice children to worship false gods like Molech, or abort them for idols of the heart like convenience, timing, security, fear, reproductive rights, and the opinions of others, have been given God’s Son as the only sacrifice that can free us from our fear of death. Elsewhere in Hebrews, we are given a bigger picture of what Jesus’ sacrifice has done for us – “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16). This is what our gracious God requires of us – to trust wholly in the sacrifice he has provided. Jesus is the merciful and faithful high priest for all who trust in him. Calling women not to abort their children is primarily about calling them to trust in the sacrifice of God’s Son for the forgiveness of sin.
This is the hope for all people, including men and women who have been involved in abortion. Mothers and fathers, clinic directors, doctors, nurses, and escorts can all find forgiveness by repenting of their sin and trusting in Jesus for forgiveness. Through death, Jesus destroyed the one who has the power of death – the devil. And he delivers ALL who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Heb. 2:14-15). There is grace and forgiveness for all who put their hope in the sacrifice of God’s Son for the forgiveness of their sin!
The words of the hymn “How Great Thou Art”, in a verse added by Stuart Hine when he translated the hymn into English, perfectly describe the amazing nature of this truth. “And when I think, that God his Son not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in; that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, he bled and died, to take away my sin.” When we meditate on this truth, how could we respond with anything other than, “Then sings my soul, my saviour, God, to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art!”