48 years ago this week, the US Supreme Court, in a travesty of judicial overreach, superseded the laws of the 50 states and made abortion a legal right for any reason, and through all 9 months of pregnancy.
Right here in Michigan, a woman named Myra took advantage of that legality, and aborted her child. To this day she deeply regrets it. Last year at the March For Life in Washington DC, Myra said this: “I was 23 years old and 24 weeks pregnant when I walked into a cold, sterile clinic and had a saline abortion. 36 hours later I walked out of the abortion clinic not yet realizing that I had not only caused the death of my child, but my own emotional death embedded in my heart, soul and mind.”
From January 22, 1973 to yesterday morning (January 15, 2021), that scenario has played out nearly 62.5 million times. That is how many babies have been violently put to death in their mothers’ wombs. Their innocent blood cries out against us. Should it surprise us, then, to see this once-great nation unraveling so swiftly before our eyes? I believe we long ago forfeited any right to claim God’s protection or blessing.
“See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:39)
I. God’s ‘Default Setting’ for Humanity
(Life-if we would simply not interfere!)
But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you… and let the fish of the sea declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing… (Job 12:7-10)
Whenever you buy a computer, a television, an alarm system or any kind of sophisticated electronic device, it comes out of the box with factory pre-settings which govern how the unit will operate if you don’t manually make any changes. We call those ‘default settings’.
When a woman becomes pregnant, naturally, she needs to pay a little more attention to her diet, and get additional rest, but other than that, there’s nothing more she needs to do. Once that life is set in motion, the genetic encoding already there will function on its own, according to God’s design, and nine months later, her baby boy or girl will be born. That’s God’s ‘default setting’ – human life begetting human life; human life growing and developing on its own.
Sadly, miscarriages do occur, as do stillbirths, though rarer; and we really need to show compassion to those who are grieving the loss of a child in this way. God’s ways are beyond our understanding; we need to know that He is just, and He alone determines the number of our days.
But other than a miscarriage, it requires an act of willful and forceful intervention to stop that process. We must be clear about this: abortion is not ‘health care’. It is not remedial surgery. And pregnancy is not a sickness from which one needs a remedy. Abortion isn’t therapeutic. It is anti-therapeutic. It ends one life and damages the well-being of another.
Abortion is violent interference in the process of human life, and deep down everyone knows it. That’s why abortion activists play semantical games and obfuscate when they speak about it; they have to! The scientific evidence for when human life begins is so compelling, and the brutal reality of what happens in an abortion so grotesque, that it requires extraordinary leaps into illogic and deception to convince ourselves that it’s simply a “choice”.
II. How Did We Get to this Place?
(The high cost of spiritual attrition)
The wicked will be turned back to Sheol, even all the nations who forget God (Psalm 9:17).
It would be a mistake to think that everything was fine before January 22, 1973. Let’s be honest; like every nation that has ever existed, America has stains on our otherwise noble history. Broken treaties, human slavery, ethnic segregation, bigotry. And though far fewer in number, there were abortions before 1973. So how did we become a nation that shrugs indifferently at the killing of over a million babies each year? Let’s face it, our moral decline didn’t happen overnight; it was gradual, and most Americans weren’t paying attention. Like Israel, we stopped fearing God and we didn’t understand the times.
No sooner did our people enter the Promised Land and begin to enjoy prosperity than we let our guard down. We went on ‘spiritual auto-pilot’, and before long lapsed into idolatry, greed, sexual promiscuity, injustice, wickedness, and violence.
The United States has enjoyed generations of prosperity, but along the way we abandoned the fear of the Lord. Early signs of it included when schools like Princeton, Yale and Harvard, which began as divinity schools, embraced the so-called ‘enlightenment’ and became bastions of liberalism. At its inauguration in 1636, Harvard’s motto was Veritas pro Christo et Ecclesiae – “Truth for Christ and Church”. It has since been reduced to Veritas.
Many historians agree that the steep decline began in the late 1950’s and accelerated in the 1960’s, when many young people rejected the moral principles of their parents’ generation. The older generation had come to accept certain moral values as a given, but couldn’t necessarily articulate the reasons, which are rooted in Scripture; and people weren’t reading their Bible very much.
The ‘sexual revolution’ of the 60’s and 70’s, despite its promise of purer love and peace, left people just as empty and aimless as they were before; only now also disillusioned and angry, and carrying new and devastating diseases, and unplanned pregnancies.
About the same time that moral restraints were thrown off, so was respect for the Bible and the fear of the Lord. The Ten Commandments were systematically removed from school rooms and houses of justice.
Teaching or even reading the Bible in the classroom was outlawed in public schools. And, with disregard for God and His Word, came disregard for the sanctity of human life. That’s what happens when a people abandon reverence for Adonai. Rabbi Paul put it this way:
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools… And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice… (Romans 1:21-22, 28-29)
Things go with things. When human life was redefined to exclude the baby in the womb, other societal evils also proliferated. Murder rates skyrocketed. Riots ensued around the country. Activist judges with evil agendas like so-called ‘euthanasia’ ordered the withholding of food and water from Terry Schiavo, who wanted to live, but was unable to speak in her own defense, leading to her agonizing and painful death.
Things go with things. Politeness in political discourse has all but vanished; wisdom and discernment have been replaced by political correctness. And make no mistake about it: cancel culture is upon us. Unpopular views evoke violent outrage and are suppressed or silenced altogether – even on college campuses, which were once celebrated as havens for the free exchange of ideas. And no issue evokes as much anger, even violent opposition, as that of abortion. How did we get to this place? We abandoned the God of Israel.
III. Pharaoh, Haman, Herod, Hitler and Harris
(Profiles in depravity, paranoia, and selfish ambition)
Adonai saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time (Genesis 6:5).
God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one (Psalm 53:2-3).
What causes people to turn to killing? The short answer is sin. Some resort to murder out of paranoia; others from uncontrolled hatred, and still others from nothing more complicated than just plain selfish ambition. Pharaoh and Herod each ordered the killing of newborn Israeli baby boys out of paranoia. Pharaoh feared that the Jewish people, who had grown numerous, might eventually turn against him. Satan, who knew that the Messiah must come through the Jewish people, put it in Pharaoh’s heart to kill their sons, but he failed to prevent the birth of Moses, the one who would eventually lead Israel out of Egypt. And we should remember the courage of the midwives who, despite orders from Pharaoh, spared the lives of the baby boys.
In the fifth century BC, Haman set out to destroy every Jew in Persia. For him it was mindless hatred, triggered ostensibly by the refusal of one Jewish man, Mordecai, to bow down and show him honor. But for Haman it was more likely the desire for retribution, since he was descended from Agag, king of the Amalekites. You may recall that God instructed Israel in the Torah to destroy the Amalekites. King Saul and King David were the ones commissioned to see it through. Gratefully, Haman’s truly diabolical plan was thwarted by a series of God-ordained “coincidences” and our people survived and even flourished in Persia.
Centuries later, Herod, paranoid that the newly-born Messiah posed a threat to his kingship, responded just like Pharaoh, ordering the massacre of all Israeli baby boys two years of age and under. Once again, a powerful human leader acted as a pawn for Satan. But once again Satan missed his intended target, and Messiah Yeshua was kept safe, and accomplished redemption for mankind. Victory is His!
But meanwhile, consider the human toll.
Fast forward to the middle of the Twentieth Century. Hitler’s ambitions were of a different sort. By eradicating every people group he deemed genetically inferior, Hitler believed that he could engineer a master race of humanity, and usher in a utopia on earth. And so he targeted Jews, Gypsies, Blacks, Poles, Russian and Slavic prisoners, and those with birth defects or other disabilities. Young or old, it didn’t matter; of the six million Jewish people he had murdered, one million were children.
Hitler was a eugenicist. He believed mankind could realize its ultimate potential if genetically “inferior” groups could be stopped from reproducing. The same belief was held by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, also an avowed eugenicist. Planned Parenthood is, of course, the leading abortion provider in the United States.
Doctors who perform abortions aren’t the only perpetrators. Those in government, in academia, in journalism, and in entertainment who use their influence and authority to encourage abortion are also culpable.
And that brings us to Kamala Harris – as in Vice-President elect Kamala Harris. Why do I mention her in this sermon? Do you remember how, back in 2015, David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life organization, exposed Planned Parenthood’s grotesque and illegal selling of fetal body parts? Instead of taking action against Planned Parenthood, then Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris, launched an investigation and prosecuted Mr. Daleiden. She abused her authority to protect the guilty and punish the innocent.
Proverbs 17:15 says, The one who acquits the guilty and the one who condemns the innocent – both of them are an abomination to the Lord. We should all be praying for those in government, and in other places of influence to be given the grace of God to repent.
IV. Abortion and the Amalekites
(What God thinks about targeting the weak and the defenseless)
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4)
I mentioned that God directed Israel to destroy the Amalekites. Why? What did they do differently from all the other “ites” that we read about in the Torah? The answer is found in Deuteronomy chapter 25.
Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. Therefore, when the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land He is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget! (Deut. 25:17-19)
Israel was confronted by several different enemies as they made their way into the Promised Land, and we faced even more enemies once we settled there. But only this one group was singled out by God for destruction. You see, ordinarily those military encounters were army-to-army. But we’re told that when our people had just come out of Egypt, desperately weary and traveling through the wilderness, the Amalekites ambushed us, attacking at the rear. That means they targeted the elderly, the sick and injured, and mothers with young children – the very people struggling to keep up. It was cowardly and despicable, and earned the Amalekites a curse from Adonai in perpetuity.
Justice and protection on behalf of the weak and vulnerable is a prevalent a theme in the Torah and the Prophets, and it really shines through in the Gospel. It gives us a glimpse into the heart of God – the love He has for human beings, and the high value He places on our lives, however brief they are on this earth.
There have always been those in society who were weak and vulnerable, and there have always been ruthless opportunists lying in wait to profit from it. We are not to stand idly by and let it happen. Proverbs charges us with their defense and rescue.
Rescue those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to the slaughter, oh hold them back! If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He who weighs the hearts not consider it? And does He who watches over your soul not know it? And will He not repay a person according to his work? (Proverbs 24:11-12)
Remember, too, these words were written to the people of God, not to the heathen. We have a higher calling. We need to fulfill it.
We also need to reject the idea that it’s an “either-or” proposition – that we must choose between preaching the Good News or speaking out and acting on the pressing moral issues of our day. John the Baptist managed to both preach the Kingdom and also decry immorality in high places. The Jewish midwives in Egypt, Shifrah and Puah, are remembered eternally with honor for acting on their conscience, rescuing life – even when it meant defying the king.
I am convinced that we will be held accountable if we remain silent in the face of the systematic slaughter of millions of the most defenseless neighbors of ours, the unborn. They are most certainly our neighbors. They are the most vulnerable members of the human family, and they are unable to speak in their own defense.
I realize that in sharing these thoughts on this Sanctity of Human Life Weekend, I am ‘preaching to the choir’. That is, I know that most of you feel as strongly as I do about the need to protect human life in all its stages – the unborn and the elderly, the handicapped and the sick – those who are most vulnerable and most likely to be targeted for elimination.
Before I conclude, let me say something else that is really important. In any gathering of this size, there are likely to be some who have had an abortion, or who condoned an abortion or participated in some way. Please hear this: there is forgiveness! Because Messiah Yeshua willingly offered His own life as a ransom for our sin, there is forgiveness and cleansing and healing when we openly confess our sins to God. Guilt is a good thing – it is meant to bring us to repentance and to run back to the waiting arms of the Living God, where we’ll find mercy and, because of Yeshua, everlasting life.
Allow me to briefly summarize what we have heard.
First, we must respect God’s design, and not interfere with a life already developing according to His will. Second, we must remember where we’ve come from, and that spiritual complacency led us down this path of moral degeneration. Third, we need to recognize that there is a cosmic battle afoot, that Satan frequently uses human agents to do his bidding. We need both discernment and courage if we hope to see an end to this grievous national sin. And finally, we need to embrace our role as those who will not turn a blind eye to the plight of the weak and defenseless, but speak out on their behalf. It is the very least we can do if our hearts are beating in concert with the heart of God.
Lord God of Israel, please give each man and woman here at Shema, and all of our brothers and sisters in Yeshua, the courage to speak and to act in the defense of the unborn. May it honor You, and may we walk in the path of that great cloud of witnesses, and, like them, enter eternity with honor, so that we hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”