Tuesday, November 06, 2012

God's Heavenly Ultrasounds

There was a lot of discussion about women's reproductive rights and mandatory ultrasounds in the presidential election. Biblically speaking, I did not see evidence in Scripture for "mandatory" ultrasounds while working on this post. God decided to give us a "glimpse" at pre-natal activity in only a few rare occasions to underscore, I believe, His Sovereign Will for honoring the sanctity of life.

I love the Bible. Modern technology has nothing on it. Pregnant women often have ultrasounds in order to look at their babies while they are in the womb. Ultrasounds help determine the sex of the baby and can detect abnormalities or irregularities before the baby is born. Many people celebrate this technological advancement if for no other reason than it helps alleviate the uncertainty at baby showers of what to get the expectant mother. What was thought of as a medical breakthrough some forty years ago was nothing new to God. God's heavenly ultrasounds are in the Bible! The prophet Isaiah said, "Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name" (Isaiah 49:1). The psalmist said,"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb" (Psalm 139:13).
 
Two stories in the Bible come to mind of God's heavenly ultrasounds, a look at the prenatal activity of unborn babies in the womb. The first biblical account is of Rebekah's pregnancy with fraternal twins, Jacob and Esau. Genesis 25:22-ff states the babies "jostled" each other within her (NIV), and King James states they "struggled together within her." When Rebekah inquired of the Lord as to what all the comotion was about, He told her "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." (NIV). The details of the pre-natal events suggest, for the sake of this narrative, how important these little lives already were not only to their mother and father but also to God in fulfilling His purpose. And on the day of their births, the Bible says, Jacob came out "grasping Esau's heel."
The story of Mary's visit with her cousin Elizabeth suggests the importance of pre-natal life, and gives a glimpse at John the Baptist before His birth. We often focus on Elizabeth being filled with the Holy Spirit and what she said about Mary being blessed among women and the fruit of her womb being blessed. We gloss over what she says about her own baby John. Elizabeth told Mary "As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy" (Luke 1:44). What is important here is that both mother and baby responded to Mary's voice. At the sound of Mary's voice, baby John, "leaped for joy." The bible says we can know the tree by the fruit it bears. (Matt. 12:33). The fruit of Elizabeth's womb contained the future heralder of the coming King, and in the presence of God, the unborn Savior of the world (pre-natal, don't miss that, yet God), baby John received through the Holy Spirit on the job training as he leaps, not for fear or trepidation, but for joy! And Elizabeth was six months pregnant at the time. Moreover, the angel of the Lord had previously appeared to Zechariah, told him his prayer for a child had been heard, what sex the baby would be, what to name the baby, that he was never to have strong drink, and finally the angel said, "he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth" (Luke 1:11-15 NIV).

These stories are God's heavenly ultrasounds. Certainly God's explanation to Rebekah helped bring clarity and calmness to her spirit. She learned she was pregnant not with one superly overactive large baby, but with twins. She learned their sex, and sometime important about their destinies. John says this about himself as an adult near the end of his ministry of repentance and baptism, "The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He (Jesus) must become greater. I must become less" (John 3:29-30). We know John was joyful before birth and he was joyful at the end of his ministry.
 
These "heavenly ultrasouds" teach us that all human life should be valued and appreciated. Children are to be reared in the love and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). God has a plan and purpose for their lives, that is to bring glory and honor to Him (Ephesians 3:20-21). Jesus saves!

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