Copyright © 1997 AFLM
May/June, 1997 Volume XII Number 6 - COMMENTARY
by David J. Liebherr
With multitudes of sacrifices, the worshippers enter into the courts of God. It is the Lord's day and the entire convocation of God's people begin to spread their hands in prayer -- to feast before God according to His own word. The burnt offering is on the altar -- the blood of bulls, lambs, and goats is offered as an atoning sacrifice just as the Lord instructed. The aroma of the burning incense mingled with the smoke of the altar rises to God along with the prayers and worship of the congregation. By all appearances the temple, in this sacred moment, epitomizes the true worship of God in Old Testament Israel.
Suddenly, a voice trumpets forth a prophetic outburst from among the worshipping throng:
The multitude of sacrifices, what good are they to Me? says the Lord. I have more than enough burnt offerings. I have no pleasure in blood. Stop bringing Me meaningless offerings. Your incense is detestable to Me. I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your appointed feast My soul hates. (Isaiah 1: 1-14)
The shocked, questioning murmur reverberates throughout the congregation. Who is this man? Does he not see the sacredness of this assembly? Who would raise such a message among the people of God? And why would the Lord speak to us in such a manner. We have obeyed His commandments! Look! The blood for our atonement has been applied to the altar! We are the Lord's holy nation! We are His royal priesthood! Our many prayers prove it so!
The prophet continues, When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you: even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen! (Isaiah 1: 15)
Why? Ask the people in a disbelieving, agitated tone bordering on raging offense.
The prophet draws a deep inspired breath and declares to Israel its damning sin, Your hands are full of blood! (Isaiah 1: 15)
Christian, could it be that our churches today are in the same place as Israel found herself in the days of Isaiah -- right in form, creed, worship, ordinances, and prayer yet far removed from God and His blessing because we have blood on our hands?
Could it be that while we strive to build His Church, that instead, because we have defied God on a defining divine issue, our centers of worship have become indeed "evil assemblies?"
But We're pro-life . . .
"But we're pro-life," you say. "We preach the sanctity of human life. We have instituted a pro-life strategy of action in our church! What then is this defining divine issue of blood guilt?"
The prophetic answer: "There is abortion -- the murder of many children -- going on right in your own church -- even as you read this. When you pastors mount your pulpit this Sunday and lift your hands to God in prayer along with the congregation, the fact may be that there is blood on your hands before God."
You may feel the shock of disbelief even as Israel did at such an accusation. Let me continue.
If Christian couples in your church are using the following listed "birth control" chemicals or devices, you can be certain that conceived human beings -- as precious in God's eyes as you or I -- are dying in your congregation. "The Pill," Norplant, Depo-Provera, and the IUD are commonly used "birth control" methods by women in the world and the church alike. These chemicals are known to be abortifacient drugs. They allow for a phenomenon known as "break through ovulation." Instead of "preventing pregnancy," these drugs often allow fertilization. At that moment, a human being is conceived. The drugs then make the woman's womb hostile to that child. Instead of implanting and growing, the child is rejected and starved -- she or he dies and is expelled.
By these methods, an estimated 10 million children die each year in the U.S.!
Christian, how many of these little ones die in our churches annually?
Let us reason together.
I contend that we will never know the blessings of God in the American Church until we tackle this issue of abortion in the Church. In fact, God reasons with us in Isaiah 1: 18-20 about our blood guilt today as he did with Israel long ago:
Come let us reason together . . . If you are willing and obedient you will eat the best from the land, but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.
You may say, "I will not, as a believer (or pastor), get involved in such a sensitive matter between husbands and wives in my congregation."
Then you have reasoned with the Almighty toward judgment "for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it" (v. 20) about people of bloody hands.
Instead, let us reason with God toward forgiveness of this scarlet blemish on our robes. Let us apply ourselves to His righteous course on this issue that defines us in God's eyes as members of "holy churches" or "evil assemblies."
Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of My sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
This is God's challenge and command.
This Sunday, as you look at your brethren, see the people as God sees them. See the hidden faces of those "being knitted together in their mother's wombs" whose "frames are not hidden from God in the secret place." (Psalm 139: 13-16)
Preach, counsel the pre-married, and educate yourself and your brethren on abortion in the church by chemicals and devices.
Let us not conform to the pattern of this age where the term "birth control" often masks the murder of innocent people. If we give an inch on the sanctity of human life, from fertilization to natural death, the foundations of God's blessing upon us will crumble.
David J. Liebherr is pastor of Acts Church in Milwaukee, WI.