Living in NW Iowa is living upon the threshold of the Great Plains. The broad flatland stretches as far as the eye can see. The sky seems larger in all of its breadth and beauty. Thunderhead clouds look close enough to touch. On clear nights, God’s promise to Abraham resounds as a cascade of stars prove too numerous to count. “. . . tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: . . . so shall thy seed be” (). What an astounding picture we have of the spiritual children of Abraham, so numerous and lovely.
No matter where we live, which hemisphere or nation, we all have a front-row seat beneath this enormous banner of God’s promise to the church. Showing every night, twinkling gems ordered to perfection in harmonious heavenly constellations. Admission is free. Who needs TV?
When the sun goes down, the rhythm of crickets and outbursts of children fill the air: “There is Polaris the North Star . . . . Oh, I see Orion the Hunter . . . . I found the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, too!” What a delight to sit with family and friends under the stars and meditate upon the promise of God.
This promise was a comfort to Abraham, who was a stranger in a strange land. He worshiped with his household in solitude. How could he ever look upon the stars the same way again? What a thrill as he looked forward to the day of having many brothers and sisters in the Lord.
This is a comfort for us, too. Though a remnant on earth, when gathered into God’s kingdom we will stand amazed at the size of the body of Christ. For, “He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations” ().
We are numerous, yet each child of light is rare and precious. “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels . . .” (). God’s jewels are our jewels. By faithfully raising, training, and teaching His children in the ways of godliness, we are laying up treasures in heaven—a treasure trove of jewels! This makes all our labors, even the hardships, disappointments, and mundane chores, to have purpose. As we look at the stars and think upon God’s promise, all our work on earth takes on new meaning.
The covenant promise is for all His people—single adults and childless couples, too. The children of the congregation are rightly called the “children of the church.” Whether or not we are related by blood, Abraham is father of us all.
Jesus said, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (). The childless apostle Paul said to the saints in Corinth, “. . . for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” ( ). Similarly, the apostle John was speaking of his spiritual children when he wrote the oft-quoted statement, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” ( ).
Together, we raise the children of the church and rejoice when God grants us more children. With the love of Christ, everyone watches out for one another, just as any member of a family would do. We rightly view one another as family members.
We know, of course, that we may have an unbelieving Esau as well as a believing Jacob. We bow before the sovereign, electing God. We rejoice to know that if it pleases Him to save even one of our children, then we have gained that child as co-heir of eternal life.
The world views children quite differently. To them, children are a nuisance, or a means to promote selfish ambition. This showed itself in the media quite a bit last year. When the world’s population reached the seven billion mark, some reproachful media coverage was prompted. For example, MSNBC news interviewed several “notable” figures on the topic of our current world population. Paul Ehrilich, professor of biology at Stanford University and author of The Population Bomb, said, “Governments should all adopt the slogan ‘patriotic citizens stop at two children’ and adjust tax and other policies to discourage over-reproducers and those unethical elements in society that are pronatalist.”
In another interview, actress and feminist Alexandra Paul outdoes Ehrilich’s “stop at two children” plan, a plan that would merely hold population constant. Rather, her contention is to pare down the masses to two billion. Just how she hopes to rid seven out of every ten people living today is not spelled out. Clearly, there is much disdain for large families.
The Devil would love to have us cave in on this. Hasn’t he often attempted to aim his darts at the children in the line of the covenant promise? What an effective way to snuff out the church. Back in the days when Pharaoh ordered the male Israelite babies to be thrown into the river, the Devil was there. He was behind Queen Athaliah’s mass murder of her grandchildren in the line of David. Satan struck again when Herod heard of the birth of Jesus and ordered all the young children of Bethlehem to be slain. He was licking his chops through all of these wicked attempts and many more. “. . . and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born” ().
Today, the Devil is behind abortion, a wickedness growing in intensity. An article in the Journal of Medical Ethics (February 23, 2012) promotes the practice of killing newborns out of the womb. The authors contend that whether in the womb or out of the womb should not matter. Their evil thinking is reaching its logical conclusion.
Still more grievous it is to see abortion’s influence in churches. For example, the Reformed Church in America (RCA) holds to abortion in certain instances. As stated on their website, “. . . we believe, in principle, that abortion ought not to be practiced at all. However, in this complex society, where many times one form of evil is pitted against another form of evil, there could be exceptions. It is our Christian conviction that abortion performed for personal reasons to insure individual convenience ought not to be permitted.”
There are problems with this position. If abortion is allowed because of our “complex society,” then the principle has been compromised. Did they mean only when the life of the mother is in danger, and when the death of the mother would mean the death of the child as well? If that is what they meant, then why would they not have expressed this? Their statement begs the question, “When is abortion the least of two evils?” Could it be pregnancies caused by rape or incest? If this is the case, how senseless to punish the child for what the father has done. It is the criminal who needs to be brought to justice. The RCA stands back from giving any examples, but their ambiguity leaves the door wide open. They give themselves the freedom to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not abortion is the least of two evils.
The devil uses any means possible to prevent Jesus from gathering His lambs. He is behind the laws to limit children, as well as all the scare tactics and ridicule aimed at “unethical pronatalist” parents for having the children the Lord has been pleased to give them. The seed of the serpent will stop at nothing to attack the seed of the woman. Of course, the devil will never overpower God to get at His jewels.
God’s promises are yea and amen. When we are treated as dishonorable and indecent people, we should not be discouraged. We should not listen to this world! By faith, we stand with Moses, who esteemed the “reproach of Christ to be greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (). We believe that Scripture speaks the truth when it says, “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed . . .” ( ).
What an amazing picture we have above us—glorious stars that represent our family in the faith. As we see others added to the family of God, whether born to believing parents or coming from the outside, what a joy this is.
Christ will not return before the very last one is born. We will not know until the last day just how many elect there are. But He knows. Just as He knows with perfect understanding each star in the sky, so He knows with an infinite love each one of His children. Not a one of them is superfluous. Each child of God a treasure, bought with a great price by the precious blood of His only begotten Son. How we pray for God’s grace to raise His covenant children to His glory.
“Our Lord is great, He calls by name and counts the stars of night; His wisdom is unsearchable, and wondrous is His might. The Lord upholds the poor and meek, He brings the wicked low; sing praise to Him and give Him thanks and all His goodness show” (Psalter 403).