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Sanctity of Human Life Sunday: O Weep and O Wail Print E-mail
Sanctity of Human Life
Sunday, 16 January 2011

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The abortion epidemic in our country is a continual tragedy.  The statistics are absolutely staggering.  Since abortion was legalized in 1973, over 53 million babies have been aborted.   In 2008, 1.2 million babies were aborted.  That translates into about 100,000 babies/month, over 3,000/day, and around 140 every hour.  As the handout points out, every year more unborn babies are killed than the number of Americans who died in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Persian Gulf War, all combined.  Every year this is happening.  A recent report noted that in New York City 40% of all pregnancies end in abortion and 60% of African-American pregnancies end in abortion.   These numbers are hard to comprehend to say the least.  When American soldiers or citizens are killed we rightly mourn their loss.  We grieve over them.  The nation grieves.  Yet, what about the 1.2 million babies who died just this past year?  Where is the outrage over this loss?  Where is the grief for these deaths?

Every year we set aside the third Sunday in January to celebrate the sanctity of human life.  Over the past few years we have talked about fighting against abortion by fighting for adoption and the importance of being radically pro-life.  I have encouraged you to vote, pray, give, adopt, support,  and more as part of your commitment to the Bibleís view that every life is precious.  I want to encourage you to no less this year.  We must do everything we can to fight for life.

Yet, as I reflect on the statistics and try to see each of those 53 million babies as so much more than just a number, I am overwhelmed.  I am awestruck at the sheer weight of such a loss.  A whole generation of children has been aborted.  A whole country of children (Spain has a population around 46 million).  And when I think of hurting women who for whatever reason sought abortion and the fact that there are 1,800 abortion providers in the US and the ever-growing culture of death that surrounds us, I am overcome with grief.  Thus, this morning in our time together, I want us to simply lament the continuing tragedy of abortion.  I want us to look at several passages where we see people grieving over sins and their terrible consequences.  As we look at these, letís just ask the Lord to give us eyes to see abortion for what it is, hearts that are broken for all those involved.

Nehemiah 1:4-11

Letís begin by looking at Nehemiahís prayer in Nehemiah 1:4-11.  Nehemiah lived during the time that many Israelites had been able to return to Jerusalem after the Exile in Babylon.  He gets word that things are not going well in the city.  He then offers the prayer that we read in these verses.  He tells us that he sat down and wept and mourned.  Not only that, but he tells us that he did this for days.  Nehemiah grieved over the situation in Jerusalem.  But not only that, he grieved over what had got Israel to this point.  He admits the sins of the people and his own sins.  He is grieved for their collective guilt before God.  He confesses that they have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.  Nehemiah is broken over the situation in Israel.  He is broken over the sin of the people and the sin of his own.  Such rampant rebellion against the Lord causes him great grief and leads him to call desperately on the Lord for help.

Now I should note at this point that I do not want to equate Israel with America.  We are no longer under the Old Covenant.  Under the New Covenant, Godís people are not made up of any particular nationality.  Rather, as we have seen repeatedly in Romans, God sent Christ to redeem people from both Jews and Gentiles.  Thus, we want to avoid seeing all the prayers for the nation of Israel as prayers for America.  Yet, I think we can note and learn from Nehemiahís grief over his sins and the sins of the people.  Such mourning is an appropriate response to sin and its consequences.  We should be broken.  We should be grieved.  Our hearts should be heavy for the sin that is running rampant in our own lives and in the lives of others.  And like Nehemiah, we must humble ourselves and recognize our own sins, our own failures.  And like him, we must let such brokenness drive us to the Lord, the only one who can heal and restore.

The Prophets

We read repeatedly in the prophets of the call to weep and wail over the sins of Israel.  Isaiah notes how the Lord called for weeping and mourning in Jerusalem but the people only responded with continual rebellion (22:1-14).  Yet, he goes on to note that the people will weep and mourn over the consequences of their sins (33:5-8).  Jeremiah, who is often referred to as the weeping prophet, writes of his anguish over the sin in Israel and its coming destruction.  He writes: My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me (8:18) and goes on to describe the rebellion of Godís people (8:18-9:26).  After Jerusalem was destroyed in 586, it seems that Jeremiah recorded his mourning over the city in the book of Lamentations.  He writes: My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city (2:11).  Ezekiel offers a lamentation for the princes of Israel and the destruction of Godís people (chapter 19).  Thus, in all of the Major Prophets we see the response of mourning over the sins of Israel.

The Minor Prophets are no different.  Joel calls for the priests and ministers to lament and wail over the disobedience of the people in their worship (1:13).  Micah notes his same response to the idolatry that was rampant in Judah.  He writes: For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches (1:8).  He is broken over the people giving themselves to idolatry and injustice.  Israel was filled with rebellion and bloodshed.  The prophets in their different times and different ways, called for Israel to mourn her sins, repent of her sins, and to turn from her sins.  We too, should mourn over sins, mourn over injustice, and do all we can to encourage repentance.

The New Testament

Let me just mention a couple of passages in the New Testament.  First, look at Luke 7:37-39.  This story in Jesusí life is pretty familiar to us.  Luke tells us that this woman was a sinner, which probably means that her sin was public and well-known (possibly prostitution).  I have always noted the fact that she anointed Christ with the ointment, but mixed in with the oil was her tears.  Luke tells us that she was weeping at the feet of Christ.  She was broken over her sin in the presence of Jesus.  She wept for the hope of redemption that she found in Him.  Repentance (and salvation) begins with such brokenness.  May we be broken over our sins at the feet of Christ.  We might be tempted to be judgmental and overly critical towards others and their sins, but we must realize that we are all like this woman: sinners at the feet of Christ.  May such truth humble us before the Lord.

Second, look at 1 Corinthians 5:2.  Again, we are familiar with the issue that Paul is addressing in this chapter.  A man in the Church in Corinth was sleeping with his Fatherís wife.  Paul writes 1 Corinthians 5 to instruct the Corinthians concerning how they must deal with this situation.  Yet he begins with a rebuke.  He tells them: And you are arrogant!  Ought you not rather to mourn?  The Corinthians were actually being arrogant for some reason.  Paul rebukes this attitude and tells them that they should be mourning over such obvious sin.  They should be broken over this situation.  Yes they must act (and he will instruct them in how to do so in the rest of the chapter), but he begins by calling them to mourn over such sin.

Third, look at James 4:9.  James rebukes his readers for their quarrels with each other and their friendship with the world.  He notes Godís opposition to the proud.  Then, beginning in verse 7, he gives them several imperatives back to back.  They are to submit to God, resist the Devil, draw near to God, cleanse their hands, and purify their hearts.  Then he says in verse 9: Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  This is not James simply being Mr. Gloom and Doom, for he has encouraged them to be joyful in the Lord earlier in the letter (see 1:2).  Yet, he does encourage them to mourn and weep in light of such sin.  Just as the prophets encouraged those in Israel to mourn over sin and its consequences, so James does here.  He calls them to humility and brokenness.

Thus, we see a repeated pattern in Scripture: a response of mourning and brokenness over sin.  Godís people are to be broken over sin and its horrible consequences.  We are to grieve.  This morning as we think of the abortion epidemic in America and the growing culture of death, how can we not mourn?  We should weep for the 53 million killed.  We should be broken for the mothers involved in these abortions.  We should hurt for the doctors who continue to provide abortions.  We should lament the politicians who continue to support policies that encourage and fund abortions.  We should weep.  We should wail.  We should mourn.

Yet, we do not stay there.  We are not broken simply for the sake of being broken.  No, the point is to be so broken that we cannot help but look to the Lord.  This was Jamesí and Paulís hope for the people to whom they wrote.  This was the womenís hope as she cried at the Saviorís feet.  And this was the hope of the prophets as they called for mourning among the Israelites.  We see this hope captured well in Lamentations 3:21-24.  Look at those verses with me.  Jeremiahís hope was in the steadfast love of the Lord and His continual mercies.  The hope of James and Paul and the woman at Jesusí feet was the same.  As we weep and mourn over the sin of abortion, may we look to the Lord and to the gospel for hope.  May we cry out for revival and repentance and faith in the work of Christ on the cross.  He is our true hope!  May our tears drive us to His feet, crying out for His mercy.  Amen.

According to Baptist Press article found here: http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=34441
2  Statistics noted in the article found here:

~ William Marshall ~

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