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"Rachel Weeps: Abortion's Victims - More than You Might Expect"

May 31, 2015 Jer.31:7-20


Can you remember a sad time in your life that turned more hopeful? When all seemed bleak and fearful, eventually good things resulted? For years in our family, our oldest daughter struggled with an eating disorder. Twice she was hospitalized because of it. It continued to cause stress even after she was married. Doctors told her she might not be able to have children because of the hardship to which she'd subjected her body. But, thanks be to God, she has recovered and is coping better. By the Lord's grace and prayers of others, she and her husband now have three children. We did not lose her; and God has blessed us as grandparents through her offspring.

It was a bleak situation when Jeremiah the prophet wrote chapters 30-33. Scholars pin it at 587 BC, a year after the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians began, and a year before the city finally fell to the invaders. The northern kingdom of Israel with its capital Samaria had already been conquered 134 years earlier by the Assyrians. The prophets linked the destruction of northern and southern kingdoms to people's rebellion against God's ways. 2Kings 16:3f says of Ahaz king of Judah, "Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God.He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites." Even worse was King Manasseh: 21:6,16 "He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists.He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger...Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end..." Terrible crimes - shedding innocent blood, sacrificing their children in the fire just like the pagan nations that preceded them! God rehearses their failures in Jeremiah 32:35, "They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin." What awful deeds that even God would find them "unthinkable" in a manner of speaking! Didn't even "enter [His] mind" that parents would do such things to their own children.

Conditions through the long siege were terrible. When Jerusalem was eventually conquered, the Babylons subjugated the captives with brutal force. Psalm 137:8f recalls the fierce cold-heartedness with which the Babylonian troops eliminated civilians who were not fit to become slaves: "O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us - he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks." Can you imagine, grabbing little babies by the feet and cracking their skulls on stones to kill them? How horrid! How utterly barbaric!

Jeremiah 31:15 is a lamenting verse, very sad, depicting the sorrow of parents whose children have been taken away. It's remarkable because Matthew views it as also applying when King Herod sends soldiers after Jesus' birth to kill the boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem who are two years old or younger (Mt 2:16ff). 31:15 "This is what the LORD says: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more."" Ramah was a town 5 miles north of Jerusalem, through which the inhabitants of Jerusalem would pass on their way to exile in Babylon. "Rachel" was Jacob's favourite wife, grandmother of the 2 prominent tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh that largely made up the northern kingdom. There is "mourning, great weeping," refusal to accept comfort because the grief is too great: one's children have been taken captive (if not killed outright), one never expects to see them again.


Yet, even though everything seems lost and there's still another year to go in the siege before everything unwinds and the Babylonians haul people away beyond the Euphrates, Jeremiah's tone is significantly hopeful in chapters 30-33. God will do something very positive. Perhaps key is Israel's repentant attitude, being sorry for their sins, as confessed in 31:18-19: ""I have surely heard Ephraim's moaning: 'You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined.Restore me, and I will return, because you are the LORD my God.After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast.I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.'" Repentance is so key in starting over-again with God.

The Lord reveals in these verses that He is in fact not just a disciplinarian, but also very caring, providing abundantly, and delighting in His dear children.

First, CARING: vv9f "I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel's father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son...'He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.'" Several caring images there: in an arid climate, providing streams of water; leading on a level path; being a father; watching over someone the way a shepherd watches over a flock.

Second, verse 12 & 14 speak of God's abundant supply for His people: "...they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD - the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds.They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more...I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty," declares the LORD." When the priests enjoy abundance, it implies there have been numerous offerings, which also reflects bounty for the people as they brought their tithes to the temple. Very different from the siege conditions Jeremiah's listeners were experiencing in 587 BC, when women were reduced to cooking their own children (Lam 4:4,8-10).

Third, God assures the people He is very fond of them, delighting in them. Jer 31:20 "Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him.Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him," declares the LORD." A son who's DEAR, who is DELIGHTED in; a father whose "heart yearns" for His children, a parent with "great compassion". As Lamentations 3:32 says, "Though he [the Lord] brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love." 1John 3(1) exults in the breadth of our Heavenly Father's deep affection: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" - those who "hope in Him" (v3), who have God's "seed" remaining in them (v9).


In contrast to Jerusalem in 587 BC, we are not in a siege in Canada today, not short on food or supplies - yet we are treating some of our children abominably worse than did the sinning nation of Israel when it merited the wrath of God's punishment. The prevalence of abortion does not reflect a parent's care, bountiful provision, or fondness for one's child.

The headline of an op-ed piece in an Irish newspaper trumpets, "Now that the gay marriage campaign is over, abortion will be the next social battleground." Since 1983 there has been a constitutional ban on abortion in that nation. "Oh those young liberal Irish voters, ready to shatter convention," we say as we shake our heads. But, hold on - what abortion law does Canada have currently? None at all! As the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada points out, "Canada is the only country in the western world with no criminal laws regulating or prohibiting abortion." No law - at all. Which means: "In practice, abortions are performed in Canada during all nine months of pregnancy, including partial birth abortion procedures." All NINE months - right up to the last. Do you know what happens in a "partial birth abortion"? As outlined by LifeSiteNews.com: "Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist grabs the baby's legs with forceps.The baby's leg is pulled out into the birth canal.The abortionist delivers the baby's entire body, except for the head.The abortionist jams scissors into the baby's skull.The scissors are then opened to enlarge the skull.The scissors are removed and a suction catheter is inserted.The child's brains are sucked out, causing the skull to collapse.The dead baby is then removed." How gruesome! Totally demonic!

And you thought poorly of those Babylonian soldiers who swiftly dispatched babies by cracking their skulls on the rocks...Who's the barbarian now?

Another thing. Those awful pagan practices that Ahaz and Manasseh fell into, actually BURNING their own children in the fire as sacrifices to the god Molech - we'd never do anything like THAT today, would we? According to prochoice.com, "'Salting out' is the second most common method of inducing abortion and is usually used after sixteen weeks." What happens with this saline injection method? "The doctor inserts a long needle through the mother's abdomen and injects a saline solution into the sac of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby.The baby is poisoned by swallowing the salt and his skin is completely burned away. It takes about an hour to kill the baby. After the child dies, the mother goes into labor and expels the dead baby...In spite of the horrible burning effect, some babies have survived "salting out" and been born alive."

We may not be burning our children in the fire literally - we just burn their skin off while still in the womb! And the time it takes! God, have mercy...Who's the barbarian now?!


A quick review of the reasoning as to why abortion is wrong is in order. It can be summarized like this: A) It's wrong to murder a person.B) The unborn is a person.C) Therefore, it is wrong to murder the unborn.

Most people won't quibble over "A", it's wrong to murder a person. That's right in the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:13; Gen 9:6; Mt 19:18).

You'll get more opposition today to "B", The unborn is a person. Consider briefly 3 famous uterine occupants: Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and Jesus.

God says to Jeremiah in 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." Note the use of personal pronouns for one still in the womb, and that Jeremiah qua baby was known personally by God just like any other person. Jeremiah is called by God before birth (as was Isaiah - Is 49:1).

Then there's John the Baptist. Luke 1:41,44 "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.[she said] 'As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.'" The "thing" in Elizabeth's womb is called, not a "clump of tissue", but a BABY. It's also clear this "thing" possesses personal attributes and awareness, he "leaped for joy."

Also Jesus pre-birth: Mt 1:20f "But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.'" Note two things: again, personal pronouns are used ('He / His' not 'it'); and this is clearly a person from conception, "the CHILD who has been conceived in her..."

So, in all three cases, the Bible views the unborn child as a person. And it's wrong to murder people; SO, it's wrong to murder the unborn.


Jer 31:15 "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeking, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more." How many to weep for? How many are we talking about here?

When it comes to the number pre-empted in Canada, Evangelical Fellowship declares: "Abortion is one of the most commonly performed gynaecological procedures in North America - over 100,000 abortions are carried out each year in Canada alone." How many is 100,000? [graphics]

...Wow, that's a LOT! But did we get them all? Are those ALL the victims of abortion in Canada annually? Who are we overlooking? WHOM does Jeremiah say is weeping? Rachel. The mother. Now, go back to our dots - how many mothers do those dots represent? Upwards of another 100,000 perhaps? (Although some women might get more than 1 abortion per year)

Ah, but are they just "clients" at the clinics, or are the pregnant women sometimes "victims" as well? Pro-choice counselling can be very vague both about the actual procedures used AND the side effects on the woman herself. A ministry called "Project Rachel" has arisen which seeks to help women victims of abortion; see HopeAfterAbortion.com or in Canada ProjectRachel.ca Here are some findings: *Women who have had an abortion have an 81% higher risk of subsequent mental health problems compared to women who have not had an abortion. *Women who aborted have a 138% higher risk of mental health problems compared to women who have given birth. *Women who aborted have a 55% higher risk of mental health problems compared to women with an "unplanned" pregnancy who gave birth. *Women with a history of abortion have higher rates of anxiety (34% higher), depression (37%), alcohol use/misuse (110%), marijuana use (230%), and suicidal behavior (155%), compared to those who have not had an abortion.

I would say those seem like significant differences, wouldn't you?

There are several riveting stories on the website of women who've suffered post-abortive distress and eventually found healing. This is "Karli's Story".

"When I was seventeen years old I underwent a second trimester, saline abortion. Although I wanted to have my baby, my parents pressured to submit to the abortion. After many hours of labor I gave birth to a dead baby boy. To say that this had a major impact on my life is an understatement.

"Through my healing I have learned how to have more compassion and mercy for others. I am careful not to judge, for I know where I have come from and how much I needed compassion and mercy. Through my child lost to abortion, God has taught me about true love as opposed to the self-centered attachments I always wanted. Through the forgiveness I have been shown by God and others I have learned how to forgive others-and even myself. Because of the love I have found in God, I am less afraid of the suffering because I know I am never alone in this life; He is with me.

"I won't lie to you. It was a difficult journey. You must face yourself honestly, and it is frightening to confront the many faults we have. For those of us who are post-abortive, often the very things we have to face are the same fears that caused us to choose abortion in the first place. The paradox is that facing these things-fear of abandonment, self-love, pride, etc.-is the very thing that will set us free from them. No matter how hard the journey, it is never as difficult as what you are living with now.

"Remember that you are not alone in your feelings. There are reasons for them. There is no room for "politics" or controversy in post-abortion healing. We have lost our children. We must be allowed to grieve for them."

...31:15 "Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more." Through Jesus, God has proven His great care, abundance, and how He delights in those who come to Him, He yearns for us to repent and draw near so He can show us compassion.

Closing today, I'd like to show a brief video done as a school project by Quintin Sjaarda, son of Wingham Right To Life president Brenda Sjaarda. Yvonne & I even make a super-brief cameo appearance! We hope it encourages you to "Choose Life". (video) [optional 2:00-4:00] Let's pray.