In the beginning, God created man (and woman, for
that matter), in His image, and said unto them, “Be fruitful, and
multiply”. This being so, why were so many women in Scripture unable to
bear children? It was obviously not an uncommon condition in Bible times, and
today much medical attention is devoted to seeking cures for
At least seven women are specifically mentioned
as suffering from barrenness: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, the mother of Samson,
Hannah, the Shunammite, and Elizabeth. In several of these cases there is
particular comment on the cause of sterility:
Sarah believed her condition was of
“Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me
from bearing” (Gen. 16:2).
Rachel was taught by her husband Jacob that God
was the Source of her condition:
“Am I in God’s stead, who hath
withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” (Gen.
Were these patriarchs right in thinking that this
affliction of barrenness was from God? Clearly God could do this, and in the
case of Hannah it is explicitly stated that “the Lord had shut up her
womb” (1 Sam. 1:6). In fact, in the time of Abraham there was a clear
demonstration of God’s power in this matter. When Sarah was taken into the
house of Abimelech, all the women in his household stopped bearing children, and
at the end of the incident the record states:
“So Abraham prayed unto God: and God
healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.
For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because
of Sarah...” (Gen. 20:17,18).
By contrast with all these cases, Israel as a
nation was promised that if they would keep God’s laws, He in turn would
bless the fruit of their wombs, and none would be barren among them (Deut.
He who has power to shut the womb is clearly able
also to open it — sometimes with unexpected results. Thus Sarah at the age
of 90 “received strength to conceive seed” (Heb. 11:11)! It is
stated of both Leah and Rachel that God “opened” their wombs (Gen.
29:31,32; 30:22,23); but the case of Ruth is even more specific. She was married
to Mahlon for anything up to ten years without any child, but when she married
the older man Boaz, “the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a
son” (Ruth 4:13).
Every aspect of the whole wonderful process of
childbearing is mentioned in the Bible, including gestation:
“For thou hast formed my reins: thou
hast knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks unto thee:
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made...Thine eyes did see my imperfect
substance, and in thy book all my members were written, what days they should be
fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Psa.
The Scriptures leave their reader in no doubt as
to what words should be used to describe that which is developing in the womb of
a pregnant woman: in Rebekah’s case, they are called
“children” (Gen. 25:22), and in Elizabeth’s, it is called
“the babe” (Luke 1:44). These two passages show that even before
birth there is in some sense a personality and individuality developing, all
known to God.
“Before thou camest forth out of the
womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations”
This is how God speaks of Jeremiah when in modern
medical terms there was no Jeremiah, just some impersonal cells multiplying in
the womb of a woman.
Again there is no doubt that God is involved at
this stage: “Thou art he that took me out of the womb” (Psa. 22:9);
“Thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels” (71:6);
and “God, who separated me from my mother’s womb” (Gal. 1:15)
are three examples of the testimony of Scripture to this
The clear evidence of the above passages is that
Israel, and by extension the saints of all ages, were taught that God, having
created the first man and woman and commanded them to reproduce, did not
“rest from his work”. On the contrary, He is actively involved at
all stages and in every case of the formation of a new life. He “withholds
from bearing” or “gives conception” according to His will. He
“knits together” the developing members and organs in the womb, and
ultimately He “brings forth” the perfectly formed child from its
mother at the appointed time.
The Worship of the
While Israel was in the wilderness, God solemnly
warned them of the depths of depravity to which the nations of the land had
sunk, and of the necessity for Israel to keep themselves separate from these
“After the doings of the land of Canaan,
whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their
ordinances” (Lev. 18:3).
The worship of Ashtaroth and the Baalim, the gods
of the Canaanites, was very much fertility worship: the worship of sex in all
its forms and even of the sex organs. Tablets, statues and other information
from archaeological digs have revealed the utter depravity of Canaanite
“religion”, and the need for such warnings as “Defile not
yourselves in any of these things” (Lev. 18:24).
Yet above all these dreadful things (pornography,
incest, prostitution, homosexuality, and even bestiality), there was a practice
held so abominable in God’s sight that it defiled not only the people if
they committed it, but it also defiled their land as well as God’s
sanctuary and holy name! This was the sacrifice of children to the abomination
Moloch (or Molech). So hideous was this practice that the Israelites were
forbidden even to inquire as to how it was carried out (Deut. 12:30,31; Lev.
God condemns all idolatry; but this particular
perversion is singled out for special and precise divine reprobation. Why? In
Ezekiel 16 there is an extended allegory concerning the unfaithful behavior of
the people of Jerusalem:
“Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and
thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto
them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, that thou hast
slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the
fire?” (vv. 20,21).
Two points are obvious: (1) They were sacrificing
their children to an idol; and (2) The children were not, in fact, theirs to do
with as they pleased; but rather they belonged to God!
Nothing remotely approaching this horrible and
abominable practice of Molech-worship would be tolerated today in Western
society. Yet all the other elements of Canaanitish fertility worship are
abundantly manifest in all their depravity in the Western
“Christian” nations, where sex is a multi-billion dollar industry.
The churches around us, having departed from a healthy attitude to the
Scriptures, have progressively retreated on moral issues also, until several of
the sexual abominations of the Canaanites are considered by them to be quite
compatible with a good “Christian” life.
What is perhaps not quite so clear, is that along
with all the other filth of Canaan has come the modern “Molech”,
discreetly called “legalized abortion” or “freedom of
choice”. The parallel between an Israelite family sacrificing a child to
Molech and a brother and sister having a pregnancy terminated by abortion is
very powerful. In both cases knowledge of the Bible should be sufficient to
cause realization that: (1) conception is given by God; (2) He oversees the
development of the child in the womb; and (3) that child is an inheritance from
Him. The only real difference is that in the one case the child emerges
naturally from the womb before being cast into the fire, while in the other it
is taken unnaturally from the body of its mother before being disposed of. In
both cases there is a deliberate intention to destroy a child created by God. It
offers no solution to dismiss that child as a mere “fetus” or
“embryo” — such is not the language of the Bible, as has been
shown. Thus we must conclude that to destroy human life willfully, whether
legal or not according to man’s laws, is in God’s sight quite simply