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Verse of the Day – Proverbs 30:16
The grave, the barren womb, the earth that is not satisfied with water— and the fire never says, “Enough!”
Daily Scripture Reading – Psalm 113
We have asked the question “Why were we created?” and while the answer was brief and not nearly as in depth as it could have been we have seen that we were created for fellowship, stewardship, and worship. God created us to worship and glorify Him, to fellowship with Him, and to care for His creation and act on His behalf in the world. In looking at an even more specific follow up question, we are now examining the question, “Why were we created male and female?”
We have started to answer the question by showing first that God created us male and female for Lifetime Partnership. The second part of our answer is that God created us in His image as male and female so that we might have a Lineage through Parenting. This then introduced three statements that we have been studying:
The third statement will be the focus of today’s devotional. God has made us male and female for a number of purposes, but the exception to what we have been studying is that in His Providence at times God ordains that a couple will not have any children. This has been viewed a as stigma by some and as a blessing by others. There are those, albeit without a Biblical worldview, who have decided that they do not want children and so have chosen barrenness by their own actions. And there are always those who deeply desire to have children and yet are never satisfied.
It is the prevailing view in the world, and sadly in many churches today, that children are a burden, a choice, an inconvenience, or an infringement on our freedom. And so many have been fooled into thinking that they can control their fertility through everything from drugs to mutilation (surgery) that we are killing ourselves and our children all in the pursuit of barrenness! And yet, there are those who want children and who have a right view of children – but for some reason, God does not open every womb.
Even as a barren woman may come to accept her barrenness and count it a blessing, trusting in an all knowing and all loving God, and learning to be content where she is with how things are, even then a barren woman will tell you that the desire for children never really goes completely away. Proverbs 30:16 tells us that the barren womb is one of the things on this earth that never says, “Enough.” The barren womb is never completely satisfied with the lack of bearing a child.
Why is that? Simply put, because God made us to be fruitful and multiply! And the desire to not have children, or to kill our unborn children is unnatural. That is not the way God designed us. So let us look then at the truth behind God’s Providential Exception: The Barren Womb.
God Alone Opens and Closes the Womb
When examining this topic we must begin with the undeniable truth of Scripture that tells us plainly that God alone has the power to open and close the womb. If a child is conceived and born it is because God has created that life, formed that baby, and even caused the delivery of the child. If the womb, on the other hand, remains barren and childless, that too is by God’s design. He alone is sovereign over life.
Consider these examples from the Old Testament:
Barrenness as a Curse
Because God is sovereign in the conception and birth of every child many are quick to assume that barrenness is a curse from Him upon a woman or a family. The inability to have a child is seen as something unnatural, something even unholy. There were several barren women in the Bible who were looked down upon because of their barrenness, as if they had brought it upon themselves. Let us take a look though at several verses that give us a Biblical perspective.
According to Genesis 20:18 and 2 Samuel 6:23 there are instances when God has caused barrenness as a result of sin, as a curse or a punishment.
Hosea 9:11-14 is even more distressing, as a curse is prayed for upon enemies of God and it is said that they will be barren or will miscarry. This was a direct result of their sin against God.
But is this always the case? Is barrenness or miscarriage always a judgment, a curse from God because of sin? A simple look at the whole counsel of the Word of God proves that these were the exceptions and not the rule! In fact, if we take the time to look at just a few people in the Bible we see that there are those who are barren who are not cursed or being judged for their sin. We find that they are barren so that God can prove His power and glorify Himself!
Patriarchs and Prophets
A look at the Patriarchs and Prophets reveal to us two very vital facts in our study . First, barrenness is not always a curse. Secondly, if God so desires it, the barren with give birth! He is after all in control, remember.
Let us look at these who were barren for the glory of God and those who were barren and later gave birth in extraordinary circumstances. Here are a few summaries:
Genesis 11:30; 21:1-7 – Sarah is barren. She is old. And according to the promise of God and by His power she gave birth to Isaac. She was beyond child bearing age, in her 90s, and she had a baby according to God’s plan and for His purposes.
Genesis 25:21– Rebekah was barren and yet as she and Isaac pleaded with God and trusted Him, in His time and according to His plan she gave birth to Jacob and Esau.
Genesis 29:31; 30:1-2; 22-24– Rachel was barren and her barrenness was a source of strife in the family. And after seeing other children born to her husband from other wives God finally opened her womb, twice. Consider the fruit of her womb, so to speak. Joseph was used of God to preserve the nation of Israel and the world around the middle east as he was elevated in the Court of Pharaoh and implemented a plan to deal with seven years of famine. And her second born, Benjamin is no less significant. One of his descendants wrote most of the New Testament! His name was Saul, and was later changed to Paul.
Judges 13:2-3; 24 – Manoah’s wife was barren but later, as God ordained it, she gave birth to Samson, a mighty man and a judge over Israel.
1 Samuel 1:1-11 – Hannah was barren and so grieved that as she prayed a priest thought she was drunk! And yet according to God’s plan in answer to her prayer, her womb was opened and she gave birth to Samuel, the prophet who anointed Kings in Israel.
Luke 1:5-7; 13-17; 24-25; 57-58 – And then there was Elizabeth. Also barren. No children and aging. And after Gabriel brought the news to her husband, she conceived and gave birth to John the Baptizer, the one who fulfilled prophecy and came to announce the coming of the Messiah.
As we conclude today it might be tempting to look at this and say that these women were not really barren for they all eventually gave birth! While it is true that they did give birth, it is also true that before God gave them children they were barren. One way to look at it is to see that indeed, all women are barren until God opens the womb. Remember, only God is able to open and close the womb.
Tomorrow we will take the time to see that the Bible actually presents a case for barrenness being a blessing. That runs so contrary to the way we are taught to think about it that it might take a minute to sink in. So be sure to stay tuned as we will finish this lesson tomorrow.
Here is a link for the sermon I preached on this subject available online for free:
God’s Providential Exception: The Barren Womb – Ps 113:9; Prov 30:16
Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)