We have a death problem because we have a sin problem. In the early chapters of Genesis the garden paradise becomes vacant as God expels the image-bearers outside where they will surely die. No matter how hard they work, how much dominion they exercise, or how long their years last, one day the dust would overcome them. And die they did.
But Adam and Eve weren’t the first to die. Their older son Cain killed his younger brother Abel, meaning the first death was a murder. This act sounded an ominous tone for the stories that followed because we see that life outside the garden is characterized by sin, and the sins we are capable of are heinous.
Fast-forward to the Israelites. After generations of death and the spread of sin, the generation freed by the exodus from Egypt heads toward the Promised Land. Then, due to their disbelief in God’s promises and power, he forbids the exodus generation to enter the land. The next generation will still inherit it, but not before a forty-year detour that will bring about the death of their unbelieving ancestors. And die they did.
The wilderness wandering was a period when millions returned to the dust under the judgment of God. His judgment on them lasted not just a week or a month or a year or even a decade. For forty years the Lord kept his word, and then the descendants of the exodus generation inherited the Promised Land.
Now think about another forty-year period. Today, January 22, 2013, is forty years since January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court rendered its ruling on Roe vs. Wade. These four decades have been a wilderness of our own making, a time when many doctors and patients have usurped the role of God and administered judgment without warrant against innocent life through abortion.
The wilderness wandering in Exodus may have been on the way to the Promised Land, but that’s not where the years of 1973-2013 have been taking us. When the first murder was committed in Genesis 4, God told Cain that Abel’s blood cried out from the ground–a cry for judgment, for vindication.
In forty years the deaths by abortion exceed 50 million babies. We can’t fully imagine the combined cry of 50 million voices. But God is not deaf, and their cries are heard. The murder of God’s image-bearers graphically displays the heinous potentialities of sin.
How long will this wilderness of our own making last? The answer is unknown. How many more deaths will be added to the 50 million slain? We don’t know, but any number is unacceptable.
May God grant Christians courage and wisdom to speak the truth about the injustices committed against unborn image-bearers. The seed of the serpent, like Cain or Pharaoh or Herod, has always shown a blatant disregard for the dignity of tiny lives, so God help the seed of the woman–the Church–to have biblical resolve and a prophetic voice.