As soon as the show began I knew I shouldn’t be watching it. ‘Some viewers may find the scenes distressing’ said the TV announcer. Distressing was the understatement of the year. It was all about the appalling number of newborn babies who are abandoned at birth in South Africa. Some were thrown out of high rise buildings, others found wrapped in plastic rubbish bags – left out with the trash to die before their lives began. Most were born to poor, unemployed, desperate mothers with no way to
support their babies. Abandoned by their fathers and thrown out by their mothers – what an introduction to this world of sin and suffering! If only some compassionate passer-by had found any of them still alive, wouldn’t they have taken them in and cared for them, or at least taken them to a police station or hospital?
The Bible tells the story of one particular abandoned baby. The account is in Ezekiel 16, in which God compares the city of Jerusalem - symbolic of the nation of Israel - to the birth of a pitifully helpless abandoned baby. “Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born, your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean...no one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and I said to you ‘Live!’”
The verses that follow speak of the way God nurtured and cared for Israel. How He dressed her with fine linen and costly garments, adorned her with jewellery – bracelets, necklaces and a beautiful crown on her head. Surely Israel reached the zenith of her fame and beauty during the time of King Solomon. His wisdom became known to all the
surrounding nations, with even the Queen of Sheba seeking his counsel.
But as we know, first Solomon and then the whole nation of Israel began to look around at other gods. Led astray by his wives and concubines,the wisest king in history took Israel down the slippery slope into idolatry. Child sacrifice became one of their worst abominations. “You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to idols,” says God in anger (verse 21). Though Israel was loved and cared for, she did not care for her own children. Yet God’s unfailing love comes through in the final verses of the chapter. “Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting
covenant with you” (verse 60).
God’s forgiveness covers all sin, even child murder! How we Christians long for His Kingdom, when all children will be loved,
nurtured, and provided for. About a year ago there was another news report. I don’t remember now whether it was the aftermath of an earthquake or a bombing of a city somewhere in the Middle East. Rescuers were slowly removing rubble with the hope of finding survivors. One of them thought he heard a baby crying. The sound was faint but persistent. It took the men a few hours of carefully removing rubble, and then came an amazing surprise. Gently they took a newborn baby boy out of the dust – his lungs still functioning fully, crying at the top of his little voice. The news reporter was at a loss for words. All she could say was ‘wow’! I think I saw tears in her eyes.
What an amazing rescue!
Just as that tiny baby was rescued from a seemingly hopeless situation, so will the Saviour of all humanity rescue His people from death and destruction. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Who wouldn’t respond with joy and gratitude when He urges them to “choose life?” But choose we must. Our Creator will never allow us to become robots. “I am making everything new,” He says. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). And what about those poor abandoned babies left to die out on the streets? What about the victims of crime, war, illness and neglect? They too will be restored and cared for. They too will have the opportunity to choose life.