************ Sermon on 2 Kings 21:16 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on January 18, 1998

2 Kings 21:1-18; 24:1-4
2 Kings 21:16
"Shedding Innocent Blood"

Before the Scripture reading call up the grade 7 church school class and give them the Abortion I.Q. Quiz ...
Click here for the Abortion IQ QUIZ

After a speech, Pro-Life activist Penny Lea was approached by an old man. Weeping, he told her the following story:
I lived in Germany during the Nazi holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. I attended church since I was a small boy. We had heard the stories of what was happening to the Jews, but like most people today in this country, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. What could anyone do to stop it?
A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of the wheels moving over the track. We became disturbed when one Sunday we noticed cries coming from the train as it passed by. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews. They were like cattle in those cars!
Week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those old wheels because we knew that the Jews would begin to cry out to us as they passed our church. It was so terribly disturbing! We could do nothing to help these poor miserable people, yet their screams tormented us. We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. By the time that train came rumbling past the church yard, we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears, we'd just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more. Years have passed and no one talks about it much anymore, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene.
Now, so many years later, I see it happening all over again in America. God forgive you as Americans for you have blocked out the screams of millions of your own children. The holocaust is here. The response is the same as it was in my country SILENCE!

Have you eve wondered HOW people could have stood by and let the holocaust just happen? Do you wonder why the Christians in this story chose to just sing their praise to God a little louder to drown out the victims' cries?

The old man's story is in the past. The past cannot be changed. It is easy to think we would act differently now. But the old man's last words are haunting: "It's happening all over again in America with abortion. The Holocaust is here."

As American Christians, we have become so comfortable in our lovely buildings and padded pews. We have beautiful fellowship halls for our many banquets. We have the latest sound equipment for our praise and worship. We have computers to keep our records. We gather together each week and shut ourselves inside our buildings. We raise our voices as loud as we can, all in the name of God.

And yet, in the heavenly realm, our voices raised in praise are drowned out by screams of agony from millions of babies who are being executed before they are born. We can't see them. We can't hear them. But it is happening right now!

Babies are being aborted UP UNTIL THE DAY OF BIRTH in this country. Their organs and brains are "harvested" for use in medical experiments.

Like the old man, are you just going to sing a little louder or will you raise your voice and cry out in protest?

I Abortion
A Thursday, January 22nd, 1998 marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Roe v Wade decision which (with a companion case) legalized abortion on demand in our nation throughout the whole nine months of pregnancy, for any female of any age, for any reason or for no reason. Since that time, more than 37 million unborn babies have lost their lives. If the Church will not stand against the deaths of 37 million unborn babies, what atrocity will the Church stand against?

B This might surprise you, even shock you, but Newsweek magazine has reported that one out of every six women who obtains an abortion identifies herself as an evangelical Christian. This means that 250,000 babies are being killed each year just in the evangelical church in America. Statistics also tell us that more than 73% of all women having abortions identify themselves as Christian. Even if these women are not regular churchgoers, they nevertheless think of themselves as being Christian. If these numbers are true, than we have to conclude that for the majority of women in our land their Christian faith is seen as irrelevant to the issue of whether or not to have an abortion.

C Partial Birth Abortion is easily the most horrible form of abortion allowed in our land. In a partial-birth abortion the abortionist pulls the baby's feet, arms, and shoulders from the uterus and then stops within inches of a complete delivery. With only the baby's head in the uterus, he forces a blunt, curved scissors into the base of the skull. The scissors are spread to enlarge the opening. A suction catheter then sucks out the brains. The baby, now dead, is then fully removed. This procedure is performed with pregnancies that are 20 weeks and beyond. According to 12 abortionists interviewed by The New York Times this procedure is most often used as a routine method of ending late-term pregnancies.

Two times the House and Senate passed a bill to prohibit this horrible method of abortion. Two times President Clinton has vetoed the legislation on the grounds that outlawing such abortions would endanger women's health. Not even the American Medical Association will validate such bizarre claims.

D What is the abortion issue about? Many will tell you it is pro-life versus pro-choice. But life and choice cannot be contrasted as if they were opposites. The opposite of life is not choice; it is death. And the opposite of choice is not life; it is bondage.

At heart, the abortion issue is all about the shedding of blood, innocent blood.

II Innocent Blood
A We hear about innocent blood in our Bible reading for this pro-life Sunday. It tells us the gruesome truth about Manasseh, king of Judah.

The Bible reveals to us that Manasseh was definitely the worst, the most evil king, Judah ever had. "Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites" (2 Kings 21:9). Imagine that: Manasseh was so wicked, that he led the people of God to be more evil than the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Amorites, and Jebusites that God had driven out of the land.

What marked Manasseh as worthy of this doubtful distinction? His chief and worst sin appears to be the shedding of innocent blood.
(2 Kings 21:16) Moreover, Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end--besides the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the LORD.

B Innocent blood. The shedding of innocent blood. What does this mean? Two things are in mind. First, history records for us that King Manasseh killed Isaiah and any other prophet who dared to speak out against his sin and evil and wicked ways.

Innocent blood. The shedding of innocent blood. What does this mean? Second, it refers to the killing of children. Think of King Herod. When he sent his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill every baby boy age 2 or younger, he was guilty of shedding innocent blood. Manasseh, like Herod, was guilty of slaughtering children, of butchering them in cold blood. It is the prophet Jeremiah, speaking on behalf of God, who tells us what Manasseh did:
(Jeremiah 19:4-5) For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned sacrifices in it to gods that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. (5) They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal--something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. (cf Deut 18:9-14)

The pagans offered children as sacrifices to the Lord. Manasseh wholeheartedly adopted this practice. He tore babies away from their mother's breasts and threw them into the fire. He took babies out of their cribs and cradles and killed them on the altar. He took his own sons, some of them 8 or 10 or 12 years old, and offered them to Baal in worship.

Any sin is an insult to God, but sin that involves the destruction of children is especially and extremely shameful and despicable. I think of the words of Jesus:
(Matthew 18:6) But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

(Matthew 18:10) "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
The book of Proverbs tells us there are six things the Lord hates, seven things that are detestable to Him. In the middle of the list we find this: "Hands that shed innocent blood" (Proverbs 6:16-17).

Manasseh was guilty of shedding blood, innocent blood. That was his great and horrible sin.

And that, my brothers and sisters, is the great and horrible sin of our society and culture. Our society is guilty of shedding blood, innocent blood. Since abortion was legalized on January 22, 1973 over 37,000,000 abortions have been performed. Can you imagine almost every person living in Poland or Spain or South Africa being killed? That is what thirty seven million means. Thirty seven million that is more people than live in all of Canada.

III God's Judgment
A Our Bible reading tells us something frightening. Our Bible reading tells us that "the LORD was not willing to forgive" (2 Kings 24:4). The LORD was not willing to forgive the shedding of innocent blood.

Wow! That is kind of scary. I thought God's grace was more powerful than man's wickedness. I thought God's capacity to forgive was always greater than man's capacity to sin. What is going on here?

Our Bible reading does not tell us that the shedding of innocent blood is the unforgivable sin. Our Bible reading does not tell us that abortion cannot be forgiven. Take a look, some time, at 2 Chronicles 33. There we see a different picture of Manasseh. After receiving the judgment of God he repented and was restored to the grace and favor of God (cf 2 Chronicles 33:10-13). Take a look also, some time, at the story of Norma McCorvey. Her alias is Jane Roe. She is the woman who filed the lawsuit that led to making abortion the right of every woman in the United States. But something happened to her, just like it happened to Manasseh. Her eyes were opened and she realized that abortion at least after the first three months of pregnancy is wrong. She even went so far as to start working with Operation Rescue, an organization that uses Civil Disobedience to protest abortion. Maybe, like Manasseh, Norma McCorvey has repented; I say "maybe" because I cannot look into her heart.

As long as there is life, as long as there is breath, you can repent and like Manasseh, like Norma McCorvey, you by grace can be forgiven. So I want to affirm the Bible's message of grace and forgiveness. God's grace is more powerful than man's wickedness. God's capacity to forgive is always greater than man's capacity to sin.

B "The LORD was not willing to forgive." What does our passage mean? What is it saying to us? It is telling us that though the sinner can be forgiven, the sin must still be punished. It is telling us that God takes evil with the utmost seriousness, especially massive evil like the shedding of innocent blood. It is telling us that there comes a time when God says, "Enough. I can tolerate no more. This sin must be stopped. These sinners must be punished." God did that, if you remember, at the time of the Flood. God did that with Sodom and Gomorrah. God did that with Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. And, God did that with Manasseh and the sins of Judah.

So what happened? The LORD sent the Army of Assyria against Jerusalem. Manasseh was taken as prisoner; a hook was put through his nose; he was bound with bronze shackles; he was taken as a prisoner to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:11). But there was more. The wickedness and evil of Manasseh was so entrenched that Judah itself had to be destroyed. That's what our text speaks of. There is no cheap grace. There is no easy forgiveness. Sin must still be punished. Wickedness cannot be tolerated. Evil must be rooted out.

Think, for a moment, of what this means. The shedding of innocent blood is so serious that it finally forces God to abandon His people. The shedding of innocent blood is so reprehensible that it causes God to forsake His people. The shedding of innocent blood is so despicable that it leads God to break His relationship with His own people.

We see this same thing happening at the cross. Evil and sin and wickedness led God to the point where He forsook and abandoned His only begotten Son. In our passage Jerusalem was destroyed and the people were exiled. In the Gospels, it is Jesus Who is killed and with His death the temple is destroyed. In both cases God abandons His child whether it be Israel or Jesus because of evil and sin and wickedness.

C "The LORD was not willing to forgive." Can we expect that the God Who could not tolerate the shedding of innocent blood some 2600 years ago is tolerant today? Believe me, the same God Who brought destruction on Judah cannot turn a blind eye to the evil of our society either.

What is going to happen? I don't know. But I do know this: if our society does not repent, if our society does not stop the shedding of innocent blood, we will experience the LORD's judgment in some form.

D What can we do? What should we do? Let me tell you what we cannot do. Unlike the Christians in Nazi Germany we cannot SING A LITTLE LOUDER.

Now, let me tell you what you can do. First, after the service this morning you can sign a petition to restore parents' rights (HOLD UP LEAFLET AND READ IT TO THE CONGREGATION). Two tables are being set up in the Fellowship Hall for this purpose one for residents of Tulare County, the other for residents of Kings County.

Second, you can attend a 25-year Memorial Observance of Roe v. Wade (HOLD UP SHEET IN BULLETIN ABOUT MEMORIAL SERVICE).

As Christians we want to be known for our celebration of life. It is because we celebrate life that are so opposed to abortion.

Let me conclude by quoting from the Guiding Principle of Focus on the Family:
We believe that human life is of inestimable worth and significance in all its dimensions, including the unborn, the aged, the widowed, the mentally handicapped, the unattractive, the physically challenged, and every other condition in which humanness is expressed from conception to the grave.

You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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