COMING FORTH FROM THE WOMB OF GOD
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
9 MAY 1993
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Peter 2:1-10
"Coming Forth From the Womb of God" probably sounds like a strange title for a sermon, for we don't consider God to have an actual womb.
But spiritually, God does indeed have a type of womb.
Nicodemus, in John 3, also wondered about Jesus' expression that one must be born again, and Jesus answered his puzzlement in verse 5 by saying,
5. …“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
There comes a time in all of our lives when we must be born of the Spirit of God; born with the very breath of God in our lungs, or we will perish.
When times are good and things are wonderful before our eyes, we easily agree to face both the physical world and the spiritual world around us. In other words, we are willing to come forth from the womb of God.
But let things go wrong or become ugly before our eyes, and we don't want to face what is before us. We want to stay in the womb.
Job expressed such a condition in 10:18-19. Listen to what he said to God at that time:
18. “Why then hast Thou brought me out of the womb?
Would that I had died and no eye had seen me!
19. “I should have been as though I had not been,
Carried from womb to tomb.”
I suppose that most people have felt this way at one time or another in their lives, and that is probably why God lets us understand that we are not alone in these feelings.
But at the same time, He wants us to face reality and do something about it.
God didn't make us because He wanted us to suffer. God isn't that way.
He wants us to learn from hard times, that in spite of them, we can continue to go forth and do the work He has set before us – to strengthen us and to be an example to others.
This is what the Lord told Jeremiah in 1:5.
5. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Sometimes I, too, feel like crying as did Jeremiah throughout his writings, when he realized how few people really understood what he was saying and did anything about it.
And sometimes Mary and I say to each other and, in effect, to God, "Why have we been given such sensitivity to the sufferings of people and other animals, and yet seem to be unable to do very much about instilling this insight, sensitivity and compassion in others, or in changing their attitudes and lifestyles?"
Have you ever felt like this?
If you have, it's good; for such sensitivity and compassion is exactly what the Lord wants you to feel.
Don't fight it, but let it mature within you until every aspect of it is seen in your life.
People, on the whole, don't want to really face reality. They want to hide from much of it, or pretend it doesn't exist.
We want to stay in the womb, or maybe occasionally stick our heads out to see what is going on.
But if we don't see what we like, we want to slide back inside where it is warm and comfortable and secure.
Or, we want God to take care of the world situations before we come out and have to face them.
Perhaps David was having similar thoughts when he wrote Psalm 31. Let's take a look at verses 14-18:
14. But as for me, I trust in Thee, O Lord,
I say, "Thou art my God."
We should feel this way whether we are in the womb or out of the womb, but usually we feel this way only when in the womb.
When we come out of the womb, all too often our praise turns into complaints.
David saw his and God's enemies around him, and he prayed for protection.
15. My times are in Thy hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.
But here in this country, the hand of God has given us a fair amount of personal protection.
But He has not shielded our eyes or ears from the horrors around us.
How can people do the horrible things that they do to others: both to people and to other animals?
How can we torture or starve or kill another sentient being, and then go home and be with our families, as if nothing has happened?
How can we participate with the abusers by eating the fruit (dairy and meat products) of their abuse?
How can we know what is going on, and do nothing about it?
Our prayer is, and yours should be: "O Lord, protect the innocent ones of this world who cannot speak for themselves or protect themselves!"
David continues with his psalm:
16. Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant;
Save me in Thy lovingkindness.
This is the prayer from within the womb, when situations outside the womb seem too great to face.
But Mary and I say, “O Lord, let Your face shine upon the abused of this world, whether human or other animal, that they would have some joy in their lives. Save them in your lovingkindness.”
This is the kind of prayer we should offer up as we see the world around us. This is a prayer from outside the womb.
Sometimes, it's not comfortable to fully come forth from the womb, but that is exactly what God wants us to do.
Then David prays for the Lord's judgment to fall upon those who cause trouble in the world:
17. Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon Thee;
Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol.
18. Let the lying lips be dumb,
Which speak arrogantly against the righteous
With pride and contempt.
Once we come forth from the womb, we should pray that we would not stumble and thus set an improper example of one who has been born of the Spirit.
But if we truly have God's love and compassion within us, I don't believe He wants us to pray that someone should go to hell – no matter how evil they may be.
God wants us to pray for their spiritual conviction and enlightenment, and that they would be restrained from hurting others.
This, too, is a prayer from outside the womb.
Listen to what Job said to his three friends after they had finished falsely accusing him (Job 31:33-34):
33. "Have I covered my transgressions like Adam,
By hiding my iniquity in my bosom,
34. Because I feared the great multitude,
And the contempt of families terrified me,
And kept silent and did not go out of doors?
In good times and in bad Job always faced the world and God, head on.
He never hid from the truth or from anyone, even when he was depressed and in pain.
Job came forth from the womb.
Now, I want us to go back and listen to something else David said; this time from outside the womb, as recorded in Psalm 139:13-16.
13. For Thou didst form my inward parts;
Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb.
14. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Thy works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15. My frame was not hidden from Thee,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
16. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Thy book they were all written,
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
I pray that we all recognize this fact about our own creation, and that God has set our days before us.
The time of our birth has already past.
We must come forth from the womb and face the days ordained for us by God, and do something to make them better.
Listen to what Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:1-10 about our birth and growth as a people of God:
1. Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,
2. like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,
3. if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
We can’t do this unless we come forth from the womb of God.
4. And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God,
5. you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Do you recognize this calling to you, personally?
I pray you do!
For we are no longer to offer up the life of another, as was done to innocent animals in the Temple.
We are now to offer up ourselves in service to the Lord as living sacrifices that go forth to make this a kinder and more peaceful world.
6. For this is contained in Scripture:
“Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone,
And he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed.”
7. This precious value, then, is for you who believe. But for those who disbelieve,
“The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the very corner stone,”
“A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”;
for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
Each of us has a choice to make: we can come forth from the womb and live for God, or we can remain in the womb and die.
The choice is ours.
But for those of us who have chosen to be born of God, Peter tells us,
9. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into the marvelous light;
10. for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Come forth from the womb of God, and live.
And as we have received mercy, so are we to go forth and be merciful to all of God's creation, serving in the office that has been given to us.
Your Comments are welcome
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