Bible Stories for Young Adults

 

Children - A Crisis of Overpopulation?

When  the first baby in history was born his mother exclaimed, "I have

gotten a man child from the Lord."  Eve recognized her baby as a gift from

the Lord, even though that very baby grew up to murder his brother and then

became a vagabond from the presence of the Lord.  Yet, her child was a cause

for rejoicing because he was “from the Lord”.  (Genesis, chapter 4)


Even the heathen Abimelech was sorrowful when the Lord "closed up all the

wombs" of the females in his harem and household.  (Genesis 20: 17-18)


One of the great blessings that God promised Abraham was that his

descendents would be multiplied "as the stars of heaven."  When Rebekah left

her home to become Isaac's wife, the blessing that her family gave her was,

"Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands."  When

Isaac discharged Jacob, telling him to go to take a wife from the daughters

of Laban, he said, "May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful and

multiply you, that you may be an assembly of peoples."  As Jacob went his

way, he encountered the Lord in a dream and the Lord blessed him saying,

"Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth;  you shall spread

abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south, and in you and

in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed."


The Bible tells of a childbearing contest that occurs after Jacob was

tricked into marrying Leah.  Laban, Leah's father, then also gave Jacob a

second wife named Rachel, who was the woman he wanted to marry in the first

place.  God saw that Leah was unloved; so he opened her womb and she bore

Reuben whose name means, "See, a son."  She bore another son and she knew

the Lord had heard that she was unloved; so she named him Simeon, which

means "Heard."  She named her third son "Levi" which means "Attached,"

because she thought surely her husband would become attached to her for

bearing all these blessings.  She named her fourth son "Judah" which means

"Praise" for now she was praising the Lord for his giving her these four

sons. 


At this point Rachel, the younger of Jacob's two wives, had no children.

She became envious of Leah and demanded of Jacob, "Give me children, or else

I will die!"  Jacob then became angry at Rachel and rebuked her saying, "Am

I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"


In desperation Rachel offered her maid Bilhah to Jacob and, like Sarah

before her, told her husband to have a child by her handmaid.  At the birth

Rachel would be there to receive the child as her own.


So Bilhah bore a son and Rachel named him Dan, which meant "Judge" for she

said, "God has judged my case and heard my voice."  When Bilhah bore a

second son, Rachel named him "Naphtali" which meant "My Wrestling" for

Rachel said she had wrestled with her sister and prevailed.


Leah realized that this was now a baby-bearing contest and Rachel was

gaining on her, so she took her handmaid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a

wife, since she herself had not gotten pregnant for awhile.  When Zilpah

bore a son, Leah named him Gad, which means "Troop."  She said, "A troop

comes!"  She saw the offspring as an army of men.  Zilpah's second son was

named Asher, which means "Happy."  Leah declared, "I am happy, for other

women will call me blessed."


At this point the score is  Leah 6, Rachel 2.  Rachel was needing some help

and the idea of that day was that mandrakes helped one become pregnant

because it was thought to be an aphrodisiac.  Leah's oldest son had found

some mandrakes in the field while he was working and brought them to his

mother.  Rachel had the audacity to ask Leah for some of the mandrakes.


Leah responded roughly, "You have taken away my husband and now you also ask

me for my son's mandrakes?"  Rachel bargained with Leah and said Jacob could

sleep with her that night.  Leah became pregnant again and bore a fifth son

and named him Issachar.  Issachar means "Hire" because Leah had hired Jacob

that night with her son's mandrakes.


Later Leah had a sixth son which she named Zebulun, meaning "Dwelling" for

now she felt sure her husband would dwell with her because she had borne him

six sons, and this did not even count the two that her handmaid had borne

for her sake. 


Rachel finally bore a son she named Joseph, meaning "He shall add" for she

believed God would add to her another son. Rachel did bear another son, but

she died in childbirth when Benjamin was born.


The story of Leah and Rachel may seem ridiculous to us today, for who lives

to bring the most babies into the world? But the story of Leah and Rachel is

not the only time in scripture where childbearing was considered a blessing.


In the book of Ruth, the women praised the Lord when Ruth bore a son.  They

blessed Naomi who would act as grandmother and caretaker for this child.


Later in Israelite history,  Hannah was provoked by her husband's other wife

Peninnah because the Lord had closed her womb, yet Peninnah had children.

Hannah was miserable and her husband Elkanah would try to comfort her.

However, Hannah remained unhappy and would pray and fast asking the Lord for

a child. 


God answered Hannah's prayers and she named her son Samuel, but she

dedicated him to the Lord and he served in the tabernacle after he was

weaned.  When she went to the tabernacle each year she would see Samuel.

Eli would bless her and Elkanah saying, "The Lord give you descendants from

thi s woman."  Hannah then bore Elkanah three more sons and two daughters.


Job was a man who fathered ten children, all of which were killed when a

violent wind struck down the oldest brother's house as they were

celebrating.  Yet, after the trials Job went through, God blessed him with

ten more children and Job lived to see not only these children grown but to

see grandchildren and descendants for four generations.


Even the wicked Haman of the book of Esther boasted in how many children he

had.  Haman bragged to his friends about the multitude of his children,

among other things.


It is clear that the scriptures consider children to be a gift from the

Lord.  "Behold children are a heritage from the Lord.  The fruit of the womb

is his reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of

one's youth.  Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them."  Then in

Psalm 128 it says, "Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very

heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table.

Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord."


Of course, this does not mean that those who do not bear children are any

less blessed, for we are told that those who don't have children may be used

of the Lord in ways that are far greater than those who are caring for and

training their own children.  Men who did not have children, such as John

the Baptist and the Apostle Paul, were used greatly in ways that married men

with children could not afford or risk.


Bill Gothard, born in 1934, never married but God used him to affect the

lives of millions of persons through his internationally famous Institute in

Basic Life Principles.  From 1964 and into the '80's, his 32-hour seminar

was offered to packed crowds in convention centers in scores of major cities

across the U.S. and in other countries.  In the '80's his focus changed to

helping families in homeschooling and to encourage Christians to have larger

families.  Among those families he influenced was the Duggar family of

Arkansas, whose family is featured on Reality Televison, TLC, weekly.  They

now have 19 children, so though Bill Gothard had no children himself, he was

used by the Lord to convince many Christians to have more children and to

rear them to be mighty men and women in the kingdom of God.


Arlin and Beka Horton married as soon as they graduated from college and

felt the Lord did not want them to use birth control.  They never had

children their whole marriage though nothing physically was wrong with

either of them.  But the Lord used them to start the Christian school

movement across America.  They started a small Christian school in

Pensacola, Florida in the early 1950's before the Bible was thrown out of

schools and before racial integration, bussing, and the politicalization of

the public schools began.  When these crises arose in the public schools,

people turned to the Hortons to learn how to start a Christian school.

Their Pensacola Christian School became a model and a training center for

many other schools.  Eventually the Hortons started publishing textbooks

which would be suitable for Christian schools.  These books, A Beka Books,

are now used by many Christian schools as well as by homeschoolers.  Arlin

and Beka Horton never had a child of their own, but their influence has

touched the lives of millions of children in the United States and abroad.

So the Lord has blessed this godly couple, Arlin and Beka Horton, with many

children everywhere.


In times of crisis, it may be better not to marry or not to bear children.

Jesus said to the women of Jerusalem as they wept over his crucifixion,

"Daughters, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your

children.  For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, 'Blessed

are the barren, the wombs that never bore, and the breasts which never

nursed!'"  (Luke 23:28-29.)  The Apostle Paul also warned about taking on

additional family responsibilities "because of the present distress" in the

26th verse of I Corinthians, chapter 7 -- a chapter with repeated cautions

about the seriousness of marriage.


Though some Christians may be called not to marry, or not to bear children

if they do marry, the majority of Christians will bear children.  Therefore,

each child a Christian has should be viewed as a gift from the Lord.  Each

child will be a blessing in his or her own way.  It may mean a parent will

suffer many trials due to a child who may have an illness or handicap, a

learning disability, or a strong-willed and rebellious way.  Through the

trials children may bring us, God teaches, and God's teaching brings

blessings.  Eventually, though, the least wanted child or the child who was

an "accident" may become the greatest joy to his or her parents.


A child should never be made to think that he or she was is in the way, or

an annoyance, or that he or she was unwanted and  is unloved.  At all times,

each child is  to be viewed as a blessing from the Lord, whether or not the

child makes life less easy for the parents and siblings.



Are we overpopulating the earth?


When God told mankind to be fruitful and multiply, do you think he had any

idea the world would become overpopulated?  Perhaps we may say, "This is the

only mandate from God that mankind has obeyed.  So now we need to stop being

fruitful and multiplying.  The world is overpopulated."


Presently there are many efforts around the world being made to achieve ZPG,

zero population growth.  In the 1970's India forced the sterilization of men

with two or more children, but they also sterilized political dissidents and

others.  Perhaps the most notorious depopulating program is the Chinese "one

child" law.  A Chinese couple can have no more than one child.  If there is

a second child the couple has to pay the state a fine in the form of

increased taxes or if one cannot pay such a fine, the child would have to be

aborted.  Forced abortions have been imposed on Chinese peasants.  Some

people keep their pregnancies a secret, but then they may abandon their

baby, especially if it is a girl.  Sadly, even Christians in China may

believe the state's one child policy is a good one because there are so many

Chinese.  Environmentalist Ted Turner says the UN needs to make the

one-child policy forced upon the whole world.


On the other hand, in developed countries of the West, educated people are

voluntarily limiting their family size or delaying marriage, while the less

capable are multiplying at higher rates, starting childbearing soon after

they reach puberty.  The Muslims continue to have larger families and their

rates of growth in Europe are on the upswing while the non-Muslim

populations are definitely declining.


In February 2010, Bill Gates addressed a number of other billionaires in Long

Beach, California, on the subject "Innovating to Zero."  He is greatly

concerned about the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which he

says is causing global warming.  His equation is CO2 = P X S X E X C which

simply means that to reduce carbon dioxide, we must reduce P (population), S

(services to people), E (Energy to supply services), and/or C ( CO2 per unit

of energy).  To reduce population we need to have vaccines, health care, and

reproductive health services, Gates says.  One may wonder how vaccines will help reduce the population but Gates explained this as helping to reduce infant

mortality which would cause third world women not to have so many babies if they thought the babies they have would survive.  Others believe that since in 1995

it was found that UNICEF's anti-tetnus vaccine contained B-hCG, a hormone

that could permanently sterilize women, that there could be some sinister plan

in giving vaccines.  One can only imagine what "health care" and "reproductive

health services" may do for the ZPG innovators.


Though many scientists refute the claims of those who believe in global

warming,  the "politically correct" hang onto the idea as if it were gospel

truth.  The hysteria that more people means more of their "carbon

footprints" are producing global warming could have disastrous effects.

Thus, this supposedly human-made global warming could result in a

governmental program to reduce populations that "we don't want too many of,"

as Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg stated.  This is an astonishing

statement in view of the fact that she is a Jew, a population group that the

Nazis sought to eradicate.


Dr. Henry Kissinger, a German Jew whose family fled Nazi persecution, served

as United States Secretary of State in the Nixon Administration.  He once

stated that depopulation should be the number one foreign policy issue.

Again, why is a Jew saying these things?


Prince Philip stated in 1988, "In the event I am reincarnated, I would like

to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve

overpopulation."  This prince obviously has no regard for Proverbs 14:28

which states, "In a multitude of people is a king's honor, but in the lack

of people is the downfall of a prince."  In the last decade, the European

Union has had  a serious decrease in their labor force due to voluntary

limiting of reproduction in the last two or three generations.  Japan's

labor shortage is even more serious than that of Europe.


Some population experts say that an increase in population is economically

beneficial, for it promotes the use of more arable land.  Presently only

three-tenths of one percent of the earth's surface is being used for human

habitation.  Agricultural experts from both the UN and the USDA estimate

that agriculture could support eight times the number of people that are now

on the earth.  The cause of world hunger is not due to the lack of

resources, but due to ineffective political systems that destroy the ability

to develop resources and the motivation to do so.


On the web there are many websites devoted to the issue of human

overpopulation and the need for depopulation and a eugenics program.  They

have such ominous names as "Voluntary Human Extinction Movement" and

"Negative Population Growth."  There is even a World Population Day each

year on July 11.  On the other hand, other articles are beginning to appear

that decry the serious economic consequences of a "Birth Dearth," especially

in developed nations.


As sex education programs in public schools are now trying to get young

people to do something for the earth by having no children, or having only

one, Christians should be rethinking their position on children and

childbearing, without being swayed by the various political propagandists on

this issue.


In 1983 I heard a chapel speaker at a Baptist college tell about how he

rebuked a young man who came from a family of nine children.  He told the

young man that his parents had done a disservice to society by having so

many children. This speaker seemed proud that he had let that young man feel

a sense of shame because he came from a large family.  Large families are

often the target of contemptuous statements, even if these families have

both parents who are entirely self-supporting, accepting no government aid, and whose children are brought up in an orderly fashion.


Whether or not we have more than the "two-point-one" children necessary to

sustain the present population, we can at least rejoice that other

Christians are attempting to have more than the average quota and hope and

pray that all of their posterity will serve the Lord.  It would be unwise

for anyone to have a larger family without both husband and wife in

prayerful agreement to accept  the accompanying  responsibilities, though

unexpected additions have often been a source of great blessing to many.  We

must continue to see each of our own children as a blessing which involves a

serious commitment on our part to rear them in the nurture and admonition of

the Lord. 


Discussion questions:


1.  Name some Bible characters who viewed children as a gift from the Lord.


2.  Why do you think Bible women desired to have children so badly --

obviously more so than many American women today?


3.  In what cases do we see that God "closed the womb"?

4.  What was a common blessing that Old Testament characters received in

regard to having children?


5.  Describe the childbearing "race" between Leah and Rachel.

Why were the names of the sons significant?


6.  Why would a wicked man like Haman boast about the number of his

children?


7. How should we view our own children?


8.  Do you think God has good reasons whenever He does not send children to

a couple?  How did not having children of their own help Arlin and Beka

Horton to serve God in a greater way?




Few married couples today stop to think about what the Lord would have them do when it comes to family planning.  We often assume that our family size should be a certain number and there is no need to even pray about it.

The Biblical attitude toward children is that they are a blessing, and they are certainly not to be considered a burden.

Children are to be nurtured as well as disciplined and trained to be of loving service to others in the family.

Read about the dangers of the “Zero Population Growth” ideas.

Though evangelical Christians seem afraid to raise children in this culture due to the evils in it, it was Christians who rescued abandoned children of the Roman Empire and who had large families of their own that overtook the Romans.  Yet, some of those children were thrown to the lions by persecutors, so it was an evil age worse than our own.  Presently, population growth through reproduction is exponential among Muslims, Mormons, and welfare recipients.

Though Cain, the first human ever born, became one who murdered his righteous brother, his birth was a cause for rejoicing.

Leah, at left, became the mother of six children while Rachel remained barren, causing Rachel much grief in this childbearing contest.

After years of yearning, Rachel finally bore Joseph. 

Hannah prayed earnestly for a child.  God answered her prayer and gave her Samuel plus six other children.

Haman gloated over the fact that not only that he was so powerful, but that he had many children. 

Esther 5:11

Job loved his ten children and prayed for them.  However, he lost all of them in a tornado, but God later gave him ten more children.

Jesus told the women to not weep for him, but to weep for their own children since trouble was soon to come on the nation. 

Ted Turner:  “We have a finite world, but an infinite ability to increase our population.”

Supreme Court justice Ginsberg says global warming could result in a government program to reduce populations that “we don’t want too many of.”

Prince Philip wished to be reincarnated as a deadly virus to help solve the supposed problem of overpopulation.

Note:  As of spring 2015, the Duggar family (above) has come under fire due to the misdeeds of the eldest son when he was a teenager.  However, the problems in this family in no way nullify the truth of God’s Word.