“All life has inestimable value, even the weakest and most vulnerable,…the unborn are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Margaret Sanger detailed her vision for Planned Parenthood as “weeding out the unfit, … preventing the birth of defectives or those who will become defective.” Through her extensive writings, it is clear the unfit were, in her mind, those who did not share the same complexion. Dr. Alveda C. King is the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and author of How Can the Dream Survive if We Murder the Children?: ABORTION IS NOT A CIVIL RIGHT! Dr. King highlights a quote attributed to Sanger that reads, “Colored people are like human weeds and are to be exterminated.” With an estimated 79% of abortion clinics targeting minority communities, Sanger’s godless racism has gripped our nation. Lamentably, this evil extends beyond infanticide. Planned Parenthood’s desecration of children’s bodies and selling of intact body parts has become a multi-million dollar industry. However, no matter the cultural influence seized by the spiritual forces of evil, it still remains that some things are not for sale.
There is no direct word in Scripture for the eternal destiny of little ones lost to this world. Possibly in God’s common grace he saved us from the evil acts that would come from unstable men and women who would distort such a message of hope for their own selfish ends.
However, we are not left without hope.
Let’s first look at the relationship between knowledge and judgment in the Bible. In Scripture, a major factor for determining our level of accountability before God is the level of knowledge we have.
-James 3 cautions against setting yourself up as a teacher of God’s word, because teachers will be judged more strictly.
-Jesus prophesied the impending doom of Korazin and Bethsaida in Luke 10 by saying their judgment will be worse than the judgment received by Tyre and Sidon, for Chorazin and Bethsaida had seen the miracles of Jesus and still did not repent.
-The Law, which was holy, righteous, and good, became a curse for Israel because it increased their level of knowledge, which in turn increased their level of accountability. (Rom. 4-7, Gal. 3)
-In Romans 1, Paul draws a line in the sand regarding the accountability of all men before God. Since the creation of the world, God’s eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that all men are without excuse. (v.20)
The principle is men and women are accountable to the level of knowledge they have, and thus some are more accountable than others. The base line of accountability is given in Romans 1, where it says that any person who has CLEARLY SEEN God’s characteristics from creation is without excuse.
But what happens to those who cannot CLEARLY SEE from creation?
David says, “surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5 NIV)
Can a holy God leave sin unpunished without compromising his character, even if it is simply the inherited sinful nature of a child?
Certainly the answer is No… but the Truth is he has not. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, not only for our sins but also for the sins of the whole world. (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2) Atonement for sin has been made, and now faith is a gift. So much so that God says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Romans 9:15 NIV)
This gift is absolutely to be received by faith in his blood for all who repent and call on the name of the Lord, and it seems salvation will not come apart from confession and repentance to any who have clearly seen God’s characteristics from creation. But what about those who have not clearly seen and cannot call on the name of the Lord?
The answer I am proposing is that Our God is in heaven, and he does whatever pleases him (Psalm 115:3), and Deuteronomy 1 contains a picture of what pleases him.
Throughout the Old Testament the nation of Israel is God’s chosen people and also representative of his future covenant people that will be defined by faith rather than nationality. In the same way, Israel’s inheritance of rest in the Promised Land is representative of the Sabbath rest of God that awaits his covenant people in heaven. (Hebrews 4)
Something interesting happens in Deuteronomy 1. Moses, the prophet of God, acknowledges that the Lord became angry with the nation of Israel for their lack of trust. (v.32)
Then he makes a fascinating comment. Moses says, “because of you the Lord became angry with me also.” (v. 37 NIV) In the story, God’s anger burns against the people for their lack of trust. Then, unexpectedly, God’s anger also falls on the prophet of God because of the sin of the people. The prophet of God is forbidden to pass freely through the Jordan River, the river of judgment, into the Promised Land. Instead he is sent up on the mountain, overlooking the glorious inheritance of his people, to die. His body is hidden away so that it is never found. (Deut. 34) Then the Lord says to Joshua (whose name means “YAHWEH is salvation,” the Hebrew name for Jesus), “Moses my servant is dead, therefore… ARISE!” (Joshua 1:2 NASB, ESV) Joshua commanded the people to prepare themselves, for in THREE DAYS (v.11) they would cross through the Jordan, the river of judgment, into their inheritance and rest.
Hebrews 4 reveals that Joshua never could have delivered the rest that was promised. Rather, there was another prophet to come who would truly deliver on the promise.
Hebrews 4 shows the story of Joshua was a lesson teaching God’s people about what to look for in the second Joshua. In this story, the people could see their prophet (Old Testament Moses/New Testament Jesus) must go up the mountain (OT Nebo, NT Moriah) and die for the sin of the people, though the prophet’s body would never be found. Then, the Lord says to their deliverer (OT Joshua/NT Jesus) “ARISE.” After three days their deliverer leads them safely through the waters of judgment (OT Jordan River/NT Death and Judgment) into their inheritance, the Sabbath rest of God. (OT The Promised Land/NT Heaven) What Moses and Joshua achieved imperfectly and temporarily, Jesus perfected forever.
God’s faithfulness throughout the history and experience of Israel to announce the coming of Christ inspires hope, and I think there is another lesson of hope that can be found in this story. It is a truth reserved for those who are looking. With the experience of Moses and Joshua prefiguring the Messiah, something interesting happens to the children in this story. In Deuteronomy 1, the passage where God’s anger falls on the people first and then his prophet, his grace is extended in verse 39.
“Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it.” ESV
The little ones are shown mercy. Those who were not yet old enough to perceive good or evil and actively rebel against the Lord’s command to take the promised land were extended grace. They are allowed to follow their prophet safely through the waters of judgment into their inheritance.
But how can God do this? If the Promised Land really is a picture of the Sabbath rest of God, then how can he overlook the disobedience of the children who all posses an inherited sinful nature? How can he extend grace to unrepentant sinners based on the premise they were not old enough to perceive good from evil?
I do not believe he is merely extending grace, but a picture of actual salvation. A salvation that requires sacrifice and the shedding of blood. (Hebrews 9:22) Those children did not receive a free pass. They received a gift that was purchased at a terrible price, represented by the death of Moses and fulfilled by the prophet Jesus who is greater than Moses. (Deut. 18:18) Thus, God in his forbearance was able to pass over their sins, like the other saints of the Old Testament (Rom. 3:25), knowing he would one day punish them on the cross.
I believe, at least, that it does not fall outside of biblical salvation for God to extend his mercy and the gift of faith to whomever he chooses. Certainly that gift will manifest in confession of Jesus as Lord and repentance for all who have the ability to do so. For those who do not meet the standard set forth in Romans 1, God can do whatever he pleases through the cross. And I believe the story in Deuteronomy 1 shows that it pleases him to deliver the little ones who do not yet have the ability to clearly distinguish good from evil, for “sin is not taken into account when there is no law.” (Romans 5:13 NIV)
God has proven the goodness of his character, and we can take comfort in his goodness for the lives that have been lost. However, we should look to the future and give ourselves fully to every opportunity and recourse we have to protect the sanctity of life.
Bradley Mooney is the recruiting coordinator at the Kanakuk Institute and graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. firstname.lastname@example.org