Before You Were Born, I Knew You

We have just finished the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, where we have celebrated the gift of God’s law and God’s Holy Spirit. We have also celebrated our own identity as the firstfruits, the first crop of God’s planting efforts here on earth, and the firstborn into God’s kingdom after His eldest son, our elder brother Jesus Christ. Therefore, in light of the fact that we have been celebrating our conception into God’s family as a result of baptism and conversion and the granting of God’s Holy Spirit to create a new life within us, I would also like to talk today about the biblical view of fetuses, the physical form of new life.

Esau and Jacob

Let us first turn to Genesis 25:20-26, where we read about two twins, Esau and Jacob, struggling within the womb of their mother, Rebekah. Genesis 25:20-26 reads as follows: “Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over, so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

What is this passage saying? It begins with a man who at the age of 40 married a wife, and for twenty years they were barren. After Isaac called out for his wife’s womb to be opened, a common request in scripture that we read of over and over again in the Bible, God opened the womb of Rebekah and she conceived twins. Feeling their fighting within her even in the womb, for these were twins that did not get along even as fetuses, God tells her that two hostile nations are in her womb (nations that will be separated from her body) and that the younger son will rule over the elder. The older son was named Esau, and the younger son, who grabbed the heel of his brother and later supplanted both his birthright and his blessing, both the double portion firstborn sons received and the power to succeed his father as a godly ruler, was named Jacob. Jacob means deceitful or supplanter, someone who cleverly plots how to take over power and authority. It is a common name in the West, and I have both an uncle and a grandfather with that name.

This passage also indicates that God is able to know character within the womb, the first indication of this that we have in scripture. By the fact that God knows character from the womb, that implies that there is some aspect of our natures that even as fetuses is visible to God, and allows Him to know what we are made of, at some level, before we even draw breath. This means that God cares about the nature and character not only of adults and children, but also of fetuses while they are in their mother’s womb.

Before You Were Born, I Knew You

Let us now turn to Jeremiah 1:4-5. Here we see what God said to his prophet, Jeremiah, when He called him as a young person to be His prophet in a wicked and rebellious land. Jeremiah 1:4-5 reads as follows: “Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

What does this passage mean? Well, for one, it means that before Jeremiah was born, as he was a little fetus in the womb, God knew His nature and called Him for a special purpose, to be a prophet to the nations of the world. It means that God knows the character of someone before they are even born to some degree, and is able to form a plan and purpose for the life of people before they draw their first breath. This is a momentous truth. If God knows and cares about people before they are born, and if their character can be determined and understood, it means that we can expect to find the Bible treating fetuses as full human beings. Is that what we find in scripture?

So That She Gives Birth Prematurely

That is exactly what we find in the law of God. Let us now turn to Exodus 21:22-25, which tells of the punishment for what happens when the reckless fighting of two men endangers the life of a woman or her unborn child. Exodus 21:22-25 reads as follows: “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

Let us be very clear in understanding this passage because it is a very important one in understanding how God views unborn children. The situation spoken of here is two men engaging in some kind of fight where they accidentally bump into or strike a woman who has an unborn child inside of her. This is not an intentional act of murder or harm, but rather an accident due to recklessness. If no harm follows the accident to either the mother or the child who is born prematurely, the guilty party is still forced to pay a fine for his recklessness and folly. If there are injuries or death that result to either the mother or the child, the guilty party (or parties) are responsible for full restitution, up to the death penalty. If by someone’s recklessness a baby miscarries, that person is guilty of capital murder and is subject to the death penalty according to biblical law.

The Implications of This Law

God’s law is a reflection of His perfect and righteous character, and so therefore God considers a fetus to be a full human being worthy of protection. An injury to a fetus is counted as an injury to a human being, subject to fines or mutilation, as the judges (and the husband, whose child has been harmed) determine. If God gives full protection to a fetus from accidental harm from reckless fighters who had no intent to harm or kill, how much more harshly do you think God views the deliberate murder of unborn children created in His image? I want you to think about that for a moment.

It is my understanding that abortion is a common “birth control” method here in Thailand. Is that so? It is also a common “birth control” method in the West. All over the world people cover up their sins of adultery and fornication by murdering the unborn children that result from such sin, thinking that by getting rid of the evidence of their sins, or by killing children they cannot take care of, or do not want, they remove the stain or offense of the sin itself. This view is false. The cover up is always worse than the crime itself.

How many of you have ever had an abortion? How many of you know someone who has had one? All of those women who have ever had abortions have commmitted murder, worthy of the death sentance. Unborn children are considered alive by God’s law, and are given full legal protection as living human beings. We can, of course, be forgiven for our sins, including that of murder, but we must first realize how serious of a sin it is. Murder is everywhere considered among the most serious crimes, and God here places even the reckless or negligent death of an unborn child as capital murder. How much more does God condemn the deliberate and premeditated murder of one of His little ones?


All of us who have been baptized are unborn spiritual children of God. We are counted already as His children, even though we have yet to be born, so to speak, into eternal life as members of God’s family, with incorruptible minds and bodies. Therefore, just as God considers us living children of His own, though we have yet to enter into eternal life, God considers a fetus, an unborn child, to be fully alive even though it has yet to draw breath as a being of its own. While it is in its mothers womb God gives it a full identity and legal protection as a living being, and those who take the life of unborn children are murderers guilty of the death penalty. Additionally, God knows and shapes the character and personality of human beings in the womb. If God thinks that unborn children are so special, how much more special should we consider our own flesh and blood while they are in the womb, fully dependent on our protection and care? Let us think about these matters, and resolve not to be murderers as are the wicked around us, or to repent of those murders we have already committed, so that we are not subject to God’s judgment as murderers. For, as Romans 8:28-30 tells us, before we were born into God’s family, God knew us too.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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6 Responses to Before You Were Born, I Knew You

  1. Cathy Martin says:

    “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you; that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your seed [child] may live” (Deut. 30:19). Scientific evidence proves that the DNA of newly-formed embryos differ from their hosts from the very beginning giving lie to the argument that women have the “right” to do whatever they wish with their own bodies–because these beings inside them are not part of the female’s body to begin with! They are an entity of their own from conception. Who speaks for them… and does their innocent blood also cry out to God from the ground as Abel’s did?

    • I did mention precisely that in my book review of “Why Pro Life?” And it is a very good question to ask. I suspect that people deny the obvious truth because they do not wish to accept what it says about themselves as being murderers. The only way to absolve yourself of guilt for murder is to attack and degrade the humanity of that which you have already attacked. All too often the human need for self-justification overwhelms the urge for truth and honesty.

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