Be Fruitful and Multiply – Still in Effect, or Just an Old Commission?

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Over the last decade, my wife and I have been on a God-driven journey to learn more about the Bible: God’s Word to us.  We have had differing seasons of Bible study, but this decade has primarily been centered on a simple idea: which parts of the Bible are to us, and which parts are not to us, but still for us?

For example, in Luke 10:1-12, Jesus sent out people to prepare the way for His ministry.  “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.”  He gave them a commission!  Let’s do some quick review of the context:

Do What?

Don’t Do What?

Go to cities Christ is about to go, preparing the way.  Enter a house, eating and drinking such things as they give. v7 “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” v9 Don’t carry a money bag, knapsack or sandals v4

 

Who?

When?

The seventy Christ appointed v1 Right away – it is apparent from the verses that Christ did not want the seventy to wait a certain amount of time then obey, but to obey right away.  Days, not years.

 

Now if you had a friend who said, “I’m going to a nearby city: Pueblo, Colorado.  I’m going to stay with a random family, have them feed me and heal the sick in the city.  Oh, and I will not bring any money or spare shoes…  Christ’s orders!” — you just might think that friend had gone nuts!  “That’s not your commission!”

The friend might then ask, “Did not Jesus say it?  And did not Jesus later say, ‘Obey all that I have commanded you?’ Matthew 28:20”

You would be wise to then reply, to whom did Jesus say it?  When was it commanded?  Was this command ever rescinded or modified?

You see, sometimes Jesus casts a broad net for who He is talking to, and sometimes a very specific one.  Makes sense.  Sometimes Jesus wants all people, present and future to obey His words.  For example, I believe “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” Matthew 6:19-21 is intended for all people, until the time when each person is in Heaven!  And sometimes Jesus wants a specific person or group of people to obey His words, for a certain time.  I think of Christ’s commission in Luke 10 to be a great example of this.

Later, Christ changed the commission a bit.  Read Luke 22:36 “He said to them, ‘But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.'”

Just like I can ask my child to do one thing, then change it a bit, so can Christ.

All this lead up produces the point of this article.  Put frankly,

God’s commission to “be fruitful and multiply” has not been rescinded or changed!

That’s right! Something God gave mankind in the very first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1, is still in effect.  Cool!

How do I know this is so?  Same set of tools – exploring the context of Genesis 1:26-28:

Do What?

Be fruitful and multiply!  Put another way, live abundant lives and have babies.  

 

Who?

When?

The male and female He had created — and future males and females Continuously.  If Adam and Eve were the only people to ‘be fruitful and multiply’, we would not have people in the world today.  By the context of God saying, “fill the earth and subdue it”, it is clear that God did not intend it for only 1 generation, or 10, or 100.

 

Has God ever modified or rescinded this commission?  Not that I have ever read and recognized!  Have you?  If you are not sure, study it out and see what you find!

It only makes sense that the false gods of this world are set against God’s commission to be fruitful and multiply.  Abortifacient birth controls and other forms of abortion — ending life after it has started — are an abomination to God just as much as historically recorded false gods who required infant sacrifice.

But this anti-multiplication mindset comes in a more subtle form as well.  I used to work for an energy laboratory, and I had friends who sent out group emails about expecting a new baby into their family.  The shocker?  They literally apologized and were clearly somewhat embarrassed for having their second child.  Sure, they were excited about the baby.. but in the email they had to couch it as they were not doing the earth a favor by having more children.  Oh well, maybe they purchased some wind energy credits so they did not have to be embarrassed.

What?

When does God ever say, “Enough is enough!  All who follow me, stop having babies.  Or at least limit your babies to two.  The earth cannot handle it anymore.”  Never!  Nowhere!

The earth is hardly filled or at capacity!  Just travel to Kansas, Wyoming, Nunavut or Cape Verde to get a healthy dose of perspective on that.

Getting back to God’s Word.  What did God say?

Be fruitful and multiply.

My wife and I have found a lot of joy in learning to obey these simple words.  When you let the Word of God soak into your heart, setting aside “modern common sense”, the social stigmas and even the traditions of man — you will find simple ways to obey God.

Frankly, right now I consider my bed as much or more a place to worship God as my grand piano or the piano on stage at church.  That is, I regularly check in with God in prayer to say, “LORD, I do not want to have another pregnancy right now.  It seems that my wife’s body needs to heal, we want more space between babies, we don’t think we can handle another child now, (or other thing I am feeling). But even so LORD, You see better than I do.  My thoughts are not Your thoughts.. hallelujah for that!  I will trust You and give You the opportunity to have us begin a new pregnancy – or not.”

That is a hard prayer to say.  I am as honest as I can be in these prayers.  The last few days, I have prayerfully given our fertility to God in worship.  Then in the morning my flesh says, “what was I thinking?”  Then repeat again, imagine that!  That is worship — active, vulnerable, reaching to God with all the human emotion and recognizing He is good.  I do not always want to spawn another baby!  And yet I can still be honoring to God in it — I know you, God, can close wombs and control our fertility, so I offer you the control that I so eagerly wanted to take into my own hands.

A vulnerable question to ask: is birth control a sin?  After having 6 kids, enduring 8 miscarriages and seeking God’s face through it all, I would say, “not always.. it depends!”  Why do I say this?  Because “…whatever is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14:23.  Thus, I encourage you to explore your freedom and liberty in the LORD, explore God’s original commission in Genesis 1:26-28, pray and see how God is working in your heart.  I am learning that when I use birth control and when I give the decision of new life to God: either way, to have the decision shrouded in prayer and a faith response, not directed out of fear.

I have seen how He is so good to provide for His little ones, when we diligently work and steward resources.  Our family cup is overflowing in so many ways!  For example, God has given us an enduring amount of delicious food, plentiful house space and even time away from work to raise our children.  In this season, I work only 10-15 hours a week to meet our financial needs.  The rest of the time is family time, entrepreneurial experimentation and time serving at church!  WOW!  What a blessing to have a front row seat at home and the time to see my children grow up.  Feels like that is the way God intended it to work!

The end is this: through it all, I have found that God provides bountiful joy along the path to multiplying, even in the sorrow.

God is good.  H e   I s   G o o d

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