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Lowell Brueckner

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Give Me Children or I Die


Call to Commitment pilot issue, July 1994

News and Notes
I have written articles, from time to time, on subjects which mean a great deal to me. A few of these have been published or printed and I’ve been surprised sometimes to see how far they’ve spread. I have on my desk two articles which have been on my heart and mind for months. I considered sending them to a Christian paper for possible printing. Then a thought occurred to me, “Why don’t I print these articles myself and send them out on a regular basis?” So, what you have in your hands is the result of that idea. I couldn’t possibly start with a subject closer to my heart. I trust you will read it prayerfully and that you will be challenged by it. (written in July 1994)


A Matter of Life and Death

“And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister and said unto Jacob, give me children, or else I die.” Genesis 30:1

Every truly born-again believer wants to see others come to Christ. This single verse of scripture opens to him ample material for spiritual contemplation to help him sharpen and deepen that inherent desire.

It is obvious that we have more before us than a simple petition. Here is a desperate, heart-rending cry from one whose longing has reached its ultimate level. It has touched the very spring of her existence and she is ready to sacrifice her life in order to see it fulfilled. Parenthetically, we might note that Rachel did just that upon the birth of her second son.

This text suggests something more than a common, natural desire among women to bear children. I think it also goes beyond a mid-eastern cultural need of the day. God placed an especially strong child-bearing principle in the heart of Hebrew women towards the preservation and propagation of the race.

God’s desire

There is something further to consider. God worked this longing particularly deep in Hebrew women because of His pulsating passion to bring His Son into the world and He would use their race for that purpose. The Virgin Mary expressed this unique privilege: “All generations shall call me blessed.”

Already in Rachel’s time, the instinct towards that supreme purpose was at work within her. So her deep cry was related to the coming of Christ, though her personal knowledge of His coming was very limited.

We shouldn’t think, however, that Rachel played a passive role, as this instinct was placed within her. Her longing was made particularly acute, because she craved her husband’s honor – “she saw that she bare Jacob no children”.

Rachel’s cry, then, was really unselfish. She wasn’t satisfied with her personal beauty. The Scriptures state that she was a beautiful woman and Jacob gave fourteen years of his life in order to have her as his wife. No personal attraction or perfection of character could bring Jacob the honor she longed to give him. Only new life, born from within her, could do it.

Rachel was also motivated, as was Hannah many years later, by an awful, but legitimate, envy. Even in her private dwelling, she could not escape the sounds of Leah’s children at play. Walking through Jacob’s domain, she could see her sister lovingly holding her latest baby, Judah, in her arms. Rachel’s arms hung empty at her sides. The emotional pain became intense and finally she could bear it no longer. The tormented woman ran to her husband, ready to pay the supreme prince in order to have a child.

There was always a struggle against Hebrew women and their seed. The devil seemed to throw both nature and men against them in order to thwart the high purpose of God. The matriarch of the Hebrew race was herself a barren woman. The daughter-in-law who followed was barren five years after marriage. And now we see a similar problem in Rachel. Later, the Pharaoh of Egypt demanded that midwives destroy all Hebrew boys at birth. At the Babylonian occupation, Chaldean soldiers cut open the wombs of expectant Hebrew mothers and dashed the babies against rocks. King Herod decreed a death sentence against Bethlehem’s babies.

What resolve is needed to overcome such opposition! This is the resolve heard clearly in Rachael’s cry.

Rachael was told in forceful terms, by Jacob, that God alone can open a womb. Jacob’s mother also was barren and his father cried to the Lord for her. Rachel’s help must come from the same source. She did cry to the Lord and God heard, “and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb” (v.22).

Joseph was the answer to that cry. Eventually he became the preservation, not only of the Hebrew race, but of all Egypt and the surrounding nations besides.

A gospel application

What do we learn from such a lesson? How does it apply to the gospel times?

Men of God throughout church history had an acute longing to bear spiritual children, because through spiritual childbirth they could glorify Christ as they could in no other way. Certainly John Knox had our text in mind, when he laid this prayer before the Lord: “Give me Scotland, or I die!” God so mightily answered his prayer that even today the effects of John Knox’ life can be clearly seen throughout Scotland.

A visitor to the home of A. B. Simpson glanced through the partly-opened door of his office in the early morning hours. He saw Simpson embracing a huge globe, tears falling upon the countries before him. Simpson was used to send scores of missionaries into many of those countries.

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Ti.1:15).

Our own personal worth, our spiritual attainment, any work done within us, can never fully satisfy. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would see the travail of His soul and be satisfied (Is.53:11), and he is satisfied only with what the Moravians called, “the reward of His sufferings”… the souls who become His as a result of His supreme sacrifice.

Spurgeon noticed that there is joy, not only expressed by angels, but “in the presence of the angels”… joy expressed by the One in whose presence angels dwell… over sinners that repent.

On the other hand, our barrenness should cause us grief for Jesus’ sake. He said, “I will make you to become fishers of men”, and how disappointed He is when we fail to fulfill His purpose. We ought to be envious of those who have succeeded in giving the Savior His longed-for fruit and determine that we will likewise honor Him.

The bearing of spiritual children is related to the second coming of Christ. The coming of the Lord awaits the repentance of sinners, Peter tells us (2 Pt.3:9). He is not willing that any should perish.

Jesus prophesied that the gospel would be preached among all nations before the end would come (Mt.24:14). Those who are before the Lamb in heaven (Rv.5:9) are redeemed out of every kindred, tongue, people and nation.

Paul cried the cry of Rachel for the souls of his countrymen (Ro.9:1-3), willing to be accursed for their sake. Paul travelled far and wide, risking his life again and again, suffered beatings, shipwreck and imprisonment, just to espouse people to Christ.

John the Baptist sacrificed his ministry to turn his own disciples to Christ. God knows how to work a deep longing within the willing heart and cause him to see how much it means to Him and how it honors Him above all else.

Opposition is inevitable

The devil’s business is to paralyze believers to keep them from becoming fishers of me. All kinds of spiritual fads and fashions are waved before their eyes to distract them from the chief purpose of Christ and his Great Commission, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel”. In communist countries, status quo religion was often tolerated, but evangelism was strictly forbidden. The man or woman venturing into unreached areas with the gospel is also going to find stiff resistance.

Barrenness is a spiritual thing

Every Christian should know spiritual childbirth. The church is often likened to a flock of sheep and there is a season when every ewe bears a lamb.

Only sheep can bear sheep. Goats cannot and wolves have to steal. Many cultish groups find their success mostly with evangelized people. Beware of those who specialize in latching on to members of other congregations.

Barrenness is an inward thing, not a result of our surroundings. Jesus said His disciples would become witnesses after that the Holy Ghost was come upon them (Ac.1:8).

What a difference Pentecost made! Anointed preaching or witnessing is the means used for the salvation of souls. We are not only to preach, but also to see new life brought forth. We are not only to witness, but to catch men. The day Charles Finney was filled with the Spirit, every person he talked to was converted sooner or later.

Every barren soul ought to call upon God with the desperation of Rachel to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Through the bearing of Joseph, Rachel saved her people and many besides, because Joseph became governor of Egypt and saved the world from famine. Society is best preserved through spiritual childbirth, through the salvation of its citizenry. Sodom could have been saved, if Lot had brought nine others out of sin and into righteousness.

On the Hebrides Islands, places of sin were closed for lack of customers during the revival in 1949-50. The old indulgers were now found in prayer meetings. Some became church officers and others missionaries.

Would we not do better to focus our prayers on the salvation of souls rather than against social evils? To press down on corruption in one area of society is only to have it bulge up somewhere else. On the other hand, let evil men be converted in a society and you have a real and lasting effect.

The desire to bring others to Christ must go deep. When a Christian determines he will have not only an outward push to witness, but an inward passion for the lost souls of men, he will get an immediate response from heaven. God will work with such a one to make him “a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth” (Is.41:15). He will fill him with His Holy Spirit of witness to become a vessel who bears the precious seed, suffering any privation and taking any necessary risks. Then he will know he has learned the cry of Rachel, “Give me children or I die.”


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