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Friday, March 17, 2017

The Roaring Man of War... and His Birth Pains

A war cry! “AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!” Eyes flashing like lightning, He bears down with terrifying strength on His enemies. He is invincible, unstoppable. They stumble over themselves in the sheer panic of their flight.

Wait. Was it the guttural roar of victory that came forth from Him, or was it the all consuming roar of birth pangs? It was both.

“The LORD will march out like a champion,
    like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;
with a shout he will raise the battle cry
    and will triumph over his enemies.
‘For a long time I have kept silent,
    I have been quiet and held myself back.
But now, like a woman in childbirth,
    I cry out, I gasp and pant.’”
(Isaiah 42:13-14, NIV)

God? God – with all His glorious Warrior imagery, looking and sounding like the perfect specimen of idealized masculine strength and conquest – giving birth?


Look at this one too:

“He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word” (James 1:18a, NTV).

Giving birth is part of God’s nature. This was true for all of eternity past, before He deposited this aspect of Himself into Eve’s biological design, making her in His image. The Hebrew word chuwl, meaning to travail or bring forth, is part of the text in Proverbs 8 describing the Creation story (vv. 24–25). God travailing. God birthing. Moses also expresses the same idea, speaking in Psalm 90 of when He gave birth to the mountains and brought forth the whole world (v. 2).

In the beginning, He gave birth to the breathtaking beauty of this planet on which we live. Today, He continues to give birth. Every day, thousands of people across the globe are born to Him. He is giving birth in Spirit. As Jesus explained to Nicodemus, they are being born from above.

“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6, NIV), He expounded to His nocturnal visitor. This is also what happened to you when you became His. The day you were born again, His Spirit gave birth to your spirit. This time, you did not come forth from your mother’s womb; you came forth from His – a living being, a new creation, a spiritual infant pristine in the perfection of His righteousness.

Spirit begets life-giving spirit. You were made in His image to bear life in like manner. His makeup is bursting with creativity; so is yours. He has a Spirit; He gave you one too, like His in so many ways. Giving birth is in His nature; and it is part of yours as well. His Spirit births what did not exist before; He has placed this same capacity within you.

Men, don’t check out on me! Giving birth is not an exclusively female thing to do. (No, I am not making any kind of cultural or political statement about genders; I am speaking purely of spiritual matters. In order to understand, you must listen with your spirit.) Reflect with me again on the biblical imagery at the top of this post. God’s mighty, manly war cry is associated with childbirth! Here is another Scriptural case in point. Would you consider the Apostle Paul an exemplar model of godly manhood? With all the strength of his masculine spirit, he made this exclamation: "My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you...!" (Gal. 4:19, NIV).

God’s Spirit gives birth. So does yours. We all have spiritual wombs, and because we have His nature by creation design, we are extremely fertile. We will give birth to something. Tragically, much of humanity is using this capacity we inherited to produce the fruits of the sinful nature. Three verses above what we just saw in James about God giving birth to us, we read this about the fallen nature’s gestation cycle: “…When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15, NKJV). Similarly, Eliphaz’s exposition on the rebellious in the book of Job states that “They conceive trouble and give birth to evil; their womb fashions deceit” (15:35, NIV).

You have a spiritual womb that will spend a lifetime producing either joy or sorrow. What if I told you that God wants to move through this part of you to bring into being His plans and purposes for this world? Would you be excited if you knew that Mary was not the only one He chose to carry and birth what He wants to establish on earth? What if you can’t even imagine how astonishing His dream is -- what He wants to bring forth through your willing, fertile spirit? What if you and I answer Him in the same way that she did? “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38, NET)!

If you are willing, get ready.

Conception happens in a moment of intimacy. You are alone with God, pouring out your love to Him. Your heart cries out to His heart, "Take me away with You—let us hurry! Let the King bring me into His chambers" (Song 1:4, NIV). As you draw near to Him, He tenderly, exquisitely draws near to you. You have asked for more of Him, and you are receiving it. With all that it within you, you are seeking His face and His heart. In answer, He comes and drenches your yearning with a deluge of His manifest presence.

You are lost in worship, lost in His embrace, lost in His gaze. As you glory in your oneness with Him, imbibing His beauty, it comes. The moment arrives. As Holy Spirit hovered over the primeval waters, so He hovers over you. As He overshadowed Mary, so He moves in to overshadow you. As the Logos of God was made flesh in her womb, His Spirit deposits a Word into your inmost being. His divine seed encounters your spirit pulsating with expectation, ready to receive what is passing into you. Word combines with faith. Promise is conceived. Suddenly, softly, silently, you are carrying new life within.

Will you now ask for the chambers of your Bridegroom? Will you let your spirit cry out for Him as deep cries out unto deep? Will you give Him access to the womb He created inside of you? Will you invite Him to overshadow you?

I long to bring you to my innermost chamber—
this holy sanctuary you have formed within me.
O that I might carry you within me.
I would give you the spiced wine of my love,
this full cup of bliss that we share.
We would drink our fill until…
His left hand cradles my head
while his right hand holds me close.
We are at rest in this love.
(Song of Solomon 8:2-3, the Passion Translation)

What is Holy Spirit showing you, speaking to you, stirring in you as you read these words of Scripture?

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