Live Like a King

Chapter 2 What Does the Bible REALLY Say?

Posted on: February 27, 2007

Copyright Dawn King 2007 All Rights Reserved

Chapter 2 What Does the Bible Really Say?

The Biblical Symbolism of Pregnancy and Birth

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

Paul tells us that much of what we see or experience in life is symbolic of a deeper unseen truth. In Scripture and in the life of a believer, birth symbolizes some extraordinary truths about God and our spiritual life.

Like many other elements of God’s world, childbirth can be divided into three parts symbolizing our triune God: conception, pregnancy, and delivery. Labor is divided into three stages: First stage (labor), second stage (delivery), and third stage (delivery of the placenta). The first stage of labor is also divided into three phases: early or latent labor, active labor and transition. Birth also involves three people: Dad, Mom, and baby.

In both physical and “spiritual” births, three elements are always present: blood, water, and human effort. Jesus told us that to become a believer, we must be “born again” (John 3:3-8). The seeds that someone sows into you before your salvation are like conception. The pregnancy is the time those seeds gestate inside you, nourished by the prayers of someone, growing until finally you are “birthed” into the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit, which draws you to Him, is the water of your spiritual birth. The Blood of Jesus covers your sin and reconciles you to God. Your response of faith to accept Jesus’ sacrifice is the human effort. Just like natural birth, for some, entering into this new birth is easy; for other it may take a long time and be difficult. This birth is supernatural because we are born again “not of corruptible seed but incorruptible through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:22).

Jesus likened the day of the Lord to labor pains of a pregnant woman (1 Thess. 5:1-3). No woman knows the day or hour labor will begin, but she should know the signs (nearing due date, increasing contractions, bloody show, and other symptoms) and be ready. Once true labor starts she cannot stop it. In the same way, no one, except the Father, knows the day or hour when Jesus will return. But we should be aware of the signs listed in Scripture. Once the end times are upon us, nothing can stop it.

The disciples experienced the emotions a laboring woman experiences during her travail after Jesus’ death and before His resurrection (John 16:21, 22). But just as a woman forgets the pain when she sees her beautiful baby’s face, the disciples forgot about their anguish when they saw the risen Lord.

Jesus “birthed” the church, His bride, with His crucifixion. He went to the cross of His own free will (human effort) “for that joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…” (Heb. 12:2). Blood and water poured from His side. At His resurrection, His bride was born.

In the Bible, sin is compared to pregnancy and childbirth. Trouble is a seed planted in the wicked (Ps. 7:14; Job 15:35). It eventually births falsehood, futility, and deceit. James tells us the process, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14, 15).

Temptation, if allowed to plant itself, causes the desire to sin. Eventually, if allowed to gestate long enough, it will give birth to the deed. The person pregnant with a sinful desire will eventually fulfill it. When the sin is fully mature and taken over, it leads to death.

What was God saying in Genesis 3?

“To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’ Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it”: Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return’” (Genesis 3:16-17).

I used to believe that God cursed Eve with pain in labor because of her role in the Fall of man. As I grew closer to the Lord, this “curse” did not seem consistent with the nature of the God I was learning about. He would not tie the blessing of children with a curse. Besides, if God pronounced a judgment of pain in childbirth on women, then why do some women have no pain? And wouldn’t it be sin for women to seek pain relief? What about Adam? Would it be sin for men to use machinery and fertilizer to make growing crops easier?

I decided to take deeper look at this Scripture. The words “sorrow” for Eve and “toil” for Adam are translated from the Hebrew word istsavon meaning worrisomeness, labor, toil, hard work, birth pangs, or being in labor.[i] The word “pain,” estev, means gain, trouble, grievance.[ii] These words are rooted in another Hebrew word, astav, which has two ideas connected with it: that of forming or shaping something, to worry, grieve, mental or physical discomfort.[iii]

God did not directly curse the woman and the man. He cursed the serpent and the ground. When the Fall occurred, sin, death, and sickness entered the world. God said to Eve that He would “greatly multiply” her sorrow. This suggests that there must have been some degree of discomfort before the Fall. Pain in childbirth is not a result of sin, but the increase of pain is. God was telling Adam and Eve that these things were going to be much more difficult now that sin and sickness are around.

Working the ground and giving birth are both going to be very hard work—

“painful toil” that includes physical and mental discomfort. God was also telling them that the outcome was no longer certain. Before the Fall, Adam knew that plants would always grow and they would always have food. Life was free of effort. Now there is an element of uncertainty. A farmer knows that there are many factors affecting his crop: the weather, disease, and the nutrient content of the land. He doesn’t always get to reap the harvest of his effort. In pregnancy, although the labor process usually works fine, there is uncertainty involved. You can’t know with assurance what is going to happen. We can only trust that God will see us through, no matter the result.

[i] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1994), 2351.

[ii] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1994), 2351.

[iii] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1994), 2351.


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