An Image to Change Hearts

by Josh McClure, Guest Writer

I was blessed several years ago to attend a conference where Andy Merritt was the keynote speaker. Andy is a preacher at Edgewood Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia, and is one of the pioneers of the pregnancy help movement.

Andy shared how his church started a center in their building, and watched as it transformed the lives of men and women. I was moved by a lesson he learned along the way, which you can listen to here.

Here is what I learned:

God is merciful and patient. He remained committed to Israel even when they were unfaithful for many years. Yet Israel’s Idolatry led to immorality and the crossing of a line that brought judgement upon, and a long exile for Judah. The first two chapters of Amos show that God judges nations and where He draws a line at the shedding of innocent blood. Amos explains that because of the sins of Manasseh, God would not pardon their sin.

In 2 Kings 21, we see that Manasseh stands apart from all the prior kings because he instituted child sacrifice to a false god named Moloch. This child sacrifice idolatry was to provide prosperity and protection for the Judah.

Manasseh, when facing challenging neighboring nations did not turn to God, he chose to sacrifice children on an idol to secure prosperity. God can forgive any sin, so long as the heart of man is repentant. There is no greater example of this than King Manasseh himself repents in 2 Ch 33:21-25. Yes, we will see the formerly wicked King Manasseh when we enter the Kingdom of God.

And yet, God does not hold back his judgement even when Manasseh repented, because the people did not repent with him. Two generations later, Manasseh’s grandson, Josiah, became king and tore down the idols of Moloch, and he undertook the greatest national reformation we have ever seen in scripture. Peace was in Judah during his reign. But as soon as Josiah dies, his son reinstitutes Moloch worship, and the people join in.

Jeremiah 3:10 describes the nation’s repentance under Judah as a fraud, and Ezekiel 9 is dedicated to the judgment that had finally come upon Judah. Notice, God spares those who groan and lament the state of the Judah, and He focuses the beginning of judgment on the spiritual leaders.

This country is a long way down the road toward judgment. While Manasseh sinned greatly for 55 years and filled Jerusalem with blood, the United States has overshadowed Judah’s shedding of innocent blood by an exponential magnitude.

The people of Judea worshipped Moloch for the same reasons people choose abortion today. We have only become more efficient at it. In one year, more innocent lives are taken in this country than could have possibly occurred in Judah.

Yet there is hope for averting God’s judgment because the people are not uniform in the acceptance of abortion. Regular polls done in this country indicate the majority opinion is that abortion is wrong. Millennials are described as the most pro-life generation in decades. Abortion, along with many other destructive sins, is legal in this country, and there are agents pushing for greater acceptance of immoralities such as these.

In 2015, the State of California passed a law that would require pro-life pregnancy centers to use their walls as billboards to advertise taxpayer-funded abortions. The law also makes it impossible for non-medical pregnancy centers to advertise by imposing burdensome disclaimers to crowd out the pro-life message in as many as 13 languages.

This law was crafted by the pro-abortion lobby and hatched in the California Legislature. Its purpose; to silence those who would lovingly offer an alternative to men and women facing a difficult choice in an unexpected pregnancy.

On the eve of boarding a plane to go to Washington, D.C. to bring our case to the Supreme Court, I was given a picture painted by Sharon Mayfield—a supporter of Pregnancy Care Clinic in San Diego. I had asked her to consider painting it a year earlier, and it came at such an important time. The picture is of King Josiah breaking down the altar or Moloch.


Notice the two emotional responses at seeing this picture. First, there is a feeling of victory, strength, and courage as an injustice is being removed from practice. We draw hope that the idolatry of abortion can be stopped in this country. But let us remember also the failure of Josiah. While he radically altered his trajectory with God averting judgment against the country, the people’s hearts were not changed.

We must recognize that abortion cannot be stopped by mere laws of men, but by changing the heart of the people. This is a one person at a time campaign, and it takes commitment to see it through.

Our country was founded on the idea that our rights including the First Amendment are endowed to us by our Creator, and the Constitution is set in place to protect those rights. It is a gift given by God that we can believe freely in Him, and to act or speak according to our convictions without fear of persecution from man. Infringing these rights is nothing short of tyranny.

California sought to force pro-life clinics and the people who work there to violate their convictions and purpose. No one should be forced under threat to speak a message contrary to what they believe. I believe we will see justice prevail, and California’s AB775 overturned.

The second emotion when viewing this painting is horror and dread at the thought of all the years, and all the innocent lives destroyed on that altar. We are also reminded of the terrible judgment from God that befell Judah, and that same judgment is looming for this country.

The heart shudders at the very image of that idol even as it is being torn down. I have to give a shout-out and recognize the heart of Sharon who took on this project. In some ways, I am sorry I asked her to paint it. I don’t think I knew what I was asking of her. In beholding the tragedy of this picture, I know her heart was burdened by painting it. She shared with me, there were times she had to put it away and not look at it and do other life breathing projects. I saw her breathe a sigh of relief when she handed it to me.

I will never forget Sharon’s sacrifice to paint this prophetic piece. You see, there are very few pictures of the idolatry of Moloch. We have an aversion toward the suffering of the innocent. I cannot bear the image of a child being placed on that idol, just as I cannot bear the image of an aborted baby. This painting is but a shadow of the Idolatry of Moloch. It is victorious and yet still I shudder.

Abortion is performed behind the veil of the womb, our society is blind to it! An innocent life is taken for the benefit of perceived prosperity or peace. Sharon’s painting has pulled back the veil, and given us new context. She has encouraged us that we can make a difference. We can see abortion ended, we can see a culture of life restored. I pray God’s blessing on Sharon, and I pray God would use this picture for His glory, to change hearts (especially of our leaders) and embolden his faithful workers.